There’s a TV commercial running right now based entirely on the premise that beer drinkers are ridiculous. In the ad, a bearded, bespectacled fellow (see below), backed by stainless tanks and oak barrels, walks up to a bar and says, “I’m looking for a microbrew. No, nanobrew. With hints of chocolate and leather. Not shoe leather. Like a... belt.”
The bartender, a very dapper but clearly discontented Danny Trejo, breaks the fourth wall, looks directly at the camera, deep into each of our souls, and asks, “If you can get picky with your beer, why not get picky with your TV?”
That’s right, folks. This is what it’s come to. Sling TV, the completely unreliable, hack job of an internet television service, is making fun of us. And they have every right to. We are ridiculous. We are unlikeable. We are caricatures of ourselves.
We fetishize beers. We idolize brewers. We wait in long lines in shitty weather so we can post pictures of iceman pours in geometric vases and jump on a subreddit to proclaim our everlasting love and undying devotion to our favorite local brewery while bashing some “noob” who’s really into the Brown Ale from their favorite local brewery on the other side of the country.
How did we get here? How on earth did we go from zero to batshit so quickly? Perhaps most importantly, how did we so drastically misconstrue the point of this beverage we all enjoy?
I’m not saying we can’t be passionate, just not zealous. I’m not saying we can’t have opinions, just not absolutes. And I’m not saying we all need to be kumbaya. We just need to chill. Everyone has a different float for their boat.
For me, the beer that really got me going last year was Jester King’s SPON Albariño & Blanc Du Bois. It was a completely unique experience. It caused me to think about flavor and fermentation in ways I had never considered, and altered the way I sought out beverages from that point forward.
But the beer I consumed most last year, by both volume and frequency? Miller High Life. By far, hands down, bar none. (What can I say? I contain multitudes.) That may come as a surprise, but I really love the beer. I love the taste. I love the girl in the moon. I love the champagne tagline. But what I love most about High Life is that I don’t have to think about it. [Editor's note: To be fair, you've clearly thought about it a lot.]
I can walk into pretty much any bar, most specifically the dives I tend to frequent, and order it without having to consult a draft or bottle list. When I finish the first, I don’t have to make a decision on what I’m going to have next—I can just put up a pointer finger in the bartender’s general direction. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve found that it helps lower the pretense in most groups and results in more fun and convivial times. Because instead of focusing on what I’m drinking, I’m focused on the people around me.
But if you’re into waiting in lines and ticking whalez and cataloging every new beer you try, that’s cool. If you’re just getting your feet wet and you’re into Brown Ales and Hefeweizens, that’s cool, too. And if you’re into pouring Hazy IPAs with no head to the very top of a glass and taking a picture and posting that picture on the internet, I mean, I think that’s weird, but whatever. You do you, and fuck the haters.
What that silly Sling ad is highlighting is that knowing what you want is a good thing—it’s the supposed benefit of their inferior product, after all. What they’re poking fun at is, collectively, we beer drinkers have become such a divided, tribalist, envious, esoterically-obsessed culture that we’ve lost ourselves along the way. It's not a good look.
My suggestion is to throw yourself wholeheartedly and unabashedly into whatever you’re into. Don’t worry about what other folks are going to think. Conversely, don’t care too much or deride others for what they’re into. Just be cool. Take it easy and have a good time.
In short, Banquet and Chill. In doing so, maybe we'll rediscover ourselves and our sense of community.