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Rich Pawlak

A Place For Beer at The Times?

5 posts in this topic

I very much enjoy the wine tasting columns in the Times every week, and the occasional tastings of beer. I know you'll enjoy your time with Lew Bryson on your tasting panel this week; he is one of the most compelling writers of food and beverage around. But, as my sig line would suggest, I have a vested interest in this question. Is there a place for dedicated beer writing at the Times? I don't want to bore you and build a case for the growing sophistication and considerable artistry of craft beer these days, but if anyone could do the brew justice, it would be the Times.


Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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Rich,

I'm not sure if it's time yet for a column dedicated to beer. I do feel it's an important part of my own job. I've tried to make sure beer gets a regular spot in the rotation with our panel reviews, and over time we'll see. I do knew that each time we do a beer panel it gets a tremendous response, so you may be on to something. I love beer, by the way. The first piece I ever wrote for the old Living section, back in 1986, was about beer, in fact.

I will say, as I've written in the past, that the beer industry is its own biggest enemy -- the big companies at least -- and the craft brewers have a tough fight to overcome years of wounding advertising.

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In another thread in this Q&A, you spoke of "the increased use of "Yellow Tail'' -style merchandising in an effort to make foreign wines more accessible to Americans." You went on to say "the cost is mass-produced wines that make a virtue of innocuousness." Do you see a parallel here to the way beer has been merchandised?


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Bux,

How couldn't you? When the brand name becomes all you know about a wine or a beer, when its entire connotation is in terms of status, sexuality, friendship or whatever, then you're dealing with a product that is quite different from what it was originally intended to be.

I don't mean to dump on Yellow Tail, or Budweiser, for that matter. They've raised the level of the cheapest wine. But for a wine lover, it's just not interesting stuff. Budweiser-Coors-Miller, etc. too. Paranthetically, a micro brewer once told me that he was in awe of Budweiser. Apparently making beer on such a large scale, and having it come out so consistently the same, is an amazing brewing achievment. Thank god for beer lovers and yuppies who fostered the craftbrewing movement.

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And, to me, the only way to even make a dent in the ubiquitous marketing blather of the mass brewers is to devote regular space to the discussion of the world of beer. I can't imagine a more appropriate and influential launching pad for that kind of regular discussion than the Times. Don't you think it's worth a trial baloon, given the huge response you get when you give beer that exposure?


Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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