Beards and beer: The hidden connection…
By Stone & Wood Brewer Nic Sandery.
Working in a brewery, when all is going well, is a job that allows time for self-contemplation. Recently in one of these moments I was stroking my beard and thinking. Obviously not thinking of anything too meaningful I began to think about my beard. Why had I allowed it to grow so long? Was it because I was lazy? Maybe. Was it because I lost my beard clippers when moving house? Maybe. Was it because the ladies love an unkempt Grizzly Adams beard which catches food, beer and a pool of saliva when I sleep? Probably. Looking around I noticed that my 3 other colleagues were also stroking their versions of facial hair (it was a quiet day in the brewery.) Could there be some connection between beards and beer? Investigating further, I found that beards and beer was no new thing. History is full of examples of brewers with impressive facial hair right back to Vikings, Trappist Monks and Germanic invaders. Locally, have a look at the founding namesake of a South Australian brewery for one of the best bushranger beards getting around.
Fast forwarding to present times, the American craft beer scene is absolutely littered with an array of crazy, facial follicles. There was even recent poll as to who had the best beard in craft beer with the winner sporting a glistening grey beard of impressive proportions. We in Australia pick up many trends from our North American friends, and as the Aussie beer drinker is turning their nose up at less than flavourful beers, our brewers seem to be turning their chins away from razors. Are these trends a backlash to over processed, over marketed beers and over manicured chinstraps and knowlesies?
A friend of mine returned from Melbourne Good Beer Week last year and whilst he was in a weakened state, his beard was looking magnificent. When questioned, said brewer exclaimed that the sheer volume of beer that he had been consuming was directly responsible for the lusciousness of his chin fur. I am not completely sold on this relationship but I do know that beards and beer should, and will be seen together for years to come.
*Grey Beard drinking beer: The Bearded. Bearded fellow drinking Stone & Wood: Aaron Smith. Bottom Image: Chilli, America’s Stone Brewing Co’s groundkeeper took out the Best Beard of Craft Beer Week America 2013