Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

November 11, 2009

Beer Diary:

This Water Is Making Me Thirsty

Faithful readers, you probably know some dumb asshole who willingly drinks ultra-light “beer.”
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
Contact Eddie»
Unless your circle of acquaintances is smaller than mine (let’s count ‘em: my six or so co-workers and my parents) then you probably know more than a few people who drink not only shit beer, but light shit beer. And my guess is that more than a few of these light shit beer drinkers (well, I should say light shit premium beer drinkers—you know, your Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light drinkers—to differentiate from those regularly drinking Natty Light, Blue Smoothie, and [gak!] Milwaukee’s Best Light) are at least intrigued by, if not sold on, Miller MGD 64 and A-B’s new Bud Select 55.

Everyone knows that these “beers” have 64 and 55 calories, respectively. But not everyone knows that those low, low calorie counts come with low, low alcohol content. MGD 64 has 2.8 percent ABV and Bud Select 55 has 2.4. That’s not a typo. Two. Point. Four.

But contrary to what you’re probably thinking, I’m not going to rip on the low alcohol content of these “beers.” One of the more memorable beers I’ve ever had was a Belgian style table beer at the Goose Island Brewpub that was less than 3 percent ABV. The difference between it and Bud Select 55 and MGD 64 is that the one I had was packed with flavor despite its diminished schnockering power. And, frankly, the craft beer industry could really use a few low ABV brews now and then. Making a huge imperial stout is great and all, but it’s child’s play compared to making a two-and-half percent ale that’s got enough going on to make you forget about all the wateriness.

No, what I’m going to rip on about these ultra-light, more-tasteless-than-water “beers” is the people who drink them. First off, these beers (I assume, because I’d rather let dog shit touch my tongue than either one of these industrialized concoctions) have a little less body than thickened water and a little more flavor than the stuff in a typical toilet tank. So no one is drinking this shit because of the taste. Hell, even Miller and A-B aren’t even trying to lie about the lack of taste—they’re touting that their “beer” is “as light as it gets” and “the lightest beer in the world” respectively. And if you like your “beer” like that—i.e. tasteless—then why not just drink a dram of schnapps mixed with a little carbonated water? At least it’d be cheaper (more on that later).

Secondly, if you’re drinking this “beer” because you are on a diet, you’re not just fat, you’re an idiot. Because while I’m taking a good hour to enjoy my Founders Breakfast Stout—and not just drink it, but savor it—you’re pounding down four of these “beers,” because, as we’ve already established, they’re basically water.

Despite the fact that ultra light “beers” cost the same to the consumer as any other regular beer, they’re far cheaper to make than their full-bodied breathren.
Even if you’re on a mega-strict diet and you’re only going to have one beer because that’s the only calories you can spare, or you’ll vow to just take your time and only drink one an hour … why even drink beer then? You’re not going to even feel the alcohol unless you’re six foot and ninety five pounds, in which case WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU DIETING? And if you don’t care about feeling the alcohol, WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU DRINKING SOMETHING ALCOHOLIC AT ALL? Get a goddamn diet soda pop. Christ, even non-alcoholic beer has more body and flavor than this crap.

And now, the best part about these ultra-light “beers.” Despite the fact that they cost the same to the consumer as any other regular beer, they’re far cheaper to make than their full-bodied breathren. Less alcohol means less fermentable material, which means less yeast and less malt and less corn sugar and less rice syrup and less hops (and I doubt the average drinker would even notice if these “beers” didn’t have hops at all—Miller and A-B probably only put them in there for marketing purposes). Essentially, what the brewers are doing is adding water to their beer. Then selling it at the same price as the non-watered beer.

So if you know any dumb assholes who willingly drink this shit and call it “beer,” use the above rant to point out why they should think again about their choice (but I’d suggest using a little more tact than my rant, unless you like getting punched in the nose). At the very least you could appeal to their wallets and try to convince them that they’re throwing a chunk of their money away every time they buy a Bud Select 55 or MGD 64. And if that doesn’t work, well … maybe you should think about shrinking your circle of acquaintances. Just try not to let it get as small as Eddie Glick’s. That’s just pathetic.

The other comedic portion of the "premium" beer drinker is that he/she will turn their nose and sneer at "bad" beer like Schlitz, Old Style, Carling's, etc. even though its the same thing, from many of the same breweries, and actually have more BEER in them than the "ultra light" examples of which they're extolling the virtues. If you're on a diet, just drink ONE good beer and enjoy it instead of spending your loot on the commercial water of the macros.
posted by rings | November 11, 2009, 11:30 PM
As someone with a slightly larger circle of acquantances than notorious loner (read: loser) Glick, I've seen a few MGD 64 drinkers. And I agree... even more than ignorant dipshits that drink Coors/Bud/Miller light crap, these are people who don't like beer. Try wine. Try flavored malt beverages. But if you don't like beer... and clearly you don't if you're drinking MGD 64... then DON'T DRINK BEER. It's okay not to like something, but forcing crap down your throat is just plain pathetic.
posted by Nigel | November 12, 2009, 6:28 PM
The battle is being won....key paragraph:

"Overall beer demand has shrunk, with big mainstream brands suffering declines. Bud Light ? A-B's mainstay and America's bestselling beer ? is set for its first-ever annual sales decline. With the exception of craft beers and cheap brews, the U.S. beer industry has slipped."
posted by rings | November 15, 2009, 3:09 PM
To brew beer with 55 calories, the ORIGINAL specific gravity would need to be about 1.016. Those familiar with the scale should get a laugh out of that! Most of my beers finish higher than that.
posted by Jug | November 16, 2009, 7:53 PM
Take it easy Eddie. You not only sound like a beer snob, but an angry beer snob. Who cares what somebody else drinks?
posted by DC | November 18, 2009, 6:40 PM
@DC, here's why we should all care what somebody else drinks:

When people drink this shit, it means they are spending money on it. When people spend money on it, the brewers produce more of it. They create advertising to promote it. They exert pressure on taverns and restaurants to devote tap space to it, retailers to devote shelf space to it, distributors to devote truck space to it. Which means less space for craft beer. So the next time you go to a bar and they have MGD 64 instead of Oberon or Spotted Cow or Fat Tire on tap, ask yourself why you should care what somebody else drinks.
posted by EddieGlick | November 18, 2009, 10:06 PM
I agree but there are more effective ways to try and convert these poor souls than calling them "dumb assholes". Unfortunately, the world is full of else would you explain Sarah Palin's popularity? Best best is to start them slowly, maybe a milder Bell's or New Glarus offering before you move to oak aged barleywines??
posted by DC | November 19, 2009, 7:57 PM
I see where you are coming from DC, but I have to make a few points.

We are not Spanish missionaries or the Gestapo. We are not trying to "convert" macro-swill consumers. Our mission statement is to promote, comment upon, and occasionally criticize (midwest)craft brews and brewers.

There is little here to draw the attention of a dedicated macro beer consumer, however, if someone develops an interest for something outside of the walls of the big commercial breweries, we offer some useful insight provided by ourselves and our readers.

Thanks for reading and commenting, but don't confuse Eddie's passion for being a beer snob. We're fuckin' hardcore beer DORKS.
posted by Jug | November 19, 2009, 10:45 PM
Craft brew popularity is rising at a fast pace, at least here in Cleveland. There are at least a dozen very good tap/beer bars now most of which have opened in the last 5 years and more are opening.
I see good things to come, along with alot of converts to malt, yeast and hops.
posted by WILLY P | November 27, 2009, 11:05 AM

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

Beer Dorks News

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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...