I’d like to applaud a news item pertaining to Falls City Brewing Company, but first, a wee bit of background.
Anyone seen my soapbox?
At some point in the distant past, I joined two or three Facebook sites devoted to “craft” beer, primarily (naively?) seeking information and discussion.
It soon became apparent that I have little in common with an entire generation of “craft” beer fans, especially when exploring the topic of localism in brewing. In retrospect, some of the chats I had on “social” media should have prepared me for the bottomless venom of Clinton v. Trump.
I’d suggest that local beer and brewing were good, and to be desired, and within minutes you’d think I’d bayoneted a baby.
Once upon a time there were many local American breweries. A conflagration (Prohibition) leveled most of them, and of those remaining, only the ones most adept at capital accumulation (ah, glorious capitalism) were able to meet the reemerging beer market’s needs, less in terms of price point than packaging to sell beer in areas which might have been out of range formerly – i.e., those very same locales where brewing ceased or diminished owing to Prohibition. The habitat changed, and the strong survived.
Capital accumulation leads to greater size, which leads in turn to wider powers, which leads finally to the ability of an Anheuser-Busch to come into a marketplace (say, Louisville, 1950s and 60s) and knock out whatever remained of brewing competition (say, Fehr’s, Oertel’s and eventually Falls City) by under-selling.
Voila! Now Budweiser from St. Louis could become “Louisville’s beer,” and to this very day it says so right there on that humongous sign in right field at Slugger Feel This, bringing with it all the abuses of economic power that compelled us to stage a beer revolt in the first place.
But localism as an economic doctrine provides another way of looking at the world – capitalism with a more human face, complementary to a good beer ethos, and also a different collection of information that permits tying a singular love of mine (beer) to another (the community in which I live, and how to make it better). It offers sense and sensibility out of relative scale, and suggests differing standards of value and achievement.
It isn’t infallible, but it’s a place to start.
I’m coming to understand why Dave Zirin is my favorite American sportswriter, He refers to his column as the place where sports and politics collide, and that’s the same way I feel about beer.
Granted, my former career in beer had its share of missteps, and I didn’t always “get it” when I should have, but looking back, there is considerable relief, and a measure of vindication, that I got it right more often than not.
For the most part, I tried to connect dots even before I knew what they meant. Beer is inseparable from community, and it is not consumed in a vacuum. If good beer cannot touch adjoining areas of the human experience, to modify them and be modified by them, then it no longer interests me.
Now, back to the Facebook portals, where the vast majority of activity (then as now) involves participants posting loving photos of the beers they have acquired, or are presently drinking, or will soon hide away in a space formerly reserved for the delusions of post-nuclear attack “survivors.”
Seldom are there substantive efforts to explain exactly why we should be in awe of the treasure troves depicted within; only visual beer porn, because as members of the insider’s club, we’re expected to know – or to hurriedly search on-line beer ratings aggregators lest we appear dumb:
“Ah, look; dude got him an equatorial, triple-soured, dry-Chrysanthemummed Brett bomb aged in caskets formerly used to bury Scottish road kill constructed with Islay-tempered wood. Lucky fucker. Maybe he’ll trade me for a …”
To me, this attitude is little more than a circle jerk: “Look what I have, and see how important I am.”
I’d suggest that narcissism of this caliber goes far to explain the nation’s current ideological gridlock, and I’ll be damned it I’ll allow it to intrude upon the serenity of my beeriness — explaining why I seldom return to the sites in question.
Taking it a step further, with hundreds more breweries capitalized and predicated on an “export” model of packaging, dedicated to shipping elsewhere as opposed to increasing the local “craft” beer base and growing organically, the logic implies attitudinal assumptions with the real potential to negate local brewing’s fundamental raison d’etre.
If one follows the export doctrine to its logical conclusion, each brewery will be shipping its beer somewhere else, at least until they’re winnowed out by force of capital accumulation, at which point a brewery in Georgia will erect a billboard somewhere by the Ohio River toll bridges: “We’re the only beer Louisville really needs,” and in the dark of night, their trucks on the interstate highway to Louisville will pass the ones from Louisville breweries, headed toward Atlanta.
Then we’re right back where we started, aren’t we, and in need of (yet another) revolution?
Let’s see … I promised something about Falls City, and here it is. To me, this is great news. It brings the brand back home, and the expansion ties into what John Neace and Neace Ventures are doing with Louisville City FC, and in my mind, enhances prospects for the soccer stadium to be in the west end.
All I need is for the K & I Bridge to be reopened to foot and bicycle traffic, making my commute to all this easier without a car.
This iconic Louisville beer brand is considering a major expansion, by David Mann (Louisville Business First)
Falls City Brewing Co. is planning a major Louisville expansion and it’s teaming up with Heine Brothers’ Coffee to do so.
Neace Ventures, Fall City’s parent, has signed a letter of intent to acquire ownership in the building that houses the Heine Brothers’ Coffee headquarters, according to a news release. The building would be co-owned by the companies. And the move would bring 100 percent of Falls City’s brewing operations to Louisville.