The Buffalo Theory

If you were around in the 1980’s you probably watched at least of few episodes of “Cheers”. An enjoyable sitcom set in a neighborhood bar in Boston, MA. Among the regulars were 2 ‘bar hounds’; Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin, played by George Wendt and John Ratzenberger respectively.

Norm was a quick quipping sot who always occupied the corner seat at the end of the bar, and always perched to his right was Clifford R. Clavin. Cliff was a middle-aged, know-it-all mail carrier who lived with his mother for most of the duration of the show. Cliff always had along-winded explanation for everything, including alcohol consumption.

The reason I tell you all this is because Cliff Clavin (and the brilliant writers of “Cheers”) are responsible for one of the all time greatest diatribes about alcohol I’ve ever heard.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you with The Buffalo Theory;

“A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. When the herd is hunted, the slow and weak at the back are killed first. The speed and health of the herd keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as its slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. Naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first.

In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”

There is something in the twisted, yet simple logic of the Buffalo Theory which has always made me chuckle.

It also sparked in me a process similar to the Buffalo Theory. I’ve always looked at alcohol intake as akin to gardening;  to keep a plant or tree healthy, you must regularly trim away the older, less healthy branches. By occasionally trimming the plant, you make sure that the new growth will get more essential nutrients, thus resulting in a fuller, more vibrant, healthy plant.

As I regularly tell my wife: “I’m not getting drunk, I’m pruning!”

Cheers,

Andy The Beerman

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Beer Wars

Wow!

If you were fortunate enough to be in attendance for the Vancouver screening of the documentary film “Beer Wars”, count yourself lucky. If you couldn’t make it, shame on you!

It was a gala event put on by CAMRA Vancouver at District 319 , a wonderful private event venue. Special Guest for the evening was the inimitable Greg Koch, CEO of Stone Brewing Company. Greg was kind enough to bring a good supply of Stone Beer; their signature ‘Arrogant Bastard’ and ‘Ruination IPA”. For the price of admission, you also got to sample beer offerings from Central City, Driftwood, Granville Island, Howe Sound, R&B, Red Truck, Steamworks, Swans, and Yaletown Brewing. (And if you were really fortunate, some homebrew from yours truly and Adam Henderson)

It was a veritable “who’s who” of the Vancouver craft beer scene. Brewers and owners of all of the above listed breweries, plus folks from DIX Brewery, Storm, Alibi Room, St. Augustine’s and God knows how many more! Brewers, homebrewers, beer geeks, beer snobs, beer enthusiasts, fanboys and girls, you name it! All in all, a very diverse and enthusiastic crowd.

The evening began with a ‘cocktail hour’ of sorts, with all of the brewers above pouring their offerings, hors d’ouvres, and some great beer conversations. It was also a chance to meet up with friends new and old. One my my favorite parts of the evening was the number of people who approached me and introduced themselves. They recognized me from my Twitter avatar! That was freaking cool!

Once seated, we were treated to an brief intro from CAMRA President Rick Green. Rick introduced the masses to a new project; Vancouver Craft Beer Week, being held from May 10-16! This will be our chance to showcase local beer, beer and food pairings, beer tastings, beer themed events, a homebrew competition, BC Beer Awards, and the promotion of craft beer in general. Looking forward to a tremendous week of beer!

After Rick’s introduction, we were treated to a keynote from special guest Greg Koch. Greg shared a brief history of Stone Brewing, the trials and tribulations of growing a craft brewery, and the glorious success of Stone. Stone opened a restaurant/bistro at their new facility in Escondido, CA in 2007. In the 3 years since they opened The Bistro has become San Diego County’s number 1 purchaser of local organic produce. That shows me how we can all make a difference in how our beer AND food are produced.

From there we moved to the main event, the screening of ‘Beer Wars”

The Synopsis

“In America, size matters. The bigger you are, the more power you have, especially in the business world.

Director Anat Baron takes you on a no holds barred exploration of the U.S. beer industry that ultimately reveals the truth behind the label of your favorite beer. Told from an insider’s perspective, the film goes behind the scenes of the daily battles and all out wars that dominate one of America’s favorite industries.

Beer Wars begins as the corporate behemoths are being challenged by small, independent brewers who are shunning the status quo and creating innovative new beers. The story is told through 2 of these entrepreneurs – Sam and Rhonda – battling the might and tactics of Corporate America. We witness their struggle to achieve their American Dream in an industry dominated by powerful corporations unwilling to cede an inch.

This contemporary David and Goliath story is ultimately about keeping your integrity (and your family’s home) in the face of temptation. Beer Wars is a revealing and entertaining journey that provides unexpected and surprising turns and promises to change the world’s opinion on those infamous 99 bottles of beer on the wall.”

While the film focuses primarily on the US Beer Market, pretty much everything in the film applies to Canada as well. At the time of filming, the independent brewers were facing the might of ‘The Big 3’; Anheuser Busch, Miller and Coors. Since then, through consolidation and takeover it’s really just ‘The Big 2’; AB-InBev and Miller-Coors (Molson-Coors in Canada).  Remember; these corporations do not have your best interests as a beer drinker in mind. The underhanded (and sometimes illegal) tactics practiced by these behemoths of brewing are astounding.

Canada has been adversely affected, just take a look at this list. Recognize anyone? Molson, Kokanee, and countless others that you’re sure to find being poured at your favorite restaurant or pub (Except for Vancouver’s finer beer establishments, of course!)

For a detailed view of ‘who owns who’ in Canada, check out Dave’s Vancouver Beer Guide 2010

Pretty scary, isn’t it?

To see more truly local, independent beer flowing from your local taps, make your voice heard! Let your local establishments know that you prefer to drink fresh local products. Many Vancouver resaurants promote the fact that they serve local food, ask them why they don’t serve local beer! If they throw “We serve Molson/Canadian/ Kokanee” back at you, let them know that those aren’t truly local beers. If they support local independent farmers, why don’t they support local independent brewers?

My favorite quote from the movie is from Jim Koch (no relation to Greg, by the way), founder of The Boston Beer Company (aka Samuel Adams) ;

“Almost all our beer knowledge comes from Budweiser, Miller and Coors. It’s as if all we learned about food came from McDonalds.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to know more about my beer; where it’s produced, what goes into it, and who really makes it!

If you were unable to make it out for the screening, want to share it with your macro swilling friends or just want to see it again, Beer Wars is now available via On Demand and Digital Download. CLICK HERE

For a more in-depth review of “Beer Wars” click here:  http://www.granvilleonline.ca/gr/blogs/editors/2010/01/27/david-takes-goliath-039beer-wars039#ixzz0eJO3X9m4

And remember; Support Your Local Brewer!

Cheers,

Andy the Beerman