Monday, March 17, 2014

Anything But Utter Nonsense

A few weeks ago I got an email from an old drinking buddy, attached to said email was his new book. The drinking buddy was Max, perhaps better known as Pivní Filosof, and the book, The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer, co-written with Alan from A Good Beer Blog, and referencing one of my favourite authors.


With fewer than a hundred pages, I thought it wouldn't take that long to read it, but life has a way of getting in the way of pleasures like reading, and thus I only finished it yesterday morning. As the subtitle suggests, this a rant about the way 'craft' beer is perceived by its fans and the snake oil salespeople that peddle its myths, lies, and videotapes.

Couched within a series of conversations between the authors, in various drinking contexts, the book looks at many of the themes that surround the 'craft' beer industry; pricing, beer culture, the definition of 'craft', and various other instantly recognisable motifs. There is a supporting cast of well known bloggers, including a quick mention for Fuggled (on page 72), as Max and Alan bar, and continent, hop.

I found myself nodding in agreement often, as the authors round on the daftness that surrounds 'craft' beer, especially the banality of a sizeable portion of its fans and acolytes, in particular the difference between tasting beer and drinking it. While I like a flight in a new brewery, it really only serves one purpose, to help me choose a pint to drink afterwards. Probably my favourite episode in the book is the kidnapping of an archetypal 'craft' beer geek, and the de-programming of his craft sanitised mind.

Having had the pleasure of drinking with Max, reading the book reminded me of sitting in places like Pivovarský klub, Zlý Časy, and U Radnice (where he, I, Evan Rail, and Rob finished off a keg of Primátor Stout), and speaking with him, which was always fun.

The book is engaging, raucous, and overall a good read. It identifies many of the issues that I have with the current state of much of the 'craft' brewing industry, and associated hangers on. If you feel uneasy with much of the conversation around the beer industry, then The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer is essential reading.

4 comments:

  1. > If you feel uneasy with much of the
    > conversation around the beer industry,
    > then The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft
    > Beer is essential reading.

    Wouldn't it make more sense to recommend the opposite? I of course like to read something that affirms what I already think, but it's usually more enriching to read something that in principle I don't agree with (if it's well-argued, of course :).

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  2. I guess I don't get it. Don't we all drink craft beer because we love all types of beer and where tired if the offerings the big brew house had to offer?
    Our little community here is all about trying new things, the adventure for our taste buds and forging friendships.
    Where can i get this book because obviously there is something I'm missing.
    Hope it's not another bitter diatribe about something so pure in it's intent having gone horribly wrong.

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  3. I see where you are coming from Diego, but I disagree.

    Yes it is useful to know what people on the other side of a discussion are saying, but I wouldn't call it enriching. It is more enriching to know that in the middle of the hullabaloo about 'craft' beer, there are people able to see through the marketing bullshit.

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  4. Talea,

    There is a link to the Amazon page in the post.

    Personally I would say that I don't drink 'craft' beer, just beer minus the marketing adjective.

    If I like it then nothing else matters, not the size of the brewery, the corporate structure, or whether it was made on the latest state of the art brewhouse.

    What is in the glass is all that counts.

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