I am currently listening to William Bostwick’s “The Brewer’s Tale: A History of the World According to Beer,” which, “is a beer-filled journey into the past: the story of brewers gone by and one brave writer’s quest to bring them—and their ancient, forgotten beers—back to life, one taste at a time. Pull up a bar stool and raise a glass to 5,000 years of fermented magic.”
Bostwick’s theme seems to be that beer continues to change and reinvent itself, and, as such, labels and categories confine it in a way that lessens its enjoyment by the drinker. Bostwick’s evocative language makes for a good story. I am saddened that the story is not quite as true as I would have hoped.
Why oh why am I still having to write lengthy corrections to articles about the history of India Pale Ale? Well, apparently because the Smithsonian magazine, the official journal published by the Smithsonian Institution, is happy to print articles about the history of India Pale Ale without anybody doing any kind of fact-checking – and William Bostwick, beer critic for the Wall Street Journal, appears to be one of those writers who misinterpret, make stuff up and actively get their facts wrong.
The article Bostwick had published on Smithsonian.com earlier this week, “How the India Pale Ale Got Its Name”, is one of the worst I have ever read on the subject, crammed with at least 25 errors of fact and interpretation. It’s an excellent early contender for the Papazian Cup. I suppose I need to give you a link, so here it is, and below the…
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