Even the most militant craft beer evangelist drinks an industrial beer from time to time. When traveling, maybe; or when seeking comfort at the end of a long day. Or if there’s nothing else in the fridge.
Without invoking (much) shame from the craft community, there’s a time and place for everything. I can cop to sipping a frigid Brazilian Skol at Copacabana Beach. When in Rio, right? I may have also indulged in a Rainier while picking hops with the crew from Founders Brewing in Washington State.
Sometimes, advocates for all things indie and artisanal find themselves ordering “crap on tap” for NO REASON AT ALL. Plenty of industry types do this too. (They’re just like us!) Even those who empowered the craft beer boom that guarantees even the diviest American taproom will have a Sam or Sierra Pale on draught, will crush an ice-cold Coors Light when the mood strikes. Some, but not all, will even admit to it.
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Kudos to these 15 brewers comfortable enough to share their guilty-pleasure macro beers. Fascinating patterns emerged from their confessions. An AB InBev lager makes multiple appearances in this list, as does one highly democratic domestic label. There’s comfort in community, right?
“My guilty pleasure beer is Coors Light. I generally have a few cans in my refrigerator for the rare moments when I don’t want a craft beer but I don’t want to drink soda or water … I like it because it’s a lot like water. My only requirement for drinking it is that it’s cold.” — Shaun O’Sullivan, Co-founder/Brewmaster, 21st Amendment Brewery
“Guinness. Then Stella. The Guinness trick in America is order two at once then order your third at the bottom of the first. The time on bar lets the second and each one after get to the proper temp. Stella has the least flaws of most industrial lagers. Most mass-market lagers have their unique flaw, which, although tolerable ice cold and without attention, blows them up if you stick with them through a night.” — Augie Carton, Founder, Carton Brewing
“Of course I drink ‘cheap’ beer. Miller High Life has been a staple of the brewing industry for years. Being a brewer, especially in this day and age, we are constantly flooded with beers with a bunch of bullshit in them. Marshmallow, chocolate peanut butter stouts, sassafras and cola nut saisons, and yuzu IPAs (I mean… WTF is YUZU!) are all anyone can brew and sell anymore. But sometimes we have to go back and try, just for a second, to remember what beer-flavored beer tastes like. So Miller High Life is a good example of a nice crisp and clean northern German lager. It’s what brewers like me drink.” — Jerry Gnagy, “Brewmonster”/Owner, Against the Grain Brewery
“Mine is Stella Artois. Not sure why but for some odd reason I kinda like it. I find myself buying a 12-pack of bottles (old school, I know) and drink it when I’m thirsty. Is it better than other macro lagers? I think so. Or at least I made myself believe so.” — Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, Brewer/Owner, Evil Twin Brewing
“I drink PBR in the summer months straight up and cold, but not ice cold. PBR has a bit more hop to it than most macro beers. It’s a very good cycling beer — during and after!” — John Maeir, Brewmaster, Rogue Ales
“I’m definitely a Genessee Cream Ale guy. For a macro beer, I think it’s well-balanced and mighty sessionable. In fact, I love ‘Genny’ so much that I married one: My wife’s name is Jenny.” — Matt McCall, Head Brewer, Coney Island Brewery
“Miller High Life. My fishing beer.” — Kim Mizner, Brewer, The Austin Beer Garden Co.
“When I need a break from all the hype and my palate is fatigued, rarely do I pass up a draught of Yuengling’s Lord Chesterfield. It is the perfect thirst quencher, and one of the few beers that have retained their character since Prohibition.” — Brian O’Reilly, Brewmaster, Sly Fox Brewing
“He said he doesn’t have a guilty-pleasure cheap beer, which I can attest to. Every time I order my beloved High Life, he pokes fun at my poor taste.” — Christy Howery, ADI Operations Director, speaking about “Wild” Bill Owens, Founder, Buffalo Bill’s Brewery and American Distilling Institute
“Here in the Pacific Northwest, when you get back to your truck after an epic adventure in the mountains, someone is throwing me an ice-cold Rainier, or ‘Vitamin R.’ Cold, refreshing, clean, and replenishing … it definitely does the job well in those moments.” — Josh Pfriem, Brewmaster/Co-founder, Pfriem Family Brewers
“One night we had friends over and I remembered the lonely can of Coors Light that someone had left at a party. I used it to demonstrate that you could add some 88 percent lactic acid from the homebrew store to create a passable kettle sour. We all agreed the lactic acid improved the Coors Light considerably. It just goes to show that sometimes a lightly flavored beer with low bittering can be used as a base to create a different style of beer. Try it!” — Teri Fahrendorf, Former Brewmaster, Steelhead Brewing Company, and Founder, Pink Boots Society
“I’ll tell ya, 20 years ago in the Mission in SF, after enjoying a ton of Negra Modelo with our favorite burrito spots, I was really excited to make a brown ale called Messiah.” — Jeremy Cowan, Founder, Schmaltz Brewing
“My go-to macro is Miller High Life. It’s easy to drink and forgettable without being regrettable the next morning. If I am in Baltimore, Natty Bo all the way.” — Tim Patton, Owner, St. Benjamin’s Brewing
“I’m a big fan of Bohemia… I’ve never bought a 6-pack but I probably have it a few times a month when at a Mexican restaurant. For some reason drinking it from the bottle makes it a bit more bitter, and I like the slight metallic flavor from the foil. I do hate it when a lime wedge is stuck in the top, though.” — Patrick Rue, CEO/Founder, The Bruery and Bruery Terreux
“My favorite beer is the one I’m drinking. No matter where I am or who I’m with.” — Beth Hartwell, Co-founder, Pyramid Brewing