I always hated the idiom “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Not because I am a lapsed Catholic who tends toward agnosticism in the unusual event that I consider matters of the spirit at all, nor because it has been misattributed to Benjamin Franklin by the charlatans who have sold posters to freshmen doofuses since time immemorial. It’s just so goddamned unimaginative. Beer proves so much more than the supposed benevolence of our alleged creator. It proves the biological brilliance of yeast; the cultural import of advertising; the political, social, and environmental challenge of negotiating between creativity and commodity. Has Ben Franklin ever done a keg stand? What is God’s love to a perfectly pulled pint? And who said I drink beer because I’m happy, anyway?

Hello and welcome to Hop Take, a newly relaunched VinePair column about beer. As a matter of editorial policy, it will not often traffic in the sort of existentialist ramble above: Navel-gazing can be worthwhile on occasion, but we’ve got bigger fish to beer-batter and fry. To wit, every week, Hop Take will publish reportage, confab, and pontification on the contemporary beer business in all its glory and/or shame. Who’s we? Well, you’re you, of course: one of the workers, entrepreneurs, and rank-and-file drinkers who make the beer business such a colorful, complicated corner of modern American life. And I’m me: Dave Infante, a journalist who’s been covering the beer industry for over a decade, most recently for the past year and a half as a writer-at-large for a certain booze publication that rhymes with “swine hair.” Charmed, I’m sure.

Hop Take predates my tenure, and the beer industry has changed roughly eleventy times since the first column was published under this heading. Meanwhile, for the last few years, I’ve been a total feature creature, filing thousands of words on everything from BrewDog’s “Equity for Punks” crowdfunding scheme and goth icon Elvira’s brief and busty stint as a Coors Light pitchwoman, to PakTech’s plastic paradox, and much more. I’m ready to write short for a change, and this column is ready for a new approach. As such, I plan to retool these digital pages to cover this multibillion-dollar, malt-based behemoth in fun new ways. You could call it HOP TAKE 2.0: 2 HOP 2 TAKE. You don’t have to, but you could.

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In my experience, it’s nearly impossible to write a mission statement for a project like this, because it’s going to evolve as we get to know each other. But that’s exactly why I’m so excited to take over Hop Take. It’s a chance to develop a rolling, opinionated, week-in/week-out conversation about the American beer landscape insulated from the noxious fumes of industry forums, private Facebook groups, and public Twitter spats. Go elsewhere for beer reviews, warmed-over press releases, and lifestyle puffery. Come here for context, coverage, and commentary about the business and culture of beer. Let’s discourse, bay-bee! Blogging is back!

It’s gonna be glorious, I swear. But to pull this off, to really do it, I need your help. By which I mean, I need your tips! I’m only one man, and the beer business is vast. If you see/hear/inadvertently but technically not illegally come into the possession of information that you’d like to see me cover here at Hop Take, please email me at [email protected] or send me a direct message on Twitter. Want more security? Reach out using one of those methods and request my number on Signal, an encrypted messaging app trusted by defense-industry whistleblowers, journalists of all stripes, and savvy weed dealers. Regardless of how you get in touch, anonymity is available for our initial conversation — just request it in your message. Send me those juicy tips, dear reader, and let’s turn Hop Take into the beer column this business deserves!

All right, that’s enough for now. I’ll be back next week with more. Until then, remember: If you read it on a dorm-room wall after necking too many Solo cups full of lukewarm value lager, it probably isn’t true. But if you read it on Hop Take, it most certainly is. This column is proof that I love you and want you to be happy.

🤯 Hop-ocalypse Now

During last week’s season-opening Thursday Night Football game, Buffalo Bills fans drank more Michelob Ultra on draft than any other draft beer, according to a report from on-premise data firm BeerBoard. Low-calorie performance lager in the lead? Is the Bills Mafia trying to beat a RICO charge or something?

📈 Ups…

Minnesota brewers cash in on legislature’s THC gaffe… Big new Allagash tasting room coming soonWillie’s Superbrew gets a second chance…

📉 …and downs

Workers reject MolsonCoors contract, setting up potential strike… A survivor reflects on craft beer’s “reckoning”Mississippi water contamination puts more pressure on CO2 supply… U.K. brewers brace for brutal energy upcharges…

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