It’s impossible for everyone to care about craft beer, no matter how much outright devotion craft beer fans on the internet have for independent breweries. A story this week delivered a relevant case in point: a macro-focused interview with De’Mar Hamilton from the Plain White Ts in October. October is a publication funded by AB InBev’s venture fund that was launched to “help the growing audience for craft beer.” Hamilton admitted a love of Miller, but was quick to throw some love out there for Budweiser as well with quotes like, “You will always go back” and “Who’s like, ‘I don’t like Budweiser?’ Nobody.”
People on Twitter were quick to point out that Hamilton mentioned Budweiser in the feature and that’s why it ran in the first place. Perhaps. But it could also be that most people who drink beer simply don’t care about craft beer. They just care about drinking regular old beer.
My dad recently came to New York City for the first time. He drinks beer to drink beer, meaning I usually get a look when I give him something other than a Steel Reserve, Hurricane, or Budweiser. But since he was here, I took him to some of my favorite breweries in the city, like Threes Brewing Company and Strong Rope. I also forced him to try something new at the beer bars ABC Beer Company and Broadway Dive. Oh, he liked them fine. But when we got home, he cracked open another Budweiser, even though there were plenty of good beers in my fridge.
Craft beer has plenty of cultural icons who can sing its praises, but October chose to interview Hamilton. Is that because they were sure he would say macro beer is best? Only a few people can know that. But there’s nothing wrong with his choices. Just because I don’t seek out organic food doesn’t mean I’m anti-organic farming, and just because Hamilton doesn’t seek out craft beer doesn’t mean he’s anti-craft beer. It’s time to accept that not everyone is a craft beer fan, and that’s O.K. No need to take it out on the people who don’t care, just like I wouldn’t want a vegetarian to take it out on me that I’m not vegetarian.
Hamilton proves my point when he notes that the beers he likes are drinkable, easy, and light. “Something about classic beer like that, like a Budweiser, what more do you need?” He goes on: “It’s perfect. When we did put IPAs on the rider, back in the day, the bus would just be filled with IPAs. No one would drink them. People would get mad and be like, ‘Can’t we get normal fucking beer out here?’ We’d have some porter, some crap. It’s so true. We hated that. So, we cut it out, no more micro-brews, none of that shit. Then it was just Miller Lite.”
There’s no reason that everyone has to have a positive opinion of craft beer. And that’s just fine.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission gives in to the Clusterfuck.
Beer regulations in Texas are by all accounts a mess. It seemed like there was some hope for the state to become a major center for craft brewing, but then it passed a dumb new law that forces breweries to sell their beer to a distributor, which means they now have to buy it back if they want to sell their own beer in their taproom.
This naturally caused quite a fuss. And though the TABC is standing by their law, the Commission seems to have given in to the chaos on another front — by approving the beer name Clusterfuck IPA. Let freedom and the power of the First Amendment ring.
As the San Antonio Current notes, the timing couldn’t be better. Six leaders at the TABC stepped down last month in a corruption scandal. But the approval had nothing to do with what’s going on at the government agency, a spokesperson told the Current.
“In cases like these, we come up against First Amendment issues,” the spokesperson said. “Because the community standard for indecent is so different across the state, we’re unable to make that call.”
So a government agency will sanction the name “Clusterfuck” under First Amendment protections, but the entire Gawker network can be taken down for publishing something that cast a bad light on an already disagreeable public figure.
Strange times, indeed.
Budweiser ditches federalism
Budweiser is turning its America First cans into states first cans, proving that no one, not even a giant brewing corporation, is above appealing to niche tribalism.
Eleven states — California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia — will be printed on Budweiser cans where “America” was once written. The states chosen are the ones where Budweiser is brewed. The company is doing everything it can to stop its hemorrhaging sales, and appealing to the niche seems like a good way to do it.
Luckily for Budweiser, there will always be people who prefer a cheap macro beer over a craft beer (and again, there’s nothing wrong with that). Budweiser is losing the fight to Miller, though, with everyone from a VinePair tasting panel to a Chicago Tribune tasting panel ranking Miller High Life above Budweiser.
In the fight of macro versus macro, going after state pride is a smart move.