Monday, August 19, 2013
Hope and Porter
I young man of my recent acquaintance has begun a "nanobrewing" venture in Beaver Falls Pennsylvania.
Beaver Falls is one of many small towns in western Pennsylvania that used to be known for making things. While these towns were industrial-not agrarian, they created real products like axes, cutlery, and pottery. The towns lost their manufacturing base because the stock-jobbers and the white shoe boys decided that paying their fellow citizens real money to make real stuff was too much of a bore. They started re-enslaving Asiatic coolies (See George Orwell for the term) and creating derivatives instead. This left the good people of places like Beaver Falls to figure out what to do with the Superfund sites and all the other chaos and problems left behind by de-industrialization.
Once in a while, a young person will choose such a place and say, "This is where I will make my stand. Here I will build a life as a craftsman". In doing so, he becomes an agent of real hope for the future. I believe the way back for small cities is in a large measure to return to wealth creation by actually making products. Food is one of those "products". Food also has the advantage of building a closer link between city and countryside. It is often the craft-level food producer who is the small farmers' friend.
This particular small farmer's friend is anyone who can make a good dark porter or Brown Ale. A glass of dark beer at bedtime is the difference between me sleeping 6+ hours, or only three hours straight.
"We old folks have to find our cushions and pillows in our tankards. Strong beer is the milk of the old".
We are not going to fix what is wrong with this country by voting. We might start to fix it by buying what we want and need from people who are creating real wealth in an agrarian sense. I could buy Guinness, and see my dollars flow back to London, and enrich the same multinational company who once owned Burger King and attempted to use their political power to suppress an award to a Scottish micro-brewery. Or, I can buy my beer from someone who is trying to revitalize a town for which I have affection and takes great pride in his good work. Having done this, I can sleep even better at night.