Category Archives: Uncategorized

My New Year’s Plan (not resolutions)

Let’s be honest, the year ends on December 25.  For most of us, we gear our year toward getting to and past Christmas.  New Year’s Eve is just another excuse for people to drink too much (see St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween).  New Year’s Day is a day everyone gets off work to stay home, nurse hangovers, and watch sports.

So, why should I wait until next Monday to figure out my plan for the year?  I don’t like the term resolutions.  It seems like self-help flummery.  My plan this year is simple:  Learn something new every day.  To that end, every day I will: Meditate. Write, Read, Study.

If I do those four things, I should learn something new about myself, the world in general, and beer daily.  This will allow me to attain the things I want for my life.

I’m not going to bore you with the details.  I do have simple benchmarks I want to hit, but those should be easy if I do those four things consistently.

Meditation will be the key to all of it.  I’ve been sick and sleeping in the last couple of weeks.  First, I was waylaid by 3 separate viral infections and then I was waylaid by all the antibiotics I had to take.  So, I used last week, with no antibiotics in my system, just to sleep and rest as much as possible.  An unfortunate side effect of that is I didn’t meditate.  I can tell the difference in how my mind works from just a week of not imposing silence upon it and letting it rest.  Meditation clears my mind of the clutter and allows me to let go off all the things I can’t control and stay present in my own life.

My writing and my will to write grows stronger when I meditate.  Meditation allows me to focus on the ideas I have and the best words to use to express them.  My focus in my writing becomes clearer as my ideas become stronger and more fully developed when my mind isn’t cluttered with things that don’t matter.

Meditation and writing help me learn more about myself, but through reading, I gain a better understanding of the world around me.  Also, I love reading.  Any good long form writing immerses you in a different world and shows you through one story all of humanity.  As a writer, I’ve also found my writing gets stronger as I read more.  Through reading, I am reminded how much meaning words have and how important they are even as we live in a time when the world doesn’t think that is the case.

Finally, I want to pass the Cicerone exam this year, so I must study and that gives me the opportunity to learn something new about beer every day.  There is so much to learn about beer because it changes daily.  No man ever steps in the same river twice (Thucydides baby) just as no one ever drinks the same beer twice (unless it is a macrobrew).  That means I will be tasting more beer and writing about them here.

I am a person who loves routine who my friends and coworkers, I am sure, think is boring and unadventurous.  There is some truth to that.  I do love routine and sometimes fall into ruts so I don’t have to think about things outside of the important things in my life (writing and beer).  That is the key.  If you don’t read this blog or try to talk to me about something that I find interesting, you won’t get my intellectual curiosity and adventurousness.

So, that is what these four daily goals are here to indulge: my own curiosity.


November 24, 2016

There is no One Article today.  I’ve decided to take the day off from it, but before I start enjoying lots of food I am starting research on my state alcohol law project. The one thing I can say after just two hours of research is that all state alcohol laws and regulations are overly complicated. There are usually multiple state agencies in charge of rules and regulations and multiple state agencies in charge of enforcement.  That doesn’t include the additional layers of rules, regulations, and enforcement at the county and city levels.  This is before I’ve even gotten into how the laws regulate the actual the 3-tiered system.  I’m only looking at the who creates and enforces each state’s rule and regulations. This is giving me a headache. I think I need first lunch and a beer.

Yet Another Update

I’m no longer moving.  I’m no longer trying to get my cable/internet/phone working (at least for now).  I’m no longer buying crap for my new apartment.  I am now home.  I’m still getting my voter registration sorted out, which is made ridiculously difficult to keep that scourge of voter fraud from occurring by silly hoops to jump through (check out Media Matters for more statistics, but from 2000-2014 of the 1 billion votes cast there were a grand total of 31 cases of voter fraud).

Now with all that crap out of the way, I can concentrate again on writing and beer (and reading Ulysses and Hamlet).

I have a beer review in the hopper and I hope to get another one for next week.  So, I am back on my plan to do 1 or 2 reviews a week (working on my palate so I can take the Cicerone exam) and writing 1 or 2 other blog posts per week.  The Five Articles will start back on Sunday.

It feels good to be back and it feels even better to be home.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 3/21/16

It doesn’t matter how long I may stay away from the Five Articles, they always seem to come back to the same thing: the changing nature of alcohol laws in this country.  I tried to link to a few articles that talked about this specifically in Mississippi where the slight changes to the laws have led to a jump in the number and profit of Mississippi breweries.  Now, the brewers are trying to drag the laws from the 20th century into the 21st, but you can’t read that because the newspaper with those stories restricts access to those who have paid for a subscription.  Onto the articles you can read.

What Kind of Week It Has Been, 3/20/16

Before I get into what I wanted to write about today, I wanted to say something.  I’ve been gone for a while from this space.  I am an obsessive workaholic with trust issues.  That means I sometimes throw myself into my work to the point of physical or mental collapse and ineffectiveness.  That is what happened last week.  Through my own stubbornness and issues, I managed to simultaneously work too much and fuck up almost everything I touched while doing so.  It was a nice trick.  Anyway, last week has passed and now onto whatever the future holds.

The one thing managed to do successfully this past week was read.  I’m reading a couple of books right now, but the one I that has the most to do with my beer writing is Better Living Through Criticism by AO Scott.  Scott is the chief film critic for The New York Times.  He is a good read as well as a good reviewer.  What he attempts with this book is explain what a critic’s role in art is and how you can use that to make your enjoyment of art better.

I have long considered good craft beer and good craft brewing to akin to art.  At its best, it is an expression of the skill and creativity of brewers as they find ways to express themselves within the boundaries of what brewing is.  If it isn’t then we should all just drink Budweiser.  The best thing and most damning thing about Budweiser is that you can drink a Bud from any of its breweries around the world and it will taste the exact same as one from another brewery.

This is way of viewing brewing that many if not most, even in the craft beer community, do not have.  Beer is a product. A commodity to be manufactured, sold, and consumed.  When your job is to sell beer, it can be hard to remember how creative a brewer can be and should be.

Recently, I tasted a beer from a brewer who I respect more than most others because of the creativity and risks that brewer always takes with his beer.  I hated this beer.  It was an attempt that was unsuccessful as a commercially viable beer.  As a person tasked with selling beer to bar patrons, I was annoyed that this expensive beer was bad and unsellable.

As a writer who aspires to be a beer critic, I am fascinated by this beer.  Tasting it, I saw exactly what the brewer was trying to do and I could also see why it was not successful.  I struggled with how to define what was wrong with the beer in a different context then, “this is bad.”  What was bad about it; why did it turn out wrong; what was the brewer attempting; was he successful with that attempt; if he was successful, why didn’t the beer work.

I’ve always gravitated to reviews of beer and other acts of art that were more than just is this good or bad.  I want more than some star rating or whatever.  I want more than this sucks. That is all that most consumers and bar owners care about, however if we are to grow as a beer drinking community there has to be more than that.  We have to ask the next logical question after a beer is declared to suck:  why does it suck?

In his book AO Scott lays out three questions at the base of what a critic does.  I am paraphrasing here to gear the questions more towards beer, but here they are:

  1. Did you taste and feel that?
  2. Did you like it?
  3. Be honest.

To me, the most important part of that is, Be honest.  As a critic, you must be honest about what you taste, what you feel, and how it affects you.

To do that a critic must develop the skills to identify what he is tasting and the vocabulary to describe it.  They must also have the skill to do that in an effective and clear manner.  Again, above all else the critic must be ruthlessly honest with himself first and foremost.  That means understanding your predilections but not letting them define you or your criticism.

As humans, I think one of our jobs is to accept our mistakes and the bad things that happen to us and use them to grow and keep ourselves in the life we want to live.  For me, weeks like last week, remind me of the things I hold important to the life I want to lead.  I am reminded to remember every decision I make has to be with purpose, and that I must live consciously and stop coasting.  Trying to understand beer and place in a context of our shared humanity is how I choose not to coast.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 2/25/16

This will be quick.  I have another blog post that was supposed to be up yesterday to finish editing and post before I leave for work.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why Post-Super Bowl Edition, 2/8/16

Yeah, don’t read any articles about beer today. Why?  They will all be about crappy commercials and Peyton Manning drinking Bud.  The commercials were all expensive. You can tell because it costs a lot of money to come up with the almost psychedelic insanity of some of them.  The beer commercials were what you would expect large multinational companies who sell beer to come up with for their biggest night.

At least, the Shocktop commercial was funny because of TJ Miller.  The Bud Light commercial was a lot of hype for not much.  The Bud commercial was what you would expect from Bud, “We’re the biggest, therefore we’re the best.”  Any other beer commercials I don’t even remember.  Of course, the best advertisement for Bud was after the game when Peyton Manning said he was going to drink a lot of Bud before announcing he is retiring.  I will only say this in response, why don’t one of the many high-quality Colorado brewers send Peyton a truckload of their beer that is better then Bud with a note that says, “You can do better than Bud. Thank you, Peyton.”

Anyway, as you can tell at  this point I didn’t feel like writing a full Five Articles today.  Partially because there was nothing to really write about today.  There are plenty of articles about the Super Bowl ads and Peyton Manning drinking Bud.  There are a few articles about more states in the South moving their beer laws into the late 20th century, but that is nothing new.  The other reason is I had a very long and exhausting week.  I had planned to bear down and start my writing schedule, but multiple 12-14 hour days at work left me ragged out and semi-coherent.  Yesterday was the first that I turned on my computer in a week.

Not to worry dear friends, I should have a review coming up today and I will be writing about a chocolate and beer pairing we are doing at Craft next week.  That will go up probably tomorrow morning.

Anyway, I have some Gravity work to tidy up before I write my review.  See you in a bit.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/24/16

There are days when the beer news is a desert of silly fluff pieces and “this is the world of craft beer” stupidity.  Today is one of those days.  Currently, my car sits at the bottom of my driveway.  I came home last night and was only able to get the back end off the road.  The roads all the way to my house from work were clear, but my driveway was/is a sheet of ice.  At some point, I have to get out to go to the grocery store. The sun is out so things will start melting soon.  Anyway, here are five beer articles to read. These are the most interesting of a bad lot and I am full of the necessary sarcasm and snark.

A Quick Update

I know a couple of weeks ago I said changes were coming to the amount and types of posts I will be doing going forward.  Those changes are coming.  It’s just taken longer to implement than I had thought at the time.  Partly, that is because I want to do this right and I’m planning out a lot of what will happen in the first couple of months of the year. It is also partly because there is only so much time in the day and other things have to be taken care of.

I can say, next week expect two new review posts. If all goes well, they will be two side by side posts comparing a beer to its barrel aged partner.  There will also be a special post coming on Christmas Day.  This is the one I’ve been working on for over a week.  It is a refocusing document.

Part of what I’ve been doing the last few weeks is trying to remember why I write and why I write about beer.  I think this document is a good touchstone and guide going forward through the next year and beyond.

Rhythm and Consistency

One of the things I love about blogging is that it is not only a look into my loves and obsessions it also occasions me the opportunity to let people inside who I am.  In that spirit here is my first blog post in almost a month.

If you follow this space regularly (and with my recent publishing schedule, why would you), you know I haven’t posted in almost a month.  First, I was waylaid by a bad cold.  Then holidays started with Thanksgiving, and blah, blah, blah.

Those are excuses.  I haven’t written because I haven’t written.  The reason I haven’t is because with all things being equal, I will default to laying on the couch.

To combat this, I try to do two things regularly: meditate and write.  When I ignore one of those things (which I have done with my meditation practice) this is what happens.  I lose my life’s rhythm and consistency.  Not to bore you, but to get back to where I want to be and where I want my life to be, I will be making some personal changes to get meditation back in my life every day.

If I effect the things I can effect, everything like publishing every day will work itself out in the end.