Brew like a BB King

LucilleThe other day I’m making the rounds reading some of the other beer blogs I enjoy, when Stonch makes it a point to send us toward Epiphany, from Shut Up About Barclay Perkins.

I’ll now pause while you go read that…

….Apparently, I’m not the only person who found that post profound, as yesterday I noticed that Stan at Appellation Beer made reference to it as well. To me, the idea of “honest beer” is the very essence of honest living, something that the grander scheme upon which my idea of brewvana is built.

But it’s so easy to get distracted. It’s so easy to get caught up. It’s so easy to shop at Wal-Mart. It’s so easy to eat at McDonald’s. And it’s so easy to juggernaut our way toward stunt beer after stunt beer leaving our tastebuds exhausted and our local brewpub struggling to make ends meet because their beers aren’t cool enough anymore.

It may be blasphemy for me to say it, but I, for one, am a little sick of hops–especially American hops. Having taken a sabbatical for about two years, I’m only now regaining an appreciation for an American pale ale or IPA.

For those same couple of years, I’ve been making some effort to Brew Like a Monk. On one hand it’s very simple. On the other hand, it’s right difficult. To get my dubbels where I want them, I keep adding a little of this, a little of that. Or place my hops differently throughout the boil. A simple grain bill is one thing, but I’d wager that the mash schedules for some of these Franconian nectars are a touch overbearing. It’s also likely that a little lagering is in order. Try as I might to brew simply, these two issues provide a challenge to the run-of-the-mill homebrewer like myself. Step-infusion mashing takes effort. Lagering, and fermenting at cooler temperatures for that matter, takes a spare fridge. It’s only recently that I’ve gotten myself in a position for the latter.

As a music fan, I find myself thinking of BB King or Stan Getz. These are two of the most gifted musicians, yet their signatures are embedded in economy. They don’t waste a single note to say what they’ve got to say. BB King is a Belgian dubbel while Tom Morello is a double IPA. The fact is they are both amazing. But to think that BB found his niche without years (lagering) of meticulous (probably including a decoction) practice, is naive. And it must be pointed out that while Morello is best known for his blistering guitar work for Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, a listen to “Getaway Car” is in order. That kid can play his guitar like a monk as well.

In the grand scheme of things, I think all this is very important stuff. If American brewers had left it like it was, many of us would still be drinking Bud Light. The envelope needs to be pushed. But the roots must not be forgotten. This is true in the world of beer, and this is true in everyday life. If we shop at Wal-Mart, small towns will disappear. Hardware stores, shoe stores, clothing stores, one by one will be forced to close their doors. I say will, but this has been happening for years. This is bad. Craft beer is taking (has taken) beer back. We should also consider the notion of taking small businesses, and with them small towns, back. I don’t want to eat at McDonald’s. I want to eat at a real place owned by real people, where they make fresh pies from scratch.

I want to brew like BB King. And Ella Fitzgerald. And Jimi Hendrix. And Iggy Pop. And Stan Getz. And David Lee Roth. And Lucinda Williams. And Joey Ramone. And Frank Sinatra. And Dave King. And Dave Rawlings. And Angus Young. And Johnny Cash…

And brewvana, in beer and in life, is as simple as that.

One Response to Brew like a BB King

  1. […] Brew Like a BB King (talks about the “less is more” approach to beer and music) […]

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