Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

March 27, 2013

Beer Diary:

Offensively Non-offensive

Industrial beer and food aren’t made for flavor, but for maximizing shelf life and sales.
by Rings

Rings is an equal opportunity imbiber. He can also be found sampling his way across multiple continents, or wasting time at and Prost!
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This little article touched a nerve over the weekend …

Basically, it’s making fun of McDonald’s for launching a new crappy tortilla, and causing a ruckus in the fast food world that will literally capture millions of new customers. This stuff happens all the time in the world of “big” food. Chef Boyardee, Swanson’s TV Dinners, Pizza Hut, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, etc. You get the idea.

The funny thing is, for the vast majority of people, they fully realize the above mentioned brands (and many, many others) are not exactly the “best” example of each food. Most people prefer a backyard grilled homemade hamburger to that served at the Golden Arches. Most people realize that grandma’s spaghetti recipe was far superior to anything found in a can of SpaghettiOs. Everyone knows that the chicken found in the frozen box by Banquet will never be as good as the stove top chicken fried in cast iron by your Aunt Mable from Alabama. You may even like Kraft Macaroni & Cheese … but you probably also realize it isn’t exactly a high quality product, much less real cheese.

Fact is, these industrial foods have had the “food” processed right out of them They’re made to be non-offensive to anyone who eats them so that they may appeal to the widest possible audience. None of them are made to be the “best” example of their product. They’re pasteurized, processed and preserved for shelf-life and maximum sales, not maximum or even marginal flavors.

So why is it that industrial beer still controls 90 percent of the American market? How is it that many people still think macro beer is the “best” example of the product?

Industrial beer is made to be non-offensive, just like the other examples mentioned above. It is NOT “triple hopped,” “beechwood aged” or even the generic example with the “most taste,” despite Madison Avenue’s proclamation. It IS an industrial product. Treat it that way.

I doubt anyone thinks Bud Light is the best example of beer. The drinkers drink it because they drink it...not because they're exploring for a new taste (it's a habit). And, macro beer is a high quality (very consistent) known quantity. You can buy it cheap without any thought at the shelf and know exactly what you're going to get as long as you make it really cold. And, macro beer occupies most of the shelf space at most outlets (and tap space). It's easy to buy macro and it takes an effort to buy craft beer. For craft beer to continue it's expansion, brewers need to get people ready to experiment. And, unfortunately, there are disappointing craft beers on the shelf and in the tap...making for occasional disappointments once you convince a macro drinker to try craft. Finding a new beer you love can be a little scary to consumers. And, did I mention macro beer is cheap?
posted by Steve | March 27, 2013, 8:33 AM
Thanks for your comments, Steve. While I would agree that almost no beer geeks think Bud Light is a "great" example, but I would argue that many, many "regular" beer drinkers do. Other mainstreamers think Heineken or Amstel is the cat's meow.
Anecdotally, I hear it often whenever I order a Bells (only $3.25/imperial pint!!) at my local American Legion hall.
posted by Rings | March 29, 2013, 10:21 AM
There are plenty of people who truly believe Bud Light is the best beer in the world. As beer dorks we tend to get immersed in the world of craft beer, and don't realize that a large portion of the population doesn't even know or care about craft beer-- it's all "that dark beer" to them. And while some drink macro crap (Busch Light and its ilk) because it's cheap, there's a huge segment of brand loyalists who are literally willing to fight over whether Miller Lite is better than Bud Light or vice versa. It's symptomatic of American culture, where we tend to equate popularity with quality, as debated here.
posted by EddieGlick | March 29, 2013, 10:55 AM
as a beer snob I won't drink anything with light in it's label.but I would'nt denounce a persons taste (at least publicly). people should drink the best beer to the're tastes & to the're budget.just as not all wine drinkers can afford dom perignon.people drink what tastes best to their budget
posted by kevin h | March 30, 2013, 4:02 AM
Thanks Eddie for pointing me back to what appears to be an epic discussion. I missed that one.

I think we can all agree we're better off because of the creative brewers in our neighborhoods.

And, there's nothing wrong with a little proselytizing about craft beer. It is easy to be a snob about beer without being a snob with people. Check out this video ( from New Brew Friday from 2 years ago...the message is still on target.
posted by Steve | March 30, 2013, 7:06 PM

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

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