Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Boring Beer Column in the Advocate: Why?

I don't mean to be a b!%@h, but every time I see the Advocate's "What's Brewing" column, I am severely disappointed. A column about beer! Cool! Oh, wait- it's jibberish about technicalities of beer brewing! Parts of it read like a chem textbook: ...partly because hop utilization - a measure of the alpha acids and other components they release into the brew as it is boiled - increases with the size of the batch.
How many beer connoisseurs are reading the Stamford Advocate for their news? Maybe two. So why does the Advocate host such a specialized column?

Well, the byline reads "By Jim Zebora Greenwich Time Managing Editor." Ah. I see. Clearly, he gets to write this because he is an editor, not because the column has great value for Stamford and Greenwich. Sure, I’m a little bitter because I don’t have my own column, but if “What’s Brewing” were more interesting, I would have no opportunity to complain.

I don’t care that Back in the years of plenty, I could sometimes buy a pound of bittering hops for $8, and noble hops could be as low as $1 per ounce. Today, homebrewers are seeing three- and fourfold price increases in this essential ingredient. This is almost as boring as talking about gas prices! Come on, this is beer! Let’s have some fun while we’re getting all intellectual.

Here's my column about beer. Notice how fun and approachable it is. I'll admit that it's light on facts, but if I were writing a column, I'd do more research. This is just off the top of my head:

Howdy, Stamford! The weather is getting nicer, and summer beer season is starting. A Guinness on a chilly evening will still hit the spot, but for your all-purpose beer, it's time to go light. Bud Light and Amstel Light are standbys, but go international with some Blue Moon Ale from Belgium or Brahma beer from Brazil. Brahma would go beautifully with a nachos appetizer at happy hour. It also comes in a cool curved bottle.

See how I've related it to the readers?

Beer column continued: Look at these awesome owl beers! You can get them all at Duo, my favorite Euro-Japanese place. At 8 bucks (9? I forget) these ain't cheap, but they're a treat. Each one has a very different flavor, and they are made from rice. The New York Times liked the Red Rice Ale, but I myself preferred the white. If you do decide to try all of them in one evening- well, just don't do that. My favorite: the Espresso beer! Have it closer to the end of the meal, or at happy hour. It's like Guinness with a coffee kick.

See how practical my column is? Jim, for gosh's sake, give us some personal stories. What's your fave beer? At what restos did you drink beer this week? What's the craziest beer you've ever brewed? It's a nice tidbit that The hop flowers are sometimes used in original form, but processing them into pellets gives greater yield, and also makes them easier to ship and store, but Jim, I'm not picking up the Advocate for that minutae. Entertain me!


Always Home and Uncool said...

Now, now. Jim was still just the biz editor of the Advocate when he started the column several years ago, and he does know his stuff. And, having had his homebrew, I can say he makes a mean pint.

I agree, he gets into some overly technical stuff and tends to talk about many beers not easy to find in these parts. But so do wine experts who go on and on about their merlots and pinot grigos, and food critics, etc.

However, he's been doing more relatable columns of late, including the hops one you refer to which explains why beer prices are on the rise and another on Bass offering a "brolly" so you can make the perfect black and tan at home.

Hey, to each his own. But how you seriously recommend a light beer with anything! Shame!

You should really pick on those lame columnists in the features sections. The creepy old "Dad to Dad" guy (no idea what that column is supposed to be teaching me). The old lady from California writing about ... something old and irrelavant. The Diet Doctor who spends 80% of his columns telling you what you can learn by looking at the frickin' labels (oooh, a bag of Doritios has more calories and fat than an apple! Not putting cheese on a sandwich is a healthy choice. Whoa!)

Oh, I highly recommend a Young's Double Chocolate Stout on a chilly night. You can get it at The Ginger Man in Norwalk or Greenwich. If they are out, try the Rogue Chocolate Stout. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with ST...I drink lite beer and (thus) could care less about hops etc...rather read about wine reviews or anything other more interesting :)

Scott Frosch said...

Personal stories, or tales from skid row or the college dorm, or wherever. I concur. Who cares about science?