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Bolivia

Stier is owned and run by three expats from Chile, France, and Germany, who all married Cochabambinas and stayed. Splitting the difference between La Paz and Santa Cruz, Cochabamba is a dominant city for trade and agriculture in the valleys region. Sometimes referred to as a “city of eternal spring,” it hosts many headquarters of various foreign organizations for the same reason. And as such, there’s a small critical mass of beer interest to provide a market.

I exchanged a few emails with Rodrigo Cadiz, the Chilean brewer in researching a magazine article and came out with a few tidbits that didn’t fit. Cadiz said, “We’re influenced by all schools–we try to take the styles that can be adapted to have the most impact in the Bolivian market. We estimate that half of our market is Bolivian and the other half foreign tourists in Bolivia.”

Currently producing 1500-2000 liters (13-17 bbl) a month (which comes out to around 200 bbl annually), they don’t modify their water. Their honey and strawberry beers have particularly eye-catching labels that are innovative for the Bolivian context: “We have two label designers; one who focuses on traditional styles that are more rigid, and on the other hand, we have another designer who works with the more novel beers without a defined style. For example, on our latest honey beer we worked with some Cochabambino artists associated with the Arte Urquidi Cultural Center.” The IPA label also was drawn up in collaboration with Arte Urquidi.

I picked up the first four of these bottles of Stier at the Spitting Llama in Cochabamba. They all spent some time on an overnight bus through the Chapare, so their clarity may have been somewhat affected. I’d previously tried the strong ale, honey beer and weizen, the latter two of which I’d probably say are Stier’s best offerings, especially the latter. I went through these in a few sessions. 

Session I:

Frutilla: This bottle wasn’t properly capped, so it leaked a bit in transit and probably screwed around with the final product. Apparently brewed with strawberry, it’s a turbid color of ruby red grapefruit flesh. Definitely a “girl beer.” Strong strawberry flavor, but feels like a Mineragua–i.e. a seltzer that evokes soda pop beer–and has a background of raw green beans. To be fair, that’s kind of what strawberries often taste like here. So, not great, and disturbingly pink. My wife loves the label, which oddly features no ingredient list. 6% ABV.

Pilsener: Yellow, pale, a bit opaque (probably the fault of the transportation again), 5.8%, and is carbonated like the priming sugar didn’t get mixed in all that well. While the label says it has citric notes from the German hops, I get more herbal and a bit of tartness and again with the unexpected seltzer feeling. More interesting than your run-of-the-mill industrial pilsener, but I’m not sure I’d be able to differentiate this from a blonde ale.

Session II:

This was taken back in 2012 or so, but the impression remains consistent a few year later.

This was taken back in 2012 or so, but the impression remains consistent a few year later.

Strong Ale: Between dark copper and light brown, translucent, with a nice white head that lingers on a bit around the edges. Aroma is fruity, sweet and just a bit of malt. Sweet on the finish, some malt–not overbearing–is there a hint of meat in there? Better than the first time I tried this. A light body; I think I’ll let this warm a bit. Oomph, at 7.2% ABV, perhaps I should have had something to eat before, and it’s a hot afternoon. I feel like this Strong Ale illustrates a prime challenge for Bolivian brewers: the only malt commercially available here is pilsner malt from Sureña, and it lacks the character demanded by malty ales; crystal malts can contribute some character in there, but without a good base malt, you lose a layer of potential. I did find out from Ted’s Cerveceria recently that Potosina has their own internal malting operations, but that lack of a maltster is currently either a huge gap and/or opportunity in the growing artisanal beer market for Bolivia. Take heed, someone.

Warming helps. The malt comes out a bit more. That meatiness I thought I detected declines and is replaced by malt. The body is still light.

Wow, this is way better warmer. Still not a world-beater, but a nice entrant.

Session III:

Stout: 8.2% ABV means this is one of, if not the strongest beer brewed commercially in Bolivia at the moment. And at that strength, it seems fair think it might impose itself onto “Imperial” territory. I’ll just be honest that before I start this, my points of reference are memories of sipping Old Rasputin next to a big juicy hamburger. So, the framework of expectations calling for bitter and thick might color this a little bit. At the pour, Stier’s Stout smells of roast, coffee, and chocolate. Jet black, just the slightest bit translucent on the sides and a tan head. That’s a good start. I start drinking and It’s sweet and the body is medium. There’s some little bit of cherry and malt, and it’s more thin than I’d hoped. Ugh, my previous expectations aren’t helping this. I know that I was hoping for the perpection of about 40 more IBUs and a milkshake texture, but I should know better. Nobody’s going to buy or drink that profile here (just yet). But Bolivians will understand this, even appreciate it.

The IPA wasn’t ready when I happened to be in Cochabamba, but I was able to buy a few bottles from Stier once it was ready. Again, overnight bus delivery down the Andes = inevitable sloshing. 

Session IV:

IPA: Well, in the interest of keeping it constructive, I’ll say this is much more of an English golden ale or something like a cream ale. Pale, lightly carbonated, fruity, with a slight whiff of hops; I’m keeping in mind that a bitter IPA is not going get much traction at the moment in Bolivia. Still, it’s disappointing to crack it open and not even have much of a nose to greet you. I’d say this has some refining to go. To be honest, it’s a bit less hoppy (in terms of aroma, taste, etc.) than Kushaav’s Aleksandra golden ale.

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Passion fruit flower of the lowlands. So named because the flowers reminded early Catholic missionaries of the crown on Christ’s head during his “passion.” 

Santa Cruz is Bolivia’s largest city and a magnet for people all over the country. The city’s population of 1.5 million people is grew the most in absolute terms during 2001-2012, and Bolivians flock here for its cosmopolitan feel (relative to Bolivia, of course), economic opportunities, and tranquilo lifestyle. I asked some folks who work with miners in Potosi’s Cerro Rico about what the options are for young people there and they replied, “University, the mines, or the sugar cane fields of Santa Cruz.”

Those cane fields are prolific, yielding three harvests a year and keeping the massive sugar processing factory off the fourth ring road (of around 12, depending on who you ask and where you look) busy and piping off steam and pungent aromatics, presumably from whatever comes after molasses. “Help wanted” signs are common enough, although the disconnect between the number of university graduates and professional jobs is still wide.

The rift between population growth, perceptions of possibility and actual opportunity leaves Santa Cruz in a tenuous position, at the bottom of a narrative familiar to most Latin American cities experiencing the effects of continental trends towards urbanization. As Bolivia–a heretofore dominantly rural nation, and even more importantly, a culture dictated by the assumptions of campo life–shifts to a predominantly urban context, the transition brings growing pains along with it. Any time I take a taxi ride in the cities of the altiplano or valleys, the conversation inevitably includes the driver commenting on how dangerous (and hot) Santa Cruz is.

And it’s true: crime rates in Santa Cruz have been rising steadily and dominate the headlines. But two massive caveats have to be mentioned: 1) the baselines from which those rates are growing are exceedingly small (especially by any comparison with similar-sized cities in neighboring countries), and 2) the actual crimes that grab headlines are often quite petty. That’s not to minimize the pain or hurt that attend these tragedies and perversion of human will, it’s just to try and put in context. That context being, it’s a lot worse elsewhere. And I say that with a day job aimed at trying to prevent those levels of violence from spiraling.

So, the great ringed city of the eastern lowlands promises opportunity to many Bolivians; the experience of whether or not it delivers will undoubtedly be the inspiration for Bolivia’s next generation of novelists and artists.[1]

On the other hand, until recently foreign tourists really couldn’t have cared less about this city. Granted, Santa Cruz lacks the same proportion of preserved historic architecture and adventure tourism as the other large cities in Bolivia, and as such, gets little love from guidebooks. In fact, most dedicate as much space to describing the city as they do to Samaipata, a small tourist haven two and half hours up into the foothills of the Andes.[2]

Samaipata translates to “a resting place” in Quechua, and is also quickly growing as Cruceños make it a preferred weekend and holiday destination. With hiking, good coffee and restaurants, and even a UNESCO World Heritage pre-Inca archaeological site to boot, Samaipata is more akin to the “experience” most foreigners come to associate with Bolivia as a whole. And where there are tourists, good beer often follows.

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A view outside of Samaipata. 

For a few years now, there have been reports of an Austrian expatriate in Samaipata brewing a blonde beer of some kind called “El Fuerte,” named after the aforementioned ancient fort located on a nearby mountaintop, although most reviews have been less than positive. (I’ve never managed to track it down, but neither have I ever heard a positive review.) Likewise, the Belgian-inspired beers of Ted’s Cerveceria are usually on offer in the Oveja Negra restaurant. Not a lot if your standards for access to interesting beer is 30+ taps and an extensive bottle list, but that’s actually kind of substantial for the current Bolivian context.

So when Marcin Piekut and his wife Andrea arrived in Samaipata last year, opening a microbrewery to serve the area and tap into the almost wholly untouched Santa Cruz market seemed like a good idea. Tentatively called “Camino Viejo,” their brewery references Samaipata’s location on the “old road” between Santa Cruz and Cochabamba. Previously the main axle between the economic engines on this side of the country, the opening of a new, fully-paved road through the Chapare to the north has shifted much of the transport traffic away from Samaipata, but freed up the road to more leisure traffic. Now months into in the project and coming ever closer to opening, I had a chance to meet up with Marcin and Andrea recently and hear a bit about their plans.

Why come to Bolivia in the first place? “Besides cost of living, I’d consider Bolivia to be relatively safe and friendly place, no barbed wire on every home like Peru, for instance. I also love the wilderness and diversity and Bolivia has plenty to offer,” explains Piekut. Situated next to the Parque Nacional Amboro and its record for the highest density avian species, Samaipata is tough to beat in terms of location. Standard outings from Samaipata include a morning at the local animal refuge, playing with the monkeys, or a hike up the valleys to see condors.

Piekut notes, “I really wanted to be close to the tropics but not in tropics directly. We tried Thailand and it’s great place, but just too damn hot and also you can’t own land or become citizen or even permanent resident.” Samaipata offers the advantages of altitude and ecology: a few thousand feet above Santa Cruz, it can be stiflingly hot or musty and cold in the lowlands, but go up to Samaipata and you’re all-but-guaranteed a pleasant, sunny day.

Having purchased land with a spring on it, they the Piekuts recently sent a water sample to the laboratory and are waiting on analysis.

“Actually, you want to try some?” and they hand me a two liter bottle. I drink the tap water here in the city, anyway, so why not? “It’s so sweet and refreshing, and the spring is located in a cloud forest.” Indeed it is, and I’m curious to know how the chemistry turns out, given how carbonate-heavy and hard the aquifer water is down here in the lowlands. Water is the pride of most communities in the country–brewers at Sureña, Brewcraft, Corsa and Huari have all bragged about the beauty of their water.

When I first communicated with Piekut last year, he was excited to work on a coca leaf-infused IPA, although the bland, vegetal, savory flavor of coca leaf would require hops to take a back (or is it bittering?) seat to let the coca come out. Perfecting a palatable beer with coca in it would be quite an accomplishment, given that the best compliment a coca-driven beer could probably hope for beyond novelty is “dank to an extreme.”[3]

Now Marcin’s main focus is to design a set of four main offerings and a fifth rotating seasonal beer. “I’d love to focus on Belgian styles and West Coast IPAs,” but the market imposes certain restraints. Situated next to tropical Santa Cruz, he’s focusing on easy drinking, refreshing ales. “I might not be proud of such ‘bland’ beers, but I have to make a living, you know,” he points out.

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Some of the bluffs on the old road.

It’s probably not as bad as he thinks, and he’s planning to start with an accessible pale ale, red ale, and hefeweizen. The market is already primed to know what a red beer is, given the massive CBN’s occasional rollout of Paceña Roja, and Paulaner and Erdinger’s hefeweizens are fairly standard on the menus of the nicer restaurants throughout Bolivia. There are bigger challenges, though.

It’s easy enough to source pilsner malt through Sureña’s malting arm, but specialty malts, hops, and yeasts are another challenge unto themselves. Looking south, Piekut is developing relationships in Argentina to draw on the hop farms of Patagonia as sources of Cascade, Nugget, and the native Mapuche hops, among others. This is a feasible enough goal, although the current state of Argentina’s economy combined with the existence of a black market “blue dollar” exchange rate (which at times of late has differed from the official government rate to the tune of 40%) poses its own kind of challenges. Namely, how to purchase hops at a decent exchange rate and then get them across the border in a timely manner.

Specialty malts are perhaps the bigger challenge and might demand the DIY approach of Brewcraft. Equipment likewise is a challenge, but having made connections with a couple stainless steel fabricators in Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, Piekut is blazing a trail not yet taken by Bolivia’s craft brewers, most of whom have imported their brewing setup. If Piekut can commission a full brewing setup and kegs domestically, it could prove a boon to the next generation of Bolivian craft brewers.

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One of the hotels in Samaipata.

Indeed, finding a way to address the lack of kegs in Bolivia would knock out the single biggest obstacle to the growth of craft beer’s accessibility in Bolivia. While CBN maintains a monopoly on most taps outside of the few that Ted’s, Stier, Reineke Brau, and Saya themselves have installed on a microscale in their local areas, getting beer efficiently to consumers will remain significant challenge.

If all goes to plan, early 2015 will see a yet another new craft brewer in the Santa Cruz department, although inevitably that’s a big if. Nonetheless, this year bodes well for beer in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and the rest of Bolivia as well if Piekut can succeed in a project that is steeped in ambition and a realistic understanding of what to expect from Bolivian beer drinkers (at first).

—–
[1] Also, I might add, it offers an opportunity for external immigrants here trying to get away from the economic black hole that is currently Argentina, but that’s for another time.
[2] So bear with me as I dedicate a bit of space to the city before heading on up to Samaipata.
[3] The Ch’ama coca-infused golden ale of Sucre’s Cerveceria Vicos lacks almost any perceptible coca character. It leaves you wondering if you’re just imagining you can taste coca or not. On the other hand, after trying the coca butter at Gustu which smelled of rosemary, but tasted distinctly of coca , perhaps there’s more possibilities to the coca leaf than I’d thought.

I finally got my hands on some of the Cochabamba-based Blumental’s ales made from amaranth (red ale) and quinoa (golden ale), both clocking in at 5% ABV. Both list their specialty grain as the final ingredient, so that’s a hint at how much character they actually add to the final result

Side-by-side, they are visually distinct, with the Amaranth Red Ale being a light copper hue, clear, and with a lasting head. The Quinoa Golden Ale is very blonde, even white and just a bit cloudy, hinting at the high protein levels of quinoa. On the other hand, the actual taste and aroma differences are–at best–subtle. The amaranth is just the slightest bit more malty, while the quinoa tastes a tiny bit tangier and fruitier in the aroma. That’s disappointingly it.

If you’re looking to try a Bolivian beer with a “supergrain”, I’d still go with Kushaav’s El Salaar.

Written this past Sunday, but set aside for some editing and posted in time for Boak & Bailey’s latest call for long reads.

It was raining hard this morning; nice and cool for a usually stifling Santa Cruz this time of year. A good morning to sleep in, watch Man U nick a win away at Arsenal, and do some chores. During the few more dire spells of the game, I zoned out and read Martyn Cornell’s recent talk in Norway, “Place-based beer, a world-wide movement.” An engaging read, albeit mostly familiar.

Scandinavia is a hotbed for the place-based cuisine, with the Nordic Food Lab and others leading the way in a movement to promote a new Nordic approach to food that emphasizes local ingredients and a harmonic embrace of what place can provide on a seasonal basis. (I briefly started a MOOC on the “New Nordic Cuisine” and last a couple weeks before work drowned it out; but it was fascinating while I lasted). The Lab’s understated-but-inspired Family Meal blog is often a source of meal ideas in our home, and the principles of the movement exert a specific influence here in Bolivia, explicitly driving the idea behind Claus Meyer’s Gustu restaurant up in La Paz (which, as far as I can tell, has by far and away the most comprehensive Bolivian beer menu in the country, simply because they’ve put effort towards it). Their ten principles behind the Bolivian Gastronomic movement are worth perusing to see how these are being applied outside of Scandinavia.

Musical terroir

But Cornell’s talk dwells on the connection between geographic place and beer, and yield a number of thoughts about much more than beer. First, this kind of thinking about terroir makes me think a lot about how it might relate to–or was related to–to music. I spent most of high school behind a Middle Eastern firewall, during Audiogalaxy’s heyday. I’d scour the various old metal magazines I’d carried home with me from summers in North America, reading them all at last three times, highlighting and circling the bands I thought had potential. Then I’d have to narrow down the ones that seemed to have the most promise and carefully select which of the few mp3 files available to download. After all, each one of these songs was an hours-long commitment back then.

Evenings were spent with me clogging up our house’s phone lines watching the download percentages creep up at an agonizingly slow pace. Then when my parents would kick me off the dialup, I’d be left with 23% of one file or another, so you’d have just the preview and wonder what comes next, practically salivating in anticipation. I have a distinct memory of the frustrated chills when this song cut out at the 0:53 mark.

It was just getting to the good part. Finally, it’d download and I’d binge-listen for the next couple days until the next song finished. This routine truly taught me to loathe the filler of a throwaway instrumental song.

I swear this eventually has to with beer.

One of the defining marks of the pre-easy file sharing era was that you still had strong schools of distinct geographic musical schools within genres. For example, At the Gates was the pre-eminent example of the Gothenburg school of melodic thrash metal. Groups like Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front, Sick of it All, and Madball laid the rough contours of a punk-driven, chunky hardcore sound from New York City, while in southern California, thrash exerted a bit of influence over hardcore and it came out with a more riffy, breakdown-focused school of thought. DC had a thriving scene that emphasized what now is often enshrined as “post-hardcore.”

CDs and mail-order made cross-seeding of influences easier, but internet file-sharing was like a proverbial nail in the coffin for the growth of regional sounds as any band could be just as easily influenced by another regardless of location and regular, easy access to their music. I’m not pining for a forgotten old time–I like that I have access to enormous back catalogs of some of my favorite bands and new ones I’ve recently discovered–but some extent, this probably has a homogenizing effect. Or, if not homogenizing, then at least it severs the connection between musical style/influence and geography.

A detour into the globalization of soccer

As an example, in Soccernomics, Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski argue that the countries and leagues that have the most cross-pollination in coaching and players from around the world will benefit from the highest levels of play. It’s essentially an argument that in a free market of soccer ideas, the best ideas will win out and yield the best styles of play. So, the ideal in this case is not, say, England sticking to its “traditional style” and lobbing as many crosses as they can at Peter Crouch’s head, but to incorporate the best forms of play available to them. But, this has a broad homogenizing effect. As possession-focused play is demonstrated by Barcelona to be highly effective, the 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 is adopted widely and the traditional 4-4-2 is torn apart time and again.

Across the Atlantic, Jurgen Klinsmann takes notice and imposes the 4-3-3 style up and down the US player development pyramid so that in the long term, the US can be competitive with the rest of the world. Thus the homogenizing effect. One might argue that Barcelona’s La Masia academy proves that developing an indigenous school of play is more important than incorporating outside influences, but as a Spurs fan, I’d say that the history of North London EPL teams in general proves that sticking to a rigid ideology of play does not lead to many trophies.

Globalization is great–it allows for a much freer spread of information and ideas. Also, globalization sucks–Starbucks opened this weekend in Bolivia, and you can bet that Pumpkin Spice is one of the options. So what does that mean for beer?

Cornell’s cases

Cornell provides a number of examples in his talk of brewers that are trying to embrace the concept of terroir. But, terroir seems to be more an expression of ingredients, time, weather, climate, etc., in such a way that each vintage is notably different. Thus, Cornell’s examples of the Sierra Nevada and Rogue estate beers make sense as expressing terroir in a way comparable to which wine uses the word. But, as he points out, they’re also prohibitively expensive for most brewers. Likewise, if “local” is the primary delineation for terroir, there are going to be places that just can’t brew a local beer. One of barley or hops will not be available. (And yeah, you opt for a gruit without hops, but pushing that from novelty to something defining a geography is tough.)

Reading through the various style guidelines, taxonomies and typologies that are available, styles are often as much based on process as ingredients. But, as Cornell again points out, these are all easily replicable pretty much anywhere in the world. I could imitate the temperatures of a lagering cave in Germany using refrigeration here in Bolivia and create a Helles.

I thought Lars Marius Garshol’s recently posted rough guide to Lithuanian Beer really quite fascinating in this meditational context on beer styles. He reflects, “I found a whole beer culture, complete with its own frames of reference and styles of beer, effectively developed independently of the rest of the world.” In this usage, “independence” is not exactly a value at present in North America, where everyone scrambles to track down a Heady Topper or Pliny, regardless of where they live. Most of the “white whales” of the beer world hardly deserve the comparison to Moby Dick because mail-order makes them accessible. (Heck, in Cornell’s prior post, he notes that one of the greatest “white whales” of North American beer, 3 Floyds’ Dark Lord, was available on tap in Copenhagen.) Yet Garshol’s point seems to be that what makes Lithuanian beers so fascinating was their relative remoteness from the main currents of brewing.

Isn’t that how the world developed many of its best known styles? Circumstances, technology, history all exerted some kind of isolation or constraint upon brewers that dictated the choices they could make.

So at least from a perspective that wants to emphasize the local and indigenous it’s almost unfortunate that we live in an era of such unprecedented economic wealth and logistical possibilities. The freedom to choose and obtain any ingredient is a detriment to indigenous style, even while it’s equally a boon to provide the flavors and possibilities of another place to their area. I’m certainly not complaining that I could carry some Belgian yeast packets and American hops with me to Bolivia so that I can drink more than chicha (which I enjoy, but I like variety as well). Cornell summarizes this:

The difficulty we have in maintaining that there is such a thing as “beer terroir”, of course, is that all the factors that directly make a beer what it is can be reproduced, today, anywhere in the world. Grains, hops and other ingredients can be transported, if necessary, around the world. Water can now be demineralised and remineralised to match any location you like. Off-the-shelf yeasts to brew any style of beer you desire can be bought via the internet. And you can install a Yorkshire Square in Adelaide, or a Finnish kuurna in Argentina, or any other piece of kit anywhere you like, to imitate the brewing traditions of a land thousands of miles away.

Is it then impossible to expect to find new styles or schools of brewing in particular? I’m not terribly sure. Perhaps if a group of brewers in a particular area were to begin to work together to develop an approach or voluntarily submit themselves to a set of constraints on their choices, you might see something evolve. I’m not entirely sure. The strongest zeitgeist among North American brewing culture seems to be one that wants an abundance of choice, although the Norwegian group that Cornell presented to is obviously looking inward or to their immediate surrounding for inspiration.

If I were to throw an argument into the ring, I think that a terroir-driven beer would be one with the least influence exerted by the brewer as possible. Made with local ingredients (within a particular radius of the brewing site), and fermented at the ambient temperatures–if part of the prevailing definition of terroir is climate, than take the plunge and really let climate exert influence. And of course, local yeasts to ferment it all. This calls for supporting projects like Bootleg Biology so that every “place” has a native yeast (or several) to pitch in.

Learning to value constraint

Something I’ve enjoyed these past few years in Bolivia is, in fact, the constraint. Sure, I could order anything via air mail and get it here, but I’m working under budget limitations, so over time I’ve had work under various constraints. There’s only one maltster in the country, and they provide pilsner malt and chocolate malt–not crystal/caramel malts. This, combined with the abundance of local sugars dictated a general lack of maltiness, drier and lighter-bodied results. (To be fair, I’ve also grown to understand just how much influence a base malt can exert over a final product, and come to miss access to variety of options, but still, this is an exercise in lemonade-making.) Without an easy form of temperature control for fermentation and living in the tropics, managing fermentations is a high-effort challenge, so it ends up favoring beers that express themselves through yeast byproducts. There are currently no hops grown here, so I can only brew with the half and whole pound bags of Palisade, Willamette, and Columbus that I brought with me–if there were a local source, that’s probably the bulk of what I’d brew with.

At least in the Global North, consumer preference dictates that variety is the spice of life. And why not? We have so many options and the world is our oyster, so who wouldn’t want to try as much as you can? I certainly do. But, the pursuit of an identity, style, or approach that is geographically constrained will require some kind of commitment to those constraints. And not purely to the products and ingredients of the place, but to its people. Beer is a social construct, and it takes a society of individuals brewing together and sharing ideas as much as ingredients. Again, this is where Garshol’s work on Norwegian farmhouse brewing is illustrative as to what it might look like for a community to develop a style–in the case of Norway, it’s driven by tradition. In today’s world, tradition tends to die, and while rescuing traditions leads to lovely results like the exploding popularity of Berliner Weisses, beer culture is not static, and I’d hope that there are new styles and movements awaiting us.

Globalization does not favor isolation, but beer styles most often seem to have developed from certain regional isolations–or if not isolations, then regional critical masses of people who are highly conversant with one another. How you develop that kind of locally emphatic character in a world of geographically-unbound social media a question that demands a community organizer.