Thursday, 25 August 2016

Beer and philosophy

A friend gave me a copy of Beer and Philosophy edited by Steven D Hales recently. Though I am a man of simple tastes I have occasionally been known to get philosophical. Mainly Freud when climbing pinnacles - apparently all climbers are repressed homosexuals engaging in penis worship. Though where does that leave crack climbing? And I did once get on to the thingness of things down the pub and that was good, but I can't recall previously getting on to the philosophy of beer.

The book was a bit of a mixed bag, but as I guess was the intention it got me thinking. Quite a few of the essays ponder if there is such a thing as objectively good beer, or is it all in the eye of the beer holder. I'm pleased to say that they argue convincingly that there is indeed such a thing as good beer, and even that the more you know about beer the more you're going to get out of it. On the downside it made me rather concerned about my rather basic tastes in most other things. Should I now go and force myself to get sophisticated tastes in music, literature and art? Nah, bollocks I can't be arsed.

The other thing that provoked my pondering was Alan McLeod on the stupid laws about booze in Canada. For some time I have been thinking about how much the beer and beer culture of a country are determined by the twin evils of capitalism and the state. I'd like to trace how much what we drink has been controlled by the rich and powerful and see if by examining that I can glimpse what sort of beer would be drunk by a free humanity. I'm still not sure if I can draw it all together into a coherent article but I'm now inspired to finally make a start at least.

There's quite a lot of other stuff in the book, which may or may not stimulate your philsophical interest. In the main I found it an interesting book, and though I dare say it's not the heaviest of philosophical works I enjoyed the bits that got me thinking.


  1. One evening, eating a bag of chips on the way back from a folk session at a pub, it suddenly struck me that all the elements of the evening I'd had & was having would still be possible after the revolution - even if the revolution followed a post-oil economic crash and we'd had to rebuild society without electricity, like at the end of World's End. It was a cheering thought.

  2. Not only will be beer be better, it will be distributed on the basis of need. And my beer needs are quite high!