Given that I am writing this blog post on the website of a nano brewery in the making, I don’t think it will come as a huge shock that I am a big fan of craft beer. I am also quite fond of the craft beer community. I love the devotion and support that craft beer enthusiasts show towards their local breweries and the excitement they feel in anticipation of a new release. I have witnessed the fevered fervor of tracking down a special release of a seasonal brew followed by the pure joy and titillation that comes with savoring its first pour. It’s a thing of absolute wonder to behold, and its something I will never tire of. I look forward to the day when even an ounce of that passion is sent the way of Regular Guy Brewing.
That said…I have to say that I am very disappointed by the angered response that my fellow brew enthusiasts have had towards Budweiser’s “Proud to be Macro” Superbowl ad.
Here’s the link, in case you missed it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siHU_9ec94c
You can’t swing a dead cat in the midst of craft beer drinkers and not nail someone bemoaning the big macros. Go to any craft brewing related internet page, and you will likely find the same thing. It’s the vogue thing to do. We tout our fancy beers and mock the swill cranked out by by the big breweries. We call it piss water. We call it crap. We call it whatever we want. And why not? It makes us feel good about ourselves after all. We are better than all those idiots and tasteless morons who don’t know what real beer is. The vitriol is palpable.
Considering the fact that craft brews are taking an ever increasing share of the beer market away from the macros, should we be at all surprised that one of the big guys would eventually take a shot back? You can only poke a bear for so long before it takes a swat at you. You wouldn’t think so, but judging from what I have been reading on Facebook and Twitter…such a rebuttal is apparently unimaginable, unjustified and entirely out of line.
We should take it as a compliment and move on, not feel indignant and insulted.
Besides that…it’s not like the commercial was even that inflammatory. If anything it was a pretty valid position statement. Budweiser is not a beer to be fussed over. There is no subtle nuance, and you certainly won’t find someone with there nose buried deep into a snifter of it trying to disseminate its delicate aromas. That’s not what it’s about…and that’s fine.
It’s beachwood aged. Great. Good for them. No problem there either.
“It’s brewed for drinking not dissecting.” This also seems very on point. You won’t see guys in vintage sport coats and buddy holly glasses taking vigorous notes in their tasting notepads over a pint of Bud…not even Bud Select. It is what it is and is not trying to be more.
Now here is where I can see a little bit of an issue…”The people who drink our beer are people who like to drink beer brewed the hard way.” I could see how this could be taken as a shot…but I don’t take it as such. There is no easy beer. Even extract kits require work and diligence to yield results. The same statement could have just as easily been said about craft beer drinkers. Any beer drinkers for that matter…so congratulations for stating the obvious?
And it seems like many people may have felt a shot was taken about the “let them sip their pumpkin peach ale” line.
I’ve seen a lot of hub-bub about this particular line since the ad first aired. People in the craft beer and home brewing communities have really honed in on this single statement. Pumpkin Peach Ale has become a bit of a battle cry. It’s no “Taxation without Representation” or “Live Free or Die,” but it’s something.
But there is a bit of truth in it. There is certainly a willingness in the craft beer community to push the boundaries. Flavor additions…from the common to extremely esoteric…litter the craft beer scene. It’s something we embrace…sometimes even develop a cult-like following around…so why are we insulted when someone points this out. Yes…we do like to put things in our beer that Budweiser does not. Sooooooo…what’s the issue?
Many have also found a great deal of irony that a brewery that Budweiser recently bought out already brews just such a Pumpkin Peach Ale and think its ridiculous that the mega-brewery would have taken a shot at one of its own subsidiaries. I have no argument on that point as it does seem kind of silly. But that is ultimately irrelevant, as it distracts from the true issue at the heart of the matter.
Ultimately, the bottom line is that beer…like anything in life…is extremely subjective. The beer that Budweiser brews is not for the self-identified beer snobs. The sour mashed “bret” that a cicerone-in-training has his nose buried in isn’t for the typical Bud drinker either. They are different products with different appeals. One does not have to hate the other to justify their own tastes…but somehow, that is how it appears to work.
It’s not enough to like craft beer. Somewhere along the line, it became an unwritten rule that to call yourself a fan of craft brewing..YOU MUST HATE BUDWEISER AND ALL ITS SOUL SUCKING ILK. WE MUST DESTROY THE EVIL EMPIRE AND VANQUISH THE OVERLORDS FROM THIS REALM. WE WILL NOT REST UNTIL THEY ARE RAN OUT OF BUSINESS AND THEIR LIFELESS BODIES ARE BEING DRUG THROUGH THE STREETS BEING PULLED BY A TEAM OF CLYDESDALES. TO WHICH WE WILL RAISE A TULIP GLASS OF OUR FINEST CRAFT BREW AND TOAST THEIR DEMISE.
Okay…that may be a bit extreme…but I stand by the sentiment. Regardless, I find this impassioned divide to be sad. Really…really…sad. Sad, and more than just a little misguided.
Craft beer comes in all shapes and sizes. We embrace so many of our own differences, but yet we seem to have this sense of justified hatred and xenophobia towards anything that does not come from within our ranks. So, they’re big. So, their beer doesn’t have as much flavor as the ones at your local brewpub. So, they make a lot of money…astronomical amounts of money…and can afford to spend money on Superbowl advertising. So, you don’t like to drink their beer. Do any of those things make them inherently bad? Sorry to say it…but no…they do not.
It might not be your cup of tea…or pint of beer…but it doesn’t have to be. I don’t like cream stouts…but I respect those that do. Some people hate IPAs…but we can still hang out. If we can have inclusivity within the craft beer community…why do we feel the need to polarize ourselves so much against the behemoth breweries?
The world does not exist in the polarizing terms that we try to force it into far too often. You can like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. You can be a Cardinals fan and still like a player on the Cubs. You can be a republican and agree with something the President says. You can be a liberal and disagree with something Michael Moore says. You can drive a Chevy but still like the F-150. One does not exclude the other.
Take pride in what you like, and call it good. It does not have to be one or the other. One is not inherently and intrinsically good and the other the culmination of all that is bad and wrong. They both…just…are.
I drink craft beer. I also brew craft beer. But I am more than willing to admit, that I drink (and enjoy) the occasional Budweiser, Coors, Keystone or even Hamm’s. Does my willing consumption of these beers make me love craft beer any less…abso-frickin-lutely not. So let’s stop acting like this is an issue of exclusivity.
Macro and micro can co-exist. But co-existing does not mean a lack of competition. If craft beer can take on the macros, the macros are more than welcome to take on craft beer. This is how the world works.
So why don’t we all unbunch our panties and just chill. Acting like petulant children will get us nowhere. If anything it just reaffirms some of the negative stereotypes that exist regarding the craft beer community. If you don’t want to be seen as pretentious, self-important snobs…maybe…just maybe…we shouldn’t act like them. Crazy idea, I know.
So please…unruffle those feathers my friends. Let’s check our snarkyness at the door and sally forth!
There’s pumpkin peach ale to be made.