Session #117: Predicting The Future Of Beer

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The 117th Session, is hosted this month by Csaba Babak, who writes the British beer blog Beer Means Business. For his topic, he’s chosen More, More, More, by which he’s asking us all to “paint a collective picture of what the future related to beer will be like.”

Here’s his full description of the topic:

I have always been obsessed with asking what happens next or what is still ahead instead of simply embracing what is in the present. Ever since I heard about Beer Blogging Fridays, I have been toying with the idea of hosting a Session to paint a collective picture of what the future related to beer will be like.

This month, Beer Means Business has the honour to host The Session and to make this happen. The final picture of Beer Future will be based on what you think we will see MORE of.

Over the last 10 years, numerous topics have been presented and the bloggers who discussed them expressed a rich diversity of perspectives or specific areas of interest. Therefore, I refrain from giving you further ideas or examples. There are no limits in time, space or nature either. I would like you to let your imagination free, and capture ONE thing you think we will see MORE of with an explanation of the idea.

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So this month’s Session will be short, both by necessity and because I think the answer to this month’s question has a relatively short answer.

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So, looking into my crystal ball, I have two observations.

1. Predictions are a fool’s errand. None of us can really say what the future will hold. Oh, we can make educated guesses, even back them up with charts, history or trend indicators. And I’ll even admit it can be fun to try. But in the end, the future rarely ever looks anything close to what think it will. To wit: where is my flying car that folds into a briefcase? A great quote that illustrates how off predictions can be comes from Joe Owades. Owades, in addition to creating low-calorie diet beer (a.k.a. light beer), helped several early small brewers with their recipes. In April of 1987 he said. “No microbrewer in his right mind should make wheat beer. Five years from now it will be dead (as a commercial product).” Wheat beers of all kinds seem to be doing very nicely, thank you very much. Though not beer-related, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates once quipped that “no one will ever need more than 64K RAM.” And these were both smart people who were well-respected members of their industries, knew a lot about their subject matter, yet failed utterly to grasp where the future was heading. I also happen to think (a hunch really) that even most predictions that turned out to be correct were the result of blind luck. So lots of predictions continue to fail, and will continue to fail, and maybe a few will turn out to be correct, but not enough to know who you should listen to and who to ignore. So I think it’s best to ignore them all and follow what you personally like, what speaks to you. At least that way you’ll be happy. There is, however, one thing I believe I can safely predict for the near future, and even the distant future. Then again, maybe I’m wrong.

2. People will still be drinking beer, and with a little luck, more of it will be beer with flavor.

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More, More, More … How Do You Like it? The Future Of Beer

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For our 117th Session, our host will be Csaba Babak, who writes the British beer blog Beer Means Business. For his topic, he’s chosen More, More, More, by which he’s asking us all to “paint a collective picture of what the future related to beer will be like.” To explain more fully what that means, I recommend pushing play on the song below, “More, More, More,” by the Andrea True Connection, and then reading what he has to say.

Here’s his full description of the topic:

I have always been obsessed with asking what happens next or what is still ahead instead of simply embracing what is in the present. Ever since I heard about Beer Blogging Fridays, I have been toying with the idea of hosting a Session to paint a collective picture of what the future related to beer will be like.

This month, Beer Means Business has the honour to host The Session and to make this happen. The final picture of Beer Future will be based on what you think we will see MORE of.

Over the last 10 years, numerous topics have been presented and the bloggers who discussed them expressed a rich diversity of perspectives or specific areas of interest. Therefore, I refrain from giving you further ideas or examples. There are no limits in time, space or nature either. I would like you to let your imagination free, and capture ONE thing you think we will see MORE of with an explanation of the idea.

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So grab your crystal ball, and start pondering on your prognostication, so next week you can begin pontificating.

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Here’s Csaba’s instructions on how to participate in November’s Session. “To participate and leave your stroke of brush in the painting of Beer Future, please publish a post with your contribution on Friday, 4th November [or before] and comment on [his announcement] post with the permalink to it.”

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But Now, God Knows, Anything Gose

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For our 116th Session, our host will be Derrick Peterman, who writes Ramblings of a Beer Runner. For his topic, he’s chosen Anything Gose, asking everyone to write about the German sour beer style Gose.

Rittergute Gose Labels

Here’s his full description of the topic:

I choose the Gose style in particular since it can be approached in so many different ways. Want to talk about the history of the Gose? How about how American breweries are taking this style and running wild with it with different spice and fruit additions? How else has the Gose manifested itself outside its German homeland? Is the Gose here to stay or will it go the way of the Black IPA, once the hot style but slowly becoming a largely irrelevant curiosity? (OK, that might not be your opinion of the Black IPA, but you get the idea.) Of course, we’re all on the look-out for a good Gose, so if there are any you particularly like, we’d love to hear about them.

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We know “Times have changed, and “Good authors too who once knew better words, Now only use four-letter words Writing prose. Anything goes.” Or rather, Anything Gose. So on or before Friday, October 7, let’s wax lyrically about gose. Music optional. Post your contribution at the original announcement or e-mail your link to Derrick at photon.dpeterman[at]gmail(dot)com. And remember. “If driving fast cars you like, If low bars you like, If old hymns you like, If bare limbs you like, If Mae West you like, Or me undressed you like, Why, nobody will oppose. When ev’ry night the set that’s smart is in-Truding in nudist parties in Studios. Anything goes.”

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Apropos of nothing, I love the title because it’s play on the Cole Porter musical “Anything Goes,” a personal favorite, and the only show I’ve done twice in my theatre geek days.

Here’s a great performance of the song “Anything Goes,” although only really just part of it, from the 2011 Tony Awards.

Crack A Book For The Next Session

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For our 115th Session, our host will be Joan Villar-i-Martí, who writes Blog Birraire. For his topic, he’s chosen The Role of Beer Books, to sum up the topic says. “I believe the importance of books for the beer culture makes them worthy of another Session.”

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Here’s his full description of the topic:

The discussion at hand is “The Role of Beer Books”. Participants can talk about that first book that caught their attention, which brought them to get interested in beer; or maybe about books that helped developing their local beer scene. There’s also the bad role of books that regrettably misinform readers because their authors did not do their work properly. There are many different ways to tackle this topic.

The Session has been about books before just once, and it was about those that hadn’t already been written. I believe that their importance for the beer culture makes books worthy for another Session.

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So before Friday, September 2, crack open some beer books, and some beer, and write about the intersection between the two. Prose seems to be the preferred vehicle, but I don’t see why you couldn’t resort to iambic pentameter or some other poetic form. Rhyming optional. Publish your findings, and then post a comment with a link to your post at the original announcement. Happy reading.

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Observe & Report The Next Session

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For our 113th Session, our host will again be Boak & Bailey. For their topic, they’re asking everyone to Observe and Report, a very specific Session mission, which they more fully explain in their announcement, Mass Observation: The Pub and The People.

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In the late 1930s a team of social researchers descended on Lancashire and spent several years observing the people of Bolton and Blackpool as they went about their daily lives. As part of that, in 1937 and 1938, they made a special study of pubs, which led to the publication of one of our favourite books of all time, The Pub and The People, in 1943.

We’re hosting the 113th edition of The Session in July and we’re asking you to go to the pub, observe, and report.

In the late 1930s a team of social researchers descended on Lancashire and spent several years observing the people of Bolton and Blackpool as they went about their daily lives. As part of that, in 1937 and 1938, they made a special study of pubs, which led to the publication of one of our favourite books of all time, The Pub and The People, in 1943.

This is an extract from a typical entry from the original observation logs, probably from 1938, describing the Vault of a pub in Bolton:

13 men standing, 8 sitting. 4 playing dominoes. 2 of the sitters are postmen.

2 men, about fifty, short, sturdy, caps and scarves, shiny worn blue shirts quarrelling about politics. One keeps saying, ‘If ee don’t like the country why don’t ee go away? No one stops me getting a living.’ Then he suddenly shouts ‘Why shouldn’t the king and queen be there. I’m for them! They should be there.’ … Barman comes round with a small canvas bag, jangling it, asks me if I want a penny draw for a pie. So I put my hand into the bag and get out a worn brass disc about size of a half penny, which says Riggs Pies and has a number in the middle. The draw takes place somewhere else. Number 9 wins… and he gets a small hot pie, the sort you can get for fourpence.

What we want people to do for The Session is to recreate this exercise in 2016: take a notebook to a pub or bar — any one you fancy — and write a note of what you observe.

  • How many people are drinking?
  • Which beers are on tap, and which are people actually drinking?
  • What are they eating?
  • How are they passing the time?
  • What are the topics of conversation?
  • How is the pub decorated?
  • How many TVs are there and what are they showing?
  • Are there pot plants, parrots, spittoons?
  • How many smokers are there? And vapers?
  • Is there a dartboard, pool table or quiz machine, and are they in use?

Over the years, people have fretted about Mass Observation’s attitudes to privacy and so, in line with original Mass Observation practice, you might want to anonymise the pub — city centre sports bar, suburban dining pub, industrial estate brewery tap, and so on. And it’s bad form to give names and details which might allow individuals to be identified from your descriptions.

And an Optional Extra

As a chaser, after your observations, write whatever you like spurred by the idea of ‘The Pub and The People’. Really, whatever you like, as vaguely related to theme as it might be. Or instead of making any observations, even. The main thing is that you feel inspired to write something.

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This is what my copy looks like.

If you’re curious about the book, The Pub and the People: A Worktown Study (Mass Observation Social Surveys), used copies of two versions are available on Amazon, the original and Cresset Library reprint, or you can read excerpts on Google Books.

So anytime in the next couple weeks, get yourself to a pub or bar with your checklist, and start observing and reporting. Then post the results on or around Friday, July 1. Let the hosts know about your participatory Session post by either posting a comment to the original announcement or by tweeting the link to @boakandbailey. They’re playing fast and loose with the deadline for submission, so as soon as you get around to it in early July is probably fine.

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Next Session Uncovers The Other Beer Economy

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For our 112th Session, our host will again be Carla Jean Lauter, a.k.a. The Beer Babe. For her topic, she’s chosen The Other Beer Economy, and I”ll let her explain what that means.

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Last year, the total economic impact of the beer brewing industry in the state of Maine was approaching the same scale as the lobster industry. Let that sink in for a second. Maine – which is arguably *best* known for lobsters – is shifting to an economy strongly supported by brewing.

Growing alongside of the boom of breweries are many small businesses that are supporting, or supported by the craft beer industry. Maine is now home to a malt processing facility, and several hop farms. There are multiple beer tourism-focused businesses that help connect visitors to the state’s best beer offerings. There are companies that create beer-related apparel for beer fans, some that have designed unique bottle openers and manufacture them in-state. Maine is also home to a company that manufactures and installs brewing equipment, and another whose sole mission is to clean the lines that serve up that beer to thirsty beer fans.

Yet, we rarely give these businesses a second thought. They are the second beer economy, often operating behind-the-scenes. I think we could give them a bit more credit for keeping things growing, sharing the products of our local breweries with more people, and sometimes even literally keeping the beer flowing.

For this month’s session, let’s talk about those businesses in the beer world that aren’t breweries. What are the roles that they can play? What opportunities still exist for new niche roles to be developed? What can local/state/regional governments do to encourage this kind of diversity of businesses around an industry?

I’m excited to hear your thoughts and stories.

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So this June 3, start thinking like a dismal scientist and look at the economic indicators, the market forces and the new economic models. To participate in the June Session, leave the link to your post in a comment to the original announcement or tweet your link to her at the @beerbabe on or before Friday, June 3.

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Beer Birthday: Alan McLeod

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Today is also beer blogger extraordinaire Alan McLeod’s 53rd birthday. Alan runs a good beer blog, called — curiously enough — A Good Beer Blog. I’m not sure what came first, the goodness or the blog. Anyway, though I’ve yet to meet Alan in person I feel as if he’s already a great, not just good, friend through our many conversations via e-mail and commenting on one another’s blogs. If you haven’t read his essay in the book Beer & Philosophy yet, rush right out and buy yourself a copy. He also published The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer, with Max Bahnson, available as a Kindle single on Amazon, and last year co-wrote both Upper Hudson Valley Beer and Ontario Beer: A Heady History of Brewing from the Great Lakes to Hudson Bay. Join me in wishing Alan the very merriest of birthdays. Cheers, mate.

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Alan pondering the mysteries of Stonehenge at age 7.

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A night with bald pate, circa 2002.

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Contemplating a jump near Prince Edward Island a dozen years ago. Happily, he decided against getting wet.

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Letting everyone know his status as a VIP at an event in 2012. [Note: photo purloined from Facebook.]

How Will You Survive A Beer Midlife Crisis?

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For our 111th Session, our host will be Oliver Gray, who writes about Literature & Libation. For his topic, he’s chosen Surviving a Beer Midlife Crisis, in which the bloom is coming off the rose and he’s finding his excitement about new beers and breweries waning as the years roll on, as the barrels keep rolling out. And he’s wondering if he’s the only one. I suspect he’s not alone, as the number of blogs that go dark seems to be growing every day, as the internet continually evolves in the way we use it and communicate with one another online. But before you go to the dealer to pick up your new convertible, let Oliver explain what he’s talking about.

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Full disclosure: I don’t work in the beer industry. OK, yes, sometimes I get paid to write about beer, but that money does not my livelihood make. Despite pouring myself into brewing and beer culture for the last 6 years, I remain little more than an overly involved consumer.

I think that’s true about a lot of bloggers and beer writers. Some may work directly for breweries or distributors or behind the till in a beer store, but a lot of us toil in vocational worlds apart, spending our free time and free dollars on what can only (by definition) be called a “hobby.”

Recently, I’ve found my interest in said hobby waning. The brilliant luster of new beers and new breweries looks now, a few pounds heavier and a bunch of dollars lighter, more like dull aluminum oxide.

The thing I have embraced so fully and spent so much time getting to know and love, suddenly seems generally, unequivocally: meh. It’s like I’ve been living a lie, and everything I’ve done is for not. I’m having a beer mid-life crisis, yo.

Maybe it’s the politics of purchasing or selling. Maybe the subculture has peaked. Maybe this is the natural progression of a hobby that has no real tie to the industry behind it.

Maybe I’m way off the mark, and this whole thing is just a figment of my imagination.

But I’m willing to bet it’s not. All that talk of beer bubbles might prove true, but instead of a dramatic *pop* we’ll might see a slow deflation followed by a farting noise as some of the air leaks out and the hobbyist move on the spend their time and dollars elsewhere. It’s impossible to see the future, but if my fall from rabid beer fanboy to dude-who-drinks-beer-and-sort-of-wants-to-be-left-alone is indicative of a trend, I’ve got some signs to make a doomsaying to do.

What say you?

Do you find it hard to muster the same zeal for beer as you did a few years ago? Are you suffering through a beer-life crisis like I am? If so, how do you deal with it?

If not, put me in my place!

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So this May 6, begin working on your comb-over, get the convertible out of the garage and start writing. Are you still excited by the beer industry or getting world-weary and jaded? Does the pfft of the bottle or can opening still give you that thrill of anticipation or does it instead fill you with a sense of dread or apathy? Oh, look, another new IPA, this one with mooseberries. To participate in the May Session, leave the link to your post in a comment to the original announcement or tweet your link to him at @OliverJGray on or before Friday, May 6.

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Next Session Takes On Twitter

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For our 110th Session, our host will be Sean Inman, who is on a Beer Search Party. For his topic, he’s chosen a tiny Twitterific topic, which he explains concisely, as befits the topic. Apparently Twitter is strongly considering lifting the 140-character maximum that has been its defining feature since it debuted in 2006, and replacing that with a limit of 10,000.

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So, before the 140 letter limit is lost, how about us in the beer blogging realm take one last crack at “original” Twitter.

Some possible routes to take:

  • write your own beer theory in multi-parts. Be it 1/15 or 1/20
  • use Twitter for your own craft beer April Fool’s Day prank
  • channel your inner web troll and go all negative on a topic
  • debate or applaud the points made by Daniels in under 140 characters
  • talk about brevity and how it affects writing about beer

You can do it on Twitter or on your own blog or both. Just no Instagram.

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So this April Fool’s Day, say a lot with a little, or say a lot with a lot, just don’t stay silent. To participate in the April Session, leave the link to your post in a comment to the original announcement on or before Friday, April 1.

Beer Birthday: Knut Albert

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Today, it’ also the 56th birthday of Knut Albert Solem from Oslo, Norway, who has one of the premiere beer blogs in Scandinavia, Knut Albert’s Beer Blog. Though I’ve never met him in person, we have corresponded a time or two through blog comments or e-mail and I certainly enjoy his perspective on beer. Join me in wishing Knut a very happy birthday.

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Hoisting a pint (photo nicked from Knut’s Facebook page).

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Knut near water, the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland actually (ditto).