Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

September 2, 2008

Beer Diary:

Dark Beer Faux Pas

Jug Dunningan’s quest to eliminate the term “dark beer” from the philistine dialect.
by Jug Dunningan

Jug Dunningan is just here for the beer.
Contact Jug»
The other night I was invited by some friends to a summer collegiate baseball game. “Free beer and food all night,” my friend Matt (a non-beer dork) told me. I knew that the beer stand at Warner Park was run by Madison’s most popular brew pub, The Great Dane. Now, I’m not a baseball fan by any stretch (thanks Barry Bonds), but the forecast was perfect, and the offer of free Great Dane brews was hard to turn down.

“Sure, sign me up. See ya there,” I told Matt.

I met up with Matt and a few other friends and headed for the game. We arrived early and got a table right next to the beer and food vendors. The Great Dane logo spread across the side of the building, with a beer list below it. There were about 20 beers on the list, including Tyranena, Capital Brewery, and, of course, The Great Dane. Most of the beers were on the lighter side: wheats, pales, and other light ales were the mainstay. I didn’t really expect to be getting handed pints of Capital’s Autumnal Fire, or one of The Great Dane’s cask conditioned ales all night, so all was good. I already knew I would get one of The Great Dane’s Crop Circle Wheats.

I was just heading toward the beer vendor when Matt grabbed my arm. “They don’t have MGD,” he said, dismayed.

For me, when someone mentions dark beers, porters, stouts, and dopplebocks come to mind.
I had to laugh at him a little. I’ve had this conversation many times with Matt, but I just cannot convince him to try anything other than his MGD. “I just don’t like dark beers,” he always says. I looked at the list again. Besides a single brown ale, the rest of the list was pretty pale.

I realize he wasn’t actually talking about the SRM value of the beer list, but that is exactly what I (and most beer dorks, I assume) think of when someone mentions dark beers. Porters, stouts, and dopplebocks come to mind.

I do get a little defensive when I hear someone use the term “dark beer” to describe craft brews. I know it only comes from their naivety about the wide world of real beer. It’s like Hitler’s brainwashing of the 1940s German nation. He convinced the entire nation that Aryans were the only race of consequence, and the rest suck. This is what mainstream American breweries have been telling us for years: A-B and MGD are good beers, and the rest suck.

I watched Matt and the rest of the group decide on the shittiest (most Aryan?) beer, Michelob Golden Draft Light. I had to say something. This had to stop. This wasn’t even their shit beer of choice! I’m a humanitarian with a conscience. I had to try to help them if I was ever going to live with myself.

I do get a little defensive when I hear someone use the term “dark beer” to describe craft brews.
I showed them how my Crop Circle Wheat wasn’t a “dark beer.” I even let Matt and his wife, Colleen, try a sip. Colleen has been a little more adventurous than Matt in the past. I think she is on the verge of sticking it to the man and breaking away from Miller (Coors, Moors, Ciller or whatever the fuck they call themselves now). She’s had a couple stepping stone beers, mostly Capital Brewery’s Island Wheat in the past and liked them.

“It’s all free. Why not take the opportunity and explore a couple of different beers?” I suggessted.

After a little prodding they began asking about this style or that one. I knew I had aroused their interests a little. I remember when I made my transformation into a beer dork, and suggested the lighter beers (not that there was anything too big on tap anyway).

By the end of the night, one couple we were with had gone back for a second round of the Crop Circle Wheat, Colleen had found another stepping stone beer she liked (Tyranena’s Honey Blonde) but Matt had stuck hard to his Michelob Golden Draft Light. I felt good about the limited progress I had made, but my failure with Matt pained me.

I was always told, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” In Matt’s case, it was more like “Lead a horse to water, but he still drinks from the toilet.” But at least I can claim victory that I eliminated the ever-annoying term “dark beer” from their vocabulary.


Happy anniversary, Lakefront Brewery!

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...