Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Brewing Brew

I happened across an article that I thought would interest all you micro and home brew people. However, it won't interest you distributist types, as the article was on how to get money out of brewing. That's obviously not the point of Chestertonian brewing.

I did note that right in my own city is a major school, in fact, the oldest brewmaster school in American, the Siebel Institute. The two week course for beginners is just $2,950. I think you have to be pretty serious about brewing to do that. The article suggested volunteering as a summer intern at a brewery if you really wanted to learn.

The good news is that America has a 300 year old brewing tradition. 100 years ago, the US boasted 2,000 breweries. Prohibition, wars and consolidation whittled that numer down to 100 in 1985. But today, there has been a resurgence of brewing, and the nation counts 1,450 breweries (numbers from 2006).


  1. "Not the point of Chestertonian brewing"?

    Well, not the main point, but it's certainly a side benefit.

    In distributism, profit is seen as good. It obviously isn't the final good, but, since it's an economic system, it does require buying and selling the fruits of one's labors. The medieval Brewers' Guilds weren't subsistence-living hunter-gatherers, they were tradesmen. As the name implies, tradesmen sell their wares. Of course they produced for their own consumption as well, and they understood that the end of beer is drinking, not selling, but they still sold the vast majority of their produce.

    Distributism is, fundamentally, not an absolute system like capitalism, socialism, or hunter-gatherer squalor. It is, like all civilized systems, a balance, in this case between subsistence production and trade. It is also a balance between private property and cooperation, between the desire for wealth and the need of charity, and between growth and satiety. It is by no means divorced from the profit motive; it simply controls it and keeps it in its proper place.

    Chesterton was a genius, but one must be careful not to confuse the rhetoric he poured out against capitalism, with its excessive focus on the market, as an indictment of trade as such. He poured out just as many words in defense of property, indeed in defense of trade, against socialism and the "Simple Life". Balance, again!

  2. I have seen the growth of small wineries (clients of my business) - an astonishing thing. Illinois alone (of all places) now boasts over 300 small vineyards and wineries. Ten years ago there were maybe two dozen. Thirty years ago, I don't think there were any at all in Illinois.

    California, New York state, Washington state and Missouri were the only wine growing regions a generation ago. Now there are wineries in every single state, including Alaska and Arizona.

    The mid-west wineries are almost all family-owned, indigenous types of things.

  3. "That's obviously not the point of Chestertonian brewing."

    It is if it's your livelyhood. :-)

  4. On the Siebel Institute's high tuition, most students are sent there by microbreweries and brewpubs who want their employees to get a formal education in the craft. I'm sure there are some who pay their own way just because they want to, and have wads of cash lying around, but from what I understand most are there as part of work.

  5. You know, what I meant was that you shouldn't want to start up a brewery just to make loads of money.

    What I'm struggling with thinking about right now, is work. There's work, and then there's making money.

    Chestertonian brewing, what I meant, is brewing beer to drink and to sell so that your family can live...not so the shareholders or stockholders can see profit and be happy. (The article was in Forbes magazine, of all places, where the goal is to MAKE MONEY and LOTS of it).

    I have no trouble with people wanting to make a living brewing beer...what I was/am against was brewing beer for profit alone...over and above what you'd need to live.

    Am I making sense? We get lost these days, in always needing more, more, more, when if we could just work enough to make enough to live comfortably, we'd all be much happier. But what is that level? It all depends on your wants/needs and how far in debt your family is...what it takes to dig you out, and then how to readjust the lifestyle to fit a new pattern once the old one has failed.

    Work used to be an exchange, a sort of even exchange between doing what you needed, and paying for what you needed. We have so many wants these days, that its just all out of wack, and the balance is lost.

    A family brewery or winery is totally Chestertonian. A family art business, or a family acting business or a family owned small press is totally Chestertonian.

  6. But the private brews [of America] differ very widely; multitudes are quite harmless and some are quite excellent. I know an American university where practically every one of the professors brews his own beer; some of them experimenting in two or three different kinds. But what is especially delightful is this: that with this widespread revival of the old human habit of home-brewing, much of that old human atmosphere that went with it has really reappeared. The professor of the higher metaphysics will be proud of his strong ale; the professor of the lower mathematics (otherwise known as high finance) will allege something more subtle in his milder ale; the professor of moral theology (whose ale I am sure is the strongest of all) will offer to drink all the other dons under the table without any ill effect on the health.

    [GKC, Sidelights CW21:529]

    Sorry I was so late in adding this; I just found it (as usual) when I was hunting for something else.

  7. I was also going to say something about that business of making money, but was afraid it would take the topic too far afield. But I ought to mention that there used to be a thing called Purpose, which was NOT spelled with a "$".

    People used to talk about the "End" of a thing (which doesn't mean its cessation, or destruction, but its completion, or perfection) ... and some of this I've struggled to ponder as I've worked on Subsidiarity.

    And the simple thing which I have seen demonstrated at a recent high-tech company is that the End was centered strongly on "doing the job"... this resulted in our customers being satisfied in seeing their requests performed at a very high degree of accuracy - which resulted in paychecks for my coworkers and me.

    The fact that that company no longer exists has NOTHING to do with poor performance or failure to supply the desired work.

    But, as in the memory of a good brew, it has achieved an End... and that memory is a good one; this is why I celebrate the Feast of Subsidiarity every March 2.


Join our FaceBook fan page today!