BEER MYSTIC Burp #1: Beyond the 12 Ounces of Craft
The Internet and the world at large currently host plenty of hopsonian enthusiasts, beer nuts, pils pushers, literally hundreds of sites like RateBeer and Facebook pages like Beer Slut and La Femme de Beer devoted to the joys of drinking – and rating beers. Although the BEER MYSTIC [BM] and I are interested in beer that tastes good – great even – and that it does its job to quaff thirst, beer must also enhance encounters, amplify genius, reflect and refract back onto society and back in through the arts.
D.B.A. in NY’s LES, for instance,, became a hang out for the Unbearables for a while in the later 1990s. [Photo shows fashion plate James Feast dazzling DBA roundtable attendees and Maltonian optician Michael Carter.] It was a near perfect place for conversation and crossbred conspiracies. Here we found the mother lode, a hip bartender [he worked Tuesdays and Thursdays I seem to remember] into literature – our take on literature even! So for a few bucks we could drink all night long like kings, like rock stars, like gluttons with a higher purpose at an open bar …
Beer, after all, can ably serve as prosthetic conversation enhancer, launching us into one another’s midst. What me and BM find missing at most of these admirable – dare I say heady – sites is the meeting, merging and slurring of beer and books, ale and allegory, pils and poetry, brew and brain …
The curse of these expert/connoisseurs is, of course, as one’s tastes rarefy these critics tend to become more orthodox, making it increasingly difficult for them to enjoy a simple meal, frites with mayo, a pop concert, an ale of less craft. I know a food critic who is almost always disappointed when he goes out to eat because meals never fully meet the criteria he has honed in order to gain the semblance of authority and expertise he must consistently display. The same goes for music snobs, myself included. How many restaurants or bars have I fled with poor Nina in tow because the music was loud and stupid [the fact that these establishments spend millions on Rietveld-replica chairs, expensive Italian chandeliers looted from abandoned opera houses and expensive computerized ambient lighting installations only to end up scrimping on music – putting on a commercial radio station, or some sly computerized mix or a CD by a band the bartender likes that in no way fits the ambience is an entirely different rant].
The BEER MYSTIC seeks “bars that offer respite from the cumulative insanity outside. Taverns with Coltrane and candles. Cafés with Goa jazz, pubs with music that is played on long, long, wet strings. Bowers of timelessness, quiet temples, Amsterdam’s “brown cafes,” Prague’s rowdy pivnices [Old One Eye], the neon-lineamented zinc bars of Paris [Bar Iguan], NYC’s outpost dives of yore [Puffy’s Sally’s, Downtown Beirut] where clocks are all a mess [at Eike & Linde’s in Amsterdam, the clocks run backwards!]; where play time doesn’t pass so much as nourish; where one doesn’t age so much as beam. Bookbeat
But most beer connoisseurs do not seem overly afflicted by this spiritual shortcoming – oh, you have your experts busy flaunting their bouquet opinions but they also seem to have a lot more fun drinking and then thinking, discussing and writing about it than restaurant, food or IT critics. Although this is all great for consumers it does not usually constitute literature.
What happens after the consumption of too much [which is usually just enough] beer? Beyond flavor or the pure gustatory enjoyment of a tastebudly sort; where does beer lead us? Astray? To a new plane? Beer connoisseurs pretty much vacate the premises as this question makes the last call for alcohol, leaving their empties at the curb before scooting off behind their i-Pads.
Beer is not just something to be consumed for its inherent taste or satisfy one’s thirst; if this were the case, alcohol content (near beer, NA beer, small beer, small ale) would be unnecessary and we all know beer without alcohol sucks, is a pathetic oxymoron or at least a sudsy shame.
I am no expert on the craft of beer: I do not make beer, I do not know the beer-tasting terminology but I do know what happens when you drink beer, where it can take you and that is pretty far beyond the borders of boredom, beyond the confines of normalcy. The philosophical question remains: if this society, system, job, reality, president, lifestyle, or whatever is so great, why do we seek to escape it so often in so many different ways including copious drinking of beer?
Beer is an answer, a tool, an escape route that leads you to parts of reality, parts of the self, or pleasure sectors of the brain usually not readily available to the sober being locked into logic, afraid to let go of the map, the navigational device, the education. Of course the adventure of libationally inspired liberty demands certain responsibilities: quaffing at the right pace [I used to be a long-distance runner], sipping in the right place under the right conditions can indeed lead to a kind of high that wobbles you and all your doubts, quandaries and identity issues on the slippery edge of too sober and too drunk so that one becomes attuned to the true joy of living. So beer comes with a WARNING: If beer begins to bludgeon like a cudgel and you begin to act like that cudgel then you know you’ve gone too far and nirvana will have to just be recuperated at some later date. Even the zen archer sometimes misses the bullseye.
BEER MYSTIC: I close my eyes and I go somewhere else. When the beer closes my eyes I go somewhere else altogether. Social Fiction