Do you buy all of your clothes from a local, small-scale producer like Brooklyn Without Limits, or have you maybe, at one point, actually stepped foot into a K-Mart or Target or Lord & Taylor (is it Lord N’ Taylor, like Salt N’ Peppa?)? Do you harvest your own eggs and make sure that every drop of almond milk you pour into that kale avocado acai berry smoothie is fresh pressed by a bunch of paunchy dudes with beards? Or do you every once in a while hit up a Starbucks and hope there are actual nutrients in that Green Tea Crème Frappuccino Blended Crème? (Yes that is the actual full name.)
The answer, most very likely, is no. Or yes. Kind of got confused there. Either way, most of us aren’t entirely consistent with our conscientious consumption. We all have our healthy habits, intermixed with cocktails and tax evasion. But for some reason, possibly due to a recent craft beer explosion, we tend to hold our beer to ridiculous standards—e.g. was it made locally?; what kind of hops is it made with?; how does it express the cultural/political/religious perspective of the brewer?
Don’t get us wrong. We are absolute, die-hard fans of craft beer, and the many perversions of malt and hops that the craft beer movement has engendered. But there’s gotta be a place for macro beer, right?
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Yeah. Said it. Macro beer, the evil, tonally limpid, two-dimensional arch villain in Gotham Beer City, actually has a very specific place in our hearts. While we’re more than glad to have an Imperial Stout aged for five years in a barrel made from a log cabin Lincoln built, we’re also wondering why there’s so much shame put on macro beers. Especially when plenty of other mass-consumed products are simply…mass consumed without any need for blustering message board argumentation.
In case you’re wondering what the hell we’re talking about, by “macro-beers” we mean stuff like Miller High Life, hipster PBR, Corona, and yes, Budweiser—the very same beer a Buffalo brewery tried to buy back in order to “make the streets safe for our kids.” There’s no suggesting a macro beer has less to offer your palette than a single hop IPA or a bourbon barrel-aged stout. Macro beers are so-called because they’re made by giant companies, in big vats, with unearned horse mascots. They’re typically made with adjunct grains and generally have a two-dimensional palette impact, a little bit akin to a lager but with less to show than the lager style ideal.
Macro beers tend to be highly carbonated, highly chilled, and offer little in the way of weighty malt or pokey hops. They tend to be held by hipsters swaying slowly to Radiohead or a bunch of grey-beard dudes on a porch talking about how much such and such NFL team sucks (Patriots suck!). And in a way—Tom Brady’s wininess aside—that’s kind of awesome. You can have special, and specially priced, craft beer—it’s not going away. But as craft beer veers into hyper specialization, and Budweiser, for some incredibly stupid reason decides to rebrand itself “America,” we can still find a balance.
Think of it this way: what is the first beer you drank? Mine was Rolling Rock. Fresh, super cold, fantastically bubbly, and hyper confidence-inducing for a kid who stole her dad’s beer while he wasn’t looking. Now remember your most recent instance of craft beer intimidation. I definitely got called out for mispronouncing “brettanomyces.”
This is beer, remember. The drink of the people. The People’s Elbow. In liquid form. For some reason, beer has become so oppressively snobby that you have to know where the hops were grown, or what alt rock the brewer was listening to while the mash fermented. Enough of all of that.
There is absolutely room for both—the high and low end of the spectrum of beer appreciation. If you show up at a barbecue and you bring some macro beer, nobody will be upset. On the other hand, if you show up with a special seasonal high IBU IPA that only you like, you shall make no friends that night.
There’s a place for both. Can’t we just all have a bunch of beer?