Thursday, July 23, 2015

Keep Calm & Drink A Beer?

There are some scenarios that necessitate rage.

In a world where machines--corporate or otherwise--dictate what's considered common value, sometimes rage is an appropriate response.

Speaking of appropriateness...

"Keep Calm, and Carry On" was a phrase originally used to counter the collective anxiety and mass hysteria that might otherwise have made the English (who were being threatened with bombs by Nazis) freak-the-fuck-out.

From Wikipedia:
"The poster was intended to raise the morale of the British public, threatened with widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities.[1]"

It's since been re-visioned in a variety of contexts to communicate the same essential message--attend not to your anxieties, but to the past-times, distractions, busyness of life that ease the sober tensions and discomforts you'd otherwise find difficult to ignore.

Speaking of discomfort...

What is the appropriate response when a monolithic conglomerate asks you to literally "drink the kool-aid"?

Should we should remain uncomfortable?

"[...] the issue with AB-InBev is what it has done in the past to squeeze its competitors – purchasing materials suppliers, for example, to choke off a competitor’s supply – and what it will continue to do in the future – staggeringly discounted keg prices of its purchased craft brands to regain and retain tap handle space, thus squeezing out independents."

Should we ignore past transgressions, or deny inevitable future conflicts of interest?

"Federal authorities allege that Anheuser-Busch InBev's $20.1 billion takeover of Grupo Modelo, announced in June, would 'substantially lessen competition in the market for beer in the United States as a whole' and result in consumers "paying more for beer and having fewer new products from which to choose," according to the Justice Department."

Should we attend to our stomach pains?

Should we silence or repress outrage? Or should we instead acknowledge our collective discontent as a necessary, and productive expression that moves us toward requisite change?

Speaking of change...

One might conclude (without knowing the boundaries beyond our blue planet) that we live at the center of the universe. At one time, this was commonly accepted as truth.

We now know the belly button is not actually the source of gravitational pull, and that the universe is instead expansive and unknown. That it expands in an elastic and predictable way (equal & opposite) and will eventually rebound toward the center...

And in the universe of beer, the rebound appears to be moving in a new direction.


What happens when we throw ourselves *toward* fear is a funny thing. Pain is inevitable, but we also urgently and creatively adapt to our circumstances.

When you get on a bike for the first time, gravity is both the antagonist and the agent of continued motion. The thing which pulls you toward the pavement *and* the thing that pulls you forward in graceful motion. Some of us (most of us) learn to ride that momentum toward unfamiliar destinations. To steer that moving, dynamic body of energy down roads of our choosing.

I encourage you to run toward the fear. To refrain from distractions. To see the antagonist not just as the impediment to change, but an opportunity for creative adaptation. To seize the opportunity to get up in that saddle and fly. Just fly.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A {Brewtiful} Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference--Asheville, North Carolina

More snapshots on Instagram @heybrewtiful

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference in Asheville, North Carolina along with over 150 registered beer writers, sponsors, and enthusiasts.

Four days and many tweets later, the online chatter is still ongoing with wrap-ups from writers around the country. It's worth a look if you've ever wondered what it looks like when a bunch of people with a mission for beer and beer writing descend on a city smartphones in hand (#beerslaughter).

Some highlights of the trip for me were several delicious visits to Burial and Wicked Weed, a tour and dinner celebration at Sierra Nevada lead by none other than Ken and Brian Grossman (talk about legacy), and getting to hear from keynote speaker Kim Jordan, CEO and Co-founder of New Belgium.

I also volunteered to speak on a panel (more of that to follow).

As anyone who lives in the digital age likely knows by now, the potential soul-crushing power of the internet is theoretically quantifiable by multiplying your current level of fear and anxiety (times) the number of internet connections in the hands of your audience. So by the time day two of the conference rolled around, the back-channel twittershit-talking, humorous as it may have been, had me more nervous than--the nervous person I usually pretend not to be (I'm so good with words: #howdidigetthisjob).

If I sucked, I'd certainly find out afterward while it was happening. (It's also probably going to take a while before I can stop myself from reflexively hashtagging #allthethings.)

Anyway, I took the honesty is the best policy approach and admitted I'd be using the podium as a security blanket before slipping into a dissociative state and watching myself crack jokes and admitting to weakness before this army of social-media-savvy gunslingers. And I survived!

Fortunately, we'd all started drinking well before noon (it's a beer conference in a very literal sense, people) so I also had a little liquid courage in my arsenal by the time 2pm rolled around.

Moderating the panel was Alan McCormick of Growler Fills, who lead Bryan D. Roth, Oliver Gray, and myself in a presentation entitled "Beyond the Beer Review." Last year I placed third overall in the NAGBW competition for beer blogging, and ended up being invited to speak with this very prolific, and established, group of writers. Big thanks to Alan for helping it all come together so well, and for compiling our slides into a cohesive whole.

Until I can get a more detailed rendition of my notes pulled together (and some audio to go with #staytuned) here's some slides that may or may not make sense without accompanying text/explanation. Whee!

(Session description below)

I have a series of follow-up posts scheduled for you in the coming week(s) but until then, I'm going to dive right back into real life and start running like mad to catch up to all the other beer obligations I have in my life--like working for these lovely people.



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