Craft beer and the identity economyon June 17, 2015 at 8:30 pm
I was shocked, a few years back, to learn how little most brewmasters make. I mean, it’s understandable if your local brewpub only pays their head guy or gal 30k—that’s a small scale operation, after all. But most brewers aren’t that small. They just take pride in paying their most important employees shit wage, providing them instead of vague status perks.
The influx of Millennial liberals into the entrepreneurial economy has lead to some comical, and very sad, effects. There was a sign up at an Indianapolis charcuterie asking for applicants for an apprenticeship position. The pay was $500 a month, and a yearlong commitment was required. Good news, though: you got all the fatty meat you could eat, and every second Sunday was a day off.
“Is this for serious,” I asked the young man with the handlebar moustache.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “You work here, you’re a rock star.”
And as everyone knows, rock stars are famous for how little money they make. But so goes the vagaries of our sad, broken country: a generation of young people have abandoned all hope of financial stability and will accept instead a chance to become known locally as that cool dude who works at the meat packing place.
So head brewer positions have their perks. You get to drink all day, for one. Bloggers and cicerones kiss your ass. And you get to go into the VIP area at Dark Lord Day. But 30k at a big-name, mid-size brewer? You can’t retire on that. You can’t afford to get sick, even, or take a day off, or do anything that might mildly annoy your employer, who is statistically one of those icky Ayn Rand guys who thinks that treating people like shit is a sign of moral intelligence. He is a job creator. You are a mere maker. He’s given you your maker space and you have utilized that space to craft a socially favorable identity—what more could you possibly want, you ungrateful piece of filth? You—ugg, people like you make the ubermensch feel all shruggy, if you get my drift. Keep yapping and we’ll transfer brewing operations to Vietnam. Over there you can throw sass-mouth child laborers right into the boiling tank.
Long story short, I was quite pleased when I heard that Toppling Goliath’s old head brewer had left the business on short notice. Because, frankly, fuck the business owner. Fuck all business owners who aren’t also practitioners, or who refuse to adequately value their employees. I met that guy, and he had the same air of holier-than-thou self-possession as every other coked-out degenerate restaurateur I’ve ever known. These are the guys who give their employees mealy-mouthed lectures on being team players, on the morality of grit and selflessness, but then shut down operations overnight and refuse to issue the last three week’s paychecks. These are the people who conflated selfishness with honor, the rat bastards who’ve taken control of every single aspect of this country and consider themselves the only true victims of the horrors they’ve wrought upon the world. In 2055, when potable water is as valuable as gold and a lucky few toilers survive to literally lick the shit from these people’s assholes, they will cry about the good old days, about how government and unions brought down the glorious systems that used to make life so pleasant. Fuck them. I hope they all die.
And so rumors abound regarding the fate of TG. None of them are good. They’ve had to abandon several batches. Other beers have been renamed because they can’t stop fucking up the recipe. This, 1492, is from their Hop Patrol series, and it resembles a decently hopped homebrew. The carbonation was off—no sound was made when the cap was removed, as if I were unstopping a bottle of Sam Adams Utopias. It glugged out with minimal fizz and smelled pleasant but uneven. The unevenness continues throughout the flavor, with green and fruity hops blotting out everything else, ending on nodes of juice and water.
Topping Goliath is in trouble. And that’s a good thing.