I liked this post by Boak and Bailey on their state of their relationship with beer, and Alan's own take on the topic, mainly because I agree with pretty much everything they say, even when translating it to my own beer ecosystem.
Like them, I've come to prefer well known, reliable beers and breweries over the uncertainty of the new. And when it comes to new breweries (and to some extent, new products from breweries I know), I rarely buy stuff I have no (good) references of. I can understand why so many people give preference to new beers, it can be fun, it was for me at some point, but not any more. I want to get the most value out of my money and “will be good”, or at least “should be good”, gives me better value than “might be good”.
This brings me to price. I've all but given up on expensive beers. My limit for a (large) bottle is 8-10€, and only on very exceptional occasions and with beers I've already drunk. Really, when I can get something as good as Schneider TAP 5 for about 2€ (not to mention many excellent Czech beers, for less), I find it hard to convince myself to spend several times more on another beer.
Which brings me to this other point. Maybe it's because I'm already in my 40s, or because I have less time, money and energy than in the past, or because my priorities in life have changed, or, most likely, a mixture of all of that, but I feel that my relationship with beer has come full circle, or sort of.
Beer is again “just beer”. All beers. It's something I drink while doing something more stimulating than paying attention to the lies my senses of taste and smell might be telling me. I've also got bored of taking beer seriously; partly because I have nothing to gain from it, and partly because I've realised that there's nothing special about beer. Let me say that again, beer isn't special. It's booze that, like wine, cured bacon, music, books, and other consumer products, wants to get a share of my disposable income and time. It might get a bigger share than all those things, and it's still fun to write about it, but that doesn't make it in itself special.
The people behind the beer. That's another thing. I find their stories more interesting than the beverage itself. But I mean the real stories, not the tales that've been filtered and pasteurised by PR or marketing.
And that is why I liked so much Evan Rail's new e-book The Brewery in the Bohemian Forest. It tells the story of the author near obsession with Kout na Šumavě, in particular, with an old brewing log the current owner claims to have found hidden somewhere in the building. Evan wants to see that book and visits the brewery several times. In the process you get a glimpse of his family life, and also get to know a lot about the Kout's current owner, his relationship with the brewery, his views, struggles and plans, or at least what he chooses to tell Evan.
Would Evan have written this book if he didn't like Kout so much? Most probably, not. But that's not something that should concern the reader, because it's the story and not the beer what matters.
This is the first book in a series called Beer Trails that will include works from the likes of Stan Hieronymus, Joe Stange and Adrian Tierney-Jones. I'm already looking forward to those stories.
In the meantime, I'm off for a beer.
PS: Evan's a good friend of mine. He sent me a free copy of the book, but you can buy it here in Amazon.