Tag Archives: economics

Goodbye To All Of This

A recent event has caused me to reevaluate whether or not I should continue this blog. But before I get to this, I would like to thank all the people who have helped me in my educational path in the world of beer. Most of these encounters occurred long ago, but that does not mean I have forgotten their contributions. This was back in a time of magical beer thinking and writing, when there was actual poetry in describing the world’s great beers. That was before the technologically driven market place raised the concept of American exceptionalism to the point that the latest upstart breweries are bold in their marketing chutzpah:

WE DON’T BREW BEER FOR THE MASSES. INSTEAD, OUR BEERS ARE CRAFTED FOR A CHOSEN FEW, A SMALL CADRE OF RENEGADES AND REBELS WHO ENJOY BEER THAT PUSHES THE LIMITS OF WHAT IS COMMONLY ACCEPTED AS TASTE. IN SHORT. WE BREW FOR PEOPLE LIKE US. FOUNDERS. BREWED FOR US.

Well I do not know about you dear reader, but I certainly do not consider myself a part of that small cadre of the chosen few, although I have enjoyed Founders Dirty Bastard Ale, but after sampling their absolutely wretched PC Pils index a beer that actually made me ill. The first day I tried 1 bottle after a long hot day working outside. About 10 minutes later felt nauseous, so I thought maybe it’s heat exhaustion so I went to bed with an upset stomach, and thought nothing else about it.
The next day, same scenario, but with only a have day outside and an early morning breakfast, and the exact same thing happened. I was forced to throw out the rest of the six-pack and as a poor person (according to Founders, that must mean I am one of those “masses” that they do not brew for) that $10 plus tax does not sit well with me. But as the Beer Doctor, I always assumed that buying bad beer, or simply beers I do not like, was part of the material costs of the continuing project. But the arrogance associated with this horrible brew, went beyond all decency for me.
Calling this beer American hopped pilsner is a cruel joke for someone seeking the comfort of the malt forward style accentuated by floral hops. This is just an India Pale Lager of the worst kind. It made me wonder if perhaps those bold American hops of Chinook. Cascade. and Centennial where sprayed with pesticides? All I really know is this beer made me sick.

For those who have grown up learning about beer from the Internet, most of the information posted on web sites such as Beer Advocate or Rate Beer are basically useless, because there is an entire cadre of beer fans who offer their opinions with no idea of what they are talking about. Back that up with belligerent bullshit from the aggressive new breweries on the block, and you have a rising mountain of disinformation, which makes you believe that the latest US barrel aged sour is better than Rodenbach Grand Cru.

Then of course there is that neoliberal wet dream known as the Brewers Association, who seem to evolve along the lines of the Democratic National Committee. First, by expanding how many millions of barrels of beer you are allowed to brew and still be designated with that most holy term of craft. Then there is the thought police aspect of this virtuous group who have decided to clean up their industry of what they deem to be offensive labels. This prompted Flying Dog Brewery to say, thanks but no thanks, and bye bye.
The recent BA decision to produce an independently brewed designation on labels, it is said to be designed to differentiate from Big Brewer takeover of craft brewed brands. Well, this seems like pissing into the wind, because after all, those masses are not part of their audience anyway, that is mostly white, affluent and exceptionally American. How else to explain why Dogfish Head takes pride in the fact that their beers sell for over $50 a case?

Beer at one time was the drink of the common people. Who were the common people? Those who were not a part of the Ownership Class. The people who had to have session beer so they could continue their long shifts in armament factories in England in World War I. Beer provided respite from the often brutal ordeals of everyday living. In that sense, big beer productions is still doing that ihamms but is often overlooked by the racist snobbery of those in the industry who think it would be fun to make a faux tribute to malt liquor. To be sure, I lived under that delusional nonsense that tells me I should be concerned about where my precious money goes. In other words: who are the cool millionaires?
Globalism is not just for shoes and clothing. Beer is right there in the mix. Ask the people in the continent of Australia how they feel about AB-I taking over Carlton United ownership? How does Cooper & Sons play into all of this?

Here in the United States, we have the altruistic craft breweries, who do the neoliberal right thing  of donating to charities they deem worthy, or creating projects such as teaching incarcerated women how to repair bicycles.
The spirit of inventiveness abounds. I have a brewer in my own neighborhood who is creating an ale that mimics a famous local dill pickle.
Oh lord get me out of here! Goodbye to all of this.

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TO BEER OR NOT TO BEER

It is not something readily admitted, but this could be the winter of economic discontent. A place in time where there is nothing left to squeeze…
Beer has gone up in price again. An inevitable announcement that is in truth another new tax. Blame it on the farmers growing corn instead of barley. The worldwide hops shortage. The trillions of dollars for government debt. Blame it on the…

Tried to come to grips with the faces of fellow citizens. The only true thing you have in common is the unrelenting pressure, attempting to comply with the prerequisites of a market driven, advertising obsessed culture. The same culture that claims Microsoft and McDonald’s are really good for you. An eye phone ring tone of enormous proportions.

What of the Bell’s Brewery and those folks who think nothing of spending nine dollars plus on a six pack of their beer. Will they mind that it is now ten dollars plus a six pack? Purchasing support for Larry Bell’s lifestyle, who, it is said, is a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs. These very same people who consider Oberon Kalamazoo Brewing’s gift to summer, and with one swipe of plastic can get back to their busy lives. Will they stay with this brew ship as the price sails keep rising?

Possible consultant work: Beer Doctor, they built this gigantic beer cave but all they have in it is some pretty lousy beer. They need someone to put quality in there to attract new customers, to develop a loyal following…

The beer business has its full share of incompetent people. People who do not care. People who don’t really love beer. People who would be just as happy moving kitchen appliances. It takes vision to create a great beer store, not just the desire to be economically successful. To provide a better selection for all your customers, not just the ones with disposable income.
It gets plenty rough when the money dries up. People who lose well paid jobs that are not coming back, sometimes turn to Vodka to knock back the nagging reality. At that point beer becomes a kind of joke, even the so-called extreme versions.

What the hekt is going on?

Brew master Garrett Oliver pointed out that beer “unlike wine, it’s an affordable luxury”. In King Hummurabi’s time, over charging for beer was punishable by drowning. Which brings up the main point here: How can you enjoy a beer if all you think about is the money involved? Most people just bite the proverbial bullet and pay the increased price, even though their own personal income has not increased, sometimes for years. Others, like yours truly, are forever vigilant, looking for a high quality brew at a reasonable price; which in these inflation driven times has become rare and difficult. The alternative of switching to macro brands (which have gone up in price too) is not really an option for a seeker of beer with flavor. The so-called retro classics are fine up to a point (the legendary lawn mowing beer) but that gets boring rather quickly. If beer is to be a life of drinking almost tasteless carbonated suds, I think (in fact I know) I’ll switch to water. That is the not to beer.
As for the to beer, all I can say is appreciate the quality even more, knowing that there may come a time when it may no longer be available. Remember that in 1974, beer was nearly destroyed in the United States. A human invention of at least ten thousand years was reduced to foamy nothingness in a can. May that never happen again. Thank You.beer_mat1.jpg