A Curious Brew

It will surprise nobody if I admit that the reason I do this blog is for an excuse to drink new beers and read new things. I am simply curious. And I mean “curiosity” in the way that Edmund Burke defined it: “whatever desire we have for, or whatever pleasure we take in, novelty.” New beers and new books are interesting to me simply because they are new. At least at first.

Novelty, of course, eventually wears out. Curiosity draws us to new things, but other, more lasting passions keep our attention on the once new object. And yet, nothing that keeps our attention is ever totally devoid of novelty; we always find something new and exciting about the things that we are passionate about. As Burke says, “Some degree of novelty must be one of the materials in every instrument which works upon the mind; and curiosity blends itself more or less with all our passions.”

Beer of the Week: Cannabia – When it comes to novelty, this beer has it in spades. Hops is closely related to hemp. So it is not surprising that somebody decided to use hemp in brewing beer. Hemp does not replace the hops in Cannabia, it only augments it. The label is scratch and sniff, and the smell released by scratching at it is floral and dense, almost like a perfume sample. The smell of the beer itself is far more subdued, with some aromatic hops carrying most of the weight. The beer is light, with a strong hoppy finish. There is a hint of sweetness in the hops and the hemp seems to impart an herbal flavor at the end, almost like an herbal tea. As the beer warmed, the sweet herbal flavor became more prominent. In the end, Cannabia is a pretty darn good beer, not because of the novelty of using hemp in the recipe, but because it is a well balanced, flavorful, organic beer.

Reading of the week: On the Sublime and Beautiful by Sir Edmond Burke, Part I, Chapter 1 – Burke is best known for his politics, but like so many statesmen of his day, he was also a philosopher and a student of aesthetics. In his treatise On the Sublime and Beautiful he presents some interesting and thoughtful views on psychology.

Question of the week: It is easy to see how friends maintain a certain novelty since they are always changing by virtue of being people. And good books remain novel because we change in relation to them; each reading shows us a new side or sheds light on an obscure quality. But can one’s favorite beer maintain any sort of novelty after cases and cases have been consumed?

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2 Comments on “A Curious Brew”

  1. Katie says:

    There is novelty in each new situation in which the beer is consumed, and in sharing “your” beer with friends for whom it is completely new.

    • Good point. I would even go further and say that since human relationships are dynamic and therefore constantly novel, whenever you share a beer with a friend (even a brand you’ve each had many times before) the overall experience is new enough to qualify.


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