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The Plot to Destroy America's Beer
November 4, 2012 7:40 PM   Subscribe

He examined the label. It said the beer was no longer brewed in Bremen. He looked more closely at the fine print: “Product of the USA.” This was profoundly unsettling for a guy who had been a Beck’s drinker for more than half his life. He was also miffed to have paid the full import price for the 12-pack.
posted by troll (230 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
There are so many quality beers to choose from across America these days. Beers which aren't imports, or faux-imports. InBev doesn't require anyone's business anymore. Just buy beers which are from smaller makers, which are available basically everywhere these days, and you'll be quite delighted with their quality and depth and character.
posted by hippybear at 7:43 PM on November 4, 2012 [61 favorites]


And Beck's ... Beck's is a horrible beer.

(Now, if and when Paulaner is no longer brewed in München, then you've a reason to flip over a table.)
posted by grabbingsand at 7:50 PM on November 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


In the US, Sapporo bottles prominently advertise that they are imported. If you look closely you'll see that they are indeed imported...from Ontario.
posted by jedicus at 7:50 PM on November 4, 2012 [26 favorites]


Years ago, when I lived in Vancouver, I used to drink Kirin, which was imported from Japan. Went to Carmel California on holiday and ordered a Kirin that turned out to be made in Vancouver by Molson. Go figure.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:56 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I sympathize, but... It's hard to get outraged over the quality of a thoroughly mediocre beer like Beck's. Dude -- even try just Yuengling's.

The old Anheuser-Busch insisted on using whole grains of rice in its beer. AB InBev was fine with the broken kind.

I don't know what to say. I really don't. If the quality of the rice in your beer is the problem, your concern isn't beer.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:56 PM on November 4, 2012 [81 favorites]


InBev's purchase of AB caused a big stink here in St. Louis when it happened, but I'm surprised that sales of Budweiser are slipping in general. I have a really hard time believing that it has anything to do with the taste.

On a separate note, slippery definitions of "imported" account for the one time I was ever kind of snotty to someone who had no control over situation, but it's hard not to balk at Shiner Bock being listed as an "imported beer" when you're at a wedding in Texas.
posted by invitapriore at 7:58 PM on November 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not exactly a supertaster, but I had a Bass recently, and was shocked at how... off it was. Sweeter and watery. Now I know why. I also know why Newport Storm is still around... InBev is doing its absolute best to keep shelfspace open for small competitors by way of brand mismanagement. While I'll miss Bass and Boddingtons, I'll drown my sorrows with a Magic Hat #9.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:00 PM on November 4, 2012


American Budweiser is piss. If a Brazilian conglomerate takes it over and makes it even pissier, it'll only drive people to better alternatives made by people who care more about craft than about profits.
posted by R. Schlock at 8:00 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


...they are indeed imported...from Ontario.

If it is any justice -- in Ontario, we are now subject to a campaign to label Rolling Rock as a Premium Beer.

Rolling Rock is a fine beer, for a very particular set of circumstances (such as summer afternoon yardwork or porchsitting), but a Premium Beer it is not.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:00 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, if you didn't already know, basically every beer or liquor is now owned by a handful of companies, so it's essentially all the same shit. Diageo is another one that owns like half the liquors or beers you can name. That's why I just drink Lone Star, it's all the same crap anyway, so why pay more?
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:01 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think they deserve an award of some kind if they managed to figure out a way to make Budweiser taste worse.
posted by Sternmeyer at 8:02 PM on November 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


The company’s shipments in the U.S. have declined 8 percent to 98 million barrels from 2008 to 2011, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights.

Could that be explained by this: Craft brewers sold an estimated 11,468,152 barrels* of beer in 2011, up from 10,133,571 in 2010.
posted by octothorpe at 8:02 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is happening everywhere - Asahi Super Dry and Kirin in Australia used to be imported from Japan. Now you almost never see the imported version and the locally-brewed stuff doesn't taste as good. I've also seen it with local brands that got bought out by larger companies like CUB and Lion Nathan. Cascade Lager used to be a beautiful refreshing hoppy lager. Now it's bland rubbish. Boags too. I was so relieved when Coopers managed to fight off the takeover attempt by Lion.

I particularly think it's outrageous how these companies are still charging imported beer prices for locally produced beer.

But the lesson is the same as ever - vote with your feet and your wallet - dump the big brands and find something local that tastes great. There's plenty around.
posted by awfurby at 8:02 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I live in Victoria, BC, Canada, a craft-brewing centre, but, unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of Canadian beer, craft-brewed or otherwise (North American ales and lagers are too sweet and too heavy for my palate). I do like Japanese beer, but the stuff brewed under license in Canada just doesn't taste the same.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:03 PM on November 4, 2012


GOOGLE BARTLES & JAYMES
posted by not_on_display at 8:03 PM on November 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


This article is about a lot more than beer, it's a perfect encapsulation of what is going on in many/ most industries that have assets worth liquidizing. Explained using beer so people give a shit presumably.

I await the follow up article telling us what this guy does with all his money anyways.
posted by fshgrl at 8:04 PM on November 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


GOOGLE LONDON PRIDE
posted by unSane at 8:04 PM on November 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Since small craft brewers are available almost everywhere (in the U.S.) now, there is no reason to limit yourself to the "refinery" brewers any longer. Heck, thanks to Jimmy Carter making it legal again (in 1978, if memory serves) you can brew your own that will taste better than most of what passes for beer, these days.

If you have a favorite beer, go to ratebeer.com or beeradvocate.com and search for your favorite beer. Then note what style the beer is. Then look for other brands (available in your area) that are excellent examples of that style.

Better yet, find a local brewer and try all of the different styles they brew. Figure out what you like (maltiness? Hoppy? Belgian styles? Wheat beers? Stouts? Porters?)
Rid yourself of that beer-flavored koolaid that passes for American "pilsners" these days. Drink some real beer.
posted by spock at 8:05 PM on November 4, 2012 [29 favorites]


If the quality of the rice in your beer is the problem, your concern isn't beer.

American and Japanese lagers use rice (and corn, iirc) to produce fermentable sugars without all that nasty malty taste. It's easy for us "real beer drinkers" to sneer, but they're producing a product that a lot of people want and -- at least until InBev -- were producing it in massive quantities at a very high level of quality. That's no insignificant feat.

Disclaimer: I'm a homebrewer, and can sneer with the best of them.
posted by Slothrup at 8:06 PM on November 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


jedicus, I believe all "imported" Japanese beers in the U.S. come from Canada. Sapporo was the last holdout, as far as I know (Kirin and Asahi had been brewed in Canada for years before that) but the only Japan-brewed Japanese beer I've seen for a while is some of the weird-size bottles & cans, occasionally available at the local Asian grocery.

When you live in Portland, though, there's absolutely no reason to drink anything from further away than, say, Eugene. Well, except for Mad River Steelhead Double IPA, I guess, but Ft. George Vortex gives that a run for its money.
posted by spacewrench at 8:07 PM on November 4, 2012


Fuck. Even reading the name Bud Light Platinum makes me feel stupid. I can't imagine ordering it or offering one to a visitor.
posted by mannequito at 8:07 PM on November 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


I think they deserve an award of some kind if they managed to figure out a way to make Budweiser taste worse.

Have you ever tried Molson Canadian?
posted by 256 at 8:12 PM on November 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


Despite my disdain for InBev, I'm inclined to agree about the broken grains of rice. I mean, you're essentially extracting starch from the rice and converting it to sugar; why should the integrity of the kernel make any difference?

On the other hand, when you brew a beer in the US instead of Germany, presumably you're not saving much money unless you're also sourcing the materials locally. And my personal experience is that German malts I've bought are noticeably different than the American malts that are aiming at the same style. I can't imagine this wouldn't be noticeable -- even in swill like Beck's.
posted by Slothrup at 8:13 PM on November 4, 2012


When you go to the liquor store in Ontario, you can buy both imported Sapporo and Ontario-brewed "Sapporo." The same is true for Guiness. It is odd.
posted by 256 at 8:13 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Atlantic - Light Beer: You Don't Have to Like It, but Respect It
For all the punch lines, brewing light beers actually requires a great deal of craftsmanship.
It's common to disparage light beers. As craft beers have elbowed their way into American refrigerators and taps, light beers have become punch lines. What few drinkers know, however, is that quality light beers are incredibly difficult to brew. The thin flavor means there's little to mask defects in the more than 800 chemical compounds within. As Kyler Serfass, manager of the home-brew supply shop Brooklyn Homebrew, told me, "Light beer is a brewer's beer. It may be bland, but it's really tough to do." Belgian monks and master brewers around the world marvel at how macro-breweries like Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors have perfected the process in hundreds of factories, ensuring that every pour from every brewery tastes exactly the same. Staring at a bottle, it's staggering to consider the effort that goes into producing each ounce of the straw-colored liquid...

...trying to replicate these conditions is extraordinarily difficult for most home brewers. For Brooklyn Homebrew's Kyler Serfass, it took three months of experimentation to crack the code using an old refrigerator he discovered in the basement of his apartment building. "When I saw that fridge, it was like a light shone down from heaven," he said. Serfass made only two cases' worth of his "Budweiser clone," but the duplication was considered such an achievement that it won him a gold medal at this year's Homebrew Alley competition, held at the Brooklyn Brewery.

While brewing two cases of quality light beer is nothing to scoff at, it's a universe apart from shipping the roughly 18 million barrels a year that Budweiser and Coors Light do. "There are things you can't measure that nonetheless impact the taste of a light beer," Kraemer said, adding that certain taste compounds are present in just a few parts per trillion. To assure quality, all of Anheuser-Busch's 137 senior brew-masters taste the raw ingredients -- including the water -- at every stage of the brewing process. If a brewmaster samples beer from a lagering tank at the end of its aging process and detects that the beer has not fully matured, he can dictate that the tank age for an extra day or two before the beer is filtered and packaged. This level of precision exerted over so many millions of barrels of beer is stunning. And while it may not convince you to pull a cheap six-pack off the shelf, it should help you see the brew in a new light.
posted by flex at 8:14 PM on November 4, 2012 [22 favorites]


I noticed something weird in the liquor store the other day. Ommegang, a New York brewery which brews Belgian-style beers, was purchased by an actual Belgian brewery (Duvel) in 2003. Some of the Ommegang beers I saw on the shelves last week were actually brewed in Belgium by Duvel! How confusing.
posted by mkb at 8:15 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I drink (and love) beers from local brewers; I'm lucky to be living in an area with so many amazing beers being made. But if I'm at a party or someone's house and I get handed a Bud Light, I'll drink it and smile. A lot of people really do prefer Bud and Coors and Rolling Rock, and while they're not my preference they are a fine way to sip away an afternoon while sitting in someone's backyard and eating meat straight off the grill.

If the new owners ruin the taste of those mass-market beers and alienate their customers, I suspect the magic hand of capitalism will provide a solution quickly. That's a huge amount of money in play, and genuinely screwing it up would provide case study examples for generations of MBA students.
posted by Forktine at 8:16 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Molson Canadian tastes like Labatt Blue left out in the sun, and Blue is pretty terrible to begin with.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:17 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I remember after moving back to Canada after four years in Holland and the US, I opened a Molson Canadian and actually poured it out because I thought it had gone skunky. Then I opened another one...
posted by 256 at 8:21 PM on November 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Just finished a Bell's Amber. I haven't drank anything brewed by a major brewer since I was stuck watching my mother play the slots at a casino and the only decent thing they had was Guinness in bottles. I could care less if InBev is corrupting brands that were crap to begin with.
posted by Ber at 8:25 PM on November 4, 2012


My favorite Japanese beer, Orion, is still imported from Okinawa. But it seems to be the hardest to find.
posted by cazoo at 8:26 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


brewing light beers actually requires a great deal of craftsmanship

This is true, but just because something is difficult doesn't make it worthwhile.
posted by echo target at 8:26 PM on November 4, 2012 [21 favorites]


When I was working at Walgreens we introduced "Big Flats," our own house brand of beer. We sold it for like $4 for a 6-pack. I couldn't afford not to drink it, right?

This leads to the single time in my adult life when I am unable to finish a cold beer...
posted by modernserf at 8:26 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had the pleasure of interviewing the brewmaster at the Toronto Molson brewery several years ago. He patiently explained the painstaking precise work, while I scribbled notes. The things I remember:

1) Of all the brands brewed at that site, Coors Light got the most stringent attention to quality (which Flex's article explains). Not what I expected.

2) Many large breweries were built when North Americans were all drinking ales (in the 50s). For 30 years now, most everyone drinks lagers. Now the breweries are stuck with horizontal tanks, not an ideal shape for bottom-fermenting.

3) A little-known expertise of a large brewery brewmaster is in figuring out how to blend the dozen-or-so batches of beer available in order to make taste and quality specs for whatever brands need to be shipped that week. Coors Light doesn't get tinkered with much, Molson Canadian gets a mix of whatever needs to be used up.
posted by anthill at 8:28 PM on November 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Pity about Beck's. I remember it well, but it was quite a few years ago I switched to Lagunitas IPA and Bear Republic's Racer 5.

Now Stella Artois, that's a scandal. Stella was IIRC Belgian and the Belgians really know beer. It used to be a good lager, and then apparently InBev got their hands on them, and it's not the same.

/favorite beer is Poperings Hommel, still exclusively Belgian and a cast iron bitch to find in bottles, though it's on tap at two places within 60 miles of me.
posted by jet_silver at 8:30 PM on November 4, 2012


This is true, but just because something is difficult doesn't make it worthwhile.

Favoriting soo hard. Hell, give me a few billion and marvel at the consistency of my mediocre beer that sucks and no one should drink and is bad. That said, there is a kernel of truth here: good pilsner and lager microbrews are hard to find. Victory Prima Pils being pretty much the best around these parts. Red Hare also does a nice light lager that is a million times better than anything by InBev and is in the same sort of ballpark.
posted by Theodore Sign at 8:41 PM on November 4, 2012


This entire importing thing reminds me of a story of a friend who went to England for a semester abroad in the late 80s. He was from West Philadelphia (this is relevant, I assure you).

Walks into a store in London, nearly collapses laughing at a display:

THUNDERBIRD
AN AMERICAN TRADITION

BROUGHT TO THE UK
BY BARTLES AND JAYMES


Yeah. It seems like that.
posted by mephron at 8:43 PM on November 4, 2012 [21 favorites]


Now Stella Artois, that's a scandal. Stella was IIRC Belgian and the Belgians really know beer. It used to be a good lager, and then apparently InBev got their hands on them, and it's not the same.

I just checked the old Belgian Beer Cafe where our workplace used to congregate on ye olde Friday Afternoon.

$10.80 for a pint of Stella. 5% ABV. Ten fucking dollars for a pint of locally brewed Stella?
posted by Talez at 8:45 PM on November 4, 2012


I've never had a drink in my life.

But man, the haughtiness of drinkers of one type of beer towards other drinkers of other beers are some of the strangest "I can't BELIEVE you would SETTLE for such a DISHONOR" crap worthy of a parody of an english farce.

That said, the article certainly does a very good job of showing how the massive consolidation of an industry into a small set of producers can result in what appears to be inferior and semi-passable product that still makes just enough of a profit to drive the reputation of generations of previous workers into the ground. So bravo for that.
posted by jscott at 8:47 PM on November 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


THUNDERBIRD
AN AMERICAN TRADITION

BROUGHT TO THE UK
BY BARTLES AND JAYMES


Oh man, that is hysterical. E&J Gallo makes most of the bum wines, but they don't put their name anywhere on the bottle because it'd be like admitting responsibility for a crime.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:48 PM on November 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


there's absolutely no reason to drink anything from further away than, say, Eugene.

I've been surprised and pleased at how Ninkasi has taken off. I remember when it was hard to find around town and now they're everywhere. (although I wish it wasn't Total Domination that was everywhere)
posted by curious nu at 8:48 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


(although I wish it wasn't Total Domination that was everywhere)

If Total Domination isn't everywhere, then the domination isn't total, is it?
posted by hippybear at 8:51 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Wikipedia page for bum wines states that Thunderbird was in fact marketed in the UK as "The California Apertif". I don't even.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:51 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


But man, the haughtiness of drinkers of one type of beer towards other drinkers of other beers are some of the strangest "I can't BELIEVE you would SETTLE for such a DISHONOR" crap worthy of a parody of an english farce.

Let me guess. You drink Starbucks, don't you?
posted by erniepan at 8:54 PM on November 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


The Wikipedia page for bum wines states that Thunderbird was in fact marketed in the UK as "The California Apertif". I don't even.

If they can convince Americans to drink Foster's they can convince poms to drink US bum wine.
posted by Talez at 8:58 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


And Shiner Bock remains delicious.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:58 PM on November 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well, at least it's not coffee.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:59 PM on November 4, 2012


Is this the same Thunderbird we used to drink as kids in the UK in the mid-eighties to get wasted cheaply?
posted by arcticseal at 9:00 PM on November 4, 2012


I don't remember the last time I had a "normal" beer from a major brand. Why would you?

Of course I do live in the NW, so we have more craft beers around than regular ones. Ninkasi Double Believer Red...yum. And OsKar Blues G'Knight Imperial Red has shown up here lately as well, (from Colorado), and I am really loving that one...
posted by Windopaene at 9:08 PM on November 4, 2012


THUNDERBIRD
AN AMERICAN TRADITION

BROUGHT TO THE UK
BY BARTLES AND JAYMES


Enjoy the refined Blue Ribbon winning taste of 蓝带1844. On sale for only 288 RMB on Taobao
posted by Winnemac at 9:11 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lot of this happens. Kikkoman is the most popular soy sauce in Japan. It's sold in the US, too, but the stuff we get is brewed in Wisconsin. I sometimes wonder what real Japanese Kikkoman soy sauce tastes like. Is it different than ours?

Lea and Perrin Worcestershire sauce is brewed in the UK and sold there. We get that, too, but ours is brewed in New Jersey, and according to Wikipedia it is not the same.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:11 PM on November 4, 2012


the only decent thing they had was Guinness in bottles

Was is Guinness Draught or Guinness Extra Stout? I've had Guinness Draught in cans and it consistently tastes pretty much like getting a Guiness at a pub. Guinness Extra Stout (from a bottle) has no head, more alcohol and is carbonated. It's a totally different beer. It tastes more like a black pilsner to me. Not interested in buying it again.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:13 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


2) Many large breweries were built when North Americans were all drinking ales (in the 50s). For 30 years now, most everyone drinks lagers. Now the breweries are stuck with horizontal tanks, not an ideal shape for bottom-fermenting.

This hasn't been true for a long time. 3 decades of brewery consolidation (in North America, even longer in the UK and Europe) have meant a shift of production to the newest, largest facilities. I would be amazed to find an example of a major brand brewed in a horizontal fermenter.

Also, it's worth noting that the fermentation characteristics of a horizontal tank are typically BETTER than that of a modern, vertical, cyclindro-conical. The taller tanks create large temperature and pressure gradients within the fermenting beer, and put a lot more pressure on the yeast at the bottom. They are preferred not because they make better beer, but because they allow faster separation of the yeast from the beer, and in the newest, biggest breweries, allowing for continuous, cyclical fermentation.

3) A little-known expertise of a large brewery brewmaster is in figuring out how to blend the dozen-or-so batches of beer available in order to make taste and quality specs for whatever brands need to be shipped that week. Coors Light doesn't get tinkered with much, Molson Canadian gets a mix of whatever needs to be used up.

I don't know about Canada, but I know that for the US Anheuser Busch and Miller breweries, blending is strongly frowned upon, if not strictly verboten. It is still very common in traditional breweries and newer craft breweries, but for the big guys, it's a sign of a flaw in the production cycle, and introduces a delay and extra cost. Budweiser, in particular is proud of the fact that they can consistently produce the same product without blending.
posted by Anoplura at 9:13 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


All the drama over middle-to-large sized beer brands always being bought up, ruined, and moved into far off factories by InBev or some similar crappy megacorporation should just harden one's resolve to hunt down and enjoy real local brews that are immune to all this crap because they're too small for some chemical factory to care about. I mean at this point, hasn't the whole microbrewing thing basically taken over most of the beer loving country? I'd think that the only places left without their own micros these days are the huge swaths of flyover America in which nobody would ever be dissatisfied with Budweiser style pasteurized beer food product anyway (which of course, they'd insist is still as 'merkan as NASCAR regardless of what the lying liberal media says).
posted by trackofalljades at 9:14 PM on November 4, 2012


But man, the haughtiness of drinkers of one type of beer towards other drinkers of other beers are some of the strangest "I can't BELIEVE you would SETTLE for such a DISHONOR" crap worthy of a parody of an english farce.

I like to order crappy beer just to watch them work themselves into high dudgeon about how dare I drink that instead of Foofy McSnobbin's Low Production Run High Quality Brand Nubbin Pale Ale and don't I know ANYTHING and...well, at that point I order a bourbon and tune them out because I'm not really a beer drinker anyway but spending $3 to give someone a near heart attack is the kind of low-effort high-reward real-life trolling I enjoy.

Or if I don't feel like ruining the evening, I just say "You order for me" so they can content themselves that I'm drinking the finest beer brewed by Trappist monks that only release a batch every 10 years that's composed of pure Christian sweat from the finest saints and martyrs, when really I'd just drink whatever because being a massive beer snob seems both petty and exhausting. And I honestly don't taste the major differences except for a vague "I like this" or "I don't like this", which sends them into further ravings about the DISTINCT notes of caramel and chocolate and the robust finish and I just smile and nod.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:21 PM on November 4, 2012 [22 favorites]


All you Beck's haters can bite me. Haake Beck is awesome! (HB OK!)
posted by readyfreddy at 9:23 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


jscott: I've never had a drink in my life.

But man, the haughtiness of drinkers of one type of beer towards other drinkers of other beers are some of the strangest "I can't BELIEVE you would SETTLE for such a DISHONOR" crap worthy of a parody of an english farce.


It would make more sense if you drank beer. Different beers can be really, really different. It's not so much craft microbrew vs. mass-produced as it is difference in type, but the types that are mass-produced are usually lagers (and light lagers at that) and the craft microbrews are usually various kinds of ale with hoppier and thicker beers disproportionately represented. So there's a huge difference between the two in practice, much more than you typically see in 'mass produced things suck' arguments.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:28 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


And I honestly don't taste the major differences except for a vague "I like this" or "I don't like this", which sends them into further ravings about the DISTINCT notes of caramel and chocolate and the robust finish and I just smile and nod.

Beer snobs irk me, it's like an upper-class trainspotting dork incursion on the low pleasures of the proletariat. There's always that one guy that brings the $12 6 pack of Salty Dick's Private Reserve 360 Minute IPA or whatever to the party, he probably has a fedora and you don't wanna talk to him.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:28 PM on November 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


*Sigh* leave it to Portland, OR once again to save all you from yourselves with our countless microbrews and micro distillers to provide quality delicious foodstuffs. Though, I have read about the 'big' buys getting bought out by VC money. Expect Portland beer, coffee (Stumptown was recently sold), and WholeFoods-esq grocery (New Seasons also got 51%+ buy out) everywhere in the next decade. Bobs Red Mill has saved itself by becoming employee owned.

(as more eveidence of how microbrews have gome big by a recent trip to LA with stop overs in San Jose & Sacramento it seems that Fat Tire is now everywhere on the west coast now)
posted by wcfields at 9:28 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Beer snobs irk me, it's like an upper-class trainspotting dork incursion on the low pleasures of the proletariat.

Is there a word for this presumption of dire and terrible motives on the part of someone doing something utterly benign? Probably in German? This happens way too often on the internet for it to not have a name.
posted by IjonTichy at 9:33 PM on November 4, 2012 [30 favorites]


Anoplura: I would be amazed to find an example of a major brand brewed in a horizontal fermenter.

The ABI plant in Van Nuys, CA (second largest in their NA chain) uses horizontal tanks for lagering - each tank is ~4-5,000 barrels (aka 8-10k kegs). They're massive and about the length of a city block.

Also, they blend like no body's business for the Budweiser line. Each beer has a very tight profile spec it has to hold to and they will blend to pull everything together. Granted, they've got brewing dialed in tight enough to be close no matter what. That's the impressive part, just wished I liked the beer.

They also brew Kirin there, amongst other things. Expect to see more and more abandoning of the valuation of that precious "Imported" tag and emphasis on the brand.

And in the meanwhile, I'll happily continue to take my beer too damn seriously, even if I do get into trouble from time to time teaching people how to make their own 4 Loko *shudder*
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:35 PM on November 4, 2012


In the US, Sapporo bottles prominently advertise that they are imported. If you look closely you'll see that they are indeed imported...from Ontario.

Asahi Super Dry and Kirin in Australia used to be imported from Japan. Now you almost never see the imported version and the locally-brewed stuff doesn't taste as good.

I do like Japanese beer, but the stuff brewed under license in Canada just doesn't taste the same.


I would like to suggest to everyone: move to Japan! Where you can still get... JAPANESE BEER! MADE IN JAPAN!

Now, J-beer isn't the greatest in the world, but it sure goes well with the food. And the food's miiiiighty good, y'all!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:38 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bud light platinum should come with a bottle of spray on hair loss hider, a 12 bladed bic razor, and a zune player loaded with nickleback backing up creed on the xylophone.
posted by iamabot at 9:39 PM on November 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


My favourite beer would have to be Tsingtao. It tastes the way beer should taste.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:43 PM on November 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Beer snobs irk me, it's like an upper-class trainspotting dork incursion on the low pleasures of the proletariat. There's always that one guy that brings the $12 6 pack of Salty Dick's Private Reserve 360 Minute IPA or whatever to the party, he probably has a fedora and you don't wanna talk to him.
posted by DecemberBoy at 21:28 on November 4 [1 favorite +] [!]

Wow, you don't appreciate good beer AND you don't like fedoras? Good beer is awesome. Fedoras are awesome. And bear in mind that I never use the word awesome.

Perhaps someday you'll learn to appreciate these nice things, and if so, you have something to look forward to!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:43 PM on November 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


The company was privatized in the early 1990s and in 1993 merged with three other breweries in Qingdao and was finally renamed Tsingtao Brewery Company Limited. Today 27% of the company is owned by Anheuser-Busch.

Ah, shit.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:44 PM on November 4, 2012


yeah, this is precisely why i only drink tsingtao or whatever greg nog is brewing up.
posted by elizardbits at 9:45 PM on November 4, 2012


Nope, read on down the page - On May 9, 2009 Anheuser-Busch InBev sold its remaining 7% to Chinese tycoon Chen Fashu for $235 million.[5]
posted by elizardbits at 9:46 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


i once screwed up a homebrew batch by fermenting at too high of a temperature which gave the beer a bananna like smell. interestingly, after drinking it i could immediately taste the corn in crappy american beer.

the problem with the american beer industry is too much/bad regulation. check out the documentary "brew wars".
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:46 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, you don't appreciate good beer AND you don't like fedoras?

There's appreciating good beer, and then being a beer snob, which is what I was talking about. And fedoras are OK if you're in the Rat Pack, otherwise...
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:51 PM on November 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Beer snobs irk me, it's like an upper-class trainspotting dork incursion on the low pleasures of the proletariat.

This is perfect and exactly what I was grasping for. It's like being snobby about TV dinners or chicken nuggets or something. "Heh, you're going to eat that swill? I ONLY eat the finest chicken nuggets made from free range chickens fed ONLY a pure grain diet and then the breading simply MUST be handmade as well, preferably from an artisan baker's secret recipe, but if you'd ever been to your local chicken nuggetery, you'd obviously KNOW there's many fine local chicken nuggets you've been neglecting and furthermore..."
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:53 PM on November 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


And Shiner Bock remains delicious

Glad you found something you like, but honestly if it says Shiner anywhere on it it always tastes like shinola to me.
posted by spock at 9:55 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Last year, Coors Light surpassed Budweiser to become America’s No. 2 beer. (Bud Light remains No. 1.)

Translation: Crap surpassed crap in sales.
posted by Splunge at 9:55 PM on November 4, 2012


Living in Japan and being exposed to my fair share of Japanese macrobrews, I can't honestly understand what the fuss is about.

On the other hand, Ginga Kougen is a pretty solid national brand that's not as big, and luckily canned Guinness Draught is available just about anywhere if you look hard enough, plus there are all of the stores that sell imported Belgian and German beers…
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:58 PM on November 4, 2012


People who are hung up about "beer snobs" (or any kind of "snob") are probably intimidated and insecure in a lot of other areas of their life also. It says a lot more about what's going on between their ears than it does about the person interested/educated in what they are consuming.
posted by spock at 10:01 PM on November 4, 2012 [15 favorites]


Oh, he "crack [ed] the code using an old refrigerator"; this sounds terribly important. "it was like a light shone down from heaven," No, it was a buzzing fluorescent tube. If Bud Lite is what is served in Heaven I need to get busy worshiping false gods or something.
"This level of precision exerted over so many millions of barrels of beer is stunning." Perhaps for the already stunned. What other product is there that producing a gazillion clones per hour at the lowest cost is high praise ? Flip-flops are produced this way. Flip-flops and Bud Lite are useful and it is nice that they are cheap but flip-flops advance civilization and Bud Lite retards it because it doesn't travel well. Bud Lite is an achievement but not one to be celebrated. A local, fresh lite beer would be something worth remarking on.
posted by llc at 10:03 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Was in Shanghai a few years back. Being shown around by local officials. We kept going to nice tourist restaurants. I kept nudging my driver, a low level government worker, to take me to a local place with lots of spicy food. Finally, one day, while the rest of the group was being taken to some fancy lunch place, me, our driver and two others went to the local joint. He orders for us and tells the server to make it spicy. Server asks what I want to drink in halting English. I said cold beer.

Before he brought me my beer, some of the food had arrived. I ate something that set fire to my mouth and stomach. Spicy it was. My teeth and hair were sweating while I waited for server to be right back.

He came back ith a Budweiser. Very proud. "Imported beer". He was so proud to have an imported American beer in his tiny local establishment. I did not have the heart to tell him the truth about Budweiser. Also did not have the time as I never needed a cold drink as badly as I needed that beer. It even tasted good.

Or, as Jimmy Buffet sings, "The warmest beer I ever had was just cold enough."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:03 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never had a drink in my life. ... Opinion snipped.

This is like offering an opinion in a thread about sexual positions and beginning with "I've never had sex with another person in my life..."
posted by spock at 10:07 PM on November 4, 2012 [26 favorites]


We're comparing beer, as a whole, to TV dinners here? The idea is that beer as a beverage is inherently "low" is pretty fucking stupid.

Very interesting article, though, thanks for linking.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:10 PM on November 4, 2012 [16 favorites]


This talk about haughtiness and 'snobs' is just rude. Think about something you are passionate about. Something that you care enough about to defend. For Ghostride The Whip it may be bourbon. jscott? Anything? If not, then that's a shame. If so, then imagine someone going to a message board talking about your passion and saying, "I can't stand all the snobs who are passionate about their favorite bourbons. I don't even like bourbon.."

What would you say to such a person?
posted by eye of newt at 10:10 PM on November 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


People who are hung up about "beer snobs" (or any kind of "snob") are probably intimidated and insecure in a lot of other areas of their life also. It says a lot more about what's going on between their ears than it does about the person interested/educated in what they are consuming.

Well, as I said upthread, I don't particularly care for malty ales and microbrews and stouts brewed in Canada - they're a little too intense, and also invariably slightly sweet - but I can definitely understand why people get into them, and become microbrew aficionados.

Craft beers provide something almost entirely lacking from bland, prepackaged, homogenous North American culture - a connection to a local place, to where you live. Canada, at least, does not really have this sort of food culture, not compared to Japan or Europe (or perhaps some parts of the States, notably Texas).

Still, for me at least, it's pretty damn tough to find a nice, slightly hoppy, crips pale lager or pilsner-style beer to drink that is not sweet. The sweetness kills it for me. Ales tend to dominate, but luckily a local brewpub sells authentic Kolsch.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:13 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


if you have passion about a product then the marketers have WON DUDE.

Also, did a quick control-F, and I just wanted to mention everyone's favorite case study: schlitz.
posted by The Ted at 10:23 PM on November 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Living in Japan and being exposed to my fair share of Japanese macrobrews, I can't honestly understand what the fuss is about.

On the other hand, Ginga Kougen is a pretty solid national brand that's not as big


In my neck of the woods (Tokyo) Coedo is easier and easier to find, and it's pretty damn good.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:24 PM on November 4, 2012


KokuRyu, you want a "fully-fermented" beer. It's a German style, called a Diat Pils. A few were tried in the US and Canadian markets in the late 80s? Early 90s? but they weren't very successful and I haven't seen them for years.
posted by bonehead at 10:28 PM on November 4, 2012


Glad you found something you like, but honestly if it says Shiner anywhere on it it always tastes like shinola to me.

This is the internet. You can say "shit" on the internet.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:39 PM on November 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


I realize I may be outing myself as a total dilettante to actual, manly, red-blooded beer drinkers here if I haven't already, but I really, really like Czechvar, 1664, and Flacon d'Alsace.

But in our house, beer is really only a summer-time drink - now we're onto wine.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:40 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is perfect and exactly what I was grasping for. It's like being snobby about TV dinners or chicken nuggets or something. "Heh, you're going to eat that swill? I ONLY eat the finest chicken nuggets made from free range chickens fed ONLY a pure grain diet and then the breading simply MUST be handmade as well, preferably from an artisan baker's secret recipe, but if you'd ever been to your local chicken nuggetery, you'd obviously KNOW there's many fine local chicken nuggets you've been neglecting and furthermore..."

Bourbon, your admitted drink of choice, was considered déclasse until very recently. Don't be an ass.
posted by converge at 10:47 PM on November 4, 2012 [15 favorites]


I don't know what to say. I really don't. If the quality of the rice in your beer is the problem, your concern isn't beer.

American lagers and pilsners have rice in them for the same reason (traditional) American coffee has chicory in it -- it was a substitute made in cost-cutting times (chicory during the various 19th century crashes, rice during the Depression) that people got so used to they liked it better "adulterated."

So yeah, mock all you want, but there are good reasons for that whole-grain rice.

The rest of us will drink our microbrews and shrug. I have to say that the American beer scene right now is far more exciting than the European scene. More experimentation, less stodginess. And heck, Cascadian Dark Ale is a thing now.
posted by dw at 10:51 PM on November 4, 2012


Rice was not introduced as a cost cutting measure. Rice was first introduced in the late 1800's as a protein cutting measure. Problem for German/Austrian brewers here in the states was that our native strains of barley (mostly 6 row strains) contained way too much protein and created beers that were hazier than ideal and harsh. It was found that using rice/corn still gave the sugar needed for their target gravity levels, but that it undercut the harsh tones of the barley and reduce the protein counts to a manageable level.

The two world wars put barley into the rationing bin and caused an increase in the non-barley cereal levels. Speculation ties part of that rise to the deliberate targeting of women during WWII as a new market. From there we shifted into further consolidation of the brewing market and the overall "blandification" of much of the american palette (wonder bread! tv dinners! velveeta!).

Until the InBev takeover, that "cheap" rice used by folks like Budweiser was the most expensive ingredient in their mash.

On the other hand, let's not talk about the tanker cars of HFCS piled up on the railroad siding at the Irwindale Miller plant.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:00 PM on November 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


We've just had the Brussels Beer Challenge. guess which nation scored more awards than Belgium?

America.

Well done to the craft beermakers. Here's the US winners
posted by quarsan at 11:02 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


He came back ith a Budweiser. Very proud. "Imported beer". He was so proud to have an imported American beer in his tiny local establishment. I did not have the heart to tell him the truth about Budweiser.

Haha, this is kind of how I feel when I'm overseas and people offer me (an Australian) Fosters. I mean, you are flat out buying that watery dog's piss here - and you can buy some truly terrible beers (Hello XXXX! Melbourne Bitter!).

Also, for me, a true pleasure of traveling overseas is sampling local beers.
posted by smoke at 11:19 PM on November 4, 2012


Since small craft brewers are available almost everywhere (in the U.S.) now, there is no reason to limit yourself to the "refinery" brewers any longer.

How many craft brewers make a cheap and cheerful American style lager? It's all very well saying that if you're disappointed in Becks, try your local indy brewer, but if those are making $10 Imperial Stouts and $5 overhopped IPAs, you're going to be disappointed if all you want is a nicer Budweiser.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:21 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I realize I may be outing myself as a total dilettante to actual, manly, red-blooded beer drinkers here if I haven't already, but I really, really like Czechvar, 1664, and Flacon d'Alsace.

I love Czechvar. Have you tried Krusovice? They're usually right next to one another at BCL stores.
posted by mannequito at 11:30 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


a nicer Budweiser

I'd sure as hell love me one of those right now...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:32 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know what to say. I really don't. If the quality of the rice in your beer is the problem, your concern isn't beer.

It is possible to brew good beer, even lager, with rice. If done properly it has a more clear, bright taste than lager brewed German style. I've even had a rice based IPa not too long ago which was very nice, somewhat lighter than a normal IPA would've been.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:33 PM on November 4, 2012


The company’s shipments in the U.S. have declined 8 percent to 98 million barrels from 2008 to 2011, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights.

Could that be explained by this: Craft brewers sold an estimated 11,468,152 barrels* of beer in 2011, up from 10,133,571 in 2010.
Probably not.

As you know Bob, 2008 is when the economic crisis really started to hit and what I think happened is that people switched from Budweiser or Becks to cheaper lagers, rather than to more expensive microbrews. Which is also why so many big brewers, not just InBev, are trying to cut costs by saving on ingredients but also bringing out versions with lower alcohol levels. Less alcohol is less tax is cheaper beer.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:46 PM on November 4, 2012


More experimentation, less stodginess

Which sometimes (often?) is translated into more hops, more alcohol, to the extreeeeeeeeeeeme as IPAs or stouts get poochiefied.

(And I says this as somebody who tends to tweet pictures of the beers he's drinking...)
posted by MartinWisse at 11:49 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the face of recession and stagnant wages, Japan has gone down the "low alcohol" route for beers, and produces astoundingly bad dreck called "Happosei", or "malt free" beers (not to be confused with an equally disgusting swill called "Happoshu", which is a low-malt beer).

I drink a lot when I'm in Japan, usually over at a friend's house. All the brothers and their wives and their kids show up, and the adults drink. Unfortunately, it's Happosei. Terrible, terrible stuff. But cheap.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:52 PM on November 4, 2012


As you know Bob, 2008 is when the economic crisis really started to hit and what I think happened is that people switched from Budweiser or Becks to cheaper lagers, rather than to more expensive microbrews. Which is also why so many big brewers, not just InBev, are trying to cut costs by saving on ingredients but also bringing out versions with lower alcohol levels. Less alcohol is less tax is cheaper beer.

Perhaps a segment of the market did, perhaps a big one. The market for what we're calling craft brewing did in fact grow over the same time. What we're seeing is the market for both cheap beer and expensive beer grow while that of mid-priced beer seems to shrink in many different measurements.
posted by converge at 11:58 PM on November 4, 2012


Am I weird if I've just never developed a full-on liking for beer? The best one I've ever had was either a citrus-y Celis Pale something when I lived in Austin, or a Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic after a long, hot day back when I was in college. I love mead, I make my own fruit-juice ciders...

Someone recommend me some girly-man flavorful, tasty beers? I tried Guinness (from a can) a couple of times and both times wanted to just scrape it off my tongue.
posted by mrbill at 12:01 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


And tax incentives or disincentives are always massively overblown by financial writers. If the taxes involved with an enterprise that makes you real money preclude your enterprise, then you're a jackass. Make the money.
posted by converge at 12:02 AM on November 5, 2012


THUNDERBIRD
AN AMERICAN TRADITION


Hm, Thunderbird. Cheapest of the cheap American rotguts and a major figure in many American Indian stories.

Wonder whether the name was chosen to appeal to and acknowledge a primary customer base, or to mock the people it was destroying.
posted by jamjam at 12:03 AM on November 5, 2012


If you understand German, here's a good half-hour segment from ZDF TV about what's been happening to German breweries -- it's the same story: they're being bought up by larger & larger companies and homogenized. People can't seem to tell the major brands apart any more, and Germans drink a lot less beer than they used to. Upheld as the promised land of interesting microbrews and great beer: the US.
posted by muckster at 12:09 AM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wellington county dark. 'nuff said.
posted by dazed_one at 12:20 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The beer I liked 20 years ago in Canada has slipped into the memory hole it seems.

I think it was called "MacEwan's Double Bock" or some such. I'm sure it was MacEwan's. It was really dark and strong, kind of sweet, had a crazy high alcohol content (7.5%?), and three would get me totally buzzed. It seemed thick, more like chewing rye bread than drinking a beverage. Man I loved that stuff.

But now I am searching the Internet and can find no reference to such a beer. What was I drinking? Did this beer exist?

And anyone from Scotland, was I drinking the equivalent of Thunderbird or was this an OK beer by original local standards?
posted by Meatbomb at 12:34 AM on November 5, 2012


Wait, now I think maybe it was "porter"?
posted by Meatbomb at 12:37 AM on November 5, 2012


McEwan's Scotch Ale? Really sweet and thick. 8%.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:41 AM on November 5, 2012


Someone recommend me some girly-man flavorful, tasty beers?

Alba Scots Pine Ale, might be a good bet: tastes like drinking a liquid swiss roll.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:53 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was staying in the north of Germany I asked in faltering pidgin whether I might visit a local brewery. This prompted much excitement, then scowls. Something something something Becks? Errr...sure, not what I had in mind, but grateful for any opportunity. Why, then, did they look crestfallen when I said 'Oh, ja!'

Luckily we worked out that they thought I must have meant Becks. I didn't. I wanted the opposite of Becks. This cheered them up enormously. We ended up here. It was one of the most awesome nights of my life.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:16 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am the beer snob that everyone hates, so it is with some trepidition that I insert this quote, but it is so apropo that I couldn't resist. From a recent reddit thread
I'm a brewer. Not a homebrewer, but a guy who's worked nearly a decare in breweries large and small. I worked in one of the largest breweries in North America churning out 7+ million barrels a year. Now I work for a craft brewery with an annual production comparable to what I used to make in a week. I left to go smaller, and took a pay cut, because I didn't like the culture of the company anymore and wanted to go to a place where I felt I would fit in. To all of you folks who are hating on the big guys, let's set a few things straight:

Light beers didn't come to dominate the Global beer market because it sucks and everyone hates them. There was a steady evolution of consolidation in America as manufacturing techniques improved. Where 75 years ago there was a brewery in every region turning out good to great beers that were different everywhere, they were also inconsistent. And there was a lot of spoilage. Americans bought in to lighter and lighter beers. And the breweries who produced them the best had more sales, and the other breweries failed. Light beers weren't pushed down Americans throats, they were pulled from breweries by the demands of Americans.

The devotion of the large breweries to product quality is the ONLY reason that you can get a consistent craft beer today. There was no science put behind yeast and microbiological spoilage organisms until THEY did the research and discovered it. There would be no standards for cleanliness without them. People wouldn't know that diacetyl could be produced by latent alpha-acetolactate after beer was bottled. People wouldn't understand that if you ferment the same yeast at different temperatures, you can get completely different flavors. The big brewers developed the methods to detect and identify spoilage organisms in a brewery. Why does the same type of hop lend different bitterness at different times? Because of what they learned, we know that the alpha acid % is what determines bitterness. Without any of this knowledge, the craft brewing industry would not be anywhere close to where it is today because nobody could brew the strong, complex brews that craft brewers make.

Brewmasters at large breweries have to deal with more problems than you will ever understand. Oh gee, it was rainy in central Canada in March and April. Who cares? Well, since the fields were flooded, barley is going to be planted late, so its not going to come in full. Now you're going to have barley that is low in extract and high in color because it had two weeks less to grow this year and it had to be kilned more to keep the enzymes low. So your lautering efficiency is going to be low and your color is going to be high. On top of that, you're starting to see that your wort fermentability is decreasing and you aren't getting to your alcohol level. So now you've got to find which mash vessel temperature probe is understanding temperature, or which steam valve is leaking by. But you don't have any yeast to brew with anyway because somebody forgot to add the sanitizer to your automated yeast brink cleaning system, and now ALL of your yeast has pediococcus in it. Plus, your filter has broken down because your pressure gauge wasn't calibrated properly and you blew out all your seals, and you don't have a spare set of filter screens because your boss wanted to keep below budget and pushed the purchase of new screens until January of the next year so he didn't have to answer to the board of directors.

The fact is that most people have no idea whatsoever how to do anyone's job but their own. Since beer is something that is everywhere, so incredibly varied in style and taste, and there are thousands of blogs about it, people think that because they've had so much exposure to it that they're experts and it must be easy to do. Do you think that building a Ford Focus is easy? They're all over the place, they don't look that complicated, and they're mostly plastic anyway. I can take them to the Jiffy Lube and those jerks can change my oil in 20 minutes! How complicated can building the thing really be? Or what about flying an airplane? They have autopilot do all the work! All they have to do is take off and land, right? And that's all computers too, isn't it?

Brewing is a career. It's not a hobby, or something you can learn by hanging around your local brewpub a lot. There is so much to learn about the craft that it takes a lifetime to learn most of it. I don't care if you don't enjoy light beer. I don't enjoy it either. But I know where it comes from, I know how smart you have to be to make it, and how difficult of a job brewing is at any level. If you don't respect light beer, then just give up on beer altogether. Switch to wine instead. Those idiots have no idea what they're doing anyway. I mean, it's just grapes, right?
posted by psycho-alchemy at 1:29 AM on November 5, 2012 [53 favorites]


I've met Carlos Brito in person, when he gave a speech to an alumni Christmas party of a Belgian business school (I'm not an alumnus, but I was invited by one of the sponsors).
I've never met a man or animal who has scared me quite as much as Brito when he gave that speech. The man seemed the very embodiment of the soulless corporate machine, all coldly calculating ambition and no human scruple. Unprepossesing in appearance, he nevertheless reminded me of nothing else than a Great White Shark closing in on his prey. He literally gave me the shivers.
posted by Skeptic at 1:39 AM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you derail a Metafilter thread, I like to say, you better learn to live with the sparks.

So, let me clarify.

I've never had alcohol. I don't drink wine, beer, mead, whatever. Never have.

I don't do a lot of things, but I do a lot of other things. I'm 42. I've had a rich, varied life and it's been a lot of fun and I really liked the parts with the warm temperatures or the good friends. All fine and good.

The very specific thing about the beer thing that I take issue with, beer snobbery, is not "being able to discern beers you like better than others" or "having a strong desire for a special beverage or food". It's that, for whatever reason, beer seems to bring out that evangelical side of people, where they go past just "Damn, I like this brew" and traipse far into the "and what the fuck is wrong with you for not seeing how awesome it is too", also known as "you are living a poorer life for not liking the thing I like". It's that outreach and belittlement aspect that just makes me mention not liking it. Not the beer, not the lore, not the fact it exists.

It's that weird, slippery space in the mind of people that their thing is just so important, that they need to either trash other people not aware of, or not doing, that thing. You drive a hummer or a brutally large truck, great. I drove a Checker Marathon for years. And yeah, you drive those things around, that's a statement in itself. But I can't recall meeting anyone in those realms who would step up to others or get into conversations, and literally insult the other non-driving-that people for not driving their type of vehicle. Or tell you there's no other way to drive, that's, you know, decent. Or so on. Beer drinkers... they do.

It just gets all up in my shit. That's what I was commenting on. Life's pretty crazy and it's fun to try new things and offer good times and stuff you like and maybe someone gets hooked on a new thing from trying it. Telling someone they're stupid because they don't like the thing you like, especially when it's a beverage ... I'm sorry, you can tell me it's different than all other things in life, but it's going to be uphill with me.

That's all.
posted by jscott at 2:02 AM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


You drive a hummer or a brutally large truck, great. I drove a Checker Marathon for years. And yeah, you drive those things around, that's a statement in itself. But I can't recall meeting anyone in those realms who would step up to others or get into conversations, and literally insult the other non-driving-that people for not driving their type of vehicle.

So, you've seen bar fights erupt because one guy is drinking Bud while the other's drinking Salty Dick's Private Reserve 360 Minute IPA? Or is it mostly an internet squabblefest thing?
posted by mannequito at 2:13 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, you've seen bar fights erupt because one guy is drinking Bud while the other's drinking Salty Dick's Private Reserve 360 Minute IPA? Or is it mostly an internet squabblefest thing?

Outside of the online realm, I have been at perfectly normal dinners, small gatherings, and informal clumps of people where otherwise reasonable, interesting people have berated, dismissed, and flat-out turned away from folks who were either drinking, ordering a drink, or mentioned a drink not up to the otherwise reasonable, interesting person's standards.

I've seen other situations elicit this response, but with beer choice or happening to order a specific beer, it just seems completely out of the realm of reason. And nobody feed me crap about "well, you just haven't had this type of beer." It's that exact thing I'm talking about.

No fisticuffs, no. Unreasonable insult and cold front or turnaway that casts a pall on an evening, yes.
posted by jscott at 2:20 AM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Koku-Ryu, Flapjax, and others, if you ever have the chance, it's worth it to head out to the Yokohama Beer Festival. It's always on the weekend of the first national holiday in September, and it's not cheap (I think tickets were almost 5,000 yen at the door) and it's awkwardly timed (the Monday/National Holiday hours are 12:30-4:30) which is not the best as you manage to get your hangover before you go to bed, but it's got an absolute cornucopia of Japanese microbreweries.

For non-Japan folks, the thing is, homebrewing is illegal here. Or, you can brew your own, but it has to be less than 1% alcohol. A friend of my disbelieved me that Tokyu Hands was selling a brew your own kit because of the law, and when he saw it, he checked the box. There was a big sticker telling the potential buyer that, due to Japanese law, please skip steps X and Y.

Because of that, you've got roughly five beers on the national market, Sapporo, Asahi, Kirin, Suntory, and Yebisu, which is a premium beer. They're crazy, crazy expensive, due to taxes on the amount of malt, like nearly $3 a can for a beer. As Koku-Ryu mentioned, there's happoshu (about $2 per can, swill, gets you drunk, loaded with sugar and chemicals) and 3rd category (happosei), one of the major brands of which is brewed from peas. Yes. Peas. At your average supermarket, there really wasn't much else out there, until last year, after the earthquake. A lot of major breweries were damaged (one of the main Asahi breweries supplying Tokyo, I believe, was a near total loss, in terms of equipment), but demand was still high. Suddenly, microbrews started showing up in supermarkets and convenience stores. Ginga Kogen, Coedo, and Yona Yona suddenly had a decent foothold, as well as an increase in foreign beers. It's still stupid spendy, but you can get some really, really nice beer now.

If you've got a chance, I highly recommend, in no particular order, Minowa Brewery (their stout was the best beer I had at the festival), Michinoku Fukushima (their red ale is probably going to be the first beer I order online), Ibaraki's Hitachino Nest Beer (available in the States, evidently, they have an amazing espresso stout, and their white and red ales are a treat, but their 80 stout is awesome), and, well, the hard to find, stupidly expensive Okutama no Megumi pale ale. It's about $7 for a pint bottle, but it's wonderful, wonderful beer. That said, I don't mind Sapporo, or the Kirin Autumn, and Yebisu makes some delicious, if spendy beer. They're even expanding, and now pretty much each major brewery also offers a stout (with varying levels of success). But happoshu? Third Category? It's literally not even beer.

I'm sad to hear about Goose Island, since my cousin force fed me some awhile back. It was delicious.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:25 AM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


spock: "People who are hung up about "beer snobs" (or any kind of "snob") are probably intimidated and insecure in a lot of other areas of their life also. It says a lot more about what's going on between their ears than it does about the person interested/educated in what they are consuming."

Exactly! Man, I've been saying this about people who don't use vi for years.
posted by vanar sena at 2:51 AM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


You drive a hummer or a brutally large truck, great. I drove a Checker Marathon for years. And yeah, you drive those things around, that's a statement in itself. But I can't recall meeting anyone in those realms who would step up to others or get into conversations, and literally insult the other non-driving-that people for not driving their type of vehicle.

I envy the shit out of you for never spending time around people who consider the question of "Ford or Chevy?" to be a religious matter.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:04 AM on November 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


brewing light beers actually requires a great deal of craftsmanship

No argument about craftsmanship, but this is kind of a thin (pardon the pun) argument. It reminds me of seeing some crappy horror movie or romcom or tedious drama and being really impressed with the special effects or the costuming or the set design. There's a lot of talented people involved. I'm sure the head chef of McDonalds is a properly renowned in his/her field. In the end, the final product is nothing you want to experience again.
posted by zardoz at 3:19 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it was called "MacEwan's Double Bock" or some such. I'm sure it was MacEwan's.

MacEwan's Champion?
posted by run"monty at 3:36 AM on November 5, 2012


I noticed something weird in the liquor store the other day. Ommegang, a New York brewery which brews Belgian-style beers, was purchased by an actual Belgian brewery (Duvel) in 2003.

That said, Duvel is a mighty fine beer, once you get over the 8.5ABV.
posted by fifthrider at 3:42 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I worked at Scottish and Newcastle who used to have the rights to sell Becks in the UK. Back then the killer marketing point for the brand was considered to be the small size of the bottles: drinkers appreciated they could credibly ask for a 275ml bottle as part of a drinks round. If challenged they could take the Reinheitsgebot blah blah blah high ground- but the truth was that the technique helped them avoid getting as shit-faced as their mates who were drinking 568ml pints. The drinker would actually be paying more for his or her drink by volume - but they did not seem to mind - and of course nor did the publican, distributor and brewer. That was the attraction of selling Beck's and everybody was happy.

Large brewers in most countries seem to be happy in the practice of brewing "foreign" beers locally and simply implying to their customers that they come from overseas. They may even manage to introduce varying recipes for the same branded beer in different countries. In the US the extra step of calling a premium-priced German beer "imported" when it comes from Canada seems to take the deception to a new level.

In the past Beck's has been quite cleverly marketed: target people who have "opinion forming" interests like contemporary art and then get them to promote the drink to the same people they bore with tales of gallery openings - for example. The problem for InBev is that those same people will delight in telling their wide circles friends to avoid the brand if they feel that it has been watered down, over priced and dishonestly sold.
posted by rongorongo at 3:56 AM on November 5, 2012


Ommegang, a New York brewery which brews Belgian-style beers

For what it's worth, Ommegang contacted many small LI breweries in the wake of last week's storm, offering their excess brewing capacity, materials, storage, and so forth. So, foreign masters or not, they're interested in supporting and maintaining the NY beer scene, which is alright by me.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:00 AM on November 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


I don't quite understand the people saying they can't really taste the different between a Belgian Trappist beer and a light larger. It's completely acceptable to drink light beers, and to dislike those who like to sermonise about beers, but saying, essentially, "it's all the same" has me flummoxed. The difference in flavour between the two beer types above is extremely pronounced. Not "beer-snob" pronounced but more "basic flavours" pronounced. It's like saying you cannot taste the difference between tea and coffee.

Perhaps I'm just taking oppositional posturing too seriously.
posted by distorte at 4:02 AM on November 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Someone recommend me some girly-man flavorful, tasty beers?

You might want to try Leinenkeugel's Summer Shandy or Berry Shandy ( particularly the latter if you like Lambics). The only thing is that they are seasonals (though I'm still seeing some dwindling supplies on the shelves as of this weekend).
posted by KingEdRa at 4:18 AM on November 5, 2012


I'm a teetotaler, though I'm not a puritanical one. Back in my wayward youth, I used to nurse a Bartles & Jaymes all night at Lost & Found because I was then too insecure to carry around my signature drink (a dirty Shirley Temple with extra cherries) and you needed a physical object in a packed gay bar to create a grope-barrier at times. I pretend-smoked for the same reason, carrying around a lit Benson & Hedges Menthol Lite 100 at all times that I dutifully tapped clean as the ash built up and gestured grandly, being careful not to get too hypnotized by the lovely way that the blue smoke would trace out sinuous strands and curls in the air that evoked the sensation of riding with my grandmother in her souped-up Camaro in happier times.

I don't get it, though. I had my first drink at the Pyramid at fifteen, served to my obviously underaged self by a bartender while a man with stupendous hair slouched around nearby. It was 1983, my sister lived in a tiny apartment located next to Veniero's on E. 11th in the Village, and I was privy to a world of coolness that was almost unimaginable back in farmland Maryland.

"Jenny, is that guy famous?" I asked, holding my as-yet-untouched rum & coke, made with dark rum, and gesturing at the man with stupendous hair.

"Yeah, that's John Sex."

"What's he famous for?"

"Hair, mostly."

"Oh."

I took a long sip of the rum & coke, trying to savor my first alcohol, rendered palatable by the inclusion of cola, and was impressed only in how quickly it gave me a sort of tingly sensation at the very tip of my penis, though I did not mention this to my sister. I did, however, immediately need to pee, and the following sensation was of being in that sleepy state of bedtime wishy-washiness when you're trying desperately to keep reading and listening to Parliament on your cassette clock radio despite the wee hour. Wee. I excused myself.

Back in those days, my sister's indolent, alienating new friends, who seemed to spend all their time working on an abandoned Puerto Rican theater they were renovating into a theater to be dedicated to the works of Albert Jarry. While my sister microfilmed documents in a dark room near the top of the World Trade Center, I'd do my best to slouch around with her friends in as cool a manner as I could manage, and they'd generally have fancy conversations that I could not understand at all until they ran out of pot or beer.

"Hey, Joe-Joe," said Moonlight, a sort of half-Rastafarian who regularly complained about white people, but who seemed to be at least professionally fond of me, "How 'bout you go'n down'n get us a case of Beck's?" He handed over a few sweat-soaked bills, I walked through the alarming streets of NYC to an alarming liquor store and purchased a case of what I was asked to buy—Beck's Dark. Always Dark. Don't get it wrong now, little cracker man.

I returned to find my sister's half-sexy, half-upsetting boyfriend waiting with Moonlight, toying with a dildo he'd found in the walls in the theater there. They each took a beer, opened it with the openers that were on the keychain of every New Yorker I'd met so far, and the half-upsetting boyfriend fired up a Djarum.

"Have a beer, Joe-Beee," he said, misusing my secret family nickname. I took one, but beer makes me do that pinched squinty face with a shiver like a little girl bravely trying a french fry with malt vinegar, and I tried not to make the face, but I made the face. The two purveyors of the arts laughed hoarse, hearty laughs at my expense.

"You prob'ly do betta wit' de leaf, man," Moonlight said, offering up a rolled joint, but I was still fifteen and convinced the marijuana would convince me I could fly and cause me to leap off the school gym. Seriously—I saw the afterschool specials.

"No thank you, Mr. Moonlight."

I never learned to like it. Mind you, as I'd skulk around the gay bars of DC, even during my brief career as the city's most gleefully missing-the-point stripper, I loved the smell of beer. There was something about having a handsome guy with a bit of beer breath yelling into your ear in one of those conversations you have around the cacophonous periphery of the dance floor before you'd retire to the comfort of the luggage area of your Datsun station wagon to fuck a Marine, but actually drinking it gave me the little girl vinegar face every time, so I stuck to my faggy wine coolers and my fake smoking.

I have developed the discipline to drink a beer with a minimal vinegar face, but I'd still rather drink vinegar, particularly if it's a finely aged balsamic.

My brother and his family recently returned to Maryland after living in glorious Chicago and then unglorious South Bend for fifteen years, and his regular complaint is the absence of microbrew worth a shit, to use his dismissive parlance. When called upon to buy beer for a gathering, I tend to fall for the labels and the little handwritten cards at the enormous liquor store at the edge of town, but it all tastes roughly the same to me, and I just don't understand the compulsion to drink something that makes you get that feeling of bedtime wishy-washiness and makes you pee. Hell, at least with pot, you don't have the pee and calories, but—

My father, in his last decade, became an alcoholic. His was at least a literary alcoholism, in that he looked exactly like Santa Claus and solely drank gin, which made his breath smell of Christmas trees, but as our family business was beginning its ghastly, terrifying collapse in the wake of embezzlement and betrayal by a treasured deputy, he was swaying around the office with Prokofiev blaring. I saw terrible things then, and did things that were seen as betrayals, too, and organized his intervention, which worked, but made me the bad guy for a substantial fraction of his last years.

On a business trip to San Francisco, he went to an AA meeting populated entirely by drag queens, and was so buoyed by the experience of that one meeting that he drove out of his way to attend an AA group in DC that was also populated entirely by drag queens.

"Those amazons really get it, son. They're good folks," he said, and did not drink again in his life until he opened the paper one morning and fell over dead in the room at the office where I had worked for eight years.

In the apartment building he once owned, which I continue to occupy and maintain, I still find little plastic bottles of Beefeater tucked into the joists and rafters and behind loose bricks. In the cabin I inherited in West Virginia, there's a Brooks Brothers three-piece suit in a metal cabinet that he kept for when he'd go to the little church in Orleans Crossroads. Out of curiosity, I pulled it out, tried it on, and was reminded that my father was shorter than me, and there was a lump in a pocket. Reached in, and found another gin bottle.

Oh, for fuck's sake.

Mind you, I don't get lesbian sex, sports, American cars, Everybody Loves Raymond, church, neckties, clothes dryers, or any number of other popular concepts, either, but I dunno. My brother and sister drink like normal people, without issues, for the most part, but me—well, there's always this question of what the point is to drinking beyond the taste, which, of course, gives me vinegar face or an opportunity to demonstrate my mighty composure in resisting vinegar face. Are we all so uptight? I know I am, but I'm okay with uptight, and bravado goes a long, long way.

Mileage may vary. My ex used to brew his own beer, and watching the process was amazing, and complex and wonderful and cool, and his ales and whatever special kind of brews he came up with smelled lovely and made amazing stock for my most kick-ass of stews, but I still find drinking the stuff a chore. At a metafilter meet-up I held in my giant novelty clocktower, I sampled a homebrew from a "growler" brought in by a favorite mefite, and I approached it with a sort of clinical detachment to explore the web of tastes it contained, and had a pleasant moment entirely free of vinegar face, but even still, it's always going to be something other people enjoy, and which mystifies me.

I wonder sometimes how much our tastes are the product of all the history and trauma involved in the way our lives play out. My brother and sister-in-law continue to look for what they consider good beer in the orbit of DC, and I have a slightly defensive response based on my incomplete theory that Maryland is the best place in the world even though I know it almost certainly isn't. In the end, I have to watch it all like lesbian porn, squinting at the scene and thinking, well, they appear to be enjoying themselves, but

Oop—here comes the vinegar face.

Of course, my cocktail of choice is the Parisette, because if I'm going to carry a drink around a party, it's damn well going to be an elegant goblet of pink milk on ice. Heck, I even got them to make me a decent Parisette at my beloved Hala Kahiki, which I fear I'll never see again now that I've got no safe harbor in Chicago.

Parisette snobbery could well become my thing. Do they make artisanal grenadine?
posted by sonascope at 4:44 AM on November 5, 2012 [38 favorites]


Sorry jscott, but from the sound of it beer isn't the problem, terrible people is the problem.

I'm a massive beer snob, not because I have some inflated sense of myself, hell I'm drinking terrible box wine right now, but because after drinking good beers, whether that be IPA, stout, porter, hefenweisen, saison, etc, your average Australian draft lager tastes like dirty water.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 4:51 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Last year, Coors Light surpassed Budweiser to become America’s No. 2 beer. (Bud Light remains No. 1.)

The horror. The horror.
posted by modernnomad at 4:54 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sonascope, please take that comment and turn it into a novel. Because god damn that is an amazing bit of writing.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 4:57 AM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


So, foreign masters or not, they're interested in supporting and maintaining the NY beer scene, which is alright by me.

Duvel-Moortgat is generally acknowledged as one of the best-run companies in Belgium, and is renowned for its local touch. The founding family is still very much involved in the daily running of the brewery. They love and respect their product, which is more than can be said of another large beer-brewing company that happens to be incorporated in Belgium.
posted by Skeptic at 4:58 AM on November 5, 2012


My favourite beer would have to be Tsingtao. It tastes the way beer should taste.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:43 AM on 11/5


Although sadly Tsingtao is also open to the same problem. HK Tsingtao isn't as good as mainland Tsingtao.
posted by awfurby at 5:08 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do they make artisanal grenadine?

Course they do. There's a whole new hipster market for oldey times, artisanal lemonades and other non-alcoholic drinks just as complex and bewildering as the microbrew scene.

(And Hello, I'm David McGahan is right; killer comment.)
posted by MartinWisse at 5:26 AM on November 5, 2012


I'm a massive beer snob, not because I have some inflated sense of myself, hell I'm drinking terrible box wine right now,

It is very nice to crack open some box wine at the end of the working day on Friday, and drink it throughout the weekend. My god, I love booze (in moderate amounts). It's bedtime in Japan at the moment, and I'm drinking Kirin Lager Classic.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:30 AM on November 5, 2012


Oh man, Low Rent Lager has it's place.

I brew at home (in fact, just got done bottling a batch of my beloved, and dearly missed Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale), buy stupidly expensive beer, and I'm even a specialty-beer buyer for a boutique food-shop... I like the stuff, and even keep a couple of barleywines cellared and conditioned from different years past....

But plop me down in front of a bowl of phở or ramen? Pabst all the way. How about a Schlitz? Perfect.
posted by furnace.heart at 5:32 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm more of an ale drinker, and the real Czech Budweiser is one of the few lagers that I like. It's a great beer that isn't bitter or watery.
posted by jb at 5:40 AM on November 5, 2012


Do they make artisanal grenadine?

Yes! No. 28. Combine with some of this and made with imported these (or make your own).
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:54 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm most of the way through a long weekend now. My liver is positively glowering at me. It is playing with a flick knife.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 5:55 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


my beloved, and dearly missed Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale

Did they stop making it? The website says it is current, and I could have sworn I saw it in the store just a few days ago. I don't buy it often, but it's nice beer.

I've never had alcohol. I don't drink wine, beer, mead, whatever. Never have.

As mentioned above, this is the equivalent to "I've never even kissed anyone, but let me tell you about the right way to do it..."

Mostly, it's kind of odd that you keep meeting beer snobs. I feel like I've met a lot more coffee snobs and wine snobs and food snobs than I have beer snobs, but maybe I run in the wrong circles. And with all of them, you can either roll with it and ask questions ("No, really, tell me more about your ideas about how wine should taste that you read in a magazine, please") or you can sidestep it, or even provoke them a bit ("I've always preferred Velveeta myself"), just like any other conversational oddity.
posted by Forktine at 5:55 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, if you're a bit defensive already, which as a teetotaler in an alcohol drinking group I can well understand, it might just be that genuine enthusiasm to share in the pleasures of proper beer might be mistaken for sneering?

There is of course some undercurrent of echt-snobbery in beer geek circles and far too many people who take pride in making and drinking expensive, limited appeal beers *cough*brewdog*cough* who'd rather the great unwashed didn't discover the joys of, the better to feel superior to them, but that's the case with any sort of aspirational hobby.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:03 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did they stop making it? The website says it is current, and I could have sworn I saw it in the store just a few days ago. I don't buy it often, but it's nice beer.

Nah, I moved out of their distribution zone, and to the Northeast, about a year ago. There are some pretty good beers up here (Maine), but sweet Jesus, prices are significantly higher for similarly-quality beers.

The folks at Deschutes are so nice, because they give you a rough-outline of each of their beers hidden in their Homebrew section on their website...If you know what you're doing (or monkey around enough) you can get some pretty solid stuff, very similar to their own brews.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:07 AM on November 5, 2012


Outside of the online realm, I have been at perfectly normal dinners, small gatherings, and informal clumps of people where otherwise reasonable, interesting people have berated, dismissed, and flat-out turned away from folks who were either drinking, ordering a drink, or mentioned a drink not up to the otherwise reasonable, interesting person's standards.

I drink. I drink a lot. Usually in the company of other people: in large parties, small parties, birthday parties, wedding receptions, BBQ's and church fundraisers. I drink in bars - in airports, in Spain and Italy and on cruise ships and up the street during baseball, football and hockey games, or just because a buddy was in town. Sports bars, irish pubs, hipster hangouts, blue collar watering holes, art galleries and outright dives.

I have never seen this behavior.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:07 AM on November 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


I didn't start drinking beer until I lived in China, which was roughly age 23 or so. We made about $100 a month to start, and cocktails were out of the question, since a bottle of gin or vodka was the equivalent of $10. I might be a lush, but spending 10% or more of my monthly income on alcohol is a line I was unwilling to cross, so I tried the local beer, whose name I never learned. The label was all in kanji, except for the word, in bold red ink, "FRESH." It was absolutely awful. It was also roughly 15 cents for a 750 ml bottle, or five bucks for a case of 24 bottles (affectionately known as an instant house party). I liked drinking, but couldn't afford anything good, so I learned to like swill, and I choose to believe that swill is the best beer to start with. If you learn to drink something like, say, Milwaukee's Best, you've got nowhere to go but up. Any good beer will be an outright revelation to your mouth. If you were to start with a beautifully crafted ale or stout, if you were weaned on only the finest, then there's nowhere to go but down. I don't begrudge people their beer choices (aside from the happoshu I mentioned upthread, seriously, just take slugs of shochu, it's cheaper, stronger, and doubles as a disinfectant), but I also don't mind making suggestions. "Oh, hey, you like that beer? Have you tried this one? I think you might like it too." isn't, as far as I can tell, a dickish thing to say.

A fun note about China (at least the China of 1999-2000, which probably only exists in my dreams anymore): every locality had it's own brand of beer, as well as local cigarettes. I don't smoke, but I loved trying out any local beer I could find. The hands down best I found was in Dali, Yunnan Province. Tasted not unlike honey. Beer, but definitely honey. Not sweet, but... damn. Thirteen years, and I still miss that beer.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:28 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do they make artisanal grenadine?

Oh, yes. I mean, you wouldn't want to drink that commercial swill, would you? It's all full of artificial colorings and HFCS and isn't even made with pomegranates at all, why, you might as well just invite Wilford Brimley over and take turns blowing lines of corn sugar until your blood congeals into pancake syrup.

No, no. Enter the world of homemade/artisinal cocktail mixers.

Just wait until you see what the bitters people are up to.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:33 AM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


How many craft brewers make a cheap and cheerful American style lager? It's all very well saying that if you're disappointed in Becks, try your local indy brewer, but if those are making $10 Imperial Stouts and $5 overhopped IPAs, you're going to be disappointed if all you want is a nicer Budweiser.

You're missing the point. There's no reason to make a craft Budweiser clone. It's difficult to pull off quality-wise and would come in at a pricepoint above the real thing. No one who would buy Bud would buy it. The craft brewers exist because they make something that isn't Bud, that is either only available imported or (increasingly) something different that's not available elsewhere.
posted by tommasz at 6:36 AM on November 5, 2012


Coors Light got the most stringent attention to quality

"Yer wastin' more energy than Ricky Martin's girlfriend!"
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:41 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I go to the Bar, I pick something I have never drank and try it out. There you go, that's nice.
posted by NiteMayr at 6:46 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, Ommegang contacted many small LI breweries in the wake of last week's storm, offering their excess brewing capacity, materials, storage, and so forth. So, foreign masters or not, they're interested in supporting and maintaining the NY beer scene, which is alright by me.

I didn't know, and it's good to hear. They make a fine, fine product, and deserve support, no matter who their ultimate superiors are.

I visited their brewery the week before last, for the second time. They're growing like a weed out there, but for all that success, are staying true to their original vision. It was good to see.

Even if they now welcome bus tours, which totally jam up the cafe. Although it was nice to see a bunch of huge jocks at the next table over getting very sleepy-eyed, not having the tolerance for proper Belgian ales. And to the guy in the 'Property of Miller Lite Athletics' t-shirt? Dude, you were in the wrong place. But I guess you found that out.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:50 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Was in Shanghai a few years back. Being shown around by local officials. We kept going to nice tourist restaurants. I kept nudging my driver, a low level government worker, to take me to a local place with lots of spicy food. Finally, one day, while the rest of the group was being taken to some fancy lunch place, me, our driver and two others went to the local joint. He orders for us and tells the server to make it spicy. Server asks what I want to drink in halting English. I said cold beer.

While we're snobbing it up about taste and regionalism, I want to point out that classically Shanghai food is sweet, salty and oily, not spicy. I had some excellent spicy food when I worked in Shanghai lo these many years ago, but it was from the Szechuanese man who ran a noodle stall close to campus. Oh, Shanghai food! The finest food in all of mainland China, and very hard to find in the US. Those were happy times indeed -a jian bing for breakfast, a couple of vegetable bao from the campus bao guy for lunch, or maybe some noodle soup with spicy potatoes and hot oil and then a big plate of homestyle tofu for dinner. Good times for a lot of people - the boom was starting but massive inequality hadn't set in yet, a feeling that things were getting better rather than worse. Even foreign teachers made decent local money but not the offensive and ridiculous amounts that came later.

I only ever drank Reeb ("It's beer spelled backwards!") and that infrequently - a thin and unimpressive beer, but local.
posted by Frowner at 6:56 AM on November 5, 2012


Since moving back to North America I have noticed this tendency in almost every product. In the UK if you buy a pair of Saucony Progrids you get a pair of Saucony Progrids. No matter what the source you get the same shoe and the same quality construction. But not in America. Here you get the Saucony Progrids that were made for that level of distribution. If you buy at an outlet you will get outlet quality. If you buy from Amazon you have no idea what you are getting. If you buy from a good running story you get the best ones. I no longer trust any brand running shoe. You just can't know what you are getting anymore.

Manufactures are segmenting the hell out of their markets and milking their brands for every penny they can with what seems like a total focus on profit now. I used to think this was short-sighted and that they were destroying any brand reputation for quality that they used have but I now think it might be a recognition of the impeding collapse of the consumer. The systematic lowering of quality instead reflects the decline of the middle class and a shift to selling to people who actually exist now and will in the future.
posted by srboisvert at 7:06 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wish there was a sort of regional Rosetta stone of beer: I could look up, say, Surly Furious and find out the closest equivalent in the area where I now live.

The problem with a rich variety of small breweries is that they're small. It seems obvious that humble, straightforward brews (e.g., Grain Belt Premium) should have an analog in almost every market, but I don't want to do the experimentation (a.k.a. "slumming") to find out what it is.

Who can best make these suggestions? Drinkers? The brewers themselves?
posted by wenestvedt at 7:14 AM on November 5, 2012


I look forward to the day teetotalism becomes the hip new thing, and beer snobs are one-upped by people asking, "Is this something I'd have to drink to understand?"
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:14 AM on November 5, 2012


I have never seen this behavior.

Me, neither. I feel like I'm missing out on something. I've spent a bit of time around some serious food and wine and beer people, people who make these things for a living, or who sell them for a living and make them at home on the side, people who know food and wine and beer. Briefly, and for a specific subdomain of food (cheese), I might even have been one of them.

I don't think I've ever seen a beer "snob" turn up their nose at an offered beer. I've seen them choose the local craft beer over the Rolling Rock when offered a choice, but can't think of a time I've seen anyone do more than express a preference. I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, and maybe I've just been lucky to spend time with the sort of folks who understand that food and drink are not just ends in themselves but also an important part of hospitality, but the idea of the beer snob telling his host, "oh GOD, you're offering me BUDWEISER?" is pretty foreign to me.

I kind of feel like, if your friends try make you feel bad about the kind of beer you drink, you need better friends. And if you feel bad because people around you express a preference for something, or try to convince you that some product is better than some other product, that's on you.
posted by gauche at 7:34 AM on November 5, 2012


I think it was called "MacEwan's Double Bock" or some such.

You're probably thinking of McEwan's Scotch Ale.
posted by stp123 at 7:35 AM on November 5, 2012


Given a choice, I prefer Lowenbrau. Brewed in Munich, and now also owned by AB/InBev. It has a nice blue label, almost the same shade as MetaFilter blue, actually.
posted by ovvl at 7:47 AM on November 5, 2012


Imagine my shock when I tried to find Budweiser Bürgerbräu in the U.S. only to realize it was being brewed in Newark!
posted by deathpanels at 7:58 AM on November 5, 2012


I was reading sonascope's comment thinking with dread that he actually hated my beer, but then I saw this:

At a metafilter meet-up I held in my giant novelty clocktower, I sampled a homebrew from a "growler" brought in by a favorite mefite, and I approached it with a sort of clinical detachment to explore the web of tastes it contained, and had a pleasant moment entirely free of vinegar face

:-)
posted by exogenous at 8:06 AM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


KokuRyu: "I realize I may be outing myself as a total dilettante to actual, manly, red-blooded beer drinkers here if I haven't already, but I really, really like Czechvar, 1664, and Flacon d'Alsace.

The wife and I went to Budejovice, and on the hottest day of the year, got to taste real Budweiser right out of the aging tank. Having grown up in St. Louis with Czech blood in my veins (Czech immigrants are the reason Adolphus Busch started making what he called Budweiser), I finally understood what AB was trying (and failing) to do.

But in our house, beer is really only a summer-time drink - now we're onto wine."

I know you don't like sweet beer, but try something like a Wee Heavy - only let it age for a good long while.
posted by notsnot at 8:18 AM on November 5, 2012


Oh, Shanghai food! The finest food in all of mainland China

I must now challenge you to internets fisticuffs for you have besmirched the honor of Chengdu's deliciousness.
posted by elizardbits at 8:47 AM on November 5, 2012


AB InBev continues to make changes to hallowed brands and try the patience of traditionalists with inventions like Michelob Ultra Dragon Fruit Peach.

That's the real crime here?

* changing hallowed brands
* Michelob Ultra Dragon Fruit Peach

I'm kinda glad to know there's a MUDFP out there. I might try it one day.

How does this destroy "America's Beer"?

I read the article pretty quick but I don't get it. At all.

... goes back and reads comments ... OK, looks like we got it on comment #1. ;)

But plop me down in front of a bowl of phở or ramen? Pabst all the way. How about a Schlitz? Perfect.

Agreed. What'd they call the 22? The bullet? Perfect for big fat bowl of soup. They're also good as a 3rd (or 4th or 5th) beer. I had a Pabst last night, along with a Stone and a Racer 5.

Any beer article that references "America's Beer" and does not mention "Pabst" or "Old Milwaukee" raises an eyebrow.

While I'll miss Bass and Boddingtons, I'll drown my sorrows with a Magic Hat #9.

Magic Hat is interesting - it's really taken off across America with what seems like a very large promotional campaign. I think I saw it in a Kroger's in Louisville KY. I figured it was a Bud stealth brand, but it's North American Breweries, which also makes Gennesee, which I think supplies a lot of the generic beer in supermarkets (and now Labatt's), and which of course, also makes the most excellent Big Dog High Gravity. ... Damn, it's crizappy!

Anyway, I like Magic Hat not quite IPA too (despite a fairly atrocious Web site). It's sweet, but nice on a hot day. Cheers.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:03 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Real Ale Brewing Company
Handcrafted Ales from the Texas Hill Country
Nice selection.
posted by bjgeiger at 9:04 AM on November 5, 2012


You're missing the point. There's no reason to make a craft Budweiser clone.

I think you missed my point, or more likely I didn't state it well enough. There were a couple of LOLBecksBetterdrinkCraftBeer comments and what I was trying to say was that it's well and good to promote microbrews, but that these are not quite what you need if you just want a better lager.

You need something like Sam Adams or whatever, a decent independent commercial brewer's lager, not some hopped to the eyeballs IPA with equally eye watering price.

(For instance, that part of the family that drinks beer these days drinks Warsteiner, a perfectly decent if boring pilsner made by an independent German brewer, a couple of steps up from Heineken. Perfect as a session beer as you can drink it all evening while having a BBQ without getting shitfaced, but not something you'd drink for the great flavour. Meanwhile my dad, who for most of his life has been drinking wine and sherry, has recently discovered dark beers where he's literally going by the colour of the beer to decide whether or not to get it. As long as it tastes a bit sweet and sticky he's happy, so he drinks Belgian dubbels and tripels and doesn't care which brand it is.)
posted by MartinWisse at 9:05 AM on November 5, 2012


Defenestration
posted by mrgrimm at 9:11 AM on November 5, 2012


brewing light beers actually requires a great deal of craftsmanship

This is true, but just because something is difficult doesn't make it worthwhile.


Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:15 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


wenestvedt: "I wish there was a sort of regional Rosetta stone of beer: I could look up, say, Surly Furious and find out the closest equivalent in the area where I now live.

The problem with a rich variety of small breweries is that they're small. It seems obvious that humble, straightforward brews (e.g., Grain Belt Premium) should have an analog in almost every market...
"

The REALLY cool thing about small breweries is that you can read a thread like this, and guess where people live without having to click through to the profile page. (I'm willing to bet money you live within 15 miles of me.)

What I do is simple: Wherever I go, I ask the people behind the bar what's brewed locally. Sometimes they point to a beer that's a known quantity to me, other times they suggest something I've never heard of. But it's always fun to try. Other times I run across good beers quite by accident: Such as the "Duck Rabbit" I picked up in North Carolina based on the weird name, or the time I stopped for gas in Wisconsin and discovered New Glarus...

(And with respect to beer snobs, I understand the frustration with people trying to force their tastes down your throat. But it's so much fun when people straight ASK you to give them suggestions. I will never forget the day my little brother called me up and said "I finally realized [at age 35] that Miller Lite just... sucks. What SHOULD I be drinking?" That was a fun conversation, and now a few years later, he's calling me up and telling ME "Hey, you have to try this one!" so there was significant return on that investment.)
posted by caution live frogs at 9:17 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


(On preview: Ah, wrong on the geography! But I sure as heck know you must have LIVED near the Twin Cites in the past...)
posted by caution live frogs at 9:19 AM on November 5, 2012


I would personally like to thank my husband and Quebec for showing me that beer can be delicious and savored once I moved up here. (I was a Miller High Life junkie for many years. Mostly because it's a price a poor barista can afford when looking to get shitfaced.)

Quebec beers have moved me way up the beer bracket and now when I go home to the States, I look for equally delicious beers instead of reverting to my gross standby.
posted by Kitteh at 9:23 AM on November 5, 2012


(On preview: Ah, wrong on the geography! But I sure as heck know you must have LIVED near the Twin Cites in the past...)

No, Rhode Islanders just like to drink a lot. There are almost as many package stores as Dunkin' Donuts franchises. Can't buy beer at convenience stores or supermarkets around here, and there are also limits on the number of liquor stores you can own. So, the package stores all make their own buying decisions, and we get weird stuff from Hawaii and Minnesota and Estonia (9%abv, sold in plastic 1.5l bottles.)

To derail the derail, we call them package stores because until recent decades, you couldn't use the word "liquor" or the term for any other alcoholic beverage in your store name if you had a liquor license - so they were called Package Stores (Packys) or if they're real old, Pharmacies. Some still are pharmacies, like up on Hope St. in Providence. During Prohibition in RI, you could buy beer or brandy, if you had a prescription for it. Everyone had prescriptions. It kept the breweries in business...
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:48 AM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


You aren't just kidding Kitteh. For example Unibroue makes some superb stuff (Maudite is my fav.) In fact, if you go to a Trader Joe's and look at their tall brown bottle TJ beer that should be in stores (seasonally) right about now (don't have one locally to check unfortunately) look at the cap on the top. If it has the Unibroue "U" on it, it is one heck of a bargain.
posted by spock at 9:50 AM on November 5, 2012


My only sad is that we have some amazing local microbreweries but they don't bottle. Sometimes I just want to enjoy their yummy stuff at home without being at the bar.
posted by Kitteh at 9:58 AM on November 5, 2012


But in our house, beer is really only a summer-time drink - now we're onto wine.

Try some belgian christmas beers. I'd drink them all year round if they were available and I was swimming in cash.
posted by srboisvert at 10:02 AM on November 5, 2012


In fact, if you go to a Trader Joe's and look at their tall brown bottle TJ beer that should be in stores (seasonally) right about now (don't have one locally to check unfortunately) look at the cap on the top.

Sigh. I hate when people remind me that you can buy beer (and wine) at Trader Joe's in other (post prohibition) states.
posted by octothorpe at 10:15 AM on November 5, 2012


Sometimes I just want to enjoy their yummy stuff at home without being at the bar.

I feel your pain, and you my friend, need a kegerator. Oftentimes craft brewers will sell smaller half-kegs. At laughingly low prices when you break it out by the per-pint cost. Kegs are not just for parties. Promise.

Woo! Bulk Beer!
posted by furnace.heart at 10:17 AM on November 5, 2012


Kitteh: "My only sad is that we have some amazing local microbreweries but they don't bottle. Sometimes I just want to enjoy their yummy stuff at home without being at the bar."

One word: growlers. One of my local microbrews even makes a mini-growler that fits in a bike water-bottle cage.
posted by notsnot at 10:19 AM on November 5, 2012


The Lion sells growlers, but Siboire and BoqueBiere do not.
posted by Kitteh at 10:23 AM on November 5, 2012


For those of you wanting a crisp microbrew lager, two that come to mind are New Belgium (of Fat Tire fame) Skinny Dip, and Lagunitas Pils.

I like a lot of crafty beers but I agree that many smaller brewers tend to more extreme flavors, bitterness, alcohol %, etc. I'm happy to live in a region where Sierra Nevada is on every tap. It's the Bud of the Bay Area.
posted by scelerat at 11:39 AM on November 5, 2012


One time I showed up at a party, and got yelled at because it was a 12 of Budweiser.

Then I said "fuck you, I brought you beer."

True story.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:18 PM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Backlash is perhaps because some people become terrific bores about beer when they get into craft beer or microbrewing.
posted by thelonius at 12:57 PM on November 5, 2012


(caution live frogs, I grew up in St. Paul but I moved away from the Cities right before I turned 21. So while I have tasted Special Export -- a.k.a. "Green Death" -- and lived, I now only drink MN beer when visiting family. And as a grown up, that means I get to drink good beer. Oh, sure, a case of Preemies at the lake, but pitchers of Summit in St. Paul, and Surly or Lift Bridge or Schell's while at the Blue Door. And I have a surprising variety of Blue Door memorabilia at my house -- possibly the biggest collection on the Eastern seaboard -- courtesy of it being the one place I am now sure to visit while in Minnesota every summer.)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:59 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those of you wanting a crisp microbrew lager, two that come to mind are New Belgium (of Fat Tire fame) Skinny Dip, and Lagunitas Pils.

Oddly enough New Belgium is currently doing something similar to what the article talks about, they've got plans to open up a new brewery out in North Carolina. The new brew-house is going to be funded partially on the public dime. Which is something the owner and founder of Lagunitas did not like. Also, if you pick up a bottle of Elysian in Colorado there's a good chance you're getting one contract brewed by New Belgium. Fat Tire's changed quite a bit in the last 5-10 years as well.

Generally it's not that hard to find a good lager. Most medium and bigger craft breweries have one. The issue is mainly that a traditional lager takes up space in the thanks for longer than an ale, so it uses more resources for the same amount of money. Personally, I like Left Hand's Polestar Pilsner, but Lagunitas makes good beer all the way around.

If it has the Unibroue "U" on it, it is one heck of a bargain.

You ain't kidding, the painted bottle alone should raise the price a buck or two more than it is right now.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:05 PM on November 5, 2012


caution live frogs: Wherever I go, I ask the people behind the bar what's brewed locally. Sometimes they point to a beer that's a known quantity to me, other times they suggest something I've never heard of. But it's always fun to try.

And -- like the difference between a real traveler and just a tourist -- that is the difference between a snob and a beer-lover. The snob would ask for their favorite, and then sniff when they learn it's not available outside a single day's pony ride of their normal haunts, whereas the beer-lover learns something.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:07 PM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


So, you've seen bar fights erupt because one guy is drinking Bud while the other's drinking Salty Dick's Private Reserve 360 Minute IPA? Or is it mostly an internet squabblefest thing?
----
Outside of the online realm, I have been at perfectly normal dinners, small gatherings, and informal clumps of people where otherwise reasonable, interesting people have berated, dismissed, and flat-out turned away from folks who were either drinking, ordering a drink, or mentioned a drink not up to the otherwise reasonable, interesting person's standards.


Among beer snobs, that behaviour is just known as 'being an asshole'. It seems like the problem isn't with beer snobs, the problem is hanging out with assholes. Something tells me beer is not the exclusive topic of that fellow's assholery.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:31 PM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


For folks who like craft beer, I encourage you to learn to homebrew if you haven't already. Howtobrew.com has some solid advice and the book by the same guy is also very good. If you're careful about sanitation, everything else is fairly easy and the returns on investment are tremendous.

For example, I made a ten gallon batch in the style of Gulden Draak which compared well against the real thing in taste tests (admittedly by my friends and relatives, but still). I used about $50 in ingredients at most, yet the street value of that amount of Guden Draak bought in a restaurant would be over $1000.
posted by exogenous at 1:54 PM on November 5, 2012


For example, I made a ten gallon batch in the style of Gulden Draak which compared well against the real thing in taste tests (admittedly by my friends and relatives, but still). I used about $50 in ingredients at most, yet the street value of that amount of Guden Draak bought in a restaurant would be over $1000.

How much time/work does it take? I'd like to grow my own marijuana too, but I just don't have the time.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:04 PM on November 5, 2012


Starting out I recommend extract brewing which is cheaper in terms of equipment and time, but the ingredients are more expensive. Basically, someone has done the mash already where the malted barely is turned into sweet delicious goodness, and concentrated this "wort" into malt extract. The homebrewer just boils this with hops, cools, and adds yeast. Brew day is maybe three or four hours, wait for fermentation for a couple of weeks, bottle (a couple of hours or so), and wait a about two more weeks for carbonation. Stronger styles benefit from aging.

More advanced all-grain brewing involves doing the mash yourself and extends the brew day by about two hours.

This beginner's kit promo looks like a great deal.
posted by exogenous at 2:13 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Try some belgian christmas beers. I'd drink them all year round if they were available and I was swimming in cash.

Which would you recommend? I tried De Koninck last year, and didn't particularly like it. Apparently Grimbergen is coming out with a winter beer, so I guess I'll try that.

And I have to say, I went to Westvleteren this weekend for the first time,and a great beer like that makes me sad that so many people decide they "don't like beer" based on only having experienced something like bud light.
posted by Karmeliet at 2:33 PM on November 5, 2012


De Koning is a nice beer, but nothing all that special; I used to drink it a lot as a warm up for a night of whisky tasting....

If you want a sort of wine-like beer, Saisons seem to be the way to bet. Or something like this: Undressed bordeaux Flemish red sour ale, ripened in Bordeaux barrels. It tastes like a sour ale at first, then the wine hits you. It was gorgeous.

Or just go for the usual eponyalcoholic trappist beers, the tripels and dubbels and all. Or the whisk(e)y aged stouts and such that are all the rage these days, those'll warm you right up. All the taste with a bit less of the kick...
posted by MartinWisse at 2:43 PM on November 5, 2012


Is lambic a beer? I like a good Belgium peach lambic.
posted by dejah420 at 2:51 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lambic's a very old style of beer.
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:26 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The wife and I went to Budejovice, and on the hottest day of the year, got to taste real Budweiser right out of the aging tank.

A divine brew, like much of Bohemia's bounty. By the time that we were approaching the town of Budejovice, we knew that it was not going to taste anything like American Budweiser. Even if we didn't know by then, we would have been told. We also got to drive by hop fields in Moravia, a wonderful scent.


Defenestration

I hate being reminded of the assassination of Jan Masaryk, the Cold War was ugly enough.


I also hate to say it, but American Becks is gonna sell better than the import. Bremen Becks is a bit on the hoppy side for conventional tastes. As for charging import prices for a domestic, that's not very polite.
posted by ovvl at 3:55 PM on November 5, 2012


Very old in the case of beer recipes, meaning it has passed the test of time to the tune of millennia... this is because Lambic is tasty and awesome.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:49 PM on November 5, 2012


As for charging import prices for a domestic, that's not very polite.

If I had a dollar for each time I went into a bar that had Sam Adams listed under "Imported" rather than "Domestic", I'd be a long way towards making my beer consumption self-funding.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:53 PM on November 5, 2012


jscott: "It's that weird, slippery space in the mind of people that their thing is just so important, that they need to either trash other people not aware of, or not doing, that thing."

MUSIC
posted by Deathalicious at 6:06 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I had a dollar for each time I went into a bar that had Sam Adams listed under "Imported" rather than "Domestic", I'd be a long way towards making my beer consumption self-funding.

The bar I go to most often has their beer divided into "domestic" and "micro" categories. The micros are of course all domestic (except if there are some Canadian beers that sneak in across the border), plus Guiness, Newcastle Brown, and Stella. The bottled Mexican beers, for maximum irony, are put into the "domestic" category.
posted by Forktine at 6:48 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my (excellent) local video store in Victoria, BC, Canadian movies are located in the "foreign" section.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:51 PM on November 5, 2012


Forktine, that's just NAFTA, right there.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:06 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those of you wanting a crisp microbrew lager...

Coney Island is the probably best I've found so far. In the Bay Area, Trumer Pils is frequently found on tap, and is also very good.
posted by mikeand1 at 8:56 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


One More Beer!
posted by homunculus at 12:48 AM on November 6, 2012


I have never seen this behavior.

Bring a six of mainstream lager to a barbecue full of craft brewers. Admit you rather enjoy a frosty Corona with lime when it's 110 outside. Be a straight man and say you really don't like beer at all. Order a Bacardi - no, it's for me. Mix weizen and coke in front of non-Germans. Drink widget ale, cold. Tell people most wine tastes the same to you, so you don't mind the cheap stuff. Wonder out loud whether most wine tasters are scam artists. Drink a stout that isn't Guinness. Drink a particular whisky on the rocks. Or not. Or drink a blend.

If these don't prompt at least one smart arse to share their infinite wisdom with you, you must drink with Buddhist monks or resurrected saints.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:30 AM on November 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bring a six of mainstream lager to a barbecue full of craft brewers.

You gotta admit, though, that'd be kind of a shitty and willfully combative thing to do, right? I mean, come on, said act would pointedly insult their tastes. It'd be like going to the local jazz appreciation society meeting and insisting that they play the Coldplay album you brought along. You may think they're snobs for not wanting to listen to your Coldplay, but really you probably should've just stayed home and listened to your Coldplay. Or gone to the local bar where Coldplay is always on the jukebox, or whatever.

See, wearing your "I'm not a snob so I'm bringing this cheap beer" like a badge of honor is really no better than the worst sort of snobbery, is it? You are doing what snobs do: affirming your self-worth and/or superiority by the material choices you make.

It's all just fucking boring.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:10 AM on November 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


A random barbecue is not the equivalent of a "jazz appreciation society meeting." Come the fuck on.

And it is very odd to assume that anyone bringing PBR or Bud or Miller is doing so out of contrarianism, as though it is inconceivable that someone might prefer lighter beers—even though it would appear on the evidence that millions of people do in fact prefer them.

If you really think that going to a party and bringing the beer of your choice is "shitty and willfully combative" ... I guess I would avoid going to your parties.
posted by enn at 6:04 AM on November 6, 2012


A random barbecue is not the equivalent of a "jazz appreciation society meeting." Come the fuck on.

Thanks, but I'll decline your offer to "come the fuck on". The comment I addressed didn't specify a "random barbecue". It specified "a barbecue full of craft brewers".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:08 AM on November 6, 2012


So the mere presence of people who brew at a barbecue is supposed to turn it into some kind of craft brewing event? Everybody is a homebrewer nowadays. Basically every barbecue has people who make beer at it. I guess in your mind when I go to parties thrown by my friends who make their own clothes, and I'm wearing things that came from a factory, I'm being willfully combative also?
posted by enn at 6:32 AM on November 6, 2012


The level of entitlement it takes to presume that your attendance, as a craft brewer, at an event makes it an event that is all about you and your hobby, and that the other guests are required—simply by your both attending the same event—to go to additional expense and trouble to express their appreciation for your hobby or else they are shitty people, is just mind-blowing.
posted by enn at 6:51 AM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seems pretty clear cut to me that if you're bringing mainstream mass-lager to a barbecue full of craft beer enthusiasts specifically to make a statement, you're being an ass.

Conversely. If you're at the barbecue and somebody brings in some shitty beer, be an adult and keep your mouth shut and avoid drinking it. (This has the marvelous property of solving the problem regardless of the attendee's motives.)

Rocket science this is not.
posted by whittaker at 7:33 AM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bring a six of mainstream lager to a barbecue full of craft brewers.

I have. It was Miller Lite. My brother gave me a tremendous amount of shit over it. This was because I had taunted him for actually buying, with his own money, a 24-rack of Bud Light with Lime earlier in the summer, and revenge is sweet! Then we had grilled sausage and drank beer (I was doing the low-carb thing, and stuck to the Miller Lite) and everyone had a fine time. Someone had brought some "Bud with Clamato", but no-one was man enough to try it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:55 AM on November 6, 2012


If I'm not drinking craft beer, I'm drinking cans of Schaefer, but my guilty pleasure in the summertime is Bud Light Lime. Nothing is more refreshing between games of beach volleyball.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:17 AM on November 6, 2012


See, wearing your "I'm not a snob so I'm bringing this cheap beer" like a badge of honor is really no better than the worst sort of snobbery, is it? You are doing what snobs do: affirming your self-worth and/or superiority by the material choices you make.

Exactly. Pondering "whether wine tasters are scam artists" is merely a different sort of snobbery, perhaps that of the cynic snob, or perhaps plain old troll (at a gathering of oenophiles).

My brother gave me a tremendous amount of shit over it.

This is something teenagers and 20-somethings might do, but they get over it when they fucking grow up.

I mean if you get to the "I'm not gonna drink fucking Merlot!" stage, then at least figure out how to deal with your irrational rages and leave said gatherings quietly without making a fuss.

The level of entitlement it takes to presume that your attendance, as a craft brewer, at an event makes it an event that is all about you and your hobby, and that the other guests are required—simply by your both attending the same event—to go to additional expense and trouble to express their appreciation for your hobby or else they are shitty people, is just mind-blowing.

You're right: that's exactly the argument that was made. lol.

I've brought cheap beer and good beer to parties. No one has ever (ever) commented on it one way or another (a very occasional compliment for good beer, but even that is very rare). There's certainly a class aspect to it, i.e. bringing Natty Light to a party where everyone is drinking Sierra Nevada, as with anything, but this notion of beer snobs reacting with horror to MGD is nonexistent outside of juveniles and people who like to start shit for fun (which I suppose is a fair amount of people.)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:20 AM on November 6, 2012


my guilty pleasure in the summertime is Bud Light Lime

On a hot day, Miller Lite (I always knew it as "Lite Beer by Miller") is like iced tea to me. I can drink a 12-pack no problem (which is probably the same alcohol as 4 real beers).
posted by mrgrimm at 10:22 AM on November 6, 2012


I can drink a 12-pack no problem (which is probably the same alcohol as 4 real beers).

This is why we drink the BLL on the beach. I'm not sure I've ever even caught a buzz off the stuff.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:58 AM on November 6, 2012


The only situation in which I can imagine you'd take heat at a party (at least one hosted by people who are not raging assholes) for bringing cheap beer would be if you brought cheap beer and then proceeded to guzzle some sort of particularly expensive/nice beer. E.g., it'd be a bit churlish to show up to a party with a six-pack of fruit-flavored St Ides and then proceed to polish off all the Ommegang you can get your hands on. But honestly I've never seen that happen; the people who bring St Ides to parties typically, in my experience, do so because that's what they want to drink.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:23 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's funny - I homebrew occasionally, just as a hobby and I'm not very good at it. At home I'll either drink that or growlers I get filled at the local craft brewery. But I'm still likely to pick up a six-pack if I'm headed to a party, especially something outdoors like a bbq or beach gathering. And beer is so expensive in BC liquor stores that I often just pick something cheap.

If somebody tried to lecture me about what I was drinking I don't know that I'd be able to offer a rebuttal, since I'd be too busy laughing at their holier-than-thou-ness. Sometimes a beer is just a beer and I'm too busy enjoying good times with friends (and a buzz) to care about the taste.

(the exceptions are budweiser and molson canadian, but both those beers have quite literally made me vomit after less than one, just from the taste.)
posted by mannequito at 3:04 PM on November 6, 2012


Some people's minds are so easily blown. By strawmen.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:25 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess in your mind when I go to parties thrown by my friends who make their own clothes, and I'm wearing things that came from a factory, I'm being willfully combative also?

No, actually, the more you hammer away at this odd little argument you insist on having, the less inclined I am to reserve for you any space 'in my mind' whatsoever. I have not one iota of interest in what clothes you do or don't wear, or anything else about you in particular, and I think you might want to consider a nice walk outside, at this point. In your favorite clothes and with your favorite beer! Cheers!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:33 PM on November 6, 2012


E.g., it'd be a bit churlish to show up to a party with a six-pack of fruit-flavored St Ides and then proceed to polish off all the Ommegang you can get your hands on.

Heineken had a long-running ad campaign along those lines. Heineken, man! Fuck that shit.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:40 PM on November 6, 2012


You gotta admit, though, that'd be kind of a shitty and willfully combative thing to do, right? I mean, come on, said act would pointedly insult their tastes.

Oh, there you are - the beer snob. Heaven help if we insult your tastes - pointedly, at that. You, ours? Fair game. If I drink a mass-produced lager, I must be combative.

I've drunk Trappist beer at the gates of the brewery. I've brewed English ales with crystal malt I roasted by myself and hops from my back yard. I've smoked my own malt for rauchbier, lovingly cultivated a craft brewery's secret yeast on agar. I love beer. But...

See, wearing your "I'm not a snob so I'm bringing this cheap beer" like a badge of honor is really no better than the worst sort of snobbery, is it?

...sometimes I just feel like a fucking XXXX Gold when I'm eating a sausage sandwich, and that's none of your fucking business. I don't make you drink it. I don't comment on what you're drinking. But for some reason you feel obligated to comment on what I'm drinking, and to load it up with - nay, project all sorts of bullshit on that preference.

Maybe I just like it. Maybe it's what I grew up drinking. Maybe it's what my friends drink. Maybe it reminds me of family. Maybe it's hot and I just want something cold and bitter and a buzz and to stop going on and fucking on about diacetyl rests for a change.

You know what I like about Bud drinkers? They don't give a shit what you drink, so long as you're happy with it.

Pondering "whether wine tasters are scam artists" is merely a different sort of snobbery

Or, you know, science.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:26 AM on November 7, 2012


Man. People gettin' ALL het up 'bout this shit.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:45 AM on November 7, 2012


Wine tasters who refuse to conduct their tastings blind are at best industry shills for particular regions/vineyards, and at worst frauds. The same goes for beer, although I don't think there's nearly as much attention paid to the preference of professional tasters so it's a lot less problematic.

And when wine tasters do perform under controlled conditions, the results that can mean so much to a particular vineyard or vintage are often statistically insignificant. (In other words, there's really no difference between the wines that "won" and "lost" that particular tasting; the critical selections all occurred by those selecting the wines for participation in the tasting.)

As a way of finding out what a wine will taste like before you buy a bottle (which is mostly describing it using well-understood if not exactly rigorously standardized language), tasters serve a purpose; however as a way of ranking wines according to even the most charitable definition of an objective scale of quality, tasters have influence that is totally disproportional to their actual ability.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:00 AM on November 7, 2012


...sometimes I just feel like a fucking XXXX Gold when I'm eating a sausage sandwich, and that's none of your fucking business.

I don't think I've ever made a comment on Metafilter which has been as twisted and tortured and turned around around as the one I made in this thread. Saying that it's a kind of shitty thing to do to bring a six-pack of cheap-ass beer to "a barbecue FULL OF CRAFT BREWERS" has somehow been magically and repeatedly transformed into meaning that I give a flying rat's ass about what sort of beer some of you people in this thread personally prefer. Or whatever. But it's all just so stupid that, really, I can hardly believe I'm responding to all this hyped-up anger at this point. I mean... damn.

So, I'm just gonna say one more time: drink what you want, wear what you want, do what you want, etc. etc. As if I care! But really, whoever you people are, stop putting words in my mouth, please. That'd be really peachy if you'd stop doing that. Or, hey, continue, if it makes you feel better. I really couldn't give two shits in hell. Now I'm done with the lot of you. Feel free to get in another comment telling me to come the fuck on or it's none of my fucking business or fuckity fuck fuck beer something something fuckity-whatever.

And god bless you all.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:31 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


God bless you too, flappy!
posted by item at 8:53 AM on November 7, 2012


Man. People gettin' ALL het up 'bout this shit.

If only there were some kind of cold beverage we could all drink, to cool us down, and ease the tension from our weary typing shoulders..
posted by mannequito at 11:35 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Saying that it's a kind of shitty thing to do to bring a six-pack of cheap-ass beer to "a barbecue FULL OF CRAFT BREWERS"

So, I attend BBQs full of actual professional craft brewers. It's pretty great.

I think what's going on here is that people are imagining different scenarios. I mean, the original statement lacks all sorts of information. Is it a BBQ for people who enjoy craft beer or is that fact just incidental? Why'd the person bring the beer?

I can easily imagine someone who comes into a conversation about beer industry talking about how people who drink craft beer are obnoxious, boors, snobs, etc. etc. going out of their way to antagonize people who drink craft beer. Why? Because I've just seen them do it. In fact, up-thread, one admitted to it.

On the other hand, I know people who are snobs about their beer, and I can imagine some poor schmuck invited over to some co-worker's house, bringing the wrong beer and having his co-worker's neighbor give him crap about it.

As large of a percentage of people who like craft brew are jerks as that of people who don't like craft brew.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:47 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


To derail the derail, we call them package stores because until recent decades, you couldn't use the word "liquor" or the term for any other alcoholic beverage in your store name if you had a liquor license - so they were called Package Stores (Packys) or if they're real old, Pharmacies.

I found this out a few years ago when I was trying to understand why a number of locations near my (then) home in Waltham, MA were called a "Spa". And that is why.
posted by jscott at 1:53 PM on November 7, 2012


I sit here patiently waiting for the day when the brewery craftspeople movement turns at last to my beloved "malted beverages," AKA "bitch beer," so that I can finally talk alcohol with my beer-snob friends. On the other hand, I rather like being the BYOB partygoer who shows up with the 6-pack of Smirnoff Ice, polishes off half of it in the evening, and then still gets to take the rest of it back home.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:05 PM on November 7, 2012


nicebookrack: They sort-of have been, in the form of the shandy and related drinks, in the last year or two. My local bar carried Curious Traveler Summer Shandy on tap until recently (it's definitely a hot-weather thing), and quite a few of my non-beer-loving friends liked it.

There are quite a few breweries getting into it. Saranac makes a mass-market bottled shandy that you can find in most eastern states. Boston Beer Company makes a Sam Adams-branded Porch Rocker Radler ("radler" is a German shandy-like beverage made with light lager and lemon soda, traditionally consumed by bicyclists). Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy should be available basically everywhere.

None of those are as sticky-sweet as Smirnoff Ice, but that's because I'd argue that Smirnoff Ice only exists (as a malt beverage) because of the stupid way the US regulates alcohol. In any reasonable world it would be made with distilled spirit, water, and flavoring — which is how similar beverages are made in other countries — not filtered-out beer. If you view it as a bottled cocktail (which it is), then the path towards improvement lies with mixing one up yourself: you can make one using vodka, sour mix, and club soda pretty easily. And from there you can start experimenting to your liking.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:03 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Last Call - "Industry giants are threatening to swallow up America's carefully regulated alcohol industry, and remake America in the image of booze-soaked Britain"
Monopolistic enterprises control the flow of drink in England at every step—starting with the breweries and distilleries where it’s produced and down the channels through which it reaches consumers in pubs and supermarkets. These vertically integrated monopolies are very “efficient” in the economist’s sense, in that they do a very good job of minimizing the price and thereby maximizing the consumption of alcohol.

The United States, too, has seen vast consolidation of its alcohol industry, but as of yet, not the kind of complete vertical integration seen in the UK. One big reason is a little-known legacy of our experience with Prohibition. From civics class, you may remember that the 21st Amendment to the Constitution formally ended Prohibition in 1933. But while the amendment made it once again legal to sell and produce alcohol, it also contained a measure designed to ensure that America would never again have the horrible drinking problem it had before, which led to the passage of Prohibition in the first place.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:54 AM on November 15, 2012


The Coming Threat to Your Craft Brew
posted by homunculus at 12:46 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


homunculus' link shows that the threat to craft beer from Big Brewther is far more dire than anyone posting in this thread seems to suspect and comes from an unanticipated direction:
Heffernan's piece mentions a March 2012 interview in the trade publication Beer Business Daily, in which Anheuser-Busch InBev Vice President Dave Almeida "described in perfect detail how retailers can maximize their profits by replacing craft brews with 'premium' beer—its term for its mass-produced light lager." I looked up the interview, and it is amazing. Here's the relevant passage:
"Craft is a real threat, but it's also an opportunity," [Anheuser-Busch InBev Vice President Dave Almeida said]…Dave showed research that indicated that retailers that have too many SKUs actually end up selling less overall beer. He used the example of the health and beauty aids aisle in a supermarket, where consumers spend an average of 90 seconds and only buy something 25% of the time, whereas people spend 31 seconds in the beer aisle and buy something 75% of the time. "Retailers that are winning are not invested in craft to the detriment to the category," said Dave. Later Dave and his national accounts team walked me through a deck showing that chains that over-SKU with crafts end up selling less beer and making less profit than chains that protect their domestic premium space.
The big boys are trying to convince retailers they will sell more total beer if they stop carrying craft beer.

If they succeed, they will have killed many small brewers without the trouble and expense of buying them out.
posted by jamjam at 9:02 AM on November 18, 2012


and then still gets to take the rest of it back home.

I thought I was cheap, but I never take home party booze unless the host absolutely insists. That's one of the perks of party hosting--leftovers.

f they succeed, they will have killed many small brewers without the trouble and expense of buying them out.

The Internet makes it a lot harder and will continue to make it harder and harder to spoof (Shock Top) the market. Bar/pub market also seems very different than the retail market ... as always, the consumers will rule.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:09 PM on November 18, 2012


Consumers rule in health care? Housing prices? Food prices? Oil prices? Bank fees? College tuition prices? Airline ticket prices and flying conditions?

Consumers rule in gullibility. Try not to be a living demonstration of that.
posted by jamjam at 3:42 PM on November 18, 2012


Consumers rule in health care? Housing prices? Food prices? Oil prices? Bank fees? College tuition prices? Airline ticket prices and flying conditions?

Consumers rule in gullibility.


All of the above.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:08 PM on November 18, 2012


Even Belgians hate InBev. I missed this thread, but heard about it in the thread about England's drinking problem.

InBev screwed up a classic Geuze beer (style Lambic) when they decided it didn't need to be made in the same place, with the same water. Oops. The water was Special. This Brazilian guy is a jackass that doesn't know from beer.

That being said: Please, do not fall for the bullshit that is the Reinheitsgebot. Every time I hear it mentioned (usually as some shinny thing) it makes me cringe. It is an old regulation that limits the ingredients of beer. A straightjacket against innovation and creativity. Many fabulous beers are not made according to that nonsense, and yet, they are great. Belgian is the capital of beer, and they do not ascribe to this bullshit.

Sure, you can make great beer within the German purity law. This is true! However, you can also make fantastic beer outside that regulation.

There is a store in Zurich, in the main train station, called "Beers of the World". It's where we go to buy our Belgian beer. They have a nice selection which includes my personal favorite, "West Malle Trippel". But come Saturday night, it never ceases to amaze me (and gross me out) all the young adults that spend time in front of the cooler, trying to decide...which can of lager to buy.
posted by Goofyy at 12:18 AM on November 21, 2012


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