Recent discussions about what to serve on Thanksgiving has revealed that the simple kindness of sharing beer can be fraught with socio-political implications. Part of this of course is due to the ever expanding portfolio of recipe styles, and unless you are at a beer tasting party, the unfamiliar can seem a bit frightening, if not threatening.
I recall many years ago attending a holiday party where I showed up with a couple of fifths (25.4oz) of Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig (yes that long ago) and was demonstrably denounced by a Budweiser enthusiast who said: “I only drink American Beer.”
Which was ironic, even in that time, because Sam Adams was brewed in my own hometown of Cincinnati. Even more ironic now when the faux-patriotic marketing of Anheuser-Busch InBev instructs me to go out and “find some Holiday Buds”. Which is also ironic in another way, since marijuana is now a legal commodity in some parts of the country, and this has lead to a slight tweaking of a Shakespeare line in Henry V:

I would give all my fame for some pot, some ale and safety

When it comes to serving beer at a party for a variety of guests there is (or should be) etiquette involved. Offering a variety of styles is certainly in order. Concern for the comfort of your guests means being conscious that your taste, no matter how evolved, is still a singular affair. The very wide universe of beer drinkers requires an acknowledgement of this fact. This is especially true in the 21st century. A time when people will stand in line in the Chicago cold to obtain a bottle of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, while 18% of the US market is still devoted to another A-B InBev product: Bud Light. Because this is about etiquette, a quote from Emily Post seems appropriate:
“The most advertised commodity is not always intrinsically the best: but sometimes merely the product of a company with plenty of money to spend on advertising.”

The late Justin Wilson was once asked what kind of wine should you drink. His reply: “The kind of wine you like.” The same could be said of beer, with the caveat that what you like may not be the same as others. And that is one of the true beauties of civilization. Variety, not branding conformity, promotes greater human understanding. I most certainly will drink to that.


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