Why I Write About Beer Redux

(Talking to Myself)

13 July 2007/13 August 2018… after eleven years.

Eleven years ago, I wrote a blog entry in which I tried to explain what I believed I was doing; writing about beer as a profession.

As I re-read it, after so many years, I see me in a new perspective, like when you first see a portrait of yourself in any medium and have that shocking realization that others do not see us as we see ourselves.

Which calls fourth two of my favorite quotations.

The obvious from Robert Burns (1759 – 1796), “O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!”

And a complimentary observation by Anaïs Nin, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

From this new perspective it is quite possible to conduct a conversation with oneself past and oneself present as easily as any writer discusses a projects strengths and weaknesses with themselves.

To make it less difficult for you to follow the conversation I shall speak in bold face and my earlier self shall be a shadow figure.

I shall begin…

Why do I write about beer?  The easy answer to that is, “because that’s what I do.”

You mean that’s what you have chosen to do because it once was, and surely can be again, a financially and professionally rewarding venture.

I could tell you a romantic story about how young man started out as a freelance writer, became an editor, and finally the author of two beer books and working on more.  But I’m not going to get into that today.

Still resting on those laurels? What have you done for me lately?

The real reason I write about beer is because it’s fascinating.

Now you are talking sense!

I am sure that breaking the genetic code is also fascinating.  However, I don’t believe that sipping an ice cold pint of genetic code can compare to sipping a perfectly chilled amber ale.

What do you mean by “ice-cold” pint and “perfectly chilled amber ale”… Surely you realize that “ice-cold” is only for mega mass-produced factory beers, and Amber Ale is served between 40F and 50F… cellar temperature. And what the hell does breaking the genetic code have to do with the ancient and honorable profession of writing?

I can also assure you that understanding the genetic code, as specific as that is, loses out when compared to beer, its history, its social influence, its political influence, and its nutritional influence only scratched the surface of the fascinating thing that is “beer”.

Now you are back in focus…. How long can you hold that focus?

First of all: what is in it? Then, how is it made?  How long has it been around?  How many kinds are there?  Why does this beer taste different than that beer?  Once I understood what beer was and how it was made I begin to understand what makes a good beer.  Once I understood what a good beer was I was able to put every beer I drink in perspective.

So far so good, now hit me with the importance socially and culturally and all the various food in various parts of the world embrace beer as a beverage of choice traditionally. Bring it on!

And then there was “context”.  There have been some mornings I am drinking a beer at 10 o’clock and posting the tasting notes here on this blog. (It takes an outstanding beer to catch my attention at that time of the morning.)

There you go again, wandering off focus! What’s worse, it sounds as if you are complaining.

I have learned more than 100 people have forgotten about beer, while interviewing brewmasters such as Garrett Oliver at Brooklyn Brewery, Jim Koch of Boston Beer, Al Marzi of Mass Bay Brewing Company and Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing Co.  And, I cannot begin to count the enjoyable meals in restaurants, at home, and in the middle of a Vermont woods in which the beer made the event memorable.  All of the previous mentioned have been not only fascinating experiences but also what I call “research”.

My word! Can you drop any more names?! Aren’t you proud of yourself! Now tell me what you have done with this huge wealth of information, knowledge and brewing lore?

Of course all this sounds like fun, but is it lucrative?  It depends on how you define lucrative.  If you define it by listing assets of real estate, financial holdings, and stocks and bonds, then it has not been terribly lucrative.  However, if you accept it “lucrative” as having had the chance to enjoy some of the best beer, best food and the company of some of the best people in the world, then it is certainly lucrative.

That’s a rather romantic coda to this piece but, if I was editing this/that piece, I would toss the first paragraph and the last paragraph and fact-check the rest with a fine-tooth comb.

And that’s why I write about beer.

Well let me tell you why “I” write about beer.

Like you, I am fascinated with every aspect of beer. I can see the range and depth of its influences in the growth of civilization. The path from home hearth to Ale Wife to Tavern to the “Scientific” and later “Industrial Age” is well documented and can form a strong basis on which can be built a most accurate view of history over the last two hundred years or so. The divisions and the connections can be seen most clearly when viewed through beer glasses.


Peter LaFrance



13 July 2007/13 August 2018… after eleven years.