As far as I can tell, a large percentage of the population of the North American continent enjoys going out to restaurants, bars, eateries, speakeasies, lounges, clubs, greasy spoons, inns, dives, and whatever colorful colloquial terms are also out there, that simply boil down to a place we go out to eat and drink at.
It is that second bit there that concerns me for this piece, though. While I do love foods of varied origin and make, I certainly am not an expert in that field; I’ll leave that bit to my masterful culinary roommate. What concerns me here is drink. It concerns me not simply in the context of when we go out, I am concerned about every instance we, as people of common cultural backgrounds, put a cup or bottle to our lips. I am concerned by what people are allowing to go past those lips. To me, there is nothing of greater importance than drinking well. Drinking well is simply a small part of living well; of living happy and healthy lives.
Drinks imbibed in this context are usually of some kind of zymergic descent. It will most likely be beer, since it is in fact the third most consumed beverage on the planet (only water and tea trump it, and I do not think water will capitulate its crown any time soon, since everything we drink is based upon water anyway). Now, here is the best news – we are unequivocally living in the greatest time in human history for beer. Never before have so many styles and variations been available, nor has the scope of distribution been so wide, or there being such an abundance of quality in these beers. In short, we should all be drinking up, because this time certainly is the apex of brewed joy. And the breweries leading this charge are all craft breweries.
The reason I am saying all of this is so that I may now forge ahead and explain why it is that you should be drinking craft beer over anything else, when you do choose to consume beer. An associated motive of mine is to convince you that you should also always choose beer over other alcoholic beverages. Forgive a brewer for his ulterior motives, if you would.
To accomplish this end, I plan to start at the very beginning. The very beginning of our history, in fact. Beer has always been there, in one form or another, to sustain and embolden us as a species, and as a support of human culture. Through the lens of history, I will explain the how and why of beer’s importance to us, and how it remains as important as ever to our well-being and culture. I will also do my best to highlight styles of beer from differing eras of history, and what some modern day examples of those styles are (in case you would be interested to try them!). As such, my next column will be about Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, circa 6000 BCE. I hope that through this upcoming series I can inform and entertain, as well as convert readers into avid lovers of beer for both its history and its taste.
Jared Lewinski is obsessed with beer. As such, he has uprooted his life in New Jersey to attend the Brewmastery and Brewery Operations Management program at Niagara College, a program that has, for the past three years, been producing top-tier brewers for Canada and beyond. As a child of the American Craft Movement, Jared has big opinions and a love for big beers. His hope is to bring an outsider’s perspective to a fascinating and tumultuous time for Canadian and Ontario made craft beer, and the culture that it represents…And is now knee deep in beer history!
Tsk! Tsk! We all grew up under the hegemony of Labatt’s and Molson’s stranglehold on our taste buds by virtue of “THE BEER STORE”, or, as it was known back in its hay day – BREWER’S RETAIL. Henceforth, today’s micro-craft-pub explosion appears to be, well, as liberating for beer drinkers in Ontario as the collapse of the Berlin Wall was for those Germans. However, go back 100 years and witness the fact that, prior to the birth of the 400 series highways and just-in-time inventories, every town or city worth its salt in Ontario had a least one brewery. My home town, Sarnia, had two. I have several original unused bottle labels to prove it. Also, across the river, in Port Huron, Michigan, they had two breweries. The problem was no one travelled far from home back in the day, so, yes, your choice was rather limited. If, however, you did travel the province far and wide as my grandfather did in his government capacity, visiting hundreds of villages/towns/cities, per year, then you were exposed to an incredible variety of beers. And not just different varieties on a theme. No, more often than not, the brewmasters came from European countries other than Ireland, Scotland, and England.
Henceforth, I suggest, we are only going back to the future, albeit, in a more convenient, flavour of the month mode.