A few years back, while I was driving through the States, I passed a hitchhiker holding a sign that read “Hiking for Beer.” This abstruse notice made me wonder. Was he offering drivers beer for their service or if this were the goal of his trip — to hitchhike in search of the best beer across America — did he hope motorists would empathize with his mission? But I also got this idea in my head: I could hike, too, but proper hiking…for beer. 

Noah Lederman writes the travel blog Somewhere Or Bust. His travel stories have appeared in the Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times, the Economist, and elsewhere. He is completing a memoir about an unusual year-long journey with a surfboard. Follow him on Twitter @SomewhereOrBust

Sometime between 7,000 and 5,600 BC, along the banks of the Yellow River, an early inhabitant of modern-day China left behind a jug that was once filled with the earliest known example of a fermented grain beverage. With no written recipe or recorded history of the Neolithic concoction, the contents of the vessel were left to evaporate and decay during its long burial, fading into the past. Today, however, roughly 9,000 years later, you can go to your local beer store and walk out with an alcoholic concoction brewed to that seemingly lost ancient recipe. How is that possible? Through the unlikely union of traditional archaeology, modern chemical analysis technology, and the adventurous craft-brewing industry, tasting a 9,000-year-old beer has become as easy as picking it up off the shelf.

It’s been known for a while that some of the earliest civilized humans brewed beer. The almost 4000-year-old “Hymn to… More…

It’s become fashionable in American beer-geek circles to talk about the dire state of beer in Germany. The story is usually based on this fact: Germans are drinking less beer, about 101 liters per capita last year, down from more than 130 liters in the mid-1990s.

The story usually then leaps to questionable assumptions about why this is happening. Chief among these: German beers have become boring because the big six Bavarian beer producers make exactly the same beers. A conclusion is arrived at: What Germany really needs to regain its former glory is some gosh-darn, rootin’ tootin’ American innovation — namely in the form of American-style craft brews.

The latest appeared a few weeks ago in a Slate piece by Christian DeBenedetti titled “Brauereisterben” — literally “brewery death,” a term used since the 1990s and named after a term for Germany’s dying forests. One of the few… More…

Are there still wine people out there who won’t give beer the time of day? Seriously? Sadly, it appears so. When I’ve mentioned to wine friends that I’ve started writing about beer, some act as though I’d told them I’ll be writing about bromance comedies, Hooters’ waitresses and fantasy hockey.

 

I actually saw a Wine Spectator forum this year that began, “Why do you consider wine to be far superior to drink than beer?” Maybe I shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised by the responses:

“I think the superiority is clear. … For one, I find the flavors of beer to be quite fatiguing. … The range of bright and fruity flavors that wine can portray just cover a broader and more impressive scale than that of beer.”

“Hot wings, hot dogs, potato chips = Beer. Everything else wine…. More…

I love a good argument. I particularly love a good argument about drinks. And I especially love a good drinks argument in which manifestos are published. This is why — whether we’re talking about wine, spirits or beer — it’s endlessly amusing to bring up the topic of alcohol content.

 

In wine, there are supporters of high-alcohol fruit bombs versus sommeliers who refuse to put any wine over 14 percent on their lists. In spirits, it’s the opposite: Many craft bartenders thumb their noses at whiskey that falls below 100 proof. And in beer, there’s the perennial issue of the session beer.

Session beers are low-alcohol, high-flavor, easy-drinking, reasonably priced beers that one might drink all night long and still be able to walk home without doing something stupid. Essentially, a session beer is the opposite of… More…

Everything I know about cutting grass I learned from my father. He had three rules and one quasi-rule. The three rules undoubtedly reflected his occupation as a systems analyst. Rule 1: To maximize efficiency and, thus, save energy, plot the yard into squares and mow inward from the outer edge. Rule 2: To prevent the engine from overworking and, thus, save gas, always position the discharge chute away from the square. Rule 3: To extend the life of the mower and, thus, save money, always service the machine according to the manufacturer’s specifications. The quasi-rule, however, was prompted not by occupational mindset but, rather, to reward himself for performing the tiresome chore he found cutting grass to be: Have a cold beer afterward.  I follow these rules today, though I confess I do occasionally fail to observe the letter of the quasi-rule by having more than the one cold beer… More…