Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Beer and Evolving Urban Culture

[ Ok, the title is a bit over the top. Indianapolis blog the Hoosier Beer Geek just turned five years old. As part of their celebration, I wrote this short piece on how their blog shows a bit about culture shift in the relationship of the city and state over the course of the last couple decades. ]

I grew up in rural Southern Indiana where the Indianapolis I knew much of my early years was as a dot on a map. The rest of the state did not loom large in our eyes. Today it’s quite different. One of my cousins and a high school classmate are both Colts season ticket holds and Colts fandom is rampant. Another high school classmate started a winery and is very active in the state’s wine making industry. He now often travels to Indianapolis for various festivals and events.

Traditionally Indianapolis had been very cut off from the rest of the state. And while sometimes resentment of the state capital still runs high, Indy is much more connected than in years past, as my own personal story illustrates. Part of that is the result of Indy becoming a sort of “cultural commons” for the entire state, with the city increasingly a focus of statewide attention for things like pro sports and local wine making.

Another example of his has been in the state’s emerging microbrewing scene. Indy itself has fairly few of these, but the state as a whole a large number of high quality brewers, including what I think is the best brewery in the United States – Munster’s 3 Floyds.

The Hoosier Beer Geek has been a key element in binding the state’s brewing industry together and bringing knowledge of the state’s beers to Indianapolis. Rightly they focus on whatever is of the absolute best quality regardless of origin. But they’ve also championed Indiana beers, when they find them measuring up the standards of the world. This includes breweries from the furthest reaches in the state, such as their special tasting events for New Albanian (which is brewed close to where I grew up).

I believe things like this are important in helping Indianapolis build and maintain connections and trust throughout the state, and lowering the barriers of resentment that have traditionally caused problems. This is of critical importance for both the success of the city and state. While HBG may be but a small element of this, it’s very significant because truly vital relationships are built not on a few single mega initiatives but a multitude of small and diverse interactions.

Congrats and best of luck to HBG in its next five years.

This post originally appeared in the Hoosier Beer Geek.

Topics: Urban Culture
Cities: Indianapolis

4 Responses to “Beer and Evolving Urban Culture”

  1. Wad says:

    Beer: Finally, something we can really talk about! :)

    The title is not as over the top as you may think. Sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his book, “The Great, Good Place,” argues how something like a bar functions as a third place and is good for the well-being of the individual as well as a community.

    As for a beer discussion, I wish I could say L.A. has some top-notch microbreweries. We have plenty of them, as stand-alones or as restaurants, but they aren’t anything spectacular. Fortunately, San Diego has emerged as the Munich of the West Coast with its breweries.

  2. Chris Barnett says:

    I was going to say much the same thing: the microbreweries add the taproom to the list of gathering places. All the cool neighborhoods have one or want one.

  3. DBR96A says:

    Obnoxious but fun song:

    Some of today’s microbreweries will soon become national (or superregional) phenomena.

  4. Wad says:

    @DBR96A, I wouldn’t be too surprised.

    Many cities now host beer fests/beer weeks, and these are showcases not only for local breweries, but also below-macro names that already have a national reputation and work the beer fest circuit.

    It’s also easier for microbreweries to get their names out since wholesalers and distributors want to carry them, as long as they can produce enough beer.

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