Friday, January 2, 2009

The Session #23 -- 2008? 2009?

It's The Session, beer blogging on a common topic, and this month BeerMe of Beer and Firkins asks: "What will I miss from 2008 and what will I excitedly await in 2009?" See all the links soon here.

What will I miss from 2008?

The Penn Brewery, which is closing for reasons that seem not nearly as clear as the new owners insist they are.

Jay Misson. Jay was a good friend and a craft beer pioneer, and was enjoying the hell out of cranking out excellent lagers and ales as 'executive brewer' of the small Triumph brewpub chain. His sudden death shocked us, and the sense of loss remains, solid and deep.

The carefree economy we enjoyed through the first half of the year, when it didn't matter that gas prices were up because we were all making money. None of us will probably ever look at the stock market, banks, or job security the same way again.

The incredible energy of the inaugural Philly Beer Week. This year's is looking more organized, better publicized, and solid in structure, but the crackling excitement of last year's white knuckle ride was something else: could we pull it off? Oh, yeah, we did, so much so that cities across the country imitated us...even New York and San Francisco, which was sweeter than Bassett's ice cream.

The hop shortage, which made brewers step back from the simple-minded "throw in 50 more pounds of hops" school of brewing "innovation." I think. We'll see.

What will I excitedly await in 2009?

Not much. This is going to be a year of small victories, I think, of holding ground. I don't expect to travel nearly as much this year, new whiskeys will likely be less common and perhaps less adventuresome, and there will probably be fewer breweries opening. I hope I'm wrong, and there are some signs already that things may not fall as far as feared, and rebound even more quickly. Much depends on the government -- which scares me -- and on the minds of the American people.

I am optimistic by nature; I have hope. But I also have perspective, and most of my hopes for 2009 are not focused on beer or whiskey, or even my own career writing about them. I have other things to hope for this year, both national and personal, and to the point that focus can help, I shall.

I do excitedly await Barack Obama's inauguration, because as a student of history and politics, I find it fascinating and hopeful. I excitedly await my 50th birthday, because it falls on the day after Friday the Firkinteenth at the Grey Lodge, and that means that 2009 -- finally! -- is a year with three Friday the Firkinteenths. I excitedly await March 22nd, my father's 80th birthday. I excitedly await December and the 20th anniversary for Cathy and I.

But for beer? I'm afraid I excitedly await 2010, when things will be better. I hope.


BDS said...

I know one day that I'm anticipating- March 7th. Wheat Beer Breakfast of Champions!

That guy said...

Not to nitpick Lew, but Joe Chiodo died in August 2007.

Cheers on Penn Brewery though, it will be a damn shame if they can't find a way to continue.

Lew Bryson said...

Good God, you're right. Thanks for the catch. Embarrassing...but I do miss the guy. I'll fix it. Thanks.

bill mc said...

Is Penn Brewing the "old" or "new" Yards? I can't find those posts.

Lew Bryson said...

That's Philadelphia Brewing, bill! They're fine. Penn is in Pittsburgh, the St. Nikolaus Bock people.

bill mc said...

Oh, ok thanks, seems like there's a lot of turnover in Pittsburgh with breweries/brewpubs, I sorta recall a few others in that geographic area going under or not opening as planned.

---Guy said...

2009: Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh??? I'm looking forward to that road trip.

roan22 said...


1. Follow up story on Penn Brewing..please!

2. Bull & Bones Brewhaus in Blacksburg, Virginia has just opened.

Lew Bryson said...

Ooo, good point, Guy! I'm looking forward to that, too.

Rebecca...I'll write a follow-up, if someone will pay me. It's a job, y'know? I'll see if I can find an editor with some money.