Lingering Taste

As I write this it’s been a day  since the great rock drummer Levon Helm of  The Band passed away, and as I write this and the memories have been flooding back sad and strong.

Exhausted by one too many failed sprints to my tape player when “Up On Cripple Creek” would start playing on Atlanta’s 96Rock, the first CD I bought was a two-disc compilation of The Band’s called “To Kingdom Come.” It cost the amazingly high price of $29.98 at Turtles record store. It’s amortized nicely, however, as 25 years later, i’ve still got both discs.

I can remember hearing it, dancing awkwardly around my room, loving the music but still equally thrilled knowing this music was mine, to enjoy whenever I wanted. Songs that Levon Helm played on had that soulfulness and story that made it seem like you’d heard them before, even if you hadn’t, which is what a good song should do.

And now Levon Helm is dead, and, as the great writer Lewis Grizzard put it, I don’t feel so good myself. After all, here I am, one month from 40, Levon gone, family tucked in bed, writing a column on a Friday night.

And the reason I bring this up now  is that I’m thinking about the memory of the senses. For me, it’s always been sounds within songs to take evoke places in my memories; also sometimes the taste of certain wines. But I remember hearing Gil Cassagne talk not too long ago, back when he was the CEO of Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages, about sharing a soda in his backyard with his dad, and how much that meant to him, as well, and how the taste of that same soda brought him back there.

When it comes to memories, vision is a sense that fails us the most. We hear things, we taste them, we smell or touch them, and they hit a part of our minds that is much more exact in what they evoke. When I hear an Arkansas twang in a soulful tune, or a soft swinging drumbeat, I know where I am and where I was when I first heard it.

And I know that when Cassagne has a soda, sometimes he is back with his dad, in the backyard.

The people may be gone now, but the flavor, the sound, the feeling remains. Hard to believe for something that costs $.98 and still has cost increases in the pricing architecture, or for something that cost $29.98 but is available now on a variety of web sites for free, so long as the feds don’t catch me.

We talk a lot about the functionality of beverages in this magazine, in this industry. We talk about long lead functionalities and short leads. Sometimes, those leads are longer than we’ve ever imagined, and that’s just from the simple power of taste. And you can take all the talk about the things that might be bad for you – the sugar and the caffeine and the volume that’s way, way too loud, and you can think that, if they’re done right, the flavor remains, a faint taste on the tongue, or a drumbeat that never fades, even when the song is over.

Done right, they always linger. And that’s the power of taste.

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With this issue, BevNET Magazine is harnessing the power of BevNET’s Brewbound editorial operation to focus on one of the most dynamic sectors of the beverage industry in a special Craft Beer editorial package.

At a time when larger brewers seem to be able to best exert their agendas through marketing and distribution, the craft brewer has offered consumers a dynamic, high-margin alternative based on the power of taste, variety, and quality ingredients. The category has grown as a profitable rising tide against ebbing mainstream volumes.

BevNET’s commitment is to covering the landscape of beverage innovation and its ability to create new revenue opportunities for retailers, distributors and suppliers alike – and it is with that commitment in mind, as well as our interest with this fascinating part of the business– that we welcome you to enjoy this issue’s special extended coverage of craft beer.