Beer Notes From All Over, Mississippi to Beijing to Washington, D.C.

By James Fallows

The world is full of sorrows, but it is also full of ever-better beer. To wit:

1) My friend Adam Minter with a report from Beijing, "If you can't breathe, drink." It is about one of the new craft breweries in town, Capital Brew or δΊ¬-A (Jing-A, or "Capital A.") I haven't yet been there, although I've loved the pioneering Great Leap brewery, and its Shanghai counterpart Boxing Cat. China has been the land of very terrible beer for a very long time. The future looks bright. Update: I should also have mentioned Slow Boat Brewery, which I have heard about but not yet visited.

2) Mississippi.The picture at the top shows, working outward from the center:

       - In the middle, both in cans, we have two beers from SoPro, or Southern Prohibition Brewery, which was founded last year in Hattiesburg, in the southern part of the state. On the right in blue, Suzy B Dirty Blonde Ale. On the left, Mississippi Fire Ant Imperial Red Ale.
      - Flanking them, two from Yalobusha Brewing in Water Valley, near Oxford in the northern part of the state. Yalobusha, in case like me you didn't know, is the name of a county. On the left, River Ale, an American Pale Ale. On the right, Copperhead, an American Amber.
      - Next, working outward, two from Lazy Magnolia brewery in Kiln, near Biloxi. On the left, Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale. On the right, Southern Hops'pitality IPA.  

      - The outermost pair are not technically from Mississippi--but they're from the vicinity, and I found them in the phenomenal The Smoke Stack  smokes-and-beer store in West Point, Miss. (That's also where I got the commemorative glass shown below, with the insignia of the Golden Triangle Brewers of Mississippi.) On the left, the beautifully labelled Cocodrie from Bayou Teche Brewery in Arnaudville, Louisiana. On the right, from Yazoo Brewery of Nashville, a porter with the simple name SUE.

The craft-brew movement is new to Mississippi, but (unlike the Chinese) people there have a good excuse for taking so long. Until July 2012, it was against the law even to possess a brew with alcohol content higher than 5%. Bud Light, Coors, and Corona all qualified under that standard, but just about no beer you would consider "good" did. (Interesting alcohol-by-volume chart here.) Now, under its new law, Mississippi is making up for lost time. And lest we forget, none other than Jimmy Carter was the man who brought a similar change to the nation as a whole. In all the local Kwik-E-Marts in Mississippi the main national-brand craft brew I saw was Samuel Adams "Rebel IPA." It's excellent beer, but this is an interesting brand for the Boston Beer Company, brewer of Sam Adams, to feature in this part of the country.

3) America as a whole: English writer Geoff Dyer with a very nice WSJ weekend essay (paywalled) on how America as a whole has gone from being a beer wasteland to becoming the beer garden spot of the world. Eg:

These days the U.S. is not only a world leader in beer, it's a beer destination. Where once the tired and huddled masses arrived in the hope of breathing free (but with no hope of a decent IPA), now it's the thirsty, and they're here for the beer.

4) America's capital, Washington DC. One week ago, the beautiful Building Museum in Washington was the venue for the spiritually beautiful SAVOR Craft Beer festival that gathered brewers from all across our great land. It had brewers as well-known as Lagunitas ...

 

... and as on-the-rise from a national perspective as Nebraska Brewing, of La Vista, Nebraska, which (like nearly all the companies there) had some excellent new beers.

Again, there are troubles in the world, but not in the world of beer.

Tomorrow, my wife Deb Fallows has a great new story in the NYT also about Mississippi. Stay tuned. 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/05/beer-notes-from-all-over-mississippi-to-beijing-to-washington-dc/371087/