Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Time

History is the terroir of beer. Time and place crafted the beers and the beer styles (if you can bear the thought of such a thing) that we enjoy today. As beer bloggers, we read and write about the differences between beer and wine. Wine is apparently more popular, has been marketed to indolent slobs with disposable income better, has more allure etc. and those may all be true, but wine's most appealing trait (its connection to a place: the terroir) is also its great drawback.

Beer is egalitarian because it comes from the mists of time, like a memory, to us wherever we are, whether it be Dublin, London, or California. Beer styles evolve, yes, possibly into something unrecognizable to their origins, but ultimately, great beers are rooted in their history because of the time in which those beers arose. Brewers of different times and places figured out solutions to their brewing problems which gave birth to their beers and beer styles. Irish brewers found that their hard water was suited for dark, slightly acidic beers, while German brewers learned to use pale malts with nuanced, delicate flavors to compliment their restrained cave-fermented lager yeasts. We Americans, meanwhile, clearly must have discovered hops. These basic foundations still hold up today and provide the basis for all beers and beer styles.

There are no vinyard-estates required in the world of beer. Beer is almost more transient, but its freedom from a specific place makes it more a part of us: it goes anywhere and it can be made anywhere. We have it with food, or on its own after a long day. It's something we can write endlessly about and something we can drink without a worry. We carry it with us, like all our collective history, like the nights we spend with the drink, like the taste-memory the most primal parts of our brains recall. We travel through time and back in time with beer, and the good and bad times we have with it are remembered fondly, not because beer exists in a transient place, but because it comes from a time in human history that will never fade so long as there are people. And beer has a place in our time now. That is why time and beer are inextricably linked. 


And what a timely blog. Why, Mr Zak Avery is having a friendly contest in which time and beer are to be written about! What a lucky coincidence! Was this post about "time" or about "history"? I don't know. I sure hope it counts as the former. Either way, why don't you check out his blog. He's a British beer blogger that has a lot more to say and more reason to say it that I do.

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