Calagione didn’t reach back just a few more years in Dylan’s history, but he could have. When Dylan was growing up in Minnesota in the late 1950s, he was totally obsessed with Woody Guthrie, copying and mimicking Guthrie in every way he could. He joined other aspiring folksingers in New York City in the 1960s, where a rite of passage was sitting at Guthrie’s feet—by then Guthrie was badly debilitated by Huntington’s disease—on a Sunday afternoon and playing him his own songs. (Guthrie always insisted on hearing his own, rather than theirs.)
These five brewers took plenty of notes about what goes on in traditional Belgian brewers, “studied” scores of traditional beers and even (shhhhh!) brought back some untamed yeast strains.
But when they took their seats at the masters’ tables, they served their own beers.
Life As Art
A few hours after Calagione delivered his keynote in Seattle, the five sat down at a round table for two hours. The conversation raced clockwise, counter-clockwise or back and forth. The brewers completed sentences for each other or asked the follow-up questions.
Certainly the fact they recently spent a week in close quarters made a difference, but it felt like you could have put different craft brewers in some of the seats and the conversation would have been as enthusiastic. PBS or The Food Network should turn this into a regular production. It certainly would be more thought provoking than the “Man Laws” commercials airing in support of Miller Lite.
Just for fun, here are program descriptions for a pilot and two more shows, with sound bites taken from conversations at the round table, those that followed in the days after and some e-mail exchanges. (Statements do not necessarily appear here in the order in which they were made.)