To paraphrase Frank Zappa: Without beer to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid. A good beer festival, then, one that celebrates the diversity of great beer, should be there to decorate the calendar. It is a highlight in the year where we can be grateful that we have lives that afford us time to spend with friends of all political persuasions and viewpoints and celebrate a common passion. But why stick at one highlight?
I have travelled around the last twelve months with the aim of seeing how beer is celebrated. I’ve called this blog trip: “Around the Year in Beer Festivals”, and it’s seen postings from Woking in South East England and points north, up to Stockholm. If you’ve followed the trip, this is the final post of that journey. If this is your first visit, you can follow the see the whole journey unfold on the page Around the Year in Beer Festivals, as it happens.
As I sat down to write up the final festival of the year, the Great British Beer Festival, news came through that Croydon was burning. The Tottenham Riots became the London Riots, and writing about a big beer party seemed trivial. And for most of us, beer is trivial. If you don’t make your living from selling it or making it, beer is merely an accompaniment to daily life, a social spice, a beverage to go with whatever you are eating, watching, or listening to.
Then, as rioting and looting spread, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs came alive with opinions as to why they had started, what lay behind them, and what should be done about the people and communities involved. A complete spectrum of opinions, in fact. “friends” that I’d made through a combination of beer and social media turned out to have wildly differing politics. Who’d have thought… Just because we agreed on single varietal double IPAs or approved of the use of kegged craft beer, there was no guarantee for a homogeny of views on Solutions.
Then I realised: everything is covered in beer – much like Wetherspoons on a Saturday night. .Of course, what Zappa actually said in that quote about time was “Without music to decorate it…”. Truth be told, Uncle Frank was not a fan of beer – or any mood-altering substance other than tobacco, but he is famously attributed with saying that in order to be a proper country, it needed to have its own beer. I think that should be changed to “a country needs to have its own beer festival”.
A new beer festival year starts with the 20th Stockholm Festival. Maybe this year I’ll finally make it to the Great American Beer Festival, or a Belgian Christmas beer festival. I’ll report back – riots or not.
For the complete story, see the page:
Around the Year in Beer Festivals