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Over the past few years, there's been an explosion of interest in good beer. As hundreds of great new breweries have opened across the country and around the world, quality ales and lagers have been given an importance never before imagined. Despite beer's renaissance, however, no one seems to have focused on why beer suddenly matters, or what it is about beer that makes it the drink for our age. In this 6,500-word (20-page) personal essay, Evan Rail investigates several compelling aspects of beer beyond its principal role as a great drink, from its very real sense of place to its unusual relationship with the passing of time.