Archive for December 2013
One of the highlights of the British Guild of Beer Writers annual dinner is the announcement made for our brewer of the year. The award is made by the committee following nominations from the membership.
This year’s accolade was given to Derek Prentice, pictured left. In making Derek our brewer of the year – we paid tribute to someone who has made an unmatched contribution to London’s vibrant and vital brewing scene.
I don’t know if there is such a thing as a London brewer, but if there is, then this man is it. He is held in high esteem by his peers and also in the wider community of those who love beer.
He started work at the age of 17 in 1968 and across his more than 45 years career he has worked for four of the Capital’s greatest known brewing names – Truman’s, Watney’s, Young’s and Fuller’s.
He is an outstanding and meticulous brewer who still passionately believes in the romance of brewing. In his current job at Fuller’s, which continues to the end of the month, not only is he the curator of some celebrated beers, but he has helped develop some great new ones too – including Seafarer, Frontier, Imperial Stout and Past Master. That’s quite a legacy.
His vast experience and attention to detail combine in perfect harmony. Always genial and enthusiastic, he generally avoids the limelight, but he richly deserves to enjoy the admiration which this award expresses.
“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline.” Frank Zappa
Of course beer matters, it really does. And it is for this reason that so many writers and artists use beer and pubs in their creations.
And I have to say, I have been taken with an oft quoted quote from the legendary, musician Frank Zappa.
“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline,” said the founder of the Mothers of Invention, who died in 1993.
The band made one of my favourite albums “Weasels ripped my flesh”, in 1970.
The Zappa beer quote has been used many times on beery websites and in books.
Indeed, when doing research for both World Beer (Dorling Kindersley) and the Haynes Beer Manual (Haynes Publishing) I considered using the quote in chapters on beer in literature.
But I was intrigued by the context, why did he say it, and when?
So I am totally indebted to a fellow beer traveller Laurent Mousson, who is co-founder of French microbreweries collective Front Hexagonal de Libièration (www.libieration.org) who provided me with the information.
According to Laurent the quote is from “The Real Frank Zappa Book” written by Zappa and Peter Occhiogrosso, published in 1989, Chapter 12, page 231.
Laurent says the problem with the oft used quote is that “it’s usually misunderstood, because it’s always quoted out of context, as Zappa utters it as a tongue-in-cheek statement in support of his theory on beer that consumption of beer leads to pseudo-military behaviour”.
Beer drinkers are nationalists, believe in conformity and revel in collective violence.
And “winos don’t march!”
So what is the quote in full?
“Every major industrialised nation has a beer (You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline – it helps if you have some kind of football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer).”
Zappa, is clearly not such a lover of the suds as in the same book he also says “Maybe there’s a chemical in beer that stimulates the [male] brain to do violence while moving in the same direction as other guys who smell like them.”
“Funny how nobody ever quotes that last bit,” says Laurent.
I have to say I love Zappa’s music, but the way the quote is used shows how little we properly analyse rhetoric and are willing to use a familiar or commonly shared quotation to support an a point of view.
However, as Zappa would say “This Is All Wrong”.
What a brilliant satirist he was.