Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where’s the love?

I can often be found sitting at a bar with mates drinking beer and the question will come up; “Where’s the love?” It is as much a statement as it is a question and it comes up regularly when the conversation turns to beer.

It is often used in our circles as a lamentation, a shake-of-the-head sigh, when we are served a beer that is not up to scratch or when the talk turns to the giant multi-national brewers whose empires are built on bland mainstream lagers. It is used to refer to a beer or a brewer who seems to be saying; ‘here it is, what you see is what you get and, really, it’s not much chop.”

‘Where’s the love?’ is the expression that encompasses the feelings of neglect and disappointment when a big beer baron dumps yet another ‘Idea Beer’ onto an already crowded market – another ‘fusion brew’ made with essence of lemon or ferret sweat or whatever the fad calls for – and we sit there and think of all the good beer that that equipment could have produced.

‘Where’s the love?’ also covers the ambivalent feelings that a so-so beer can elicit. You know the feeling? You try a new beer, the taste is fine, it’s true to style or whatever – but it’s just not quite there. It’s beer, it’s drinkable, it is what it says it is ... but ... it’s just missing that magic. That certain essence (not lemon or ferret sweat) that takes a beer from the ordinary to the magnificent, from the OK to the cracker category. That ‘something’ that makes you turn to each other, smile and nod – but not in a hand-holding, bottom-touching, poofy sort of way, but in a ‘I get what this bloke is trying to achieve with his beer’ kind of way.

‘Where’s the love?’ is also the call for a beer made by a brewer who is trying to brew more than just beer. It’s the guys at Mountain Goat who have installed water tanks on the roof of the brewery to flush the dunnies with and to save the good stuff for the beer. It’s the 2MT Brewery who use the spent grain to feed the cows who will later turn up as steaks to go with the beer. It’s The Red Hill Brewery planting and using their own hops and inviting friends and family over to harvest the crop and become part of the brewing process. It’s the lads at Matilda Bay or Little Creatures or 3 Ravens or Bridge Road Brewers and countless others who are bucking the trend for ‘the usual suspects’ and making new, revisited or experimental beers – beers that are not cheap to make and may not survive the marketplace – but that just might find a friend for a time. There’s the love!

So next time you sip a nice full flavoured, hand-made and expertly crafted beer, nod your head and be glad that not all beers and not all brewers, are the same.

Prof. Pilsner


Anonymous said...

Hey Professor.

What have you got in the fridge this week?

Beer Blokes said...


Funny you should ask! Answer on Friday.