First Words: Brewing and Stewing 

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I first caught wind of your article "The High Life: An Ode to Cheap Beer" (The Beer Issue, Oct. 14) on Facebook when I noticed a beer blogger up in arms over it. My first reaction was that we (the craft-brew industry) may take ourselves too seriously, and we probably need to develop a better sense of humor. But as indignation spread amongst local breweries, I finally got around to reading it.

Even I have been known to occasionally enjoy an American lager on a hot day and my love of a well-made Michelada is legendary. And after 20 years of working in the industry, I sometimes weary of the talk and discussion surrounding beer. I can really appreciate what Sigmund Freud meant when he said, "Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar." I want to just enjoy the beer in my hand instead of waxing rhapsodic over the malts employed, the hops and their origins, or how closely it resembles a classic style. I get it. And if writer Matt Stieb had ended at that point, I would be grinning in lockstep with him.

But he didn't stop there. He went on to vilify craft beer – something I have spent roughly half of my life building up into the still-nascent tradition it is today in San Antonio. And just a point of clarification – the law Jimmy Carter signed into law simply made it legal for people to brew up to 200 gallons of beer per year at home, and was not the legalization of craft brewing. The 50 states each enacted separate laws regulating brewing over time, and Texas first made it legal for a restaurant to brew and sell beer to the final consumer in 1993, thus allowing the first brewpubs in Texas since Prohibition.

I remember my first beer: Coors Banquet Beer – my dad's go-to beer back in the day. I also remember my first record album – a Beatles compilation my aunt gave me for Christmas one year. Both the Beatles and Coors have stood the test of time and remain classics in the pantheons of rock music and American brew. But just imagine if I stopped with that first sip, as your music editor has. Maybe I add Rubber Soul and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to my collection and then call it a day. Or maybe I try out the Rolling Stones and the Kinks – sticking strictly with British Invasion rock 'n' roll and then have done with it. It's just a vehicle for sound waves to reach my ear, and maybe set my toe to tapping.

Never mind that there are countless genres and musical influences that led up to that moment in musical history and that there are countless yet to be formed and influenced by it. Never mind that I don't have the language to describe it or the experience to understand where the Beatles fall in the context of music as a greater stream. I'm going to harp on this one thing and crow about it. On a platform given to me by the Current.

Now imagine that the Current is putting on a big Lollapalooza-type event that includes both local and national bands, the latest and greatest, spanning genres, tastes and preferences. And to welcome all of these artists to town, the Current prints my article about the first band I ever listened to and how it completely nullifies and devalues every act that sets foot on the stage that weekend.

That's what you've done to craft beer in the Oct. 14-20 issue of the Current.

Jason Davis

Director of Brewing Ops

Freetail Brewing Co.




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