Looking Backward: 2018-2003
(With apologies to Edward Bellamy)
by Jay R. Brooks
It seems like 2003 was just yesterday, but of course for me it actually was. What for me was last night was a hot evening in 2003. I had retreated to my beer cellar, where it was cooler, and I had enjoyed a 1999 Bigfoot that I'd wax-topped just before the millennium. After I fell asleep in the La-Z-Boy, I guess my wife shut the thick cement door, because when I awoke the next day I got the shock of my life: It is 15 years later, 2018. And how the world has changed!
[an error occurred while processing this directive]In 2018, the Celebrator is a 200-page monthly and the second-best-selling magazine in America, spawning dozens of imitators. Beer has finally taken root with the majority of Americans in a way we could only dream about 15 years ago. Every newspaper has a full-time daily beer columnist. There are several regular television shows about beer and brewing. "The Iron Brewer" is a top 10 show. Many brewers are national celebrities and household names. Grocery stores have two full aisles of beer, all of which is kept at a cool, not ice-cold, temperature. Every cookbook gives suggestions on what beer to serve with each dish.
At lunch my waitress brings me a separate beer list and then proceeds to suggest dishes to pair with my choice, Natalie's Hefeweizen. This beer was apparently brewed by Vinnie Cilurzo's wife, who, as I learn by reading the label, took over brewing duties after Vinnie founded a brewing school in 2010. Much to my delight, the waitress brings my beer in the appropriate tall wheat beer glass with a lemon wedge resting separately on a plate so that I may choose whether or not to add the wedge to my beer.
As I look around the tables, each beer has been served in its proper glass. And there are dozens of new beer styles that were unheard of in my day. My waitress tells me about what for her is ancient history -- how years ago all the craft brewers and various trade organizations stopped squabbling among themselves and began working together on a common goal, to raise the awareness of beer, and the whole movement began to snowball. America, it seems, has become the beer capital of the world.
President Hickenlooper, the former mayor of Denver, ascended to the White House on the slogan, "A Keg in Every Kitchen." In office, he has dedicated federal funding to beer education in the classroom, lowered the drinking age to 18 to put us in line with the rest of the civilized world, and provided federal loans and subsidies to anyone who wanted to open a brewery in a depressed area in order to revitalize a community.
As a result of these policies, the United States now boasts over 5,000 breweries -- more than any other country in the world -- and has experienced an economic boom. The tax revenues from this have been used to create a national mass-transit system that not only works but virtually has eliminated the need for cars. Thus, drunk driving has almost completely dried up. MADD, finally realizing the futility of punishing everyone for the stupidity of a few, disbanded, and its members got on with their lives.
Once kids were taught about alcohol and it became commonplace at the dinner table, teenage binge-drinking plummeted. Beer has become a part of the fabric of everyday life again and thus has lost its rebellious allure for millions of angst-ridden juveniles.
The Celebrator's 30th anniversary party will be held in a few weeks at the Hollywood Bowl. The Rolling Stones will be performing at the party, since it neatly coincides with their most recent farewell tour. I discover that Tom Dalldorf, now 75, is still at the Celebrator's helm, though when I visit him he keeps breaking into song (bad songs) and he speaks only in puns (bad puns). A few days ago he received a lifetime achievement award on the Academy of Brewing Arts & Sciences annual show. He shows me a recording of the live broadcast as he accepted his "Jackson" (a gold statuette of Michael Jackson sipping a beer) while telling bad puns, to the delight of the audience and millions of viewers around the world.
When I awaken the following morning, my second day in 2018, I get the oddest feeling it was all a dream. But just then my son Porter arrives, now 17. Though he is over six feet tall and looks so different from when I last saw him, I know him at once. We hug and he tells me he is going to college in the fall -- to become a brewer. I can't be more proud. Now this is a future worth working toward.
Jay R. Brooks, general manager of the CBN, is an author and a former beer buyer. He is usually up to no good and lives in Oakland with his wife and son, Porter, who is already showing promise as a beer lover.
Copyright 2003, Celebrator No material herein may be reprinted without permission of the Celebrator Distributed On the W3 For personal, non-commercial enjoyment and use only. Cheers!
February/March 2003 Home
Issues Online -