Writing about the history and culture of beer in Central Europe invariably involves acts of translation — not only translation of the German-language sources that I read, but also translation in a broad sense. The Russian linguist Roman Jakobson identified three modes of translation, including intersemiotic translation. Unlike “translation proper,” intersemiotic translation allows us to translate cultural phenomena such as customs or even the organization of space from one cultural sign system or linguistic code into another. In plain terms, intersemiotic translation helps us translate affective terms like Gemütlichkeit, or terms that refer to spaces imbued with cultural significance, such as a Stube or a Wirtshaus.
Such words, though, cannot be exchanged as one-to-one tokens. We cannot simply render Gemütlichkeit as coziness, or Stube as parlour. Indeed, as the Weimar-era cultural theorist Walter Benjamin observes in his essay, “The Task of the Translator,” there remains something of all languages that cannot be conveyed or communicated. But Benjamin sounds a reassuring note regarding the transmission of experience from one language to the next. The task of the translator involves incorporating “the original’s mode of signification, thus making both the original and the translation recognizable as fragments of a greater language, just as fragments are part of the vessel” (Benjamin, 78). Like words themselves, cultural phenomena are akin to fragments of a vessel that the translator pieces together in the “spirit” of the original.
The success of Downtown Syracuse, in particular Armory Square, has been at the forefront of my interest and business priority since 1992. When Empire Brewing Company first opened its doors on November 3rd, 1994 I think we paid $3 per square foot; a fair rent at the time for a basement. And over the past quarter-century and five different landlords we have watched Armory Square grow into something remarkable. Local business people interested in creating a unique entertainment and shopping district of downtown primarily developed Armory Square, fostering the character we see today.
In March of 2018, when I posted “Beer, Wine, & Spirits: The Good, The Bad, and The Big Fat Middle”, I didn’t know it was going to be a two-parter…or that Part Two would come almost two years later. That revelation came later, this week, in fact, while searching my drafts file. But – especially in light of the sort of Tough Love rhetoric I espoused in that post – I felt this needed to be said…
You would think a very small competition: perhaps the tiniest one that’s still AHA and BJCP, would be easy. Sometimes they are, often not. We just have different problems.
There’s only so much one can say reporting on the same competition every year. So I thought coming at it from a different angle might be refreshing. Every year we go to Screamen Eagle in Inlet at the end: great multi-tap thanks to the beer picking abilities of part owner, with his mother, Matt Miller. Every year we sit in Old Forge and Eagle Bay to judge. Except this year. Originally we thought we’d mix things up and have a weekend in Beaver River: town with no roads going to it. But when John Lee, who has been my savior for many years now, told me the changed nature of his job meant he might not even be able to make it we opted for the usual. You would think that would been easy. Uh… NO. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Small and Remote Competitions Have BIG Problems Too”
RANT WARNING: Our daughter dropped into a small Washington brewery last weekend. She texted me and asked if I knew about it. I didn’t know much, so I went to their website. Seeing their logo, I instantly found a Problem: it was almost a direct, point-for-point reproduction of the logo of a large East Coast brewery. As they’re not in a large urban area, I assumed it was a simple mistake and sent the owner an email, explaining the situation. I was even nice about it.
The response: A ton of whining about how hard it is to run a brewery and how he has a family to feed and how I appeared to enjoy “wasting people’s time.”
What began life as a rough-and-ready list of Vienna Lagers to accompany “Vienna Lagers Past and Present” (coming soon) has morphed into something more than that. Below you’ll read about beer names that evoke colourful characters and aspects of Viennese history. You’ll also find the beginnings of a meditation on the price of craft beer in Europe. And, of course, you’ll find tasting notes aplenty. Dig in!
Not long after Anton Dreher tapped his first Vienna Lager in 1841, it became the toast of Europe. Though it eventually faded into obscurity in its native land, the style lived on in other places, including Mexico, and was one of the styles that figured in the North American craft beer revival. But it wasn’t until earlier this decade that Vienna Lager found its way home.