Try Making the Beer Better First, OK?

This article has been referred to on a few different sites and in some e-newsletters I get:

Basically, the beer industry is trying to re-vamp its image through an ad campaign so the beer will appeal to the "wine-and-cheese, single-malt Scotch crowd" as it is called in the article.   

Interesting concept, but one that is fundamentally flawed.  I believe that the reason that Budweiser or Coors doesn’t appeal to the the sophisticated gourmand crowd isn’t just because of an image problem: its because the beer just isn’t as interesting as those other options. 

Somewhere along the way, American beer (Bud, Coors, Michelob, etc.) became a thin, watery, flavorless and fizzy beverage which simply wouldn’t appeal to someone who appreciates the balance of tannins, acidity, sweetness,  fruit and earthiness in a fine wine (or even a single malt scotch for that matter).   The big manufacturer beers are very simply one-dimensional in their taste profile – if you like them, then fine, go ahead and drink em, but don’t tell me that all beer tastes the same if that’s all you like.

You want proof that not all beers taste alike?  Take a look at this beer festival coming up (which I’ll be attending of course): Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Festival.  That’s a link to the beer list there.  Among some of the more interesting (or "extreme") beers are: Peanut Butter Porter, Monster Barleywine, Cherry Spice, Imperial Death March Stout, Whiskey Barrel Porter, JalapeƱo Sunsplash Golden Ale, Jamaican Stout….  let me tell you, none of these will taste alike, and all of them would make even the most hard-core wine or scotch snob feel hard-pressed to find something more interesting and complex than some of the beers there.

The above article also states that "Nor have brewers excelled at emphasizing that beer, like wine and certain liquors, can be brewed with different flavors (Anheuser introduced a pumpkin spice ale to coincide with Thanksgiving) and sold in attractive packaging" which is, again, false based on what smaller micro- and mid-sized breweries are doing.  Every year, nearly every micro-brewery puts out a "Pumpkin" or other "Harvest" ale in the fall and then a "Winter" brew in the winter. Those of us who understand that beer is a complex and interesting beverage look forward to trying these each year.  Rogue Beer, a microbrewery that is available nationally has some fantastic and interesting packaging, as does Magic Hat.  And they both make good beers.

What is interesting about this list of beers at the Extreme Beer Festival is that Anheuser-Busch will be there, the first time I can remember them having a presence at a Beer Advocate beer festival.  Kudos to them for trying to brew some new and interesting beers to help improve beer itself, not just its image.

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