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Friday, July 15, 2016

Naive Pleasure

Something's not quite right this summer. There's a sour mood in the air, the feeling of confusion and conflict. Social media has a mean edge. I could be speaking about politics, but the same is true with beer. We have passed out of the fun stage of infatuation and have entered the period Sartre called "the age of reason"--the loss of the simplicity of youth. Or perhaps the scene in the Matrix is a better analogy. The one where Neo is offered the chance to embrace the harsh truth of reality (the red pill), or take the blue pill and slide back into a blissful fiction. Too many of us have eaten the red pill, and we sink into the sludge of buyouts, lawsuits, sales reports, and purity tests.

But these analogies are inexact. The one great thing about beer is we can turn off the discursive mind and slide into the emotional mind. A nice beer on a sunny day, just you and your senses, falling into a blissful absorption of beer. There are many ways to do this--as a drinker, as a homebrewer, or, if you're lucky enough to be a writer, as a kind of motivated fan.

I'm off to Block 15 today to spend some time with Nick Arzner, one of my favorite brewers. We're going to spend some time today discussing his projects, process, and philosophy, and I will have the joy of just listening. (With luck you'll be able to hear part of our discussion, because I'm hoping to get some tape of Nick discussing the art of blending for the podcast.) One of the great things about writing about beer is that you get to hang out with brewers and learn about how they think about and make beer. At some point, I'll need to turn our conversation into something with shape and form, but the conversation itself should be pure pleasure.

We probably need to spend more time rediscovering that sense of naive pleasure that drew us to beer in the first place. There is plenty of drama and conflict in the beer world to sustain a million tweets, but that is decidedly not why I started writing about beer. Summer itself is a time of uncomplicated pleasures--bare skin, dime-store novels, popcorn blockbusters, tall glasses of cold beer.

Happy Friday, everyone--


  1. Indeed. ;)

  2. I think you're right: The naive pleasure of enjoying a beer has largely been lost. I don't see a path back, but maybe, somehow, we'll find it.