86. Blood in Your Hair and "Belgian Weissbier" in Your Hand
A sampler of beer chat from addressing the situation in CBC's 2023 location to a new beer zine to *paid* Hugging the Bar subscriptions, plus tarot for a breather and a helles.
A few bits and bobs of beer talk this week…a tasting flight of content, if you will.
Tennessee’s Anti-Trans, Anti-Drag Bills and The CBC
The most recent issue of Jen Blair’s fantastic newsletter Under the Jenfluence went out Saturday, “Say the Quiet Part Out Loud.” In it, Jen discusses Tennessee’s recently passed laws banning drag (in the presence of minors) and gender-affirming healthcare for minors, specifically connecting this to the fact that this year’s Craft Brewers Conference is in Nashville. She writes about how the Brewers Association has not acknowledged the situation in Tennessee, and what a profound statement it would make if they pulled out of the state with this event, or—since the financial and logistical train has more or less left the station when it comes to CBC fast approaching on the calendar—at least make a statement regarding how fucked up (my words) this legislation is and how they wish they did in fact have time to cancel/reschedule elsewhere.
CBC loomed large on my mind when I wrote last week’s issue about the drag restrictions passing in Tennessee. Grappling with my own feelings about how this year is the first time I’ll be attending the conference and how that excitement is mitigated by the reality that it’s unfortunately in a state passing these kinds of laws was part of my initial plan to cover, but I ended up having so much to unpack based on the interviews I did that I dropped the ball there. And Jen has now said this better than I think anyone else could. Noting out how total ethical consumption under capitalism is impossible, and that the CBC is still an opportunity to support local businesses, she points out that the BA still has so much power, it would speak volumes to craft beer’s historically marginalized communities if they just acknowledged the circumstances.
One piece of hopefully, at least temporarily, positive news? The drag bill has been temporarily blocked. A day before it was set to go into effect, a federal judge agreed it was a violation of the First Amendment. Now we need to see two more moves: this block becomes permanent, and, similarly, the gender-affirming healthcare ban for minors is also permanently overturned. In the meantime, I would like to second Jen’s call for the BA to say something. Do not make the LGBTQIA+ members of the craft beer community feel (yet again) ignored, like these dire issues don’t matter. Take care of your people.
Related: Bigot Is Surprised Bud Light Thinks Members of the LGBTQIA+ Community Drink Its Beer
Imagine expressing in a public forum, “lol ok, Bud Light, don’t you know only homophones and transphobes drink your beer?” I mean, this is actually one of the tamer tweets from Mandel, but wow, the fascists really have to get their claws into everything, don’t they?
Reactions to this tweet have included people pointing out that Bud Light has actually long been the de facto cheap gay-bar beer since Coors’s history re: LGBTQIA+ issues and workers’ rights is real bad—so this is a good time to read this brilliant Good Beer Hunting piece from Brian Alberts on that. And, as I was digging in further on this particular, recent Bud Light controversy, glutton for punishment that I am, I learned that it’s actually a whole Thing, stemming largely from Bud Light’s working with a trans influencer. Dave Infante covered it in a recent issue of Fingers, so go read all about it there!
The “Succession” Writers Room Needs Someone Who Knows About Beer
I won’t give too much away in case you haven’t watched this past Sunday’s episode yet, but after having A Night, Connor Roy entreats his morally bankrupt siblings to go with him to a “real bar,” not one of the fancy spots they’d normally frequent that are invisible to us regular peasants, but one with “guys who work with their hands and have blood in their hair.” (Not terrified at all when I think about what rich people think we all do for work…) They arrive at a perfectly normal looking bar and act noticeably skeeved out by truly everything; Shiv contemplates ordering a “house red, do I dare?” and Connor wants a “Belgian weissbier, but not a Hoegaarden.” And I, gunning for the title of most cringe “Succession” viewer, shouted in my head, “Don’t you mean a Belgian witbier, Connor, you dumb smarm-bucket!” Got ‘im! Anyway, ignoring the fact this is their last season—if “Succession” would like a consultant for things like this so they don’t humiliate themselves in front of like two people who care ever again, I’m available.
Get Excited for This New Beer Zine
Perhaps you caught this when I interviewed beer writer, Advanced Cicerone, and beer-and-chocolate expert behind Bean to Barstool David Nilsen, but along with Melinda Guerra, he is debuting a beer culture zine called Final Gravity. The stories will be less newsy, more “focused on people, places, ingredients, sensory experiences, cultural intersections, and the holistic ways we interact with and around beer,” David and Melinda say on the zine’s web page, and in case you thought this was going to be some digital reboot of a zine, nope—it’s a true “old school, staple-bound, 8.5” x 5.5” paper zine produced in the proud DIY zine-making tradition.” Be still, my old punk heart. Seeing creativity applied to the craft beer community, culture, and conversation like this is truly my very favorite thing. Final Gravity will be paying its writers and artists and I can’t wait to see what the first issue and every issue after that beholds. Find out for yourself and also support this project by pre-ordering the first issue here, where there will also be a Patreon soon.
It’s Finally Happening…
There is a officially paid subscription option for Hugging the Bar! Despite Substack’s…sometimes helpful?…tips on launching your newsletter advising you to start with a paid option out of the gate, this has taken so long for me for a few reasons. One is impostor syndrome, which I’ve already discussed plenty in past issues, so…moving on. Another is that the mission I set out with this newsletter very much includes keeping the bulk of the content free. Accessibility and inclusivity are the names of this here game. I don’t want to put up any barriers around discussions of real issues affecting real people in this industry and community, or around celebrations of different amazing people doing different amazing things, or sharing educational information, etc. But there’s also this annoyingly simple and inevitable reality to contend with, the one where I’m a writer and this is what I do for a living and so how I need to earn the money that keeps me alive.
I want to be able to put even more time into this newsletter, but I literally can’t afford to at the moment. I have a handful of Patreon patrons* I’m super grateful for, and then more recently, because I think people would sometimes rather keep all their dealings on one site with one account, I’ve started getting pledges from readers who want to pay me for what I’m already doing. That has meant the world to me. It’s such a vote of confidence to see that from readers. It was the boost I needed to finally decide that maybe I could add paid subscriptions, but then I hemmed and hawed for a chill five months over what I can realistically offer paid subscribers in the interim between launching this tier and getting to a place where I have enough paying subscribers to fully support substantially more time to put into exclusive content. Again, the Substack overlords tell me that some readers are just actually willing and in a position to be able to pay for what you’re already doing, and that’s what the pledges have backed up, but my American hustle culture-wrecked brain still feels like I’ve got to be offering some incentives here—and honestly, I think this will help Hugging the Bar and its mission (which still includes being able to regularly donate to initiatives making a difference in craft beer!) grow.
So, paid subscribers will definitely eventually get exclusive content. For the time being, that’s going to look more like early access to certain content, fun little content freebies like playlists and brief beer musings and backgrounds. And, there will also be: the same merch discount and free swag offers Patreon patrons got; the ability to send me event listings (or maybe job openings at your brewery…things of that nature!) to, after some review, include in an issue; and, my favorite, a personalized tarot reading. I wholeheartedly believe these are some super fun perks, that, again, will expand and evolve. But I also would like to remind you and thank you in advance for considering that this would be such an enormous boost of support, one that will really help this newsletter and one that I will forever appreciate.
By the way, if you upgrade / subscribe to the paid tier this week, there’s a discount! Subscriptions are $6/month, $60/year, and for this week, the year’s subscription will be $51. I think that’s a pretty good deal!
*Patreon patrons: to thank you for your support from the jump, and so you don’t have to do anything, I’ve added you to the paid subscriber list—I think. Tbh, I’m fairly confused as to whether this worked. So, reach out if it didn’t. Apologies if this causes any inconveniences for you (double apologies if it caused duplicate emails, yikes) and thank you for bearing with me!
This week, I pulled the Four of Swords.
Swords is the suit of intellect and decisions, and the Four of Swords speaks specifically to some R&R, meditation, and reflection. This is the tarot’s way of telling you to come up for air. It’s like, “whoa, buddy, we get it. You’re killing it. But if you wanna continue to kill it, you gotta give that mind and body a beat, mmk?” This card often signifies, too, that you find it difficult to actually give yourself a break. Maybe you’ve got some loud thoughts going on you try to drown out with constant activity. Maybe you’ve got insecurity around your position and career status and think you’re not worthy of a break. Maybe you, like me, don’t have a set work schedule and so work bleeds into non-work time and it feels like even your relaxation has to serve your work—like, how educational is that book you’re reading at night really?? The Four of Swords reminds you—or maybe tells you for the first time—of a few things:
You are most certainly worthy of a break. This life shit is tough, and just making it through a day, a week, a month, it absolutely signs you up for deserving equal parts leisure and relaxation.
It is not counterproductive to take a beat. In fact, your brain needs this to keep being creative. Your body needs this to keep moving. Your overall being needs this to avoid burnout. Take the breaks now to avoid crashing later. The Four of Swords is like that little coffee cup symbol lighting up on your dashboard when your car takes a drift across lanes to mean you’re dozing.
Rest fuels all your endeavors, and none of your pursuits can meaningfully succeed long-term if you never stop grinding. If you’re in a position that makes taking a break tricky, look into how to fix that. Get comfortable with delegating. Finally take friends and family up on offers to help out or babysit.
And, furthermore, this card also includes long springs of the emotional and mental variety, meaning that it doesn’t just come up when you’ve been working extra hard or just finished some monumental task—it also comes up when you’ve been through with some trauma. Do not force yourself to get right back to it. Don’t think you’ve got to throw yourself into work if you’re not ready. Take the moment. Think about what you truly want going forward. Accept the signal from the universe that you get a moment to reassess your life and what you need emotionally.
I was looking around for beers that embodied “quiet time,” “mental vacation,” and “rest and recuperation,” in name, branding, and/or style and flavors, and found Quiet Revival, a helles lager, from one of my favorite breweries, Marlowe Artisanal Ales. Marlowe, to me, stands out in an industry that can feel like a lot of shouting—shouting from loud can labels to loud adjunct brags. All Marlowe beers seem to say, “Hey, why not just relax? Just enjoy this beer. It’s delicious, and that’s all you need.” Four of Swords energy says, go find a beer that tastes great and is high quality but that doesn’t demand too much of your attention, so you can just enjoy the moment, put down your phone, and maybe do some reading—for fun.
This Week’s Boozy Media Rec
It’s easy to simply recommend David Jesudason’s newsletter Episodes of My Pub Life as a whole. I’m behind, but excited nonetheless every time I see a new issue drop in my inbox, like a little portal to a different desi pub across an ocean each time—there’s much to learn and also much transportive writing to savor. One particular issue recently was something a bit different and I wanted to highlight it here in case anyone’s missed it. In “‘Don’t repeat your name. I’ll never remember it,’” David invites Rashmi Narayan, Samer Khudairi, and Ruvani de Silva to share a bit about their experiences with racism, impostor syndrome—and also to share their brilliant accomplishments. There are plenty of reasons to prioritize reading this, but I’ll name two off the bat: it’s a forever important topic that plays on daily, and these writers are ones to know and follow if you don’y alrady.
Ex-BEER-ience of the Week
I get real jazzed when I find a beer bar and/or bottle shop in NYC I’ve never been to. At least in Brooklyn and Manhattan, there aren’t many! We popped into Beer Run after contemplating death at the Rubin and I really appreciated how old-school this spot felt. I was surprised it’s only been open since 2019, because it nails that underground beer geek nostalgia perfectly and authentically. And yet, of course, the draft and can selections are bang on trend. Check it out if you’re in Chelsea—or Harlem!
That’s my sort of industry/business/call-to-action ex-beer-ience this week, but I’d be remiss not to shout out a more community-centric one that meant much more, which is that I got to have a couple beers with the radiant Bethany, aka LipstickNLager, at the reliably great spot Beer Karma. It was so much fun to chat irl for a change, and absolutely had that cliché but true and wonderful effect these meet-ups often do, which is reminding you what’s great about the craft beer community and why you bother putting up with Twitter.
Until next week, here’s Darby at Brooklyn Brewery.