We have a saying in New Albany, which I typically refer to as the “Thrasher Axiom” in honor of the man who coined it: “We’re all here because we’re not all there.”
These words of extreme wisdom should be inscribed on each and every civic sewer bill and commemorative Harvest Homecoming wooden coin, except the axiom needn’t be restricted to any one municipality, college, trinket shop or goat farm. It’s universal.
Geography by necessity limits us; physically, we can’t ever be more than one place at a time. However, in terms of our consciousness, the scope is far less restricted. New Albanians needn’t be rooted in mundane prevailing realities; rather, now as before, day dreaming is absolutely free — and by extension, again speaking about consciousness, we all arrive at wherever we are right now via different pathways and experiences, which must be kept in mind especially when the discussion turns to generational differences.
When I was a kid, we had a black and white television set, some construction paper, scissors and school paste. These days, an eight-year-old is a “digital creator” on social media with all the digital bells and whistles. These situations differ. While I can and do complain until the cows come home (spoiler: steaks come from them, not Kroger) about millions of adults claiming to be “digital creators,” the true significance of the comparison lies in what we were taught when young, and how we learned the lessons.
Or, to be breathtakingly obvious, current beer “creators” (and their customers) who are younger than my own cohort grew up differently than we did. Not better or worse, but differently. There is nothing shocking or innovative about this observation; it’s just that lately, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about how my attitudes toward beer were shaped in days of relative youth by a simplistic milieu in which better beer was largely unknown.
Specifically, 2023 will always be remembered (at least inside my noggin) as the year of the St. Patrick’s Day Massacre. Rather than recap in this space the green beer wars sadly occurring on that day, go here: Green with entropy?
The way I felt about the beer revolution in America in 1989, when there’d been only tiny inklings of it in Louisville and environs, helped to shape my consciousness about better beer. After all, the Marxists always said that class consciousness must come first, as it leads to readiness for class revolution.
In the case of beer around here during the 1980s, some of us were attending class in search of consciousness, and trying our best to pass along the knowledge. Teaching genuinely was the crux of it.
Regular Hip Hops readers, to whom I remain grateful for their patronage and comments, are perhaps (painfully) aware that I’ve been writing a series called “40 Years in Beer,” now extended to 41, about my time in the beer business. It is intended as the prelude to a book; cross your fingers and share my hope that “books” still exist by the time I’m finished.
The most recent episode explores the situation in late 1989, at the age of 29, when I returned home from a long stay in Europe and began considering what I wanted to do when I grew up. Of course even at 62 the destination isn’t entirely clear, although my Weltanshauung has been burnished to a high sheen during the decades since then.
I became found of the German word Weltanshauung, defined as “a particular philosophy or view of life; the worldview of an individual or group.” This is precisely what I was looking to establish, Weltanschauung, as a prelude to entering the business of catering to it; my aim was let people know what they were missing, then be among the handful capable of providing the compensatory experience.
Who said I didn’t have a mission statement?
My evolving Weltanschauung of beer would cater to beer lovers who wanted more than flavorless dollops of alcohol, mindless brand loyalty and meaningless drinking assignations. Beer was about something, and we could be about something, too.
And why ask why? Why be concerned about such weighty matters when drinking gallons of inferior beer was fun? It’s because for me, it wasn’t fun any longer. To the contrary; we had work to do if we wanted to rescue beer from bad taste and bean counters.
In the United States beer had devolved to a base level of commoditized triviality; bearing in mind that only the first glimmers of the “craft” beer revolution/corrective were discernible in the Louisville metropolitan area during the 1980s, all we seemed to have at home was a succession of light, lighter and lightest golden lager beers; incessant and vapid advertising aimed at children and the plainly feeble-minded; and Mad Mothers running rampant while advocating the establishment of a surveillance state.
Here’s the link to the latest, and thank you for reading: 40 Years in Beer, Part Twenty-Five: The end of the beginning (1989-1990).