The economy. If anyone hasn’t noticed, the U.S. (and rest of the world) is in for a bumpy ride. It’s going to take some time before we get over the hump and level back out. I’m confident the correction will eventually bring us back to a more sane state of equilibrium, as it always has in the past. But it will be a long road getting there.

The Feds recently announced that we technically started the recession in December 2007. But for some of us, almost an entire year later, it feels like we’ve only just left the station. Gas prices climbed throughout the summer, but did it really stop most of us (especially in the burbs) from driving? I’d argue no. Food prices rose, but did we substitute our favorite brand of ice cream for the generic version? Or cut it out of our grocery list altogether? Probably not. 

It’s only really been in the past quarter that people truly started taking notice of the tumult in the market and dire straits we as a nation find ourselves in (bailout packages, fading auto industry, growing unemployment numbers). Is that the Fed’s fault for being too conservative in communication? A one year lag time on some of our leading financial indicators seems a bit irresponsible. Some might say that if Bernanke were a fire alarm, we’d all be dead. Or, is it more a function of the American public’s general state of blissful ignorance until it hits them personally? After all, as much as we want to blame creditors for faulty lending practices that armed America with cheap financing for real estate, we also played a very significant role in the unprecedented, unsustainable and unrealistic run-up in housing valuations by using our homes as ATMs while we bragged to neighbors at backyard BBQs about our sweet new granite counter tops. I’m not really sure who’s more to blame. Maybe a little of both.

So how does this all relate to beer?

Well, unlike extremely complicated investment vehicles and esoteric financial models explaining the intricacies of REITS, beer is one of those things that isn’t tough to figure out. It’s tangible. It doesn’t pull any punches. It evokes an immediate and real reaction. What you see, smell and taste is what you get. There’s a simple and gratifying transaction that takes place between you and a beer. You sit down, take a nice pull, and you either like it or you don’t. Case closed.

There’s really no leading indicators or account statements in the mail that will tell me how I’m supposed to feel about a particular beer. Maybe that’s why in this uncertain world of ours, I’m trying to take a deep breath and enjoy some of the simpler things in life. And for me, that often includes sipping a well-regarded craft beer while I brew up a nice batch of homebrew. At least that’s one thing I can have some semblance of control over.