Why So Serious, Part 1

After a long couple of weeks that combined Ferguson, MO, Albert Camus, and my own internal digressions, I am back to a more contented place.  Not that everything is perfect, but I can see past the shit and find the things in life that make me happy again.

A good place to start is craft beer.  I have been on a real journey with craft beer for about four years now.  I started drinking craft beer drinker when I discovering Pete’s Wicked Ale and Sam Adams in college, but the last few years has seen my interest move to a different level. 

What is it that appeals to me about craft beer?  First, it is my contrary nature.  I don’t like following along with the biggest most popular thing (says the Manchester United fan).  I am always drawn to the thing that is not like the others (that would be my own personal history).  Second, is the craft part of it.  There is a care and a passion that you can taste in each bottle or keg.  That passion is evident whenever you hear or read an interview with a craft brewer.  It is the same care and passion you get from an artist when you talk to them about their work. 

You often hear how this actor or that artist is a pain in the ass to work with because they are such a perfectionist.  Yes, they are.  The reason is they know what they are trying to do even when you don’t and they are not going to compromise that vision just so you are comfortable.  This thing that they are doing isn’t just something they do to make money.  This thing is the most important thing in their life.  As important as their family in some cases.  So they are not going to compromise for anyone or anything. 

“Good enough for government work.”  If you are not old enough to have heard this joke before, it refers how hard it is to get fired from a government job even when your work is slipshod.  As anyone who has ever had a job with a government agency (city, county, state, or federal) knows it is hard to get fired from one of those jobs.  The pay isn’t great, the benefits are pretty good, and as long as you show up and do the bare minimum you should always have a job as long as someone is funding the agency. 

That is what the joke refers to:  you have performed a task to the bare minimum of success and competency to get by.  You cannot get away with that in craft beer.  First, any brewer worth his/her salt doesn’t want their work and their beer to be known as merely competent.  That isn’t the goal.  Second, craft beer drinkers will not keep drinking a beer that is merely competent.  Not in today’s beer world where a truly great beer is easy to find, buy, and enjoy. 

The final reason I love craft beer:  Beer is awesome.  I am continuously amazed that the same four ingredients (water, malt, hops, yeast) can be used to create such disparate beers as Weissbier and Schwarzbiers.   Both are German in origin and both use the same four basic ingredients.  However, one is a pale summer beer that reminds you of lying in a hammock on a hot summer afternoon reading a book or listening to a baseball game.  The other reminds you of those heavy roasted meals you enjoy on a cold winter night sitting by a fire listening to the wind rustle the trees outside.  Those are two different styles.  Even within one of the defined styles you can great variance in taste from brewer to brewer. 

Beer is endlessly fascinating. 


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