When Cold Beer Counts

There is a famous scene in the John Cassavettes movie Gloria where Gena Rowlands, walks into a bar in the morning hours and asks for a beer. “What kind?” the bartender asks. Which Gloria (Ms. Rowlands) replies: “Cold.”
I didn’t fully appreciate this until after 16 days of plus 90 degree temperatures. In such a climate, “cold” is the most important attribute.  In the hot summer sun, beer in a can seems quite suitable, so I have to laugh when the so-called craft brewing world announces the craft can revolution. Which I gather provides an excuse to sell their crafted creations in aluminum, dispensing with the notion that beer is always better in glass bottles.
There is of course resistance to that notion among those taught that glass was the last word in beer packaging. Brown glass bottles has always been a selling point with Samuel Adams, who so far have resisted the craft can revolution. A movement that now includes Avery, Brooklyn, Abita, and many others.
This is also where the marketing distinctions become a bit of a blur. In fact the term craft beer seems a useless designation, unless it simply means more expensive beer ($18 for a six-pack of cans?).  And now the game is afoot, to convince all those glass bottle drinkers, that beer in a can can be just as good, after all those years of complaining about ‘metallic taste’.
It would be interesting to have a blind taste test to determine if you can actually taste the difference. Much packaging depends on psychology. How else can it be explained why so much time and resources is devoted to finding the right button to push? There is a dirt into gold aspect to this. Back in the 1980’s, the Mexican migrant worker cooler known as Corona became the sought after yuppie drink of choice, knocking off Heineken from its throne as the Number 1, U.S. imported beer.
This marketing coup was upstaged by another when Stella Artois, makers of a Belgian working class lager convinced the world, or at least the part that had money to spend, that Stella is a fine representative of “cinema, cuisine and culture”.
It should also be noted that Heineken, Stella Artois, and Corona are all available in bottles and cans. International branding doesn’t want to miss an opportunity. The redesign of AB Inbev’s Budweiser logo is a good case in point. Heineken pull tabs on their cans are green, Budweiser’s are red.  Obviously, package design is enormously important, although the vast majority of consumers hardly even consider it. Marketing beer at this scale very often means promoting an imaginary lifestyle. Its not just beer, you might say, but a way of life.


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