BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Notes from the underground.


Monday is the day for ordering beer. Since the selection at Pints&union largely is fixed by design, only a few draft slots are open to periodic rotation, as well as three or four spaces on the shelf for changeable bottles and cans.

When you choose to approach the staging and vending of rotating drafts as I do, with fewer of them as intended to complement the majority of year-round offerings, lots of weird variables pop up.

Generally speaking I’m looking for established brands with a lineage, now undervalued owing to the predominance of the new and (occasionally) ephemeral. They can be ales and lagers, hoppy and malty, American and imported — but my objective is that they fit together and provide balance with contrast. We have ten draft lines, and the one thing I don’t want is for all of them to be examples of India Pale Ale.

I don’t like to drink at places with 15 draft lines and 12 IPAs, and the reason I feel this way is equal parts personal and professional.

Personally, it’s simply overkill. There are dozens of beer styles and sub-styles, calibrated to enhance one’s life in myriad ways, although this isn’t possible when hops outweigh everything. I don’t eat burgers three meals a day, and it isn’t my objective to drink the same style of beer each time.

Professionally, it makes no sense to me to cannibalize the sale of IPAs among multiple handles when it remains true that a majority of the beer drinking public does not support such a division. By all means, have some of them on tap; IPAs drive the market when it comes to noise, activism and perception, but you can’t convince me that the biggest slice (IPA) of a minority product (craft beer) constitutes a majority.

Find a market for an undervalued beer that isn’t IPA and brings people back for more, and you’re nurturing the sort of loyalty that survives shifting trends.

The problem I didn’t expect to experience in all this is the difficulty of sourcing neglected classic beers. Often I’ll peruse the wholesaler books and see brewery listings with availability restricted to their IPAs. It’s a tad frustrating at times. Then again, I knew going in that the counter-revolution would be as much of an uphill route as the original revolt.

Viva the restoration! Coming up soon on the rotating taps at Pints&union:

Monnik King George (English Brown)
Abbaye du Val-Dieu Tripel (Abbaye Tripel)
Central State Nephilim (Russian Imperial Stout w/coffee)

Don’t worry, hopheads; there’ll be IPAs rotating through as commensurate with scale and variety — just not all at the same time. After all one of the very best is Bell’s Two Hearted, and it’s on tap every day of the year.