Beer and Philosophy

A very good man named Steven D. Hales has done two very good things: 1) he edited a book called Beer and Philosophy which is written mainly by professional philosophers who turn their keen minds to the central subjects of Beer Philosophy, and 2) he had the publishers send me a copy for review. This is not the first book publishers have sent me under the mistaken belief that I can move sales, and I often don't provide glowing reviews. I tell you this because I am about to not only give this book a glowing review, but actively milk it in this blog over the coming days and/or weeks (depending on how fast I move through it).

Beer books don't come in many flavors. There are technical brewing manuals, beer review guides, and introductions of various kinds. An occasional history or business volume, I suppose. In any case, it constitutes a thin gruel for those of us who really like to sink our teeth into the subject. So it is with great joy I welcome this offbeat book that has only something to do with beer but a lot more with enjoying beer.

I'll give you a little taste here, from the first chapter, of the kind of book it is:
Phenomenologically, then, we must take our bearings from this defining moment in the emergence of the objeject that you are proposing to savor. It is a beer. Nothing more or less. But what is a beer? Say it is a fermented malt beverage, and if I were your Zen master, I would break one of your legs with a 2 x 4. (Not really. I mean, as a teacher, how often do you need to create that kind of memory? I think there are insurance problems these days with trying to be a Zen master in the classic sense anyway.)
I select this passage for its dual resonances. As a (non-Zen) Buddhist, I really appreciate the allusion to the rod-bearing monk, ready to rap his acolytes at the first sign of dozing--the single stroke of which was occasion for many an incident of enlightenment (or so the stories say). But you also see the light hand and wit employed in the consideration of a subject which the author clearly relishes. (That author, by the way, is Dale Jacquette, of Penn State.)

I'll bring some of the sections to the blog and offer them for their literary pleasure and for your consideration. It may be something you'd like to pick up, but I don't want to be responsible for that kind of thing. I have my credibility as a useless blogger to think about.