Ben's Beer Blog

A place for all things beer.


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How to talk to your friend about drinking shitty beer

Have you noticed that a friend or family member is still drinking beers like Budweiser, Molson Canadian, Coors Light, Miller Light, or even Pabst?

It can be difficult watching someone you care about drink shitty industrial lager. You may feel torn about how to discuss foreign ownership, adjuncts, and the fact that much more interesting beer exists. But while the conversation about dad beers is never an easy one, it’s necessary.

Before talking to your friend about their shitty drinking habits, it’s important to understand that they may not realize they have a problem. Some people happily picking up a 2-4 with a NASCAR shirt in it or grabbing a “suitcase” of “crushable” cans for a trip to the cottage may deny they have a problem entirely. Regardless of your friend’s reaction, stay calm and know that you have their best interest in mind.

First and foremost, collect your thoughts and think about what you’re going to say ahead of time. A supportive message will be received better than negative, hurtful language. This is a difficult time for your friend, so your reassurance will help them realize they’re not alone. Millions of people have learned to put down the industrial lagers and drink well-made, interesting beer. Macro abuse should be discussed sooner rather than later. The earlier you have the conversation, the quicker your friend can seek treatment and start accompanying you on brew pub visits, ordering flights of small batch beer, and taking part in your bottle shares. Continue reading


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Cheap beer is not a “drink of choice”

The following is a response to a recent National Post column entitled, “How cheap beer and its easy, crispy, inoffensive taste became the drink of choice.

Hi Claudia,

I read your column today, and I felt compelled to respond.

But before I do so, I must first address your title, even though I know it was likely an editor’s choice and not yours, but beer is not “crispy.” Crispy denotes firmness and brittleness. Wafers are crispy. Crackers are crispy. Your beer is not crispy. The term you are likely seeking is “crisp,” a lazy beer shorthand often lumped in with the words “clean” and “cold” as a way to pile on modifiers that all essentially mean “this tastes like nothing, and I like that.”

Anyway. To your actual article.

As someone who has written fairly extensively about the beer industry in Ontario for the better part of a decade, I felt obligated to speak up because, to me, you’re promoting some unfair preconceptions about craft beer that continue to make it seem inaccessible, and you’re discussing shitty beer as a choice people are making, and it often really isn’t. Continue reading


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Brewmancer: The Awakening

A few days ago, reports indicated that AB InBev, the world’s largest beer company, was seeking a possible acquisition of Coca Cola. The news, which comes shortly on the heels of AB InBev’s $107 billion purchase of SABMiller, means that the international beer company is eyeing plans to catapult them to a status of one of the world’s largest corporations with a global monopoly on beverages. The following excerpt is a glimpse into the future that market experts have predicted would likely result from such a merger. 

ab-inbevia
Dusk was already creeping over the wastelands when Bretta arrived home. The wrinkles of her clothes were filled with sand, her canteen was empty, and the battery on her respirator was dangerously low. She was going to be in shit.

And for what? She thought as she thumbed the meagre pouch of cereal grain in her pack and climbed down the shaft to the Warrens.

Powering down her scanners and taking off her goggles in the cool air of the open caverns, Bretta saw her neighbours chatting while they rinsed air filters in the in a drum under the cracked Dasani pipeline that provided the ward’s water and she smelled the early evening Warren smells of frying Devil Worms and Bark Beetles. For a second she forgot about the trouble she was in and was just happy to be home to rest after long day.

But she didn’t even have time to knock on the shelter’s door before it opened with a pneumatic hiss and her mother, Myrcena, knocked her on the forehead head with an open palm.

“Where the hell have you been?”

Her mother didn’t wait for an answer and instead hurried past and scurried up to the surface with her binocs.

“I wasn’t followed, Ma!” she yelled, but it was no use. Bretta left the door open and plopped onto the lumpy couch beside her brother, Quaff. She was dirty and too tired to kick off her boots. Quaff was too entranced by a game on his iPalm to even notice her.

Up top, Mycrena scanned the horizon for unusual shapes or heat signatures, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The towering malting silos loomed in the distance and the shimmering silhouette of the far off INCOCABEV Brewing and Manufacturing District belched a steady yellow torrent of acrid smoke and steam into the air.

Driverless transports dotted the landscape in uniform lines running between the silos and the breweries with a scattered few trickling in from the Beech Nurseries to the east and the Binelands to north, with another trail of tankers carrying finished product south to the colonies at Los Angeles, Santa Melania, and beyond. The skies and the vast expanse of desert, Mycrena noted with relief, were clear.

Bretta was drifting off when Mycrena returned.

“Where is it?” she boomed, wrenching Bretta’s pack from her shoulder.

“Hey! Give me that!” she said. “Where’s what?”

“Don’t play dumb,” Mycrena said, rummaging through the pack. “I know you went to the grain route after your shift. I heard on the scanners that Crafters had crashed a malt transport.”

“Hey! That’s my stuff!” Bretta cried as her mother threw mash tun drawings and a tattered copy of Michael Jackson’s Great Beer Guide to the ground. And then she found it.

“Ah ha! I knew it,” she said, holding the small bag of malted grain aloft. “What do you expect to do with this, huh? You couldn’t brew a pint with this! You waste four hours of respirator filter? For what? Some homebrewing fantasy?”

Bretta fought back tears as she stuffed her notebook back in her pack. “It’s not a fantasy. Humans will brew again! The elders say they already are in Brookla—“

“There is no more Brooklandia,” her mother cut her off. “The elders are wrong. Get that through your head. Everything East of Missouri has been a wasteland since Trump drained the lakes in the Twitter Wars.”

“You don’t know that,” Bretta yelled, the tears streaming now. “How can you know that? Father Koch—“

“Father Koch?! He’s the worst of them all! A madman, preaching ancient religions as though the ability to make beer again will somehow save us all. It’s nonsense, Bretta.”

“Nonsense?” Bretta yelled. “Is that why the rebellion was fought? Is that why you fought? For nothing? Is that what dad died for—“

“Bretta! Enough!” Mycrena screamed, slamming a rehydrator on the counter. The noise made Quaff fall off the couch. “Enough talk of beer. Go to your room!”

* * *

Once Bretta had stopped crying, she dumped her pack on her bed and smoothed the dog-eared corners of her books; mostly ancient homebrewing guides, reprints of reprints, copies that had been passed around the Warrens since before she was born.

She heard her mother banging pots and pans in the kitchen, kicking and swearing at the old clunking hedrolon as it whirred to life. Bretta closed the door quietly, and crawled under her bed.

The small plant she had hidden there was frail, but definitely still green. She had nursed it lovingly since she had traded some Crafters for the ratty chunk of rhizome and she dutifully took it to the surface every morning for light before her mother awoke. She held her breath as she admired it; turned it slowly. She dared not touch it.

And there it was. It was only the size of a pea, but there was no mistaking it: A hop cone. Bretta gasped.

Then suddenly, the earth around her began to shake. A low vibration at first, but then a terrifying rumble. Sand and dust fell from the walls and she heard crashing as things fell from the walls in the rest of the shelter. The door flew open and Mycrena was there, clutching a terrified Quaff to her. She registered the tiny hop bine in Bretta’s hands and something like rage flickered across her eyes, but now was not the time.

“You were followed,” she said, reaching out her hand, “Come with me.”

Out in the main caverns, Mycrena shoved Bretta and Quaff up the tunnel to the hatch. It was chaos as dirt and dust fell and light from unseen holes above suddenly pierced the Warrens. They scrambled to the surface. Up top, they saw the source of the noise and chaos: Budroids. Dozens of them, far larger than they had ever seemed as a mere spot in the distance, buzzing like giant, menacing, mechanical wasps. They bored their massive drills into the earth all around the opening to the hatch, tunneling toward the Warrens and the camp below.

The Budroid’s cameras swiveled atop their over-sized bodies, tracking as Bretta’s friends and neighbours ran in blind terror, scrambling from holes that now dotted the desert.

“Look!” Quaff yelled.

At first Bretta saw only a cloud on the horizon, growing larger against the sunset. But then the noise met them and they saw that the cloud was actually dust being kicked up as an battalion of fast-moving vehicles thundered across the open desert toward them; dozens of red and white armored Clydesdale M1A2s, their plasma cannons distinct and glinting in the late evening desert sun.

The Warrens were lost.

“Brito…” Mycrena whispered.


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Some advice to Budweiser about next year’s Super Bowl ad

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In case you missed it, last night during the Super Bowl, Budweiser opted to double down on a marketing strategy that sets its sights squarely on making craft beer seem like the drink of pansies.

Last year during the Super Bowl we learned that Budweiser is “brewed the hard way,” and this year, via galloping, muscular Clydesdales and manly men doing the hard work of brewing Bud, they proudly proclaimed they were “not backing down.”

This is interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that last year’s ad (which to my mind better “pansified” craft beer than this year’s) was so roundly ridiculed in the days that followed Super Bowl 49 that it’s shocking to see the tact repeated this year, albeit less effectively. It’s also amusing to note (as others have and will again) that AB-InBev attacking craft beer (again) is profoundly hypocritical given that the strategy is paired with one that has seen them buying up said pansy craft breweries in the last few years. Continue reading


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Budweiser is now officially marketing to people who already drink Budweiser

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Yesterday, Budweiser released the commercial below. In it, the marketing giant who also happens to sell beer successfully continues their new advertising strategy, which is seemingly an effort to troll hipsters; a strategy that they unofficially launched with their now infamous Super Bowl ad that featured bearded scenesters sniffing mutli-coloured beer flights in small glasses and positioning them as diametrically opposed to people who drink “real beer” “made the hard way.”

This new ad is aimed once again squarely at the hipster set (whom they identify without ever saying the word hipster, only by stating their setting: Brooklyn, a word that probably serves pretty handily as a short hand signifier of “all things pretentious and effeminate” to any macro-drinking, flag waving, fly-over-state-dwelling “real person”). In it, they set up a fake bar, put an actor into some hipster clothing (i.e. plaid), and have said pseudo-cool-guy serve unwitting hipsters some ice cold Budweiser.

The stage is set for an epic burn!

But does it work? I don’t think so.

Presumably the folks at the ad agency Budweiser hired to make this farce will think this campaign is a success owing to what I imagine will be high numbers in the only currency that matters these days, traffic, but it’s hard to view this ad with anything close to a critical eye and not see it as a failure, for a couple reasons. Continue reading


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The Friday Link Roundup 28.11.14

UntitledThe Friday Link Roundup is a feature wherein Ben’s Beer Blog lazily points you to other beery things worth reading on the interwebs this week.

 Bourbon County Stout Leading up to its annual post-US-Thanksgiving release, read about Bourbon County Stout from Goose Island, the folks who invented bourbon-barrel aged beer, via Esquire

 

 Beer tree
Quartz has a really interesting family tree graphic illustrating the fact that the world’s 10 largest brewers produce 65% of the world’s beer.  
Bud An article in The Atlantic details Budweiser’s eroding market share, including the tidbit that “44 percent of people aged 21 to 27 have apparently never sipped an ice cold Bud
 Mini bar
 Also via Esquire, one man’s noble quest to eat and drink the entire contents of a hotel minibar.

 

 

 


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This Bud’s for Me?

Budweiser (1)

Budweiser, to a craft beer drinker, and indeed anyone who might refer to themselves as a “beer writer,”  is supposed to be anathema.

It is a relatively bland beer brewed with a rice adjunct and it has the distinction of being one of the world’s most popular beers largely by virtue of the fact that it is backed by millions and millions of dollars in marketing. It is brewed en masse, it is distributed by a foreign-owned multinational conglomerate, and its advertisements typically run the lowest common-denominator range of blatantly sexual or related to sports–and often blatantly sexual and related to sports at the same time.

Budweiser is the epitome of a “big brewery beer,” and essentially stands in opposition to all the things about the beer business that I like.

I should hate it.

And yet… Continue reading