Friday, March 11, 2016

Craft beer is dead

Craft beer is dead.

It's gone the way of grunge rock, and, man, that's a bummer because "corporate rock still sucks."

Of course, anyone enamored by the craft beer craze will say, "You've got to be kidding me, man. Craft beer is taking over the world!"

Sure. Maybe, economically. But we all know that once the frat boys like it, it's dead — especially with anything remotely artistic. And even the lamest of frat boys is liking craft beer nowadays.

Craft beer is to 2016 as grunge rock is to 1992. Grapefruit Sculpin is sold at Target now, and Ballast Point —Sculpin's Brewery —just sold for an insane amount of bones to the corporation that owns Robert Mondavi wines, Corona, Pacifico and more.

And do you want to hear the price tag for this "craft brewery"? It's $1 billion. Yes, that's a "B." Ballast Point got bought for ten times $100 million.

I'm astounded by the market value of Ballast Point. I love Ballast Point's beers, but that price tag gave me this pop culture epiphany:

The mighty tasty Grapefruit Sculpin is equivalent to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" is the song that took 1990s alternative rock into the mainstream, and that's what's happening with Ballast Point taking India Pale Ales into the mainstream. In the present, we may not see this, but we will be seeing Sculpin more and more. We'll look back to this sale as the apex of the craft beer explosion.

Sure, there were plenty of popular grunge songs before "Smells Like Teen Spirit." There also were plenty of popular craft beers and IPAs before the Grapefruit Sculpin. But nothing has had the impact of Nirvana and the $1 billion price tag Ballast Point recently got.

A craft beer aficionado might point out that Chicago's Goose Island might have brought IPAs into the mainstream when it sold to Anheuser-Busch for $38.8 million in 2011. Well, that price tag just doesn't hack it compared to Ballast Point's. But Goose Island is going to be successful and mainstream, and I liken the company to Pearl Jam.

St. Patrick's Day is less than a week away, and Guinness has its own "Nitro IPA" on the shelves. That company knows what's up with the marketplace. Right? No need to dish out $38 million to another brewery to do that. We're seeing more and more craft beers in grocery stores, but that doesn't mean they're on indie labels.

Hey, I'm going to love great rock 'n' roll and tasty beers forever, regardless of who makes them. But I have a feeling we're all going to look back on 2016 as a time when craft beer went from being cool to being overexposed.

In 20 years, we'll still have Ballast Point and Goose Island because of the corporations behind them. But those corporations are going to wipe out a lot of killer craft breweries.

I'm hoping Stone, Great Lakes and Ninkasi continue kicking butt and stay independent. It's hard to picture now, but who knows? In 20 years, we might be looking at them like the Screaming Trees, Mudhoney and the Melvins.

Gone and forgotten, but, damn, at the time, we loved them!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

This helicopter parent is trying to fly away

At the birthday party where my oldest daughter turned 6, I sat a miniature kids table with her and two of her friends. The three girls were trying to have a refined tea party, and I was showing them the proper way to do that.

In my best British accent, which involuntarily sounded like John Cleese, I bellowed, “First, lassies, you take your biscuit. You dip the biscuit in the tea. You hold out your pinkie to be classy as such, and then you take the tiniest wee bit of sips.”

The girls followed suit, held out their pinkies, and several moms laughed and applauded our sophisticated circle. My daughter is 10 now, and I only recently realized how I ruined her tea party, often over-parented and unnecessarily meddled in her life.

My name is Joe, and I am a helicopter parent. While I have not found an official organization to help me or my kind, I am in self-imposed recovery. I am doing my best to get out of the way to empower my daughter to be more independent, self-confident and free. But in a world in which helicopter parents rule, I have found this much harder than expected.

Most helicopter parents are in denial. They’ll say things like, “Helicopter? No. We’re just playing together.”

Or: “It’s a competitive world nowadays, and I’m just helping my child have an edge.”

Or maybe: “I don’t have time to be a helicopter parent. I’m too busy taking my kid to piano, soccer, dance and drawing.”

“Helicopter parenting” is so prevalent nowadays, that I say it’s synonymous with “parenting.” We hover, help with homework, put away socks and shoes, schedule playdates, supervise playdates, enable dependence and foster a lack of exploration. Did our parents do all of this?

This past summer, the much-needed book “How to Raise an Adult” by Julie Lythcott-Haims came out, and I’m not sure I’ve ran across a more important parenting message. Not only as a parent herself, but as the former dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising at Stanford University, Lythcott-Haims has witnessed constant over-parenting and fills her pages with anecdotes, advice and honesty.
Other books with similar messages are out there, including “The Gift of Failure,” “The Overparenting Epidemic,” “You Are Not Special” and “All Joy and No Fun.” I am hoping the needle starts moving from over-parenting to simply parenting — not only for the kids’ sakes, but for the parents, too.

In my case, it hit me that my daughters (I also have 8-year-old Chloe) live a much different existence than mine at their age. I remember riding my bike to my friend’s house down the street as early as first grade. Back then, the typical advice from parents was: “Be home before the street lights come on.”

Of course, this type of plan will not happen today. Why? Well, we love our children, and we think we are being smart by keeping our kids away from potential danger.

We don’t like to put things in these salacious terms, but we assume the molester. Parents justify their overprotectiveness (AKA sheltering) because of their knowledge that there are criminals who will prey on their children. Mathematically, that simply will not happen. Fear is guiding the way.

By being so protective, we are implicitly telling our children that the world is a place of fear. Is that really the message we want to impart? If we never give them steps toward independence, when will they ever be independent?

So of late, I have refused to let fear rule my parenting. I have shifted my parenting to be more of a mere consultant with my daughters, to free them of my “checking up on them” and never — yes, never — look at their homework.

But do you know what the biggest obstacle I face with my shift in parenting has been? It’s been my children themselves.

They do not know what to do with this newfound freedom because they’re not used to it and it’s not what they see with their friends. My fifth grader has absolutely no desire to ride her bike to a friend’s house. The culture of helicopter parenting is so omnipotent, that it is no easy task to all of a sudden start anew.

At my daughters’ elementary school, many parents walk with their children from their cars to the classrooms. This year, I said that it was time for me to stop that. My fifth grader looked at me with shock and said, “What do you mean? We have to cross the street.”

On the first day without me, my daughters crossed the street, did not get hit by a car and survived. I saw that they joined a fifth-grade friend, who was with her mother. The mother was carrying the student’s backpack, and the child carried nothing.
Oh God, is there hope?

Well, I’ve found some signs in pop culture that might show others are on my wavelength. If you google helicopter parents or over-parenting, there are plenty of helpful websites out there. There are even quizzes that parents can take to see if they are over-parenting.

But here’s the funny thing: Would our parents even discuss parenting?

Heck no. I think we simply have to blend our parents’ overly hands-off approach with our over-the-top hands-on approach.

Fast forward to my daughter’s birthday party at age 10. I was reforming my ways as a helicopter parent and did my best to not mettle with my daughter and her friends. Age 10 is much different than 6. I noticed that the girls talked about crushes, middle school options and boys not at the party.

They looked so far removed from having a tea party that I kind of missed the days when they were younger and their conversations were simpler and more innocent. At the party of 10-year-olds, I never jumped into their conversations or insisted on being with them. For the most part, I had myself situated across the room — nonchalantly eavesdropping on them.

Yeah, I was still there, watching and listening.