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So David and I survived Dryanuary*. I’m working on a post summarizing the lessons learned from going a month without drinking, which was originally going to end up in the newsletter, until I realized it was two pages long and you guys had better things to do with your lives.
We’re off to Australia and New Zealand for a month — David for work, and me to tag along and explore the beer, food, and culture of both countries. I also managed to pack my entire life in a large-sized backpack, as we’ll be spending a little over a week driving around in New Zealand via converted van, and those things are rather … compact.
Did you know that Australia raised its beer tax another 1.2% on Feb. 2? That puts the average price of beer in Sydney at $7.87, the 27th highest in the world, according to a study commissioned by finder.com.au. For what it’s worth, that’s still cheaper than New York City ($9.79), Dublin ($8.54) or London ($8.38). The highest priced pint is in Dubai at $15.10, while the lowest was $0.92, in Caracas.
Despite all that, I’m still looking for all your juicy beer and food ideas for Sydney, Perth and the entire country of New Zealand. Feel free to drop me a DM at @purrfectpint, or an email at email@example.com.
In this issue of The Fizz, I share my thoughts on @Brewdog’s new look and the very cool new @Guinness Storehouse Tour, a piece on the social importance of the pub from @helfitzgerald, @beervana talks about what he’s learned from 10 years writing about beer, and the origin story of the ‘Karen’ meme, amongst other good content.
Also, we’re in Doha, Qatar right now on a long layover. There’s no beer to speak of, but the architecture is absolutely stunning.
* But for a minor break late in the month so I could attend the Capital Brewers Meetup here in Dublin, I was alcohol-free. David didn’t drink anything above a few sips of AF beer, and a negligible sample of the IPA I bottled on Sunday. And I’ll profess that I mostly cajoled him into those sips…
So Brewdog spent a week teasing us about their new rebrand, and finally released details on Thursday. It’s uh, okay I guess?
Personally, I liked their old branding, and felt it made them stand out. This sort of reminds me of other beers I’ve seen. Their larger initiative around sustainability and climate action, however, is legitimately cool. Also, it would be wicked awesome if Equity for Punks peeps received those adorable badges for every bar visited.
Guinness Storehouse: Dublin brewery tours let guests behind gates – USA Today. Yeah, so not only does this look really cool, but it features Padraig Fox, who is legit one the nicest people in all of Ireland. Starting in February:
The beer giant is now offering a storehouse tour that allows guests to go “behind the gates” at St. James Gate Brewery. It’s separate from the longstanding ticketed storehouse visit …”It’s a real in-depth behind-the-scenes look at both our brewing process but told through the history of the site – you get to see parts of the iconic brewery that even some employees don’t have access to, so it’s really something special,” Fox said.
The whole affair is about 3 hours long, and runs about $105 a pop, but, you get to see a lot, including the Roasthouse and Open Gate, and even get to traverse the underground tunnels to Brewhouse 4 (where Guinness is made), and old vathouses dating back to the 19th Century. You also get to drink some in-process beers at Open Gate, sample finished beers at Arthur’s Bar, and get a real brewery tour, rather than just a museum visit. I think I might have to take the tour at some point, just to y’know, check and see what hidden gems there are. If it included a visit to the library/archives, all the better! Tours run every Wednesday and Friday.
Man urinates his way out of avalanche – El Reg. I’m pretty sure this is exaggerated bullshit, but I did at least track this to a more reliable source than the clickbaity garbage site I originally saw it on. Gotta keep things light here at The Fizz.
Brooklyn’s forgotten Irishtown and the whiskey wars it waged – Irish Central. An oldie, but a very interesting piece of history discussing the battle between Brooklyn’s police and military, and the moonshiners and residents of Irishtown.
Many Irish, fleeing the Great Famine in the late 1800s, settled in Brooklyn, where they worked in the docks, as firefighters, factory workers, or, more importantly, moonshiners. And the moonshiners in particular, were never really keen on paying their taxes, see.
For years, there was a mostly peaceful co-existence. Revenue officers, flanked by police, would come in, seize a few barrels here or there (usually with a bit of advanced notice after collecting their fee), levy a fine, and then move on. But in 1873, at the behest of local politician Silas B. Dutcher, the Marines were dispatched. And things got ugly.
The Velvet Caps of Irishtown, a gang that was headquartered on the Little Street docks, sprung to action and fought valiantly. People took to the clapboard and tenement rooftops with their “Irish confetti,” throwing “dornicks” (rocks), paving stones, chimney bricks and from kitchen windows women threw streetwise their “kitchen utensils… gyrating through the air.”
A great battle ensued, but the soldiers had ten-day rations and held fast. Although illegal stills and gangs didn’t completely disappear, the old days of Irishtown’s insular, Celtic civilization began to wear away, particularly so after the immigration of so many other ethnic groups into the area.
A Smithsonian article on the same topic has even more information, for the curious.
Lived in Bars – Goodbeerhunting. Helena Fitzgerald (@helfitzgerald) beautifully captures why drinking and bar culture is as much, if not more, about social bonding, as actually imbibing. While she focuses on New York, the same sentiment easily describes Dublin, and likely major drinking cultures around the world:
Drinking is a social language for New Yorkers. To be relational is to be drinking, and to have a social life is to drink. Or that’s how it’s presented, anyway, with a total ubiquity that’s stunning the minute you allow yourself to look straight at it. “Get drinks” is a euphemism that means “see each other socially.” Any kind of social gathering between two or more people is “drinks.” “Drinks” is how we distinguish that we want to have fun, that we aren’t going to try to ask any professional questions, like we might if we had said “get coffee.” “Drinks” is a word gone blank with overuse, so constantly present that it’s easy not to notice it at all; during the time I have not been drinking, I have probably made plans to get drinks at least once a week, every week. This euphemistic language carries the assumption that drinking is how one enters and participates in the social world.
I was at dinner yesterday with friends, and we discussed why drinking was important to us. For me, it’s the community of fellow drinkers that I’ve met in Ireland. We share a common interest, but deeply varied backgrounds, passions, pains and experiences. Yet we can always be assured to bond over a great beer. Or bitch about a crappy one. But, through that initial common interest, we also discuss our lives, our hopes, our dreams. We share our struggles. The alcohol cuts the anxiety of sharing, and friendships grow.
For me, at least, the bonding feels genuine, which can be hard to get out of the gregarious, but arms-length niceness that many Irish people express normally. Over dinner, we all struggled to think of friendships that have developed beyond a surface level that weren’t based at least in some part, around beer or drink.
During our month of sobriety, it was hard to get motivated to go out and engage socially. That hook of ‘getting a drink’ wasn’t there anymore. Moreover, I felt like if I did go out to a bar, as I love to do when I’m working on this blog, I’d chat with the bartenders, or my fellow patrons, and be tempted to break my vow of abstiinence.
But maybe I was too harsh to the bars that I love. As Fitzgerald muses when she went, she didn’t drink, but still felt like “[the bar] was one of the first places that affirmed that the things I loved about drinking might be far less connected to alcohol itself than I had worried they might be.”
Also, Fitzgerald’s larger point — that there’s nothing wrong with examining the why in why we drink, is an important one. Is it habit, or genuine happiness? I still don’t have an answer to that one. I’m sure it will take a little processing to figure out whether I can go to pubs on the regular for just the social commaraderie, as opposed to the inevitable draw of a beer.
Drinking alcohol every day can speed up brain aging by one week per session, according to a study of more than 17,000 people – Insider. And with that, we move to this uh, sobering finding.
University of Southern California researchers, examining over 17,000 brain scans of adults aged 45 – 81, found that for “every gram of alcohol consumed a day, the brain aged 0.02 years — or, seven-and-a-half days. (The average can of beer or small glass of wine contains 14 grams of alcohol). People who reported drinking every day had brains which were, on average, 0.4 years older than people who didn’t drink daily.”
Smoking was even worse, apparently. Since I’m without internet access whilst writing this, I can’t view the study, which relied on an algorithm estimating brain age against self-reported alcohol and tobacco consumption. I suspect there’s a bit of headline-grabbing exaggeration here, and the specifics aren’t clear (e.g., exactly what was the algorithm using to calculate brain age? How precise was the algorithm?), but it’s food for thought, at least.
Does Whiskey Go Bad? Everything You Need to Know – GearPatrol. Like beer and wine, opened whiskey also ages. And when it does, it can go bad, experiencing a phenomena known as ‘flavor drift.’ Sealed whiskey, on the other hand, unless it’s exposed to lots of sun, does not lose its flavor.
All The Things I Misunderstood (With Thanks) – Beervana. I swear, I want to feature other folks, but Jeff Alworth just keeps putting out gold. This article really speaks to me, as I’m currently trying to pursue similar aims.
Today marks a personal milestone. Ten years ago I finished my last day as a researcher at Portland State University, my job for the previous fourteen years, in order to devote all my time to writing. I began that adventure blind, knowing it would be very hard to pull off (correct!), but entirely misunderstanding what my life would look like. I have managed to carve out a living this way, but the job an entirely different from the one I thought I’d signed up for. If you’ll indulge an over-sharing blogger on this anniversary, I’d like to tell you about it.
In ten years, Jeff shares what he learned, and how important beer and writing is to him. Unsurprisingly, so much of the real work of a freelance writer is not writing. I can appreciate this. I’ve had a few freelance careers in the past (I was a consultant and a researcher before trying my hand at this writing thing). Most of my time was spent on the administriva of life, and not the actual job itself.
And like other freelance gigs, there’s also a fair amount of side-hustle that has to be done to make ends meet. Now, in my fantasies, I was hoping that I’d stumble on the next great American beer book, and I’d be comfortable. But Jeff disabuses me of that notion. I’ll have to keep moving, and not rest on my laurels after all.
Karen: The anti-vaxxer soccer mom with speak-to-the-manager hair, explained – Vox. We’ve all seen this meme — but do you know the origins behind it?
This Vox explainer is surprisingly in-depth, and possesses the same level of quality as one of my favorite sources of internet lore, the Internet Historian.
The “Karen” meme has multiple origins, each one using the idea in slightly different ways. But one of the most prominent uses developed on Reddit, thanks to a redditor known for posting amusingly bitter invectives about his ex-wife — posts so amusing, they inspired a high school student to make an entire subreddit, r/FuckYouKaren, devoted to turning his saga into a meme.
The subreddit, first created by a 17-year-old from Irvine, California, chronicled this man’s pain. The subreddit grew, and the Karen meme — a caricature of a self-absorbed, demeaning, anti-science hypocrite, usually white — was born. Long after the OP left reddit, the picture he painted still lives on, in meme form.
Also, the author interviews Dr. I.M. Nick, a “nomenclature scholar and former president of the American Name Society,” which is one of the best uses of nominative determinism I’ve seen in some time.
YouTuber Flies Katie Hopkins To Prague To Give Her A Fake Award And It’s Utter Genius – The Hooksite. Oh how I love a good trolling, especially if it’s at the expense of a total human garbage pile like Katie Hopkins. Bravo, lads. A+ work. Please do Ivanka or Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh next.
Artist creates fake traffic jams on Google Maps with wagon of phones – Business Insider. This issue is just full of the lulz. Artist Simon Weckert pulled 99 smartphones through empty streets in Berlin via a red wagon, and single-handedly created a traffic jam. Or at least, Google Maps software thought he did. It’s both a bit of protest art, and a reminder that we can’t always trust what the data tell us.
Books On Beer [Affiliate Links]
No books announcement this week. If you’ve got one that I missed, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Other beery insights to brighten your week include the OCBG Podcast on Tuesdays, A Good Beer Blog’s Thursday News Updates, Shiny Biscuit’s The Gulp (also on Thursdays), and Boak & Bailey’s News, Nuggets & Longreads on Saturday.
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