Thursday, 4 September 2014

I’m in

On beer writing, or should that be beer-writing? So what’s in it for me, what’s the tin medal that I can pin on my sleeveless shirt when the day is done? So what’s in it for me to trim down words, throw down words, claw shapes like clown’s eyes and bring words along and place them on a blank white space with the idle hope that they make sense when posted into a box marked media? It’s only beer after all; this is the echo that reverberates through the known universe though I quite like the bounce back I get in the glass I have right now — raspberries, nine grains, pepper, a beer that repelled all boarders on first taste but grew and threw out all manner of intriguing shapes and words (Rubus Maximus if you must know, a deep skittle of musky, peppery,  fruity, tart and embracingly sour notes rolling down the wooden alleyway ready to strike all before them).

Talking? No let’s get this correct, I am talking, am going to write to be perfectly honest, writing then, about why I write about beer. Not, please note, evangelising, converting, offering consent and benedictions about beer — that will be left to the bereft who came briefly and recently to beer and thought a mission was needed, lessons be its name, in the name of the holy mash tun etc etc; no I don’t do it.

It’s an urge and a need to acquire the skill of a surgeon, to peel back the skin of beer, to see beneath, often to recoil and wait for the bus home but also to lie down in green pastures and summon up a total recall of why I started writing about beer and fell in love with it. It’s about miles taken, oceans and seas crossed, cities decanted into a notebook.

You can’t fall in love with beer, you can fall in love with the idea of beer, the ideal, the deal even, the seal that is stamped on your soul when you decide that writing about beer is something you might like to direct your life in the direction of.

And so I think, what do I receive when I ride like Paul Revere in the direction of beer, headlong into its embrace, letting it tread and trace all over my working life? Beer is more than an alcoholic notion for me, it’s a commotion in the soul, it’s the pub as coal, warming but on the verge of being extinct; but when it’s gone people will cry and smart phone their cries. Too late.

Beer writing. It’s people, it’s people who don’t get it right, who do get it right, who go off the rails, who rail against this and that; it’s people. It’s countries and of course it’s the cities and it’s the beers that the countries and cities inspire and fire up in the rush to sundering apart what has gone before.

And if I was being prosaic about why beer moves me enough to spend my working life writing about it I would say: people, the steeple like seriousness that is their history and its roots but there is also the Treebeard-like flexibility of each family who comes along and slaps the instinctive card down on the table and says yes, we are going that way instead of that way. 

In a continuation of the prosaic: beer has people, it has buildings, it has cities, it has countries, it has monarchs, it has a gastronomic tradition, both flitting between high and low and it is also the character at the docks with the much travelled suitcase as well as the stumbler in the station waiting to head off on a journey they’re not sure on as well as the secure-in-his-or-her station as they look through their wallet and worry not a jot; it is beer and it is clear that there is so much more to be said about it. I’m in.

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