Cradles of freedom


There are few places left today where people from differing backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, and world views can come together peacefully, and happily to talk than craft beer tasting rooms. In the 18th century great thinkers, philosophers, and politicians would meet in salons and pubs where they would enjoy a pint and discuss the great issues affecting their society. Some of the greatest minds in history—including Voltaire—would frequent those salons, and the tradition continued throughout the years and centuries. In Oxford, England, in the 20th century the Inklings—the group of authors that included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis—would meet and discuss the development of their stories, the Lord of the Rings, and the Chronicles of Narnia respectively, in their local pub, the Eagle and Child.

The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford, England

Seeds of revolution (including our own), political movements, and great conversation have all in one era or another, taken place in pubs over a pint of beer, yet sadly, the great art of conversation over a pint in contemporary bars have dwindled in recent years. Part of this can perhaps be attributed to the rise of technology and the interference of the smart phone that makes it all but impossible for two people to have a meaningful conversation. Another factor is the disappearance of the spaces needed for actual conversation; many bars and pubs today have loud music playing through the sound systems. But I believe the crucial factor is the hostile disposition we all hold towards opposing views, opinions, and ideas that may clash with our worldviews.

In my first post I told you about my experiences with craft beer in Maine and how it can provide the opportunities for us to come together with people we generally would have no desire to converse with Unfortunately, however, we do not take full advantage of the potential a cold pint of delicious local beer in an intimate setting can have towards healing divides—both political and otherwise—and towards promoting a marketplace of ideas. Craft beer tasting rooms are one of the last vestiges in our modern world that can provide the correct environment—beer, intimacy, and peace. In tasting rooms there may be music playing, but it is not deafening like in many bars and clubs; there are not normally TVs to distract us, and the intimacy (many tasting rooms are small with limited space) all but force friends and strangers alike to engage in actual conversation.

Beers with friends at Black Bear Brewing Co. in Orono, ME

With all the issues in the world today, our political system, our hyper-partisanship, our inability to thoughtfully engage with people who think differently than we do has led to an unspoken taboo on talking about politics in public places, including tasting rooms. I call on everyone to throw out this taboo and talk to your friends, and strangers about actual issues. We need to engage with each other, not in hostile ways, and not through superficial talking points; the future of our country, and world demands that we all sit down over a cold pint of beer and talk. What better way could there be to begin to bridge the many divides between us? Beer allows us to start small and begin the conversation with something we all can agree on; the Maine craft beer is delicious. From there we can engage with each other, gain a deeper understanding of each other, and perhaps develop new ideas and solutions to fix the many problems the world faces.

Traditionally, change and positive ideas have been born over a pint of beer in a local pub. Today, let us reignite that tradition over a Maine beer, in a Maine tasting room; together we can support local businesses and products all while moving our communities and country in a positive direction forward. Cheers!

Ben Wyman

About Ben Wyman

I am a Maine craft beer enthusiast and I love exploring new breweries and brews.  I am a former employee at Maine Beer Company in Freeport, ME.  My passion for craft beer began as soon as I could explore the various tasting rooms that had been cropping up across the state and only grew from there.  Today, I still enjoy trying every new brew I can get my hands on and have even begun to try my hand at home brewing with my friends.