At a time like this, in the middle of an election which offers little hope, no matter the winner, with each candidate uniquely worse than the other in particular ways, and with a nation more divided than I have seen it since the late 60s, with the world teetering on disaster, one may turn apocalyptic.
At times like this it is important to remember that some good things have been happening in the world: the growth of farmers’ markets, the rise of urban farming, medical advances, and not least, the remarkable rise of independent breweries. The number of local breweries is at a 125 year high:
In keeping with this trend, a new brewery opened recently in Wooster, Ohio, where I work. One night a month ago or so I stopped in after work. I changed my shirt, of course; the mailman drinking at the bar in uniform may be a TV staple, but in real life that would be stupid; you could be fired for doing so.
The brewery, called, simply, The Wooster Brewery, is located in a large brick building, dating to the 1890s, and originally a carriage making operation. It is the project of Paul Fryman, a local guy who, at 28, has already won medals for his brewing.
And what brewing: I was hooked from my first pint, a brown, hoppy ale. I have since tried many of his brews, and have found all of them exceptional. My two favorites are the stout, which has an amazingly complex and satisfying taste, and one of his two pale ales.
There is something about small scale which translates into big flavor and big freshness. This is true of local pizza parlors compared to chains, or local wineries, or local just about anything I can think of.
And it once was common enough: Wooster had a brewing company from 1860 until 1916. Massillon, where I live, had several. Granted, all of them brewed German lagers rather than the diverse choices of ales and beers on Mr Fryman’s blackboard, but I am sure that it was far more flavorful and fresh lager than what you would find in a bottle of Budweiser. That beer of such high quality and freshness is now readily available in a middle size Ohio town is a blessing.
At least some good things are happening in the midst of these dark times. And thank God that one of them is the rise of delicious, glorious beer.