Europe Calling (And Points Beyond?)
Well hello, hive mind. How have you been lately? I have a few things to discuss, so I hope you have a few minutes.
This autumn I will be returning to Britain, Belgium, and Berlin, and not just because I am a fan of alliteration. The second edition of The Beer Bible is well underway, and I need to shore up some of the dated material by seeing what’s shaking in those places. In order to do justice to the diversity of breweries in the three Bs, a couple of weeks at a minimum will be in order. (Previous Beer Bible rambles lasted nearly a month each.) For the purposes of the book, these stops should be adequate.
However! A lot is happening in beer right now, and very few locations on the planet are untouched. To put some context in place, although The Beer Bible came out in 2015, I turned in the manuscript on May 1, 2013—now six long years ago—and the current edition won’t be released for a couple years. If you can think back to six years ago, You’ll recall it was a very different time. (Until 2010, pale ales were the best-selling American craft style; IPAs didn’t finally surpass them until 2011.)
Scandinavia has been a hot spot since before I turned the first edition in, as were New Zealand and Britain. But when I visited London for the first time in 2011, there were around 20 breweries; now there are, what, over 80? Since then, much of the rest of the world has started to catch up. Eastern Europe, Japan, Mexico and parts of Central and South America, China, and Australia all jump out. I was delighted to document the emergence of craft brewing in France and Italy (both of which have had a notable effect on American brewing). Now that’s happening in other parts of Europe; Spain, Ireland, The Netherlands, and the Baltics (aided by an unbroken lineage of farmhouse brewing documented by Lars Garshol).
So while I have to visit the three Bs, I could visit any number of other fascinating destinations. The value to The Beer Bible of any extra locations would be quite small; in the book I have to highlight major breweries and scenes the average reader might encounter. I have no doubt that there’s a brewpub somewhere in Bucharest that will blow my mind (wait, let’s get off the Bs—Budapest. No, I mean Madrid!), but I probably won’t be able to include it there.
Of course, I could include it here. And on the podcast and in articles. So now to you, wise hive mind, a few questions to consider and provide feedback on:
- Do you actually care? Americans have become blind to Europe. I see the metrics, and I know the click rate on European posts is not great. Do not tell me reflexively that you care. Imagine a post on a brewpub in Bucharest—would you actually click through, read a thousand words, and share it?
- I happen to live in Far Oregon—perhaps you missed that. 🙂 It’s expensive and arduous to get about anyplace beyond the West Coast. Let’s say you’ve answered yes to the first bullet. Would you help underwrite the time and travel through, say, a Patreon membership or Indiegogo campaign?
- If you live in one of these distant places, would you offer some support? A couch is always welcome. I have given speeches for the cost of a plane ticket. I like seeing big breweries and am amenable to junkets—with, of course, the typical restrictions. Keep in mind that I’m planning to go to Europe anyway, so a lot of these costs will not include flying halfway across the globe (unless you live in Lima or Tokyo).
- If all of this is exciting to you, would you like to participate in creating my extended itinerary? I love collaborations and it would be fun to follow your lead.
I’d like to emphasize that I am absolutely content with the three Bs. That bit’s already funded. I just happen to be a beer writer, one with great access who can get tours at virtually any brewery in the world. I hope you find my writing fun and engaging. This would be a way for interested readers to send me into more obscure terrain and report back. I have tracked down a good camera (thanks, Chris), and should be able to offer great photos and videos as well.
Erik Loomis, a historian, writes for a political blog I read. Years ago, he started a series where he visits the grave of an American, often famous or infamous for a niche life, and tells there biography. Eventually readers started to fund his excursions to figures they cared about. This idea emerged from his series, and I wondered if there was similar interest here. If so, we can probably figure out the details. Please comment here or in the usual places (Twitter, Facebook) if you have opinions. I’ll consider silence a polite pass and I’ll just give you kickass coverage when I visit the currently-planned locations.