Posts tagged “controversy”

The 20 most influential beers of all time

From First We Feast:

These days, we’re so spoiled with great beer that we barely bat an eyelash when we walk into a bar with 20 taps devoted to craft brews, or run to the corner deli to pick up a bottle of world-class Belgian beer to pair with our takeout pizza. With new local breweries popping up every day and far-flung imports hitting shelves from the likes of Iceland and New Zealand, the choices can feel overwhelming. But as we always say when someone tells us they love Kanye West but have never heard of Rakim: Respect the OGs, son!

As the beer market matures, it’s important to have a sense of context—to understand how we got here, and appreciate the trailblazers that took brewing to new heights (or dragged it so low that others were inspired to fight back). Of course, determining a beer’s influence is a tricky and subjective matter. Yet it is one that brings up a lot of questions worth asking: Which beers set the standard within their respective style? Which IPAs ushered in the era of the American hop bomb? What is the gateway beer that has converted the most newbies into beer nerds?

Their list:

Gablinger’s diet beer, Rheingold, New York

Blind Pig IPA

Westmalle Tripel

New Albion Ale

Fuller’s London Pride

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Pilsner Urquell

Anchor Steam Beer

Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye

Ayinger Celebrator

Generic lager

Cantillon Classic Gueuze

Anchor Old Foghorn

Reissdorf K�lsch

Draught Guinness

Allagash White

Sam Adams Utopias

Saison Dupont

Schneider Aventinus

Of course, this article has created a minor brew-ha-ha (ha!). Martin Cornell writes a different (and better, in my opinion) list:

I mean, Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye is more influential in the history of beer than Bass Pale Ale or Barclay Perkins porter? Don’t make me weep. Allagash White trumps Hoegaarden and Schneider Weisse? (You may not like Hoegaarden or Schneider Weisse, but I hope you won’t try to deny their influence.) Gueuze, Saison and K�lsch are such important styles they deserve a representative each in a “most influential beers of all time” list, while IPA and porter are left out? I don’t think so. And the same goes for Schneider Aventinus: where are the hordes of Weissebockalikes? Sam Adams Utopias has influenced who, exactly? “Generic lager”? I see where you’re coming from, in that much of what has happened over the past 40 years in the beer world is a reaction against generic lager, but still … And I love London Pride, but it’s not even the third most influential beer that Fuller’s brews.

His list:

Spaten Dunkel

Pilsner Urquell

Hodgson’s East India Pale Ale

Parsons’ porter

Barclay Perkins Russian Imperial Stout

Schwechater Lagerbier

Einbecker Ur-Bock

Paulaner Salvator

Anheuser-Busch Budweiser

Bass No 1

Schneider Weisse

Hoegaarden

Duvel

Fuller’s ESB

Newcastle Brown Ale

Tennent’s Gold Label

Fowler’s Wee Heavy Wee Heavy

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Blind Pig IPA

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Read the comments on his blog — they are hilarious and he’s extremely articulate in his refutal of other contenders.

Fun times. Makes me want a beer.

Cookstoves & the shadow of the past

There’s been a lot of “controversy” in the development sphere over the value of cookstove projects, stemming largely from one large trial in one country using one (arguably not) improved stove. The abstract nicely sums up their point:

We find no evidence of improvements in lung functioning or health and there is no change in fuel consumption (and presumably greenhouse gas emissions). The difference between the laboratory and this study’s field findings appears to result from households’ revealed low valuation of the stoves. Households failed to use the stoves regularly or appropriately, did not make the necessary investments to maintain them properly, and use ultimately declined further over time. More broadly, this study underscores the need to test environmental and health technologies in real-world settings where behavior may temper impacts, and to test them over a long enough horizon to understand how this behavioral effect evolves over time.

Cheers to JPAL for bringing in researchers from diverse backgrounds to think about and work on household air pollution and cookstoves. The field moves forward when alternative perspectives force us to think in new ways.

The rub, though, is that many of us in the field are acutely aware of the explicit requirement that any intervention be fully vetted with the community before being deployed. This isn’t the first time the development world has been interested in cookstoves; past large-scale interventions have had mixed success in part due to precisely what’s outlined in the article. Fully vetting devices in the community to make sure they are culturally appropriate, usable, clean, and efficient is a known requirement.

There’s always a chance an intervention will still fail, but due diligence dictates prolonged and complete community engagement. Because a product is available on the local market and has claims of “proven” laboratory performance means little. The laboratory provides a first step to grade stoves — but the field is where final decisions should be made. And the value of an ‘improved’ label is heavily diluted - we’re barraged by dozens of these products regularly. We derive value from meaningful, beneficial, and unobtrusive interaction with and use of appliances. Devices that fail to provide those traits fail to be used. This is definitely true here and seemingly true everywhere.

Two fundamental conclusions from the recent brouhaha stand out. First, the astonishing hype surrounding this article fits within the larger patterns we see in the news machine. A single article, statement, or editorial snowballs and catalyzes a lot of discussion (in the popular media for a news cycle, and in academia for an eternity). Not a bad thing in and of itself, but problematic when the media ignores the history of available knowledge and treats the news as something profoundly new and unequivocally true. Second, the coverage helps focus and hone the message of those working in the field — never a bad thing. It reminds us of past learnings and helps light a path forward.

In a blog post from June 18 on National Geographic, Radha Muthiah (the Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves) and the authors of the above article write,

This research, and the work of others, suggests that the first goal must be to develop cookstoves that people would actually want to acquire, use, and maintain—in addition to ones that meet clear guidelines and standards for cleanliness, efficiency, and safety. To ensure that scarce development resources are spent wisely, all promising cookstove designs must be tested in real world settings to assess their long-run benefits on health and greenhouse gas emission prior to large scale adoption of clean cookstoves. Moreover, additional research should continue in order to provide greater insight into what types of social marketing can improve the general acceptance of the stoves.

No argument there.

Twain

I won't pretend to have anything unique, new, or insightful to say about this inane pseudo-sanitization of Huckleberry Finn. Instead, we'll turn to the proverbial horse's mouth.

"I have no race prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. All I care to know is that a man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can't be any worse."

"There is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a Dream, a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And You are but a Thought -- a vagrant Thought, a useless Thought, a homeless Thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities."

"None but the dead have free speech."

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