Saturday, April 6, 2013

Quality and Community: The Benefits of Switching to Craft Beer

Over the years of my craft beer consumption, I've been asked a lot of questions. Usually it's the garden-variety stuff like, "So what got you into craft beer?"or "What's the weirdest type of beer you've ever had?" Almost always, they're about my personal history or preference when it comes to beer. There's one question, though, that has always been my favorite to answer:

"What's so special about craft beer?"

Anytime someone throws this one at me, I switch from Brian-the-conversationalist to Brian-the-passionate. This is the one question almost every craft beer drinker has been asked, and it's one that they should have an answer for regardless.

It can be tricky answer, as every craft consumer takes a different journey down the proverbial dirt-road to reach their ultimate destination. Over the years, I've tried to make my response less and less personal. I don't like to just answer the question, I like to be persuasive, damn it! This isn't a question about my personal journey, it's a question about the industry as a whole, and I have to remove myself from the equation as much as possible until I finally drive the point home.

The short answer I give is this: quality and community.

Quality is a tricky one to explain to people. After all, the BMC macros (Bud, Miller, Coors) are the most widely-drank beer in the States, and it's really not even close. The total market share for craft beer in 2012? A grand total of 6.5%.  So who am I to say that this their beer isn't high-quality stuff. After, quality is pretty much a subjective issue, isn't it?

Fuck you and your shitty tastebuds! Fight the macros, maaaan!

The thing is this: there are objective aspects to beer, and macrobreweries fail at almost every single one of them. Ingredients? Budweiser is made with 30% rice to make it super-affordable, but that 30% could be used to, you know, actually give the beer flavor. What about the all-powerful TRIPLE-HOPS-BREWED MASSACRE Miller Lite? Well, the most recent word is that they don't even really use hops, just hop extracts. Seriously, at what point does a beer cease to be a beer?

Now, I hate to sound smug. I've always been a drink-what-you-enjoy person. Lord knows, no one's ever going to persuade me to switch to Absinthe. Still, there's no denying that the macros are brewed to have a relatively weak flavor. What's more, they significantly lack in variety. I'm thoroughly convinced you could do one of those Pepsi-challenge thing-a-ma-bobs with beer and no one could pick between Bud Miller and Coors. They're all the same style, and they're all incredibly similar in flavor. That's not something that will happen once you start venturing down the road of stouts, IPAs, and lambics.

So what about the social aspect of beer? Historically, beer has been a very social drink. Aside from maybe kicking back with a brew on a hot, summer day, the phrase "drinking beer" almost always brings some sort of social gathering to mind. From bros playing beer pong to huge festivals (Oktoberfest, anyone), beer just screams comradery... or cleavage, depending what kind of Oktoberfest you go to.

Every other image more focused on the cleavage

The fact of the matter is that the craft beer scene is extremely communal. Collaborations? Happens all of time. Banding together to help the latest brewery get its feet off the ground? Boom.

It boils down to this: all craft brewers are also craft drinkers, and if there's one thing craft drinkers enjoy, it's sharing a brew we've never had before. It just makes sense that the communities support each other and encourage experimentation and expansion. Ultimately, brewing's an art form and we're always excited about the next big thing as much as we are the all-time classics.

On top of that, go back to that original link and you'll see that over 150,000 local jobs were created by local breweries in the past year ago. So it's communal in more than one sense of the word. Not only is it social, it's also bolstering local economies. Seriously, what isn't to love about that.

I guess to sum things up into one neat, little package, I'll just say this: switching to craft beer will mean paying more for your drink, yes, but the benefits from the extra money-per-bottle you'll see are more than worth the slight change in your budget. What's more, in spite of what the phrase "beer snob" may imply, we are for the most part extremely welcoming people. It goes with the territory.

So put down that 24-case of Natty Lite. Set aside that fridge-pack of Keystone. Hide that bottle of Coors in the back of the fridge. There's never been a better time to commit yourself to craft.

I swear, I'm only halfway-drunk, guys.

I look forward to seeing you on the other side.

Brian has been an advocate of craft beer since 2008. He also enjoys film, video games, reading, and long walks on the beach. You can follow his latest idiotic ramblings on his twitter. Or not. @Doomed_Knox, either way.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Big Revival

So, this blog is technically still a thing. I know, I know - I haven't updated it in months. I fully admit that this is all my fault - I take all the blames in existence. Fault me, baby, fault me!

Now, in my defense, there were a number of factors for the prolonged silence - primarily, there was a good chance that I'd lose my job. Naturally, that means tightened up the ol' budget belt and decided to take a BIG chunk of my beer budget out of my monthly expenditure (nearly halfed, as a matter of fact). Naturally, I can't write about beer unless I'm able to acquire it, and most of what I acquired in this period was stuff either not worth writing about or uh... well, there just wasn't much.

Secondly, there are a number of other endeavors I started to partake in. I wrote a full-length screenplay, for example. Is it any good? I don't know... Does, like, the pope shit in the woods, man?

Apologies for stealing your analogy, Dude. Won't happen again.

Honestly, I don't know if anything will come of it, but what's the point if I don't try, right?

Also, during my time off, I kind of ran off and started diving into video games again. They've been an on-off passion of mine since I turned 17. Sometimes I'll try new games, sometimes I'll go back to modding Doom, sometimes I just don't care. The cycle of things goes that way. Most recently, I've been doing the rare podcast for the really cool people at In The Name of Game, which seems to indicate that I'm SUPER into it right now.

Oh, and now I'm registering for CBEST in hopes getting on the path to a teaching credential. Yeah... there was a lot of motivation to do other things.

Yet, here I am once more trying to get things going once again. Job security does funny things to a person, I guess... Certainly helps me economically. Though, honestly, moving to L.A. after college might not have been the brightest of ideas. After all, it's pretty overcrowded as-is and the city's sufferin' from unemployment as a result. Everyone keeps movin' out west though, like an old west wagon train. I guess that's just the way the whole durned human comedy keeps perpetuatin' itself... oh, I'm ramblin' again.

SSorry there, stranger... I won't steal your lines neither.

Anyways... hopefully I'm back for permanent (is that even a proper sentence? I don't even know anymore) and I can get this thing rolling again. Regardless of whether it I can be consistent, there are some changes a'coming:

  • No dedicated review days - the Monday Night Beer Review was one of the reasons I struggled to keep active. Sometimes I just wasn't ready to review the next brew. This will help keep things rolling.
  • Slightly more free-form reviews - Breaking it down into components can be nice, but I've always preferred a style that allows for more creative flexibility. Beer is as much an art as it is a science, and it should be given a more subjective treatment as opposed to the objective fashion of before
  • Stretching of focus - I have way too many things I adore to have a strictly-beer blog. So, the rare entry will involve some other art form - film, video games, that sort of stuff. Now, I WILL try and tie these into beer in fun and imaginative ways. If they aren't well-received (though I imagine only my parents and random friend or two will actually read this stupid thing), then I'll just cut that shit out
  • "Beer Headlines" - entries where I'll try and discuss the latest and the greatest from around the industry. Good way to stay relative, I guess.
  • Increase in "essays" - I like writing about beer more than reviewing the beers themselves, so this is a thing that's going to happen.
So yeah, there you have it. That's the only stuff I can think at the moment. I'll be goddamned and a motherfucker if anything else pops up in the near-future. Huh?

Sigh... I'll cut back on the cursin' too. Promise.

Okay, okay. I'll try and cut back on the cursin'. Goddamn.

Anywho, until next time: have yourself a hoppy day! HAHAHA, GET IT?!?!?!

Ugh... maybe I was better off not writing this stupid thing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Dreaded AB 12 Project: Batch 63118

"Back up in yo ass with the resurrection"
-Willie D, "Still"

Wow, what an appropriate quote to start off this post. Now, I know, I didn't do what I promise to do - update this regularly. What can I say? One minute you're super-pumped about a blog you just started, the next thing you know you're knee deep in a Ponzi-like scheme and your office building catches on fire... Or something like that. You get the gist.

Anyways, let's get straight down to brass taxes: I'm pretty excited for this entry, as it's the first part of a small mini-series that, at the bare minimum, will be funnier than Band of Brothers (which is hilarious!). What kind of mini-series? Well, brace yourselves, because winter is coming Anheuser-Busch is pretending to be a craft brewer again! 

Tron Carter agrees, this is even funnier than Nick Cannon!

OW, shit! Sorry, my side just split in 2.

Terrible jokes out of the way, I'm so against AB and SABMiller and all those other macros trying to corner the craft market that I might as well be the Leonidas to their Xerxes. Not the shitty 300 version, either, but the legit thing. My plight is serious, people. The first of these is coming straight from my old stomping grounds, St. Louis. Let's get going down this long and lonesome road (because seriously, who reads these entries?).

I'll get deeper into that another day, but before anyone asks: them brewing beer that isn't total shit is a good thing, but there's shadier stuff happening in the background. Another story for another entry.

Anheuser-Busch 12 Series: Batch 63118 (St. Louis, MO)

Surprise, motherfuckers! The bold and daring AB brewing company is going all out this time with pilsener! Wow, InBev, you so adventurous! Why you no brewmaster?

Okay, let's be real: there's nothing wrong with a good pilsener. The Germans and Czechs each have their own unique approach to it, and like any other delicious beer, the American crafters went ahead and decided to make a much more intense version of it, so there's a lot to love. AB took the German route, because St. Louis. I'm from the suburbs there, and I'll be goddamned if those people don't love their German beers. Can't blame them: when the heat and the humidity get near 100, nothing beats a light, easy-drinking beer... Well, so long as it doesn't have adjunct, but you get the drift.

Anyways, picture:

My Schlafly glass didn't talk to me for a week.

Very clean-looking is the first thing that comes to mind when I pour it. Clear, golden body topped off with a surprisingly-thick white head. More foamy than anything else, it dissipates at a pretty decent clip before settling in to a seafoam-esque appearance. Lots of carbonation floating to the top and a thin trail of lace makes this a rather solid-looking brew. None too shabby, thus far.

The presentation... holy cow, this bottle has to be paper-thin. It's like holding air. Okay, it's not a big deal, but really, that's an odd thing to pick up that goes a long way in reminding me that this is the cheapest possible approach to beer one can make. The label itself is fine: very standard colors with a list o' stats and even a nifty description of what to expect from the beer. Hops used in St. Louis in the 19th century? At the minimum, that gives a sense of tradition that will excuse them from their inability to stray too far from a dependable formula. All in all... I think like it?

Does this make me a terrible person?


Thin traces of noble hops with a hint of grain underneath. It’s very subdued and not all that impressive, but it certainly beats the pants off the typical AB beers you grab from the store. Light bread and floral scent, really. This is what I’d call a second-rate pils scent. Pleasant, but not at all there. I don't have much to say about this one because there's not much there.


Think of St. Louis' skyline. It's certainly got a couple of buildings standing around doing nothing (much like myself), but at the end of the day, there's one thing that makes it standout: the Arch. It's very one-dimensional.

Ha! Nice try, Millenium Hotel!

This is fits the beer to a T:

Very floral the whole way through and with sharp carbonation, the initial reaction to this is that it’s extremely one-dimensional. Finish is clean and finally gives off a hint of malty undertones with a biscuity flavor. If that had been more prominent, I might have really liked this, as-is, it’s just okay. Body’s light and prickly which is perfectly fine for a pils. All in all, it’s a decent affair and a solid good day-drinking beer.


Ah, AB… you know, I would have never bought this (this 12-pack mixer was a gift) as the big macros are starting to try and corner the craft-brewing market, which is in 2 words, fucking annoying. This is exactly what craft beer would be like if they achieved it: mediocre versions of the real thing. Blue Moon is another example of this (being under Coors’ label). I could do a whole entry on why I don’t like what they’re doing, and probably will, but for now, I’ll just say that this is a very standard affair. Certainly take it if it’s offer, but you won’t lose sleep over missing out on it. Good drinking companion for some good ‘Murrcan brats.

Casual beer fans can't go wrong with this, but I beg you: try something from an actual microbrewery. It'll be higher-quality and good for the local economy. You can't beat supporting local businesses.


"Practice harder." -Master Splinter