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Chapter 11 Conclusions about Beer and Wine and the future.

Joe was one of my best ever students. He thirsted for knowledge of beer. He devoured the
literature, attended class compulsively, asked perceptive and passionate questions, and was
superlative in the experimental brewery, producing beers of sublime excellence. He also has
the word beer tattooed across an ample belly in huge gothic script. This says everything
really. I cannot imagine the winemakers on campus seemingly as many women as men
adorning their guts with Pinot Noir, even in henna. Perhaps a subtle little tattoo located
somewhere tasteful and sophisticated.
Plenty of these winemakers take my beer classes. They accept the well-intentioned
teasing, for the most part (as do the chemical engineers, who proudly identify themselves
when I go round the class at the start of term, before I remind them that they have no soul
and have no grasp of the beauty inherent in biological systems). After about four weeks, as
we finally reach yeast and fermentation, I delight in telling the viticulture and enology
students that had this been a wine class, we'd have reached the fermenter on day one:
Heck, you just crush a few grapes and you're ready to toss in the yeast if you bother even
to do that. You might always just leave the contaminating microflora to get on with it. It is,
of course, in good-willed jest, but with a straighter face I do remind the students there really
is a far more complex series of stages that a brewer (and before him or her, the maltster)
must conduct with precision and consistency before the noble Saccharomyces comes to the
party. And this, for the biggest brewers occurs 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. Now
thats a crush.
Yet, wine and winemakers have stolen the moral high ground. Turning up at a
prestigious dinner on campus, I go to the bar. What do you have? Red of white wine,
sir. What beers do you have? None, sir but we do have sparkling water.
A year or two back, I showed up at a dinner at the home of one of the universitys
major officers. I asked why there was no beer, only wine. The reply was but this is a
culinary evening. The reality is that beer is probably just as worthy a match for foods as
wine but more of that momentarily.
What I strive for is greater reverence for beer in countries like the States. It exists in
pockets but certainly nowhere near to the extent that it does in some other countries. Take
Belgium, as we saw earlier. The right beer in the right glass of the right shape with the right
emblem. That is giving beer its rightful treatment.
Yet, so often in the world, the treatment of beer is criminal. Venture into a restaurant
in this neck of the woods and you will be lucky to get a glass if you order a beer, the bottle
being unceremoniously plunked down on the table before you. If the glass does come, then
the server will assiduously endeavor to pour the product with painful restraint, decanting
the liquid laboriously down the side of the glass in an attempt to avoid generating head. I
lose track of the times that I tell them that the foam is integral, nay critical, and that they
should direct the stream vigorously to the bottom of the glass so that I can admire the
glorious whiteness of the head. But then, as often as not, if a glass does appear, it has
clearly been washed badly. There will be ugly bubbles on the side of the glass, evidence of
fatty deposits.
But when it comes to wine, there is a wholly different scenario. A bottle of the
chateau Exhorbitante de Profite, sir? Certainly, an excellent choice. Moments later, along
comes the wine waiter with said bottle, white towel over his arm, and, with great
deliberation, he presents the label for your affirmation that you really have got the

remarkable good taste to have selected this majestic beverage. The foil will be scored and
removed and the cork pulled with due ceremony, and placed lovingly before me. With a
flourish, a morsel of the nectar will be tipped into the glass and the sommelier will stand
back, expectantly. I hold the glass to my nostrils and savor the bouquet (of course, knowing
the ritual, I never taste) before announcing that all is well and my friends and I can take
receipt of this gift from the gods. The bottle, if the wine is white, will be plunged into a
gorgeously created ice bucket and the waiter will depart with an envious enjoy!