(Intro and Warning- A little while ago my esteemed colleague, friend and co-writer Mr. Beauford Bixel posted a lengthy aside on beer, blogging, and the American way. Part of that posting including calling me out on my beer-snobbery. In fact, he called me un-American because I like beer with taste. Sadly, I have been unavoidably detained from responding in full to Mr. Bixel's well written and Leman-laden broadside. Finally, I find myself with sufficient time to properly respond. So in the paragraphs hereunder, I shall.
However, as a warning to those readers with delicate sensibilities, you may wish to skip this particular posting. We don't swear or curse much on this site. But occasionally we do. And when we do, obscenities outnumber actual words at a 4:1 ratio. And there is good reason for this. Whether you like cursing or not, it's part of the human vernacular. Also, nothing gets a quicker, hardier laugh than a well dropped f-bomb or creatively rendered combination of insult and expletive.
So, I warn you, dear reader, thar be cursing herein.)
We love beer around here. Love it. Love it to the point of phoning in bomb threats to our local liquor stores when they fail to have whatever hoppy beverage we're craving at the moment. Some would call that crazy. We call it love. Sadly, the police call it a felony, which is why we have to use disposable phones these days. And no. You can't have our number. (Pro Tip: pay cash for the phone!)
The point, dear reader, is not about drinking beer with the intent drinking to excess. Far from it. The point is to enjoy a beverage that has been perfected over millennia, and dates it's origins back beyond the earliest Egyptian pyramid. It is a part of our common human heritage whether you call Ann Arbor, Dubia, Moscow or Tel Aviv home. Beer binds us as a species and the enjoyment and appreciation of beer brings us closer together.
More importantly, beer helps to define us as Americans. Prior to prohibition, America was arguably the greatest beer producing country in the world. That's right. Suck it Austro-Hungarian Empire. Thanks to the expertise and dedication of new Americans who had rightfully fled their former backwater, rat-infested European homelands, beer making in America wasn't just limited to piss-water like Bud Light, PBR and Old Style. It was a sea of robust and glorious. Ales, Porters, Lagers, Dunkles, Wieses, and Stouts. Great taste, much like great ideals and ideas, abounded in this great land of ours.
Then came the dark times. The time of prohibition. The time when America forgot what beer should taste like and the great American brewed beer almost died.
Led by the forces of darkness, cowardly and easily bought un-American politicians caved to the nauseating pressure of the temperance movement. As a result, thousands of small and mid sized breweries that were turning out incredible beverages were snuffed out, lacking the financial means to maintain themselves and their breweries until people came to their fucking senses in 1933.
When prohibition finally ended, beermaking in America was but a shell of it's former greatness. Only the largest of the large brewers survived the hellish years, and those who were willing a game to restart their businesses were either bought out or closed under the immense start up costs and the full weight of the depression. In fact, as of 2005, only 19 pre-prohibition breweries remained open. The result, a beeropoly between the largest breweries in the country and abroad. And those large breweries didn't stay open because their beer was so good, they stayed open because they diversified, making everything from fire engines to vinyl siding until 1933. And you can taste that siding is every one of those Bud Lights you guzzle down.
With high start up (or re-start) costs and a changing, less sophisticated palate to deal with, American brewers began to concentrate on cheaply produced beers and lighter, tasteless pilsners and lagers. And so, the American beer declined to the point that people preferred importedbeer because it actually had flavor. Want proof? The per Capita beer consumption in the United States, despite the population growth, did not reach pre-Prohibition levels until 1970. That's nearly 40 years of damage inflicted by the Temperance movement on American tastebuds.
And that brings us to the un-American piss-water Beauford was describing.
So, you're calling me out? On beer? Really?
It's on like Donkey Kong, turd muncher. And I'm not talking two white guys punching each other in some back alley slap fight. I'm talking Drederick Mother Fucking Tatum ON.
MnBDave: I think he's a good man. I like him. I got nothing against him, but I'm definitely gonna make orphans of his children.
Interviewer: Uh, you know, they do have a mother, Dave?
MnBDave: Yes, but I would imagine that she would die of grief.
Beauford, there is nothing, I repeat nothing, more patriotic than drinking good, American made beer. Frankly, your taste in beer is not only appalling, it's downright unpatriotic. You know what they make PBR, MGD and Bud out of?
That's right, rice. The same rice that fuels Communist China. You know who else uses rice? Communist beer. You see Beauford, in communist countries these do not have access to the grains, barleys, and hopps that we have in ample abundance here, in AMERICA. Instead, due to razing their fields to make way for GLORIOUS PEOPLES TRACTOR HAPPY FACTORY, they can only use their swamplands to generate the only fermentation agent available to them. Rice. So you go ahead and enjoy your communist rice water. And while you're at it, make sure you bring a sixer of that canned warm urine with you as you stand in line for bread at the EXTRAVEGANT PEOPLES BAKERY AND MUFFLER SHOPPE. I'll talk to you in a week when you get to the front of the line and they tell you they've been out of bread for a month.
Here in the States, beer makers use rice in their beers because it's cheaper than real grain. The brewers will have you believe that rice makes for a "crisp, delicate flavor that can easily pair with lighter fare." That's bullshit. It makes it taste like nothing. You know what else tastes like nothing and pairs with everything? Water. You can have your three letter beer with J Leman in the parking lot. I'm betting he sees what you've brought, punches you and takes your wallet to go buy good beer.
A beer with taste is the most American of beverages, ney, the most American sustenance. Good, flavorful beer calls upon the great, abundant resources of America and blends them into a beverage reminiscent of this great land of ours. Complex, deep, sometimes nutty, sometimes angry, but always passionate and strong. On a scale of One to Five Stanzis, good beer ranks a Seven Stanzi.
You know who else loved good beer? Ben Franklin.
That’s right. The womanizing, heavy drinking, genius that helped establish our Republic. When he wasn't fighting the British, editing the Declaration of Independence, or banging his way across Europe to raise money for the Revolution one bed at a time, you know what he has doing? Drinking beer. He liked beer with taste and women with hairy armpits (you know…. French chicks. He was a diplomat after all). That gut? From tasty American lagers, full bodied ales, and philly cheesesteaks. He loved beer so much he said this:
Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.
Amen, brother. Amen.
So, old friend, I hope you now see the error of your ways in slurping down that canned sewer waste you sadly call "beer". But just to show there are no hard feelings, from this friday forward until the start of football season, we will hereby institute "On Tap: Your Friday Drinking Instructions" to help people sort through the maze of great AMERICAN beers available to them every weekend, by giving them one great beer to go ouot and try between Friday and Monday.
Now because this is a Democracy, we'll take your input on what beer we should feature. So email me, and more importantly email Beauford, your suggestions and we'll start our write ups. However, we've got to start somewhere, and we'll start with a glorious Michigan produced craft beer from the Bell's Brewery: Bell's Amber Ale.
Full color, great aromas, excellent deep taste. You'd say it's complex only because of the different malts included in the beer, but the flavor comes out smooth and full. A perfect beer for a spring afternoon or a night with friends. Or, just sitting on your ass ordering a pizza. Go. Buy it. Drink it. Report back.
Those are your Friday Drinking Instructions. Check back next week and we'll let you know what else is On Tap.