November 4th, 2010

(THIS COLUMN MADE THE FINAL FOUR IN TENNESSEE. On July 15, 2011, the Tennessee Press Association announced their winners for 2010. In their judgment, there are only three columnists in Tennessee better than me. Either that, or there were only four entries. At any rate, I’m honored to have won fourth place in the personal column category for this particular column, and I’m thankful to The Daily News and The Memphis News for entering me in the competiton and for the weekly forum.)

When you see the name, you'll butcher the pronunciation. When you hear it, you'll think middle Europe, Asia. When you taste it, you'll taste it again, and wonder why it took so long to get to this country.

Turns out they've been up in Pennsylvania all along, doing what they do for 181 years, longer than anyone else in America.

And, if our luck holds, they'll be doing it right here soon.

If you ask them what makes Memphis so much more attractive than other cities for their expansion, you'll get a mix of facility, workforce and location, but, in large measure, you'll get this ...

"It's in the water."

Published in The Daily News, November 5, 2010, and in The Memphis News, November 6-7, 2010 


Whatever you may be feeling in the aftermath of the election, whether you were throwing the mud or covered in it, for the charter or against it, lied to or preached to, there is one thing every voter can do today … black or white, left or right … that will help the whole community.

Have a beer.

When you can find something we can all agree on, something we can all be proud of, something unifying, you should drink to it. Seriously. Drink to it.

Have a Yuengling – pronounced ying-ling when you’re ordering it, or ying-cha-ching when you consider what it's about to mean to Memphis. Yuengling of Pottsville, Pennsylvania is in negotiations to buy the former Schlitz/Coors brewery and return big-time beer brewing to town, seeing benefits in Memphis we either take for granted or don't see at all. They see more than a million square feet just waiting to make beer, a workforce just waiting to make it, and a location that can make it available in brand-new markets across the country.

And they see the Memphis Sands Aquifer.

While Memphians pay for bottled water from God knows where, Yuengling knows it can't compete with what comes from our kitchen taps for free. The taste of Evian from the "French Alps" can't hold up against what flows from the faucet on the side of your house, even with fluoride and the hint of a hose in it.

And Yuengling knows how to make beer. It says right there on the label – I just happen to have a bottle right here – that it's America's oldest brewery going back to 1829. The first time I saw the name was a couple of years ago on a sign in Huey's. Couldn't pronounce it so I just pointed to it. When I ordered a second one, I knew exactly what to call it.

Damn good beer. And it'll be even better made with Memphis water.

And it's not alone. Have a Ghost River Ale.

Ghost River is a local company using Memphis water to hand-craft scary good ale on South Main and push it through taps in your favorite local bar. Brought to you by the same folks that keep brewing award-winning beer at Bosco's, some of the Ghost River proceeds flow to the Wolf River Conservancy.

Even if you have some of the world's best water, you still have to know what to do with it. Schlitz, who built the brewery in 1972, didn't. Schlitz tasted like the bottom of a gym locker. Coors followed Schlitz, and they just packaged and shipped their beer from here. They did make Zima here, and even my fierce local loyalty and three years living in a frat house drinking warm beer on special couldn't make me drink either Schlitz or Zima.

Yuengling and Ghost River make the idea of supporting local business very easy to swallow.

I’m a Memphian, and it's time we all ordered another round.



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