Showing posts with label the unbearable nonsense of craft beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the unbearable nonsense of craft beer. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

About That Ad

The pitch seems to have hit a much more fevered tone in the last few days than usual. I guess it has something to do with this Budweiser Super Bowl commercial...



Admittedly I am something of a johnny come lately to this particular party because I didn't see the commercial until the furore was in full swing on Twitter. I am not a fan of American Football, a phrase which could easily be the understatement of the year, so I wasn't watching the game and thus couldn't get my knickers in a twist at the appropriate moment. Ah well.

Yesterday though I took a few minutes to sit down and watch the commercial, and I actually quite like it. It's well made, tells a clear story, and takes a few well aimed jabs at the perceived snottiness of many a craft beer aficionado, well played Anheuser-Busch, well played. Be honest, we all recognised people we know in their depiction of people fussing over their peach pumpkin ale or whatever the hell abomination they referred to. When I watched the ad for the first time I was reminded of a scene in The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer where Max and Alan kidnap a craft acolyte from a bar...

Now, I am not going to go down the path of hand wringing about how that nasty big corporation is being mean to the little breweries that it is intent on buying up, because such a narrative (admittedly the dominant narrative it seems) misses the entire point of the commercial. It is also a flawed narrative because it conflates the Budweiser brand with the AB-InBev company. Let's get one thing straight, Budweiser is just one brand owned by AB-InBev, and this commercial was for the brand not the company behind it. Remember, Elysian, 10 Barrel, and Blue Point were purchased by AB-InBev not Budweiser, to think that Budweiser owns these craft breweries is as daft as saying that the breweries are owned by AB-InBev's other major brands, Stella Artois, Beck's, or even Leffe.

But the core message of the commercial is actually one that I can get on board with, because I have been saying something similar for quite some time. Beer is for drinking, with your mates, preferably down the pub. Sure, I am not going to go an order a pint of Budweiser because it is not my cup of tea, but I find myself increasingly drinking almost exclusively from breweries that I know make great drinking beers rather than an endless morass of shit with random extraneous ingredients -  I can think of plenty of breweries that should be focusing on quality and process management rather than what strange herbs from their aunt's garden they can dump into their next batch.

When it boils down to it though, I get the feeling that the hysteria is largely about one thing, and one thing only, the commercial is very close to home, and for many craft beer fans having the tables turned on them is uncomfortable. As with fundamentalists of every stripe, if you can't laugh at yourself then you might be taking things too seriously. It's just beer remember.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Anything But Utter Nonsense

A few weeks ago I got an email from an old drinking buddy, attached to said email was his new book. The drinking buddy was Max, perhaps better known as Pivní Filosof, and the book, The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer, co-written with Alan from A Good Beer Blog, and referencing one of my favourite authors.


With fewer than a hundred pages, I thought it wouldn't take that long to read it, but life has a way of getting in the way of pleasures like reading, and thus I only finished it yesterday morning. As the subtitle suggests, this a rant about the way 'craft' beer is perceived by its fans and the snake oil salespeople that peddle its myths, lies, and videotapes.

Couched within a series of conversations between the authors, in various drinking contexts, the book looks at many of the themes that surround the 'craft' beer industry; pricing, beer culture, the definition of 'craft', and various other instantly recognisable motifs. There is a supporting cast of well known bloggers, including a quick mention for Fuggled (on page 72), as Max and Alan bar, and continent, hop.

I found myself nodding in agreement often, as the authors round on the daftness that surrounds 'craft' beer, especially the banality of a sizeable portion of its fans and acolytes, in particular the difference between tasting beer and drinking it. While I like a flight in a new brewery, it really only serves one purpose, to help me choose a pint to drink afterwards. Probably my favourite episode in the book is the kidnapping of an archetypal 'craft' beer geek, and the de-programming of his craft sanitised mind.

Having had the pleasure of drinking with Max, reading the book reminded me of sitting in places like Pivovarsky klub, Zly ?asy, and U Radnice (where he, I, Evan Rail, and Rob finished off a keg of Primátor Stout), and speaking with him, which was always fun.

The book is engaging, raucous, and overall a good read. It identifies many of the issues that I have with the current state of much of the 'craft' brewing industry, and associated hangers on. If you feel uneasy with much of the conversation around the beer industry, then The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer is essential reading.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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