Some people have hobbies that are cheap or free and keep them in shape: joggers, for instance. I am about to embark on a hobby that is expensive and might make me fat: writing a blog documenting my attempt to drink a beer from every country in the world and every state in the United States. No, it’s not a perfectly original idea: This guy from Australia gave it a try for a while, and admirably so, but he appeared to fizzle out after a couple months and 40 or so countries. I don’t care if it’s been attempted, though, because it combines three of my favorite things: beer, geography, and writing. If I wasn’t writing this blog, I’d be drinking beer anyway (and trying to find weird and new ones at that), and I’d be thinking geographically anyway too (I teach geography, so it’s my job). The writing part has been missing from my life, however, and I’m excited to do it again, especially with so few responsibilities or consequences attached to it.
|Here's me standing in front of a bunch of kegs many miles away and many moons ago (New Zealand 2005). I think I'll get most of the beers for this blog on trips to the store rather than trips around the world, though.|
Why do it this way? My interest in both beer and geography has always been driven by lists. I have always kept a mental list of the number of countries I’ve had beers from, just as I keep a list of countries, states, and even counties I’ve visited. Doing it this way will give me an (unreachable) end goal to shoot for, and items to cross off along the way. Plus, I get to use maps! This pursuit is also inspired by the San Diego State University Geography Department’s former “local beer parties,” for which students would bring beers from all over the country and world for everyone to try. I will be my own local beer party.
But I’ll need your help. Some of these countries and states will be easy to cross off, but some will be extremely hard. Saudi Arabia, for instance, will be impossible unless you know someone living at an American oil company compound in Dhahran who is illicitly homebrewing. So, if you see a beer at the store or at a bar or restaurant from a country you’ve never heard of, or a state not known for its breweries, drop me a line! Especially those of you in San Diego. I know there are a lot of random corner stores and restaurants that carry one or two really weird beers from really weird places. I’d appreciate the heads up if you spot these.
I should also note that I’m starting this project as if I’d never had a beer from anywhere. So, even though I’ve had about ten different Mexican beers before, I will still write an entry for Mexico. Also, there are surely some countries I’ve visited, and drank beer in, that probably don’t export the stuff anywhere. For instance, I enjoyed (I guess that’s the right word) quite a few pints of Maluti Premium Lager when I was in Lesotho, but it’ll be a pain to find that stuff stateside (or anywhere), and I won’t check Lesotho off my list until it touches my lips once more.
I am taking a liberal approach to what I’m considering a country. Think of it this way: if they have their own soccer team (e.g. Wales, New Caledonia, Guadeloupe, Hong Kong), it’s a country, even if it’s not independent. More beer for me. Here is a list of what I’m considering countries for this blog. I think we can all agree on what the fifty states are, and don’t worry, I won’t forget about Washington, DC.
Finally, about the beer itself. For some places, I may be able to only find a single beer, but for others I may have many to choose from. If I have a choice, I will aim for the more interesting, micro-brewed product as a matter of principal. My entry for Wisconsin, for instance, will not be Miller Lite. What will I have to say about the beer? Yes, I will try to convey what the beer tastes like, and whether I thought it was any good. I know enough about beer and its myriad styles to write in these terms, and I know what I like (almost everything!) and what I don't like (not a whole lot). However, you will probably not see me use words such as “mouthfeel” to describe a beer, or compare a beer’s flavor to things like coriander, oak, basil, pomegranate, dandelion, pork, dryer lint, sherry, jackfruit, soju, or reindeer steaks unless the beer really tastes like that stuff or is specifically brewed with it. Some people like to fancy themselves as cicerones (a sort of sommelier for beer) when they review a beer, and that’s fine. It’s just not me. I probably won't try to quantify much about the beer other than its ABV. Most of my writing will instead focus on interesting tidbits about the beer and the brewery that made it, the country or state from which it came, and how I came to get my hands on said beer. And of course, I will try my darnedest to be entertaining and educational. Thanks for reading!