Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"You'll Be Hearing a Lot About the Reinheitsgebot This Year."

You'll be hearing a lot about the Reinheitsgebot this year. In fact, you'll be reading at least a few articles that begin with the sentence, "You'll be hearing a lot about the Reinheitsgebot this year." I will probably write at least two of them.

Anyway, it's the so-called purity law's 500th birthday. That's right, I said "so-called," even though Reinheitsgebot literally translates to "purity law." It's because the popular name is a misnomer. I hope to explain more about that in an upcoming piece for DRAFT. That piece might even start with the sentence, "You'll be hearing a lot about the Reinheitsgebot this year." You've been warned.

Especially here in Germany, the R-word seems to invoke a lot of feels. Proud feels. Thirsty feels. Angry feels. Some people really like it. Others really hate it. I find a healthy like/hate relationship to be the most professional approach, if in doubt.

Some of Germany's newer/smaller/edgier brewers are organizing an "Anti-Reinheitsgebot" night, on April 23. Their goal, I would say, is not to be jerks about it but to promote creative freedom for brewers. Sebastian Sauer of Freigeist -- a beer commissioner that revives and revises some weird and forgotten German beer styles -- posted a thoughtful screed about the whole thing on Facebook yesterday. But I don't like to send people to Facebook, since I often avoid going there myself. So he gave me permission to post the whole thing here. Warning: my attempt to avoid posting links to Facebook includes links to Facebook. I am weak.

That's all. Here it is, unedited:

You'll be hearing a lot about the Reinheitsgebot this year...
No, no. That was a joke. Here is the real one:
Let's talk about the "Reinheitsgebot" (German purity law) today. Yes, of course, we talk about the "Vorläufiges Biergesetz" which is the official name for it, but to also talk about it's symbolic character, I will stick to the name "Reinheitsgebot". As quite a few of you already saw, I wrote a posting these days and created an event for the day of the 500th anniversary of this document for more liberation in the German beer scene and for celebrating brewer freedom. For everyone who didn't checked it out, here it is: https://www.facebook.com/events/1549997495290780/ 
Well, I didn't mention too much, yet, and just wanted to see the first discussions and actions on its own. It's great to see how many people reacted and to see how controversial the whole subject is. In Germany and especially in Bavaria, the subject feels like you are talking about something forbidden and I'm sure many people - breweries, shops and gastronomy - would love to join, but don't want to get opressed and want to deal with being uncomfortable. It's part of our freedom to be able to want this brewer freedom in Germany and everyone should be able to get informed about the facts of the situation in Germany. 
There are many discussions going on about the Reinheitsgebot and everything about it. The fact is that it was not created as a consumer protection in first place and that it's not constantly in power since 500 years. Many international people think that the Reinheitsgebot doesn't have any relevance in Germany anymore which is wrong - especially in Bavaria, brewers have to follow it very strictly. The important parts about it is that for top-fermenting beers, you can use all different type of malted grains and can also use sugar while you can't use other normal ingredients then water, hops and yeast. For bottom-fermented beers, you can only use water, barley malt, hops and yeast and no other malted grains. Of course, there are many other obscure facts that the original document doesn't mention any wheat malt, but it's still used and everybody is completely fine with it as they explain the use of wheat malt would be logically included and it's within the expectation of the consumer. Why they think that the consumer never changes and would never expect any other natural ingredient in his beer isn't clear to me. But I don't want to bother too much talking about that as there are plenty of information about all those obscurities around already. 
There are discussions of the Brewer Association and other people to modernize the Reinheitsgebot for the future. Their goal is to update the rule to allow certain natural ingredients, but to keep the whole general idea and not to drop the rule. From my perspective, that's just a slow, tiny little step and wouldn't stop further discussions for the very close future. In general, it should be clear that brewer should be able to use any natural and not health damaging ingredient for their beer like all other food and alcohol producers - no matter what. This is the situation in the whole world and only in "the country of beer" (from German view), we are happy to limit our own creativity so much. Just go out there and see what you can find - so many wonderful things just waiting for interested people to try. And yes, you can create great things with the basic four ingredients and yes, I don't add anything else to certain beer types as well because it's not necessary, but using all the other fantastic ingredients is multiplicating the positive possibilities thousands of times. The whole conservatism from many, not only German brewer and associations is rooting in unreasoned and self-loving chauvinism about their own products and a xenophoby and disrespect for other products. Well, I don't have a problem when people have their own view and are so in love with the Reinheitsgebot that they don't want to brew and don't want to taste anything else. There are also people out there who don't want chocolate with spices and bread without nuts and fruits. But it's a problem for me when it's touching other people's and in this case also my own personal view and is forbidding something which shoudn't be illegal and is nowhere else illegal in the world. 
The law situation in Germany is telling the German consumers what kind of beer they should drink and that is manipulative and patronising. People in Germany should have their own choice within the legal frame (which is obviously not touched with beers brewed with fruits, spices etc.) to pick the beer they want to drink. That's one of the main philosophies behind the "Aufklärung" of Immanuel Kant and I can't believe we still have to fight for it after that long time.
I also saw some discussions in an Italian forum after I posted about the campaign and there were voices saying that they don't like Germans to use American hops because then the prices are getting even higher. Well, the use of American hops doesn't touch the Reinheitsgebot, so...... 
Other voices said that they like the classic way and the normal beers and they wouldn't need new beer styles in Germany. That's fine if that's their view, but German brewers are not only their for brewing the classic styles over and over again without a change just because tourists like it. Italians also wouldn't care if Germans would think (and trust me, there are plenty of people of that type here) who think that Italians shouldn't brew beer and should focus on what they are famously known for - making red wine and baking pizza. But that's an ignorant way of viewing things. 
The development of the German beer scene will make it's own way and it will take time.... a lot of time. But I'm very optimistic for it. 
Please join the event. It's enough for joining if you just drink a beer non-conform to the Reinheitsgebot on the 23rd of April 2016. If you have a bar or a shop or you are a brewer, please feel free to join in whatever way you want to show how great the beer diversity can be and to inform your visitors and customers. Let's finally liberate the German beer scene!!
* Sauer, before he was Freigeist, once crashed at my house after we tasted some rare fancy beers and watched music videos for most of the night and he brought a pony keg of smoked bock that blew up on my front porch but my dog Truman just lapped it up like the bacon juice it was. True. That's a disclosure of sorts.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Bopping Around Friedrichshain. Or, Berlin-Style Surrealism.

I could write thousands of words trying to give you a feel for Berlin's indie beer scene today. Maybe a few photos (and a few words) would do just as well for now.

I found this sticker on the wall of a restroom in trendy Friedrichshain. This is a lively neighborhood colonized by a cosmopolitan mix of twentysomethings with enough time and money for things like locally roasted coffee, interesting beer, and street food. I try to avoid the H-word or any labels that marginalize. In my late thirties I live a quieter life on the quieter and decidedly less cool side of town, shuttling kids to soccer or preschool and not always choosing to splurge on sitters so I can go explore pubs out in the eastern districts (although I do, sometimes). So I am a bit jealous and I hold nothing against friendly people living exactly where I often wish I'd been living in that time of my life.

So this particular sticker was in a café called Szimpla. It features good coffee, belly-warming Hungarian snacks and lunches, some sofas, layers of concert posters, a kicker table, attractive people, and sometime in the past year it added nine taps and the subtitle "Craft Beer Bar." Often the beers are from small Berlin outfits; when we visited last month there were several from Poland. I drank a Polish stout and a tasty German lager... but I lack notes since we were engrossed in conversation after a visit to the nearby Stasi Museum. Fascinating place. But I'm pretty sure that dry, hop-forward lager was Pilsz from the Spent Brewers Collective -- a beer firm that hires its brews from various places. There are several of those in Berlin.

That sticker comes from Berlin's Bierfabrik (not to be confused with Amsterdam's Bierfabriek). This was until recently another beer firm, hiring various breweries to make its Wedding Pale Ale and other varieties. Now Bierfabrik is an actual brewery in Friedrichsfelde, about six kilometers east of Szimpla. So you can be pretty sure, now -- if you care about such things -- that a Bierfabrik beer is a Berlin-brewed beer.

Trying to drink local beer in Berlin is a shell game. There are firms with offices in Berlin, and they market their hired products as Berliner, but a bit of research often finds that they are brewed in Bavaria or Lower Saxony or Denmark. If you know me then you know that this annoys the piss out of me, on your behalf. I often know where the breweries are, but I also get the idea that when people pay to drink something local they actually want to drink something local. You are paying extra for specialty beer, and its origin story -- is it a true one? -- might well be part of why you pay. (Whether that's a good reason to pay more for beer is another discussion.) The firms are often honest about this if asked directly, but to regular drinkers the information is typically missing from tap lists and beer labels, occasionally confined to fine print on the website. If it is there at all.

Oh, I've digressed.

If you like park bench drinking -- who doesn't? -- or if you're staying in this neighborhood, or maybe you're just thirsty and want to walk around sucking from an open bottle, which is perfectly OK here by the way, then I should tell you about the shop across the street from Szimpla. It's called Boxi Kiosk. It looks like a typical corner convenience shop until you walk in and see two walls of refrigerated beer -- some novelties and imports, but also plenty of good traditional German beers in half-liter bottles too. There are other beer shops and bigger selections and better selections, but rarely do you see so much refrigerated beer in Germany. And this one is open until 5 a.m. Anyway, who needs summer beer gardens when you have Boxhagener Platz?

Oh and there is a brewery a couple of blocks away. Hops and Barley is a smallish brewpub and underrated, depending on who is doing the rating. I think a generation of samey '90 era German brewpubs trained us to overlook them as nothing special. This one is different though. Yeah, OK, there is a pils, a dunkel and a wheat beer -- I know it sounds boring but they're pretty good -- plus meanwhile there is a rotating choice of seasonal that tends to be boldly hopped. I drank a strong, brown lager smelling and smacking of fruity hops, bitter but stopping well short of resinous. They called it Bohemian, but if I described it as an Indian Brown Lager, would you get the gist? Nice people too. No secret where the beer comes from. The kit is right there. Cozy corner dive atmosphere.

Back to the sticker. I like to think the irony -- "Don't believe the craft beer hype" -- is intentional. I want to believe this is the "ceci n'est pas une pipe" of Berlin beer. But marketing is marketing. Ultimately we'll judge it by what's in the container anyway. And whether that liquid can compete for a place in our short, busy lives, and in our limited budgets. Sitters cost money, you know.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Session #104: Our Navels Are Dark and Cavernous, Yet We Must Gaze. Alan Said So.

My policy on this blog, until today, was to never write about writing. I might have wavered once or twice, but mostly I thought it would bore people. Which is odd, since I happen to like the topic. I'm a writer after all. So are you, I reckon.

So with this post, my contribution to the 104th Session, I'd like to formally announce my rejection of that policy. From now on I might write about writing here, or blog about blogging. Executive decision. I won't even bring it up with the committee (which anyway only has two standing members: myself and the beagle intern-for-life).

The thinking behind the policy was that anyone reading a beer blog was interested in beer, not beer writing. In retrospect that was wrong -- or at least it is wrong now. It now sounds like plain common sense that most of the people who read blogs are bloggers themselves. The others left, or were never here. You are a writer, probably. Or maybe you are one of those "beer communicators." I'm not 100 percent sure what that is -- like beer evangelism, except more honest since everyone knows you're getting paid? -- but fuck it, you're welcome here. I've been reading your stuff too, when I should have been working.

It's almost liberating, dispensing with the fiction that you're a general audience. Of course you're not. You never were, excepting that large subset that found the blog by googling Westvleteren. But they left. You came back, even when I didn't. You're (we're) the niche within the niche within the niche. Maybe what I naïvely imagined as a general audience was just a writing circle all along. Well, that's OK. We need those. The beagle is a good listener but he never really contributes much to the convo, you know?

Is it the writers' circle within the geeks within the beer world? Or is it the geeks within the beer people within the writing world? Maybe both. I'm not sure if I can draw that Venn on the back of a deckel. But I'm going to try, and you'll find the inevitably awkward result there on the right.

Seems like the two-pronged spirit of blogging was that (a) it was fun and (b) eh, maybe there is a professional use for it. To me -- a freelance writer's perspective -- "professional" means working for money. There are two important parts of that: working, and money. So much for (b). Blogging never stopped being fun for me. It just... stopped.

It's not like I ever look at my blog sitting over here, gathering dust in the corner, and think: "Can't be bothered, there's no money in it." On the contrary, I suspect that is exactly why I should do it. But lately -- and I reckon this is a good problem to have -- I must look first to a stack of projects that do pay. Can't do it all, so paying the bills comes first. Doesn't stop me from fucking around in any number of other ways though, does it? In retrospect blogging is one of the healthier ways to fuck around.

Oh dear. Next thing you know I'll be blogging up beer reviews. That was another thing I vowed never to do here.

Nah, on second thought. Boring! Who wants to read about beer anyway?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Postcard from Oberfranken

Sitting in the small courtyard beer garden of the Gasthaus Dotterweich in Reundorf. Not the Reundorf north of here near Lichterfels; this is the one in Bamberg Landkreis. You have to now your Reundorfs.

It's not a great biergarten, and it doesn't have a great playground. But it does have a box full of large lego-like blocks. The boy just built a towering church. The actual village church is just across the road. We can hear the singing, now the bells. I think I prefer the hubbub of the Stammtisch over there, well under way by 10:30 a.m.

Mönchsambacher Lager here. Smells of bread and honey, fairly sweet taste with just enough dusty bitterness to pull it off. A comfort beer.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Session #99: What's YOUR Mild?

I have an hour left in my somewhat arbitrarily self-determined work day before I go an open a bottle of something easy to drink. And I see that today is the day of the Session, the first Friday of the month, when a bunch of beer bloggers tackle the same subject. And then I think, "Oh shit! I still have a blog. Why not?"

Alistair Reece at Fuggled has an agenda with this one. He is promoting mild. That is ostensibly a style of beer. And Al is simultaneously proposing and promoting American Mild Month. Which starts today. This is one of the noblest goals I can think of, and not just because I like the style "mild." To be honest I'm not sure mild represents a style or vice versa. But I love what mild stands for: flavorful yet easy-to-drink. To me it's comfort food in a glass.

I have had a few great British milds and a couple of good American ones. Stuff I would drink again without hesitation. But that was not Al's question. He wants us to localize it.

Localizing is tricky for me.

[Stands up from desk. "HONEY! WHAT COUNTRY ARE WE IN TODAY? GERMANY? OK!" Sits back down to write.]

I grew up in Missouri. The one there that pops into my head is the Bird and Baby from Rolla's Public House -- a brewery largely devoted to session beers -- but all of that came long after I left the state.

But right now I'm in Berlin and will live here for a few more years. The local I have chosen to be mine is called Foersters, and I can walk there in 20 minutes. I happen to think it's the best bar in Berlin, but I'm also biased because a lot of the hip beer joints are across town. So far.

OK, wait. Let's abstract the mild a bit. Let's suppose my "mild" is the one that's always at my pub of choice, the first thing I order every time I walk in, it's flavorful -- delicious, even -- but unchallenging. It is comforting like a baby's bottle.

That one for me, at Foersters, is Weiherer Kellerbier. Hazy gold, sweetish, bitterish, with a creamy vanilla impression. Oh there are better kellerbiers out there. In fact there are better kellerbiers at Foersters. But it's the one that's on draught, every time I walk in, and I don't have to use my brain to order it, and sometimes I don't even have to order it -- it just arrives, like a friend who can finish your sentences.

American beer drinkers are getting more and more familiar with the word "session" -- which is great, even if it's always attached to "IPA." Time to take the concept further. Mild could do it, why not? At the very least it could be a much needed calming influence.

But if not mild, explicitly, I'd be more than content to settle for what mild represents. I usually am.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Fakery and the Illusion of Variety.

As a reminder that beer is part of the wider food business and its trends, here is an article from the weekend, from the AP's food industry writer: "As tastes change, big food makers try hipster guises."

The headline and top of the article are preoccupied with "hipsters," which is a distraction. What really jumps out are the companies -- I don't care about their size -- arguably using deception to appeal to a crowd searching for something unique.

There are obvious parallels there with the "fake brewers" issue that troubles Belgian beer people. Even the Wall Street Journal covered it. I'm also seeing it happen in Germany, as people naturally want to cash in on "craft" and its higher price tag.

At least one of my editors is tired of this topic. [Deep sigh.] I'm clearly not done beating the horse though. Because nothing has changed, really. It still kicks. Well, it kicks me anyway.

Part of researching Belgian breweries is trying to sort out which ones are actual breweries and which are pretenders. That way we can tell you about them. There are all sorts of pretenders, many shades of gray. I try to stick to this: A "brewer" is someone who actually brews beer, while a "brewery" is a building with a functioning brewhouse inside.

If that seems simple, it's not.

Now, I like really good marketing. I enjoy it. I appreciate it as a skill and an art. But I hate lying. I hate it when it's done to my face, and I hate it when it's done to nobody in particular -- i.e., to everyone -- on a website or beer label. I get annoyed when a home or office address refers to itself as a "brewery," and I get annoyed when people call themselves "brewers" who are not. Likewise, just having your office in one place does not make your hired product local to that place -- not if you hired it from another province or country. Lately these "local" village beers have been popping up in Belgium more often, and many are less than honest about their origins. Most come from the same two or three breweries.

One day soon I aim to compile a list of offenders, rather than just single out one or two. I've been told that's unfair, to name only a few liars when there are so many more. I disagree, a liar's a liar... but it's not a black-and-white issue. This deception is a symptom of a permissive culture. And we -- beer drinkers, writers, whoever -- are the ones who have permitted it. Because it's only beer, right?

We allowed the language to slip because it didn't seem to matter. Even Ratebeer refers to these beer commissioners as "contract brewers" or "client brewers," both plainly inaccurate in my view. If you are a trained, experienced brewer who sometimes hires other breweries to make your recipe, you are not a brewer in the context of that beer. Sorry.

That might sound petty. I prefer accurate. As an ongoing project I'm trying to connect the clearest meaning of those words -- "brewer" and "brewery" -- with a really simple public interest. Specialty beer is getting more attention these days, but more to the point: People just want to know from whence their food comes. Here is an idea -- radical, I know -- but why not put the place of manufacture on the label?

Here is the truth, ask a homebrewer: Any asshole can come up with a good recipe and email it to a brewery. And why shouldn't you? There is money in it, there is margin. "Craft" has market cachet. So does "Belgian" for that matter. It's a sensible business arrangement. Nobody will hold it against you -- just be honest about what you're doing. (Also, be prepared to get your ass out there and sell, or else don't be disappointed when distributors want nothing to do with it.)

Well, I shouldn't say "nobody" will hold it against you. Some real, actual brewers are pretty pissed off about the "beer firm" phenomenon. After all, they're the ones who actually crush smelly hops in their hands and scrub out mash tuns, and so on. Many of them went to school for a while or otherwise learned the hard way. I can't say I blame them. They take risks and if a beer goes bad, they're stuck paying for it. Not so for the beer commissioner -- the contract brewery would have to start over and brew it again, at no extra cost to the hirer. Did you know that? That deal sounds better all the time.

Anyway, I'm not a brewer. I'm a writer and a drinker. I want to respect the words, and I want to know where my beer was made. Somehow that is a lot to ask.

A parting thought, after this morning ramble: People are paying extra not for quality, but for variety. Because it's fun to see so many taps and bottles from so many different places. So, how much of that variety is an illusion?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Beer Need Not Be Filtered. Options Must Be.

One of these days, on one of these sporadic and lucky visits to Britain, I really ought to get out of London. The problem with London is that there are too many choices. They overwhelm the Traveler with Thirst.

So you narrow things down. Same applies to anywhere with lots of beautiful places to drink. We can't see them all in one go. Time, money, livers, spouses -- these are finite resources.

Even those of us who get to London once or twice a year, if we are lucky, fall back on an old favorite or two. It's easier that way. When it comes to cask ale it's not a bad strategy anyway -- if the beer was in good shape there last time, there is a decent chance it will be today. Maybe.

(Interlude, for a confession: As a Traveler with Thirst I don't really care about British "craft beer." It's OK as a curiosity. As a journalist it's interesting. But these days you can get aromatic, bitter IPA nearly anywhere in the world. Even Costa Rica. Even Germany. Why would I drink that in the UK, which has its own, special, underappreciated thing? Yes, I can see how folks who have drunk brown bitter all their lives might be bored with it. I'm not.)

Also, you can't just go to beer pubs, right? I mean, London is an important city historically. There are things to learn. You have to take in some culture. Cultural experiences are important. That's why, when in London, you need to eat curry. So, we went to a curry pub.

We went to the Warwick Arms. I don't know if anyone else will mention this place to you. Maybe. It's a Fuller's pub, which is another nice thing that bores London beer people. I won't say that Londoners are bored with curry, because that is scientifically impossible. It's in the DNA. Of the cumin. But it could be that cozy pub in the front with an Indian curry house party in the back has a certain logic to British people. "Of course there are curry pubs, harumph," says the major. To everyone else it's just a marvel.

We drank a summer seasonal. The Beachcomber, maybe? To be honest we had been at the Great British Beer Festival all day. We were not qualified to judge it. The curry disappeared as if it were ambrosia. Cultural experience, that's the point.

Also, it was near our hotel. And that's another way to narrow down the options: proximity. I might want to go to the Southampton Arms and Gunmakers every time I'm in London (and I do). But THEY are on the OTHER side of town, and I am on THIS side.

So where are the neighbors drinking?

Monday, June 23, 2014

More Book Pimping: All Tomorrow's Parties.

Events! Happenings! Got a few more of them coming. At which I sell a book not yet technically available in the United States, vandalize it with my name and perhaps a poor joke or sloppy doodle, and we all taste a few delicious beers and have a good larf.

One of these might even become legendary. A thirsty belgophile event for the ages.

This Friday, June 27, from 4 to 7 p.m.: At the superb Brown Derby International Wine Center in my hometown Springfield, Mo., taking over their usual Friday beer sampling with Belgian fluids and chatter. Meet my random friends and relatives and other frequent liquor shoppers.

Next Monday, June 30, from 5 to 7 p.m. and maybe a bit earlier and a bit later: At the excellent Craft Beer Cellar in Clayton, Mo., a.k.a. posh St. Louis. Beers on tap and books and more jokes. Get a nice buzz then throw even more cash at Ryan and Brandon than you normally would.

OK, those will be fun. But sane. Ready for the preposterous?

Starting around 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, in Washington, D.C., the world-class ChurchKey is allowing several of Belgium's more interesting beers to take over the taps. And I will be there with books, and ink pens, and a little dongle-doodad that allows me to accept credit cards, and happy to talk Belgian beer with whomever.

The Good Beer Guide to Belgium Event Draft List:
3 Fonteinen Zwet.be
Alvinne Bolleville: Calvados Barrel Oak-Aged
Alvinne Podge: Bourgogne Barrel Oak-Aged
Blaugies Saison d'Epeautre
Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus
Cantillon Cuvée St-Gilloise
Cazeau Saison
De Dolle Oerbier
De Glazen Toren Saison D'Erpe-Mere "Speciale Editie"
De la Senne Jambe-de-Bois
De la Senne Taras Boulba
De la Senne Zinnebir
De la Senne Band of Brothers
De Ranke Saison de Dottignies
De Ranke XX Bitter
De Struise Imperialist
De Struise Weltfreude
De Struise Weltkrieg
De Struise Black Albert
De Struise Cuvée Delphine
De Struise Pannepeut
Des Rocs Grand Cru
Dupont Saison Dupont Cuvée Dry-Hopping
Ellezelloise Hercule Stout
Géants Goliath Triple
Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw
Hof ten Dormaal Special 14
Hof ten Dormaal White Gold
Jandrain-Jandrenouille IV Saison
Kerkom Bink Blond
Kerkom Bink Tripel
St. Bernardus Abt 12
St. Feuillien Tripel
Tilquin Gueuze
Val-Dieu Grand Cru

Nuts, right? Free admission. Pay only for what you drink and read.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Catching Up With America.

These are trendy now, I guess? Half/session/all-day/baby IPAs. And the like.

Forgive me if I don't scoff at the trend or argue that they really shouldn't be called IPAs (nonsense) or sweat over the exact ABV. They are useful and generally full of flavor. Malty ones will be next. Bring on the American milds.

So there is nothing new under the sun. We knew that already. Fact is, we wanted this. And we're finally getting it. A little more of THIS please. Not only THAT. Options. They had to expand upward into preciousness before they could expand back downward into plain old tasty drinking beer.

Now we only need to haggle about price.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

It's Summertime and the Schleppin' Is Easy.

Returning to the back end of this blog to scribble is like returning to a summer home that deserves more life. Smells musty. Time to blow the dust off the turntable, pull the plastic off the furniture, stuff it into the closet, heat up the grill, hold court on the deck.

Lots to say, but one thing at a time. As of yesterday we are homeless for two months. Betwixt postings. America seems like a fine place to spend that time. Very fine indeed.

Between some exciting new projects and quality family time, I will be appearing in a few choice places at choice times to plug a book. Oh, about that book: It's been out in the UK since March, and is available for worldwide shipping. For complicated logistical reasons I am too stubborn to understand, it is not officially out in the United States until October.

But I am in the United States. And I have books. It's like a sneak preview tour. So come find me.

June 11-13: Bouncing around the National Homebrewers Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. No official signing event for me, because it's not a homebrewing book. But I will be there with press credentials. (And books. And a fancy pen.)

June 20: Book signing and beer tasting at the superb Left Bank Books in the Central West End of St. Louis, beer provided via the righteous dudes at Craft Beer Cellar in Clayton. Idea is to match beers to a few choice discussion topics. Tasty politics.

June 27: Hosting/signing at a tasting at the Brown Derby International Wine Center in Springfield, Mo. A really excellent wine and beer shop in my hometown.

July, date TBD: A very exciting event in Washington, D.C., about which I can say no more just yet.

Watch this space. Bring a lawn chair.