Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Music Inspired Beer Blogging | Guy Clark

They sat in the back and drank for free and rhymed orange and Rosalie... now there's a pride of lions to draw to.
- Guy Clark, Cold Dog Soup
Music is a big part of my life. I can't play any instruments, but I listen to good music all day long, nearly every day. My tastes in music are as varied as my taste in beer, and often a song's lyrics will lead me to a mental image of good times where beer was served. For a while now I've wanted to do a blog entry that was inspired by the above lyric, so here we go.

First Up, Guy Clark

The imagery of the perfect bar is one I dream of quite often. While I love the boisterous bars with their loud music and pretty people, I'm drawn to the back rooms where often drunken conversations lean toward things of little importance. I was part of an evening like this at last year's Barleywine Festival at Toronado, walking up the hill to Magnolia where things were calmer, chatting with the day's judges about the misuse of the term "Imperial" in American brewing, before my regular loathing of our brewer's still using the term IPA when we've clearly moved away from the English concoction that originally served to inspired beers like Liberty and Bridgeport's IPA. Sure, we weren't rhyming Orange or Rosalie, but the meaningless conversation seemed to mean something then. I guess it still does. These talks have played out in many bars, garages, back yards and homes. Often they get intense, as the bantering exposes assumptions and conclusions not shared by everyone at the table.

Of course, the Cold Dog Soup's reference includes the likes of Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac who sat in the back and drank for free. This conjures up, for me anyway, time spent with people admired today in the beer community - drinks with Don Younger, Fred Eckhardt and countless brewers around the country. It's something special, a special place and often something you can't really plan for, the chance meetings and spontaneous conversations over cold beer. It isn't just an image of the famous people, either, as I have just as much fondness of the back room gatherings with judges and friends.
Ain't no money in poetry
That's what sets the poet free
I've had all the freedom I can stand
The song also makes me wonder who the modern "Beat Generation" for beer is, those friends in the trenches whose work it is to write not just about beer and the industry, but to challenge us, inspire us and make the beer world a better one. A few names come to mind in writing, but nothing so solid as the "brett pack" of brewers whose competitive friendships have pushed them to brew better beer in the spirit of friendly competition. I'm still new to the beer writing world, I know that, so I clearly don't know all the players personally. However, it's assuring to me when I read of writers traveling together, meeting in far away cities and genuinely looking forward to the next such meeting. It's also good to see bloggers communicating with others in their posts, even if their names are never mentioned. There's a few folks I see several times a year, at various beer fests, and maybe someday this year we'll all gather together and pose meaningless questions that lead to meaningful conversations. Last year such a time was had at the home of the Beer Goddess, Lisa Morrison during the OBF. On the back porch, enjoying beer and talking about whatever came to mind. Just this past weekend I was honored to sit in the Celebrator office with Jay Brooks, Tom Daldorf and Phil Lowry - escaping the mad-house that was The Bistro for a quick breather and taking a few minutes to just BS (and use the clean restroom). Perhaps I should ask you who the modern "beer beat generation" is, do you know?
Townes Van Zandt standin' at the bar
Skinnin' a Hollywood movie star
Can't remember where he parked his car
Or to whom he lost the keys
Full of angst and hillbilly haiku
What's a poor Ft. Worth boy to do
Go on rhyme somethin' for em' man
Show him how you really feel
We all have different heroes and dreams, but I figure most of you have an idea in mind for a time gathered with friends or respected people over a good beer. I also figure you're looking forward to the next such happening. I know I am. Maybe next time we'll get around to rhyming orange and Rosalie.