Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

June 18, 2009

Beer Diary:

What’s Your Most Popular Beer?

How drinking craft beer can help repair the increasingly tenuous link between popularity and merit in American culture.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
Contact Eddie»
So I was sitting in the brew pub the other day eating lunch and sipping a “Belgian-style table beer” that, while extremely low in alcohol (less than 3 percent ABV), was nonetheless quite tasty, when a pair of college-aged women came in. They sat at the bar a few stools down from me, and it was immediately apparent that they had no idea where they were. They asked the bartender for some macro swill, and he politely informed them that they were in a brew pub, and only beers brewed on the premises were available. He then directed them to a chalkboard at the end of the bar that listed the beers on tap. He also handed them a menu that not only listed the beers but described them as well.

One of the women picked up the menu and began reading, but the other one asked the bartender, “What’s your most popular beer?”

He told her, describing it as “our lightest beer,” which of course means it was barely a notch up from the macro swill she had attempted to order upon first sitting at the bar. Obviously, she ordered this. Her friend, however, and much to her merit, ordered a more adventurous brew she found on the menu.

I’ve seen this on numerous occasions, and not necessarily in regards to beer. A guy walks into a restaurant, can’t decide what he wants, and instead of thoroughly reading the menu he asks the waiter what their most popular dish is. Movie studios fall over each other trying to claim their movie is the number one insert-genre-here, because the mere fact that it’s “number one” leads to even more movie goers. A few years back, an acquaintance of mine had just bought a new stereo system, even though he basically had no music collection whatsoever, except for a couple of Mötley Crüe tapes he had from high school. So he went to the record store (back when physical stores actually sold music) and bought a dozen or so CDs. He listed his purchases to me, explaining it was a good mix of popular music, “You know, stuff everyone likes.” I asked him why didn’t he just buy the music he liked, a question that ended up confusing him. Needless to say, I thought all the music he bought sucked ass.

I guess this behavior is just a symptom of pop culture—it’s far easier to just mindlessly consume what everyone else is instead of taking the time to inform yourself about what is out there and choose your beer, food, clothing, or entertainment based on how it appeals to you. In a perfect world, that would make sense, as logic would dictate that the most popular product would be the best product. Unfortunately, the world we live in has gotten about as far from perfect as is philosophically possible.

No need to look further than beer to see my point. The most popular beer brand in America is Bud Light. And drinkers of this shit—they are legion and they are fanatics—like to point this fact out, saying something along the lines of, “It’s the most popular for a reason.”

Unfortunately that rationalization doesn’t take into account the increasingly tenuous link between popularity and merit in our culture. Which is why, every time you and I drink a finely made craft beer or—even better—a home brew, we’re regenerating that link, actually enriching American culture. Tiny, infinitesimally, bit by bit, beer by beer, we’re slowly making up for the reality TV shows, the Ashley Simpsons, the internet porno, the existence of E!, the dead eyes of Jessica Alba.

[OK, I’ve gotta go off on a rantin’ tangent here. Remember the movie Sin City, based on the Frank Miller graphic novel series? And how everyone went on and on about how the movie was shot almost frame-for-frame the same as the comic books? EXCEPT the book (That Yellow Bastard) in which the character Jessica Alba plays was buck naked almost the ENTIRE FUCKING BOOK—she was a stripper, for chrissakes—yet Jessica Alba shows about four square inches of skin in the actual movie. And it’s not that I’m drooling to see this skinny actress 25 years younger than me—to be honest, I don’t find her all that attractive—but it’s the fact that she didn’t show any T and A because Hollywood powers that be are still trying to groom this airhead to be the next great actress. Even though sheister lawyers hocking free money to clueless lowlifes (lowlives?) watching basic cable trash at two in the morning act better than she can. End of tangent.]

So, if you’re still following the article, drink that craft beer! Brew some home brew! Visit your local brew pub! Refuse to buy or even drink shit beer! The quality of our very culture is at stake, people, and, as usual, it’s up to us beer dorks to pull it out of the dumpster. One of these days we’re going to get a day off …

Who is Jessica Alba? Is she that chick that sings 'Dancing Queen'? I don't want to see her nekkid either.
posted by Ryan | June 18, 2009, 6:10 PM
I question the sexuality of any dude who doesn't want to see Jessica Alba naked. If she was pitching Sham-Wow's at 2 in the morning, I might be buying.
posted by Nigel | June 18, 2009, 11:17 PM
Nigel, we all know about you and Sham-Wow pitchmen. Just keep it on your side of the computer screen.
posted by EddieGlick | June 19, 2009, 8:10 AM
Snuggie pitchmen too. I'm a total shill. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go read up on the latest on Jon and Kate Plus Eight.
posted by Nigel | June 19, 2009, 9:38 PM
Great post, Eddie! And my sentiments exactly...
I've worked in many a brewpub and restaurant, where I've always reminded patrons asking for macro-swill that Chef Boyardee is the nation's most popular pasta, McDonald's the nation's favorite hamburger, and Kraft is the nation's best selling macaroni, but you'd be far fetched to argue them to be "quality."
When asking for "regular" beer, I'd ask if they meant the "kind with commercials"?
In any event, the sarcasm made the point that sales volume does not equal quality or pleasure...much less supporting the marketers of Madison Avenue rather than their local craft brewer.
The second point of contention is macro-drinkers claiming their beer is less expensive because their $3.50 piss water cost less than my $5.00 pint of flavor. The trade off, is that I can enjoy an evening with 2 or 3 pints over a couple hours, while they're busy slamming a half dozen or more frosty mugs in between trips to the pisser.
Keep up the assault on group-think...the message is getting through, one craft drinker at a time!
posted by rings | June 23, 2009, 12:48 PM
...and for what its worth...I'd rather see Jessica Alba nekkid too! ;-)
posted by rings | June 23, 2009, 12:48 PM
Just because we think JA is hot, let's not judge until Eddie tells us who he thinks is hot. Then we'll judge...
posted by Beer Geek Heaven | June 23, 2009, 4:05 PM
Ah, this ought to be good...
I hear it's dark in his mom's basement.

Keep it up Eddie. I think you're on to something.
posted by Ade Solomon | June 24, 2009, 2:14 AM
Sheesh ... I thought my bio summed it up pretty well, but I guess this is better than getting an angry email calling me a beer snob every week.

Here we go:

1. Rita Hayworth
2. Barbara Billingsley
3. Scarlett Johannsen
4. Nigel's sister
5. Halle Berry
6. Jug's sister
7. Jennifer Connelly
8. Baby-boy's sister(s)
9. Rachael Ray
10. Franz's sister, if he has one

And on a totally unrelated note, anyone out there have a female sibling?
posted by EddieGlick | June 24, 2009, 10:17 PM
Back off the sister's man... they're not interested. Delta Burke seems to be conspicuosly absent from your list. You can't hide that little secret forever. And I don't think Halle Berry falls in the "pale and full bodied" category.
posted by Nigel | June 24, 2009, 10:41 PM
Huh? Why doesn't Halle Berry qualify?
posted by EddieGlick | June 24, 2009, 10:54 PM
Uh, let's see...

1. She's half black, and thus not at all pale.

2. She's far from "full bodied". Curvy, yes... but by no means "full bodied" which I read as "fat".
posted by Nigel | June 24, 2009, 11:28 PM
Wait, wait, WAIT! Halle Berry is half black? Yeah, RIGHT. Good one, Nigel. Next thing you tell me, I dunno, the president or something like that is half black. Dude, you gotta take that shit on tour...
posted by EddieGlick | June 25, 2009, 8:28 AM
Half black? What the hell is that? What's the other half? That's like Eddie being "half cool." Or Nigel being "half way decent in bed."
I mean...
Good night Wisconsin!!!!
posted by Ade Solomon | June 27, 2009, 1:39 AM

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

Beer Dorks News

Want to know how healthy the craft beer industry is? As always, look to Portland. Craft pioneer Bridgeport announces sudden closure, adding to a growing list of PDX casualties.
Did Anheuser-Busch Chicago offer their shit beer to Cody Parkey before his missed field goal? Because that may explain why he "accidentally" biffed it.
Chicago now has the most breweries of any city in the country. Other things Chicago has the most of: murders, mobsters, and Ditkas.
Trying to spin it positive, BA releases end of year graphic. Only 5% growth in the craft sector when nearly 1000 new breweries opened? That's a collapse waiting to happen.
R.I.P. Tallgrass... another casualty as the regional/national craft beer market continues to get squeezed.
Wait... Constellation Brands cut all of the Ballast Point and Funky Buddha sales staff? They merged it with their Corona/Modelo staff?? We're SHOCKED!!!
Pizza Beer founder crying about failure of company, blames everyone else. Reminder, the beer tasted like vomit. Try having better ideas or making better products so you're not a failure.
It's Bud Light so doesn't really matter, but we expect this beer to be sitting around for awhile.
Indiana brewery to open with controversial beer names to "get the conversation going". Translation: taking advantage of serious issues for free publicity.
Hundreds of amazing beers in Wisconsin and the Cubs took back the one everyone drinks just because it exists and people have heard of it. How fitting...