When a Draft Is Not a Draft

January 23, 2010

The bad news has been thick this week. My brother’s cancer got more complicated. Democrats lost their super-majority in the Senate after using it to accomplish … exactly nothing, no universal health care, no climate bill, no nothing. (I don’t see what’s so  “super” about that). Haiti, a country with a tragic history but that seemed to be on a slow path of progress, suffered yet another massive tragedy. And finally, the supreme court decided to make it official that corporations run America.

The injustice of all this is enough to make a good man sit down at the bar and cry into his draft beer.

Draft beer. Ah, at least we have that. The one thing that reliably helps make sense of a world in chaos, or at least makes it briefly more tolerable. But this is where the news gets worse. This comforting crutch of man has crossed over into the chaos.

I am referring, of course, to draft beer in a bottle.

In a nutshell, or in a bottle as the case may be, draft beer in a bottle represents everything wrong with the world today. Greedy corporate pigdogs lying outright and getting away with it — nay, even succeeding as a result of it. According to dictionary.com, the term “draft beer” is a noun, originating in 1780-90, meaning: beer drawn or available to be drawn from a cask or barrel. So, putting beer in a bottle and calling it draft is simply lying. It is a lie, people. And we accept these corporate lies every day. They sell us pig shit and call it baby back ribs.

This week has been bad enough. So to come home yesterday and find free beer in the mail was kind of like winning the booby prize — yes, I lost the game but at least I get a beer. But then I opened the box and found a bottle of Tsingtao “Pure Draft Beer.” Yes, it is pure alright. Pure bullshit. You are kicking a man when he is down, Tsingtao.

I’ve had it. This is what I think of your “draft” beer in a bottle, you liars.

"Pure Draft Beer" in a bottle makes me very angry.

2009: A Year in Beer

January 9, 2010

Last year was a momentous one for politics, the economy, and health care. It was also an interesting year for beer. InBev bought Anheuser Busch in a hostile takeover, forming by far the largest global beer giant in all of history and reducing the number of major, national breweries that are American-owned down to zero. At the same time, there are more breweries in America than there have been in a hundred years and almost all of them are small and locally owned.

America elected President Barack Obama, signaling our desire to participate more cooperatively and thoughtfully in diplomacy, both domestically and on the world stage, while taking a stride toward overcoming our heritage of racism. My favorite photo exemplifying both of these impulses is one in which Obama, a Harvard professor, and a Boston cop sit down to work out their differences the way any smart, civilized men should: by drinking beers together on the lawn. And other than the issues of racism and police abuse, what was the other most heated point of contention during this so-called Beer Summit: which beers would they each drink? The cop went for Blue Moon, a flavorful faux craft produced by Coors; the professor went for hometown fave Sam Adams; and Obama went for the beer least likely to offend, Bud Light.

But I like the one below just as much, of Obama hoisting one with the ladies. Not sure who those ladies are — googling didn’t turn up any captioned versions of this image. So for all practical purposes, this is the President of the United States of America drinking beer with the people in what appears to be a small town brewpub. That, my friends, is the world we live in today. I call this progress. And yes, it does give me hope.

Cheers to a healthy, wealthy, and wise 2010!

Bottoms Up: A People’s Guide to Beer

January 6, 2010

The poll results are in. And the critics (me, my publisher, and my co-author Ben Dangl) agree. The title of the next beer activist book will be Bottoms Up: A Peoples Guide to Beer. Look for a spring 2011 release.

Thanks to all 54 of you who voted and those of you who submitted your own original title concepts. Over the next year or so, I’ll be using the blog to work through ideas and content for the book. I look forward to hearing suggestions and feedback along the way.

Here’s the publishers description of the book:

A handful of global corporations sell most of the world’s beer. In fact, there is no longer a single major American-owned beer company in the U.S. The same is true in, well, almost every country. Yet in the past few decades, tens of thousands of beer drinkers around the world have started brewing their own beer, forming homebrewing clubs, and opening small scale breweries and neighborhood brewpubs. Although they produce a minor percentage of the world’s beer, these networks of small brewers have captured the imagination of countless beer drinkers, and caught the attention of their mega-brewer competitors.

Bottoms Up traces the path of how these beer activists have become a powerful force in shaping beer drinking culture and the contemporary beer industry. Along the way, readers learn the history of workers in the beer industry, how homebrewers and microbrewers are building community and fighting climate change, how “farmer brewers” are modeling sustainable agriculture, and how to homebrew and find the best, local, sustainable, worker-friendly beers.

The world is locked in epic battles: the local is jockeying for position in a global society, governments and NGOs are fighting to prevent imminent environmental collapse, and people are struggling for economic empowerment in a world dominated by corporations. Bottoms Up is a fun to read field guide on how to become one of the millions of beer activists fighting corporate power and environmental destruction while creating solutions that are as delicious and successful as they are radical and unexpected.

The publisher is PM Press, run by friend and fellow homebrewer (that’s how I get all my writing gigs!) Craig O’Hara, author of The Philosophy of Punk, and his pal Ramsey Kanaan, who also founded AK Press. And the cover art for the book is being confabulated by none other than John Yates, whose artwork has graced the albums of punk rock greats  such as the Dead Kennedys and Crass. He also owned punk music label Allied Recordings.

Needless to say, I’m in punk rock beer heaven right about now.

What should the title be of my new beer book?

December 31, 2009

I’m co-authoring a new beer book with Ben Dangl. We’re covering a variety of topics: the politics of big beer companies; labor history of breweries; instructions for making cheap, DIY, homebrew; practical tips for choosing delicious and world-changing beers; cutting edge environmental issues in the beer industry … and more.

Help us choose a name for the book!

Great Lakes Craft Brewers & Water Conservation Conference

August 16, 2009

Recently, during Ohio Brew Week, I shared a book signing event with beer and food writer Lucy Saunders. She let me know about an event she is organizing to help brewers learn better water conservation practices.

There will be presentations from brewers and water experts, including Wisconsin Secretary of Commerce Dick Leinenkugel will present a keynote and discuss his efforts with the M-7 Water Council to make Milwaukee the freshwaster hub of the world.

Wisconsin Craft Brewers and Water Conservation Conference
Oct. 26-27, 2009
Where: Pilot House, Pier Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Cost: $195 until Sept. 19, then $250 until Oct. 20, then $375 for onsite registration.
More Info: http://www.conserve-greatlakes.com

Blog Is Blocked in China

August 13, 2009

When I arrived in China, I quickly learned that my blog was being blocked by the government. Last night someone told me how to get around the censorship. It’s taken me an hour or so to finally get it working and now I’m furiously typing this post before I get logged out again. We head to Qingdao today for the International Beer Festival. Hopefully I’ll be blogging from there about beer!

Beer Activist On the Big Screen

April 4, 2009

beerwarslivetheatreposterWord has it that I make an appearance in a new movie titled Beer Wars. It might be a three second spot, or I might be saying something completely stupid. I suppose there is also a chance they caught me in a rare moment of lucid visionary pontification. At the very least, I feel confident that I am saying something about drinking beer and/or saving the world.

But the only way you’ll find out is if you attend the one night premier on April 16th, occuring at theatres across the nation. Visit the Beer Wars website for theatre locations and more details about this intriguing new documentary on the clash between global beer corporations and small craft brewers.

Even more exciting news, at least for me, is that the film option for my book, Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World, was sold to be made into its own documentary. Yes, really! Someone paid money for the right to produce a documentary about how to drink beer and save the world. I’m sure there are many pitfalls on the path between that commitment and actually making a film, so my fingers are crossed. If you know someone who might be interested in investing in such a film, send them my way (use the contact form on this site).


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