Garrett Oliver is the Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, the author of The Brewmaster's Table, and the foremost authority in the United States on the subject of traditional beer. After years of amateur brewing inspired by beers he had encountered during a year in England, Garrett Oliver began brewing professionally at Manhattan Brewing Company in 1989 as an apprentice. He was appointed brewmaster there in 1993. He soon became widely known both here and abroad for his flavorful interpretations of traditional brewing styles and as an avid and entertaining lecturer and writer on the subject of fine beer. Garrett has hosted hundreds of beer tastings and dinners, writes regularly for beer and food-related periodicals, and is internationally recognized as an expert on traditional beer styles and their affinity with good food.
Question: Is there any reason to lower the drinking age in the United States?
Garrett Oliver: I frankly do feel that the Europeans having much more mature over all outlook on this issue, most people that I know any way who brought up in Europe were brought up with little bit of water blended with wine and they were in their teens finally with a little bit of wine at the dinner table, you know when they were in their late teens. And by the time they hit 18, it is not a big deal any more and it is really in countries that don’t have as mature an outlook on the issue that tend to have problems with binge drinking etc. I mean there can be, I can see good arguments on either side but I mean I was responsible I went to this weird period where I was 18 and I was legal and then I became illegal when they changed the when they change it to 21. And I went back to be legal again like you know two years later, I was in this weird kind of limbo thing, I think that I was responsible when I was younger. You are going to, I don’t want to bring up this sort of all the classic well of you go and fight a war and you can’t have a beer, all those things it is a complicated issue, but I does do thing that rather than looking at it from it a hysterical point of view which I think is often the case that people take a calmer long view recognizing that the enjoyment of alcoholic beverages is the part of humanity. That's part of what we are all about by and large as human beings that mean we have, people believe that we went from a hunter-gatherer existence to a settled agricultural existence and in order to have enough grain to make beer. It is essential to the human experience and I think it is and it is healthy for you, I mean in moderation and it is better for you than not having it. So if you really want to bring people up properly, teach them how to eat properly and teach them how to drink properly. I mean, if you want to ban some thing that's going to cause lot of problems, you could say well let's ban butter or let's ban, I mean if you want to look at the overall cost to the population but better is to teach people how to cook, how to eat and how to live well.
Question: Is the phrase “There are no alcoholics in Europe” true?
Garrett Oliver: Oh, no there are alcoholics in Europe I can be quite sure of it, I mean unfortunately I mean alcoholism is a disease, it is a problem just as. Over eating is a disease. Beer essentially is food and people are going to abuse all sorts of food in different ways and whether this involves your eating this and that and growing to be 400 pounds and not being functional or it is an alcohol problem all these things are going to be problems across the board society. I think you can’t take a more mature outlook on it as a society and not look at it as whether again it is … it is eating or its alcohol is it a moral problem or is it really teaching people you know how to handle themselves in a world that hands every thing to you on a platter and says well here it is for you to consume and I think that the Europeans have a better outlook on it, but they are by no means perfect.
Question: What beer would you drink with your last meal?
Garrett Oliver: Well, I can’t say that I can answer question like that so quickly, but I reminded of a France meat rolls last meal which I think last it about 2 days and had sort of every little water lawns and what ever else and all of his friends around him and greatest the greatest drinks that you could be brought up and I have had, I have had beers as old as 1869 which were unbelievable, I would be gathering up things for years for such an occasion, so I like meat [inaudible] I would make it that meal last for like 2 or 3 days and say okay and that’s it, so it’s not a question I could answer quickly but I could assure you that it would be awfully good.
Recorded On: 3/25/08