Wednesday, August 3, 2011

THE BEER SAMIZDAT MANIFESTO

Man I remember the heady days of 2006 - when I started my first all-beer, all-the-time time blog - like it was only five years ago. Was in my thirties. Didn’t know what Brettanomyces was. Still bought six-packs. Actually listened to podcasts about beer. You know, I think I might have learned a thing or two in the interregnum between then and now. Most of that period, I’ve been writing about beer on the internet to an audience of dozens of half-interested fans – first via the HEDONIST BEER JIVE blog, which I canned in April 2010, and later on my still-active HEDONIST JIVE blog, which aimed and still aims to take a broader view at all of life’s many pleasures.
 
I’m creating a new beer-themed blog – the one you’re reading now – for a number of reasons, notwithstanding the main reason, which is that my voice simply needs to be heard by the people, as I wax mellifluously about a very urgent & important subject: the beer I’ve been drinking. I also wanted to divorce my writing about beer, a topic interesting to only a few of us supremely dorkified individuals, from other things I’m writing about on The Hedonist Jive (books, emasculation, music, film – that sort of thing). Moreover, stringing together a few words about beer is so goddamned easy that even a ham-handed chimp can do it; or in my case, a workin’ man tryin’ to raise a family & put food on the table & who doesn’t have as much time as he’d like to write long essays about whatnot on the internet. So we’ll reserve that sort of tomfoolery for The Hedonist Jive, and get down to the business of drinking over here. What do you say?

And what’s this “samizdat”, you’re asking? I hear ya. Well, samizdat was the name given to underground literature circulated during the Communist era in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union by repressed peoples who needed to get their anti-regime thoughts out to like-minded individuals. I wish I could draw a perfect corollary between what I’m doing over here with the subject of beer with those brave men & women who risked imprisonment and firing squads for their writings. I mean, it’s not like us craft beer drinkers really have it so bad these days. My new blog’s title would have been a lot funnier in, say, 1975 America than it does today in the Age of Beer Abundance. I guess I just like Commie stuff. Pretending to be part of some broader “resistance” movement is sort of fun, too – I hope you’ll join me in the struggle by bookmarking the blog, adding it to Google Reader, and by following my antics on the brand-new Beer Samizdat Twitter feed.

Why not just bring back Hedonist Beer Jive? Well, because it's a dumb name for a blog. I knew it then, I know it now, so….no. Back in 2006, I kicked off the Hedonist Beer Jive blog with a manifesto of sorts, as a way to explain my mission, visions & values or some such. I’ll attempt to do the same here in an effort to convince you of the nobility of my cause. Here goes. This is what we stand for, and what we promise you, the people reading the at home, work and on your cellular telephones:

1.  I will seek out, drink, and report on the finest ales known to man. This is my charter, my lifeforce and my raison d’etre. I love beer, and though I am not much of a “drinker” per se (in other words, 3-5 beers in a week is plenty for me), I will not insult your intelligence nor my allotted calorie intake by reviewing Sam Adams & Shock Top products.

2.  I will endeavor to regularly interview interesting and exciting people from across the beer landscape, and publish their insights here. I did this a little (not enough) on Hedonist Beer Jive – see here, here, here and here – and I’d like to do it much more frequently here.

3.  We suffer no fools gladly. A mediocre or bad beer will be called out as such. Lamebrains or pantywaists in the “scene” who take beer too seriously shall be summarily eviscerated and/or completely ignored. This goes double for most professional beer writers, an oxymoronic term if ever there was one.

4.  We will applaud, respect and encourage newcomers into our hobby. Craft beer in America and around the world is rapidly developing a new and very vocal cadre of enthusiasts, none of whom have any knowledge or nor time for the self-appointed “old guard” who toiled in relative obscurity over the decades to generate even fleeting interest in their all-consuming passion. Many of these newcomers are only recently of drinking age, and have never known a world where good beer was actually hard to come by. I love the energy & zeal these folks are injecting into getting great beer into bars, restaurants and onto the web, and we’ll embrace and encourage their entry into this hobby, and never condescend to their exuberance.

5.  I do not cover home brew. I only drink yours.

6.  I will not make up smells nor flavors in the course of reviewing a beer. If you ever see me pretending that a beer smells or tastes of “freshly-baked sourdough banana/walnut bread”, or spouting any lie equally appalling, you have permission to stop reading the blog at once.

7.  I’ll aim for a conversation, not a monologue. I’d love it if you’d leave comments here, especially if I say something particularly egregious or that insults your sensibilities. I’ll then respond hotly with something like, “u got yr head upp yr ass”, and we’ll take it from there.

Thanks for coming over to check out Beer Samizdat today, and I look forward to earning your allegiance in the weeks & months to come.

4 comments:

Gabriel said...

But .... sometimes beer *does* smell like banana bread (hefeweizens), and/or tastes like walnuts (nut brown ales)!

I actually don't mind when people use descriptions like these, its easy to go overboard though.

Jay H. said...

Gabriel, I don't disagree, but my illustration was meant to convey the sheer over-the-top BS people write when trying to describe a beer. A numerical rating may be a cheap shortcut, but it's at least something believable....no nose or tongue is as all-knowing as some of these Beer Advocate supertasters....

Barleywhiner said...

I'm glad you're back, but only "the finest ales"? You won't drink lagers?

Jay H. said...

Barleywhiner - good point - I MAY drink a lager at some point. Perhaps an eisbock or one of those bacon-beer marzens from Germany....!