*Please join us in welcoming our newest Bierkast writer, Røark Adeline! Røark manages social media for Craft and Folk Art Museum. His background lies heavily in continental philosophy, fine art, and baseball analytics. He is particularly enamored of malty IPAs and developed an unhealthy attachment to Stone’s 15th Anniversary black IPA. Twitter knows him as @RoarkAdeline.”
A belief that needs little championing is the one that recognizes the consumption of beer as among the greatest pleasures humans can enjoy. To this end, those who pursue the sustained pleasure existing in beer consumption will likely turn to contemplation. Such contemplation might include thoughts like, “I have devised a hierarchy of type through which I will seek further bounties of pleasure.” Or, “I affirm my sense of self according to judgements of taste that I have created the parameters of.” But what this post concerns itself with is the contemplation that might say, “While the consumption of beer is one of the greatest parts of living, living cannot only be about consumption. I now wish to use visual mediums to make my expressions more perfect.”
Concerning The Will To Perfect Said Visual Expression
Cultivating taste in beer can easily follow a linear trajectory. Following a whim or listening to the advice of a pretentious friend can lead to buying a bottle of Dead Guy at a Ralphs in a terrible suburb. Drinking that same Dead Guy by the bottle around a midnight bonfire composed entirely of self-starting logs and trash isn’t dignified, but it is an introduction. The person who has such an experience could very easily stand (perhaps some three years later) in a goddamned four hour line for 4.5 ounces of Pliny the Younger. The steady incline in the graph that represents fanaticism rarely relates well to the one that represents dignity.
It is in the interest of both preserving dignity and cultivating fanaticism, that thoughts of beer kitsch are bred. These thoughts run in concert with the other contemplations, like contemplating what percentage of one’s monthly earnings should reasonably go toward beer, and evaluating things like “mouthfeel.”
Looking at kitsch as a mode of expression over a set of aesthetic principals is in essence a fragment of a will-to-become: begging for action while wrought with strife over how to act. This movement is not unlike the pursuit of perfect mouthfeel, as once entrenched in the pursuit it becomes harder to have general polite conversation. Blatant and literal messages are frequently accompanied by a singleminded obsessiveness. Attraction toward kitsch, is then, the most obvious and ubiquitous way to turn obsession into a visual end.
Like other forms of kitsch, beer kitsch is inherently representational. Being kitsch, it exists without ambiguity.
Outside of an extensive collection of bottles that sit atop the kitchen cabinet in the present author’s home, this hand painted sign is the only decorative expression of said author’s enjoyment of beer. (Not counted among the instruments of expression are a small collection of brewery-specific t-shirts and a body slightly more rotund than if the author were a water enthusiast.)
While this wooden vestige of Lord Wellington London Ales presumably served the economic purpose of encouraging England’s thirsty to partake of its product, it now does nothing of the like. It sits as a beautiful example of kitsch that appreciators of beer are prone to embellish their homes with.
The product is unfamiliar to the owner, and without provenance or knowledge of such an ale and/or establishment having existed, it is not a consequence of enjoyment or personal nostalgia that this sign occupies space in the author’s kitchen. In fact, if one were to imagine the sensation of drinking such an ale in the period that it was alive, it likely would invoke strong notes of musk and the sweaty armpit pumping a cask in a dank London tavern more than it would alcoholic delight.
Fans of fine art have a direct outlet for expressing such an interest, namely, the collection and presentation of same. Fans of sports teams can dress themselves in team-specific apparel and light the night with high-fives. Fans of beer can drink beer. They can also display strange relics of drinking eras long soured. They can display paraphernalia for products that don’t reflect the innovation or taste that cultivated their interest. They can indulge in kitsch that might actually reflect good taste.