Well, we made it. 2013 is here and as modern day Mayans have been telling us for most of 2012 their calendar did not predict a cataclysm. Given that it is January now, I am in the early stages of my annual booze fast. I realise that some people think giving up the booze for a month is pointless from a health perspective, but I like to go the entire month without mainly to prove to myself that I can live without it for extended periods of time, also I find my tastebuds to be pretty jaded by the end of the holiday season and they appreciate the break as much as my liver.
What about the rest of the year though, what do I hope 2013 will see happen in the beer drinking and brewing world? This isn't really a list of New Year's resolutions, rather an overview of things I would like to see happen in the next 12 months.
Top of my list is hoping that some will get their heads out of their arses and smell the free air again rather than wallowing in the stink of their own shit. There are times when I get the feeling there are people in the beer world carving out their own little fiefdoms and then they stomp their feet in a mass hissy fit when someone comes along to do something similar. The whole Brewers Association 'Craft vs Crafty' thing was a case in point, not only did they bang on about what or what isn't 'genuine craft' (cynical side note - at this rate 'craft beer' will become the US equivalent of 'real ale' in the annals of annoying terminology). They also managed to insult a large section of the beer drinking community by claiming that many people don't realise that something like Blue Moon is a MillerCoors product - more likely is that most people don't give a shit, they either like it or they don't. I fail to see the point of picking ridiculous fights, especially when the BA are then happy to take BMC money for associate membership and presence at the GABF. At the end of the day it is the beer that counts, not the corporate structure of the company making the beer, so how about everyone just chill out, remember it is only beer and get on with enjoying beer in all its forms?
Another thing I would like to see is more session beer. As a man who likes a drink, well, ok then, likes plenty of drinks, preferably sat in the pub with mates, maybe playing some pool and generally having a good time, I like session beer. Having more breweries exploring the range of styles out there that can be brewed to have less than 4.5% abv would be a great thing - while there are some good session beers being made by the breweries in my part of the world, not one of them makes a bitter with any regularity, or a mild or even a brown ale. Indeed, I can can think of just 3 regularly brewed session beers available from my local breweries, Starr Pils and Dark Starr Stout from Starr Hill and Devils Backbone's Gold Leaf Lager.
Finally, and probably my most ardent wish for 2013 is for the word 'lager' to stop being used as a lazy synonym for crap beer. Forgive my cynicism but anyone can make an IPA, whether golden, white, black or any other colour, dump a shitload of hops into it and call it 'craft beer', but making one of the lager styles properly takes time, patience and a willingness to tie up your capital for far longer than for a warm fermented style. I have no problem with people not liking a given beer style, but sneering at an entire family of beers simply because they are lagers shows nothing more than the drinker's ignorance. From the desítkas of the Czech Republic to Polish Baltic Porters, the world of lager is vast, diverse and packed with flavour, just get out there and try stuff, you never known, you might just find that you love lager as much as I do.
What do you want to see in 2013?