As you may have ascertained from reading previous posts of mine, complaining about what frustrates or even infuriates me is an endeavor in which I have taken part. To sometimes appease those visions of red, I cool down with a choice beverage. But, just for your reading pleasure, my pessimism has found a way to infiltrate my beer drinking pastime and has found the topic itself to be worthy of my general disappointment. To be more specific, beer advertisements are so insulting to our collective intelligence, but what’s even worse? They work. There is a catch however: a positive one at that.
Many of you have seen the Coors Light commercial with John Brenkus from ESPN Sports Science and the adoptive “celebrity” spokesperson for Coors, Ice Cube. As seen in said commercial, the premise of their entire ad campaign is that their beer is cold. This ingenious, bastion of marketing techniques that required so much out of the box thinking and university trained sales practices has yielded a lot of success for those who employ it. That is unfathomable. Whether it’s the silver bullet train covered in ice, the two frosted bearded men rappelling in a glacier to remove beer bottle crystals, the “cold-activated” Rocky Mountain features on the cans turning blue when your beer is cold, or the assertion that the beer company’s distribution trucks are kept at a lower temperature than the rest is just so absurd as a way to entice people to buy beer. What do we learn from those infantile in complexity ploys? We want beer, we like it cold, and we don’t care what it tastes like. But, fortunately, American consumers are beginning to shed this dead weight of marketing idiocy rivaled only by the Budweiser horses whose relevance is still beyond me. They are doing so in favor of the growing Microbrewery resurgence in the U.S.
Two centuries ago, this country was an artisan beer market. Many German immigrants had traveled here and used similar hops and barley on their new American farms as they had grown in Bavaria and the regions their families inhabited overseas. The abundance of fresh water running through virtually every rural hillside and valley led to the popularization of home brewing and distilling. As a result, when the industrial revolution took shape in America, many factories were created to produce beer and would qualify today as microbreweries. Americans consumed an exorbitant amount of alcohol in that time period which eventually led to the period of Prohibition which resulted in the closure of many of these family owned breweries who could then not afford to reopen after the repeal of Prohibition due to high costs of registration, licensing, and a growing emphasis on health and safety regulations in factories. America lost a lot of its beer brewing heritage which was not revitalized post Prohibition until recently. In fact, the only reason why MIller, Budweiser, Coors, and a few others are popular today is due to their incessant advertising campaigns combined with growing sophistication of bottling practices and the beer containers themselves.
America’s big names in beer, responsible for 99% of our Super Bowl commercials are all lager producers. In fact, 90% of the American beer market is lager. They are lighter in color, thinner in body, watery in taste, low in flavor, and extremely low in alcohol content (so you drink/buy more and it’s cheaper to produce). Microbrews are bringing back into the market a higher quality, higher alcohol by volume product with more flavor, complexity, and greater opportunity for specialization than in the American lager market. Hopefully, this trend will continue and we can reject the supposed appeal of a beer company whose unique characteristic is the beer’s temperature.
Here are a list of some breweries that are worth your attention.
Terrapin Brewing Company
Favorite Offering: Hopsecutioner-American style IPA
Founders Brewing Company
Favorite Offering: Breakfast Stoudt
Dogfish Head Brewing Company
Favorite Offering: 60 minute IPA
Troegs Brewing Company:
Favorite Offering(s): Perpetual IPA and Pale Ale
Flying Dog Brewery:
Favorite Offering(s): Raging Bitch-Belgian IPA and Doggy Style-Pale Ale