Drink

The Beer I’m Drinking Apparently Sucks

imageIf you happened to see the recent DeadSpin.com piece that rated the best and worst 30-something “cheap” American beers, then you may be reeling as I am. The credibility of my taste buds has been undermined! I’m drinking shitty beer!

The beer I buy most often, my have-some-in-the-refrigerator beer, Yuengling, sits near the bottom of the pack along with some dismissive remarks about how its appeal is inexplicable. Ok, but when did we start rating beer instead of drinking it? God only knows where they would rank Yuengling Light, my preferred choice.

It doesn’t matter–the premise is that none of these beers are any good and that they range from really, really bad to not quite as bad. We have long lived in a world of “What beer are you drinking?” I’m comfortable with that. Now, though, we have progressed to a world of what beer we should be drinking.

If I go out with a group of friends and don’t order the hoppiest IPA I pretend to like even though it fries my tastebuds and makes my stomach burn now and my head hurt in the morning, I will see a head shake, hear a snigger. If you prefer lagers to ales, like I do, the bartender may snort, since he’s into the snobbery, too, and many places don’t even bother having a lager on draft.

I was a Coors Light man for years, until Coors was dismissed as being too Republican. I drank Iron City and Rolling Rock before that. Too provincial. I like a Dixie with my muffuletta when I’m in New Orleans, without apology. But now I’m expected to chase beers whose names I don’t know, use my Untappd app to “see what beers are trending,” and pretend that high-gravity beer tastes good.

Most times, my friends and I end up somewhere that has a variety of specialty beers that we can get for $5/pint, if we’re lucky, in this city. In a larger city, we’d probably pay $8 or more for a pint. Admittedly, we are paying for special beer made by special people who really know what they are doing, meisters of one type or another and marketeers who come up with clever beer names and esoteric labels. But often the beer selection determines the destination, even if the place serving the beer has no ambience, no vibe, no history. Just craft beer.

But didn’t beer used to be the means instead of the end? Didn’t bar conversation used not be about the merits of the beer list? Why are we trying to outbeer each other?

There is hope. We were at a local restaurant that serves Natural Light as its house beer as an inside joke, even tapes a sign over the draft pull and calls it by the restaurant’s name, “_______’s Draft.” A bunch of us were there. The ones who arrived early were drinking their usual craft microbrew-type beers, and when we latecomers arrived, we ordered the Natty Lite, taking advantage of its cheap price. When the aficionados realized how much less we were paying for beers to wash down a plate of fried chicken, they threw aesthetics out the window and switched.

Yes, there is hope. Bar Louie, a chain’s whose local outpost a comrade and I have been known to frequent on Wednesdays, offers on “Hump Day” 5-beer buckets for $5 for the cheap stuff like Coors Light, and $10 buckets for the “good stuff” like Corona. There is no talk of microbrews or sour beer or hefeweizens or any of that stuff. We just order the bucket.

Maybe this beer revolution is creating jobs and boosting the economy and helping us to lead better lives. Certainly, I enjoy a good craft beer. But I do miss the days when beer was just beer, when friends came back from the West with a case of Olympia for me because I couldn’t get it here, when Corona was a splurge and guests were appreciative for it, when Heineken was special to more than just the stupid proletariat, when a particular brand of beer was a blessing, not a concession, when if it was ice cold, that was good enough.

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About Bob Bires

Bob Bires serves as an administrator and English teacher at a private boys' school in Tennessee. He makes a mean pizza. Follow him on Twitter: @bobbires.

  • Calvin Reid

    I’ve lived in Pittsburgh and I’ve drunk more Iron City than I care to admit. But really, Iron City AND Coors Light? Sweet mother of reason! Thats the World Series of bad beer!!

    • Bob Bires

      Oddly, though, the deadspin guy rates both of them considerably higher than Yeungling!

  • http://heidenkind.blogspot.com/ Tasha B. (heidenkind)

    The next time someone makes you feel bad for drinking Coors, just tell them that’s considered the gold standard for beer in Europe. Even in England and Germany! Of course European taste is always questionable. ;)

    • TommyLiam

      Coors isn’t the gold standard for beer anywhere, much less in England or Germany. Where do you hear these things?

    • shakespeareandhisdad

      uh, what?

  • Cate Haught Brown

    I stand with you, brother! Love a good ice cold Iron City, and (sorrynotsorry) the very best beer to drink with pizza is Coors! My go-to is Newcastle, which I much prefer to many of the (weird) craft beers proliferating all over the fair city in which I now live (NYC). I don’t need blueberries or kimchi or unicorn hair in my beer, thankyouverymuch, I just want it to be cold.

  • Insatiable Booksluts

    I personally love craft beer. Not because it’s trendy, because I love it . . . . I’m also the kind of person who prefers coffee from Africa or Guatemala if given a choice, from a French Press if it’s single origin.

    That having been said . . . I honestly would be happier if people would just order the beer that they love. I have friends who unapologetically drink tallboys of PBR while I toss back a few locally-produced barrel-aged porters; we have fun no matter what we’re drinking. :)

  • Josi

    Went to a bar a few years ago that had $.25 (yes quarter!) draws of Natty Lite. Or $3 pitchers. Had a blast that night. I like that beer. Well, I like any beer. Except the one with the whole chili pepper in it. That shits nasty.

  • TommyLiam

    All I need to do is replace words like “Coors” and “Iron City” with “McDonalds” and phrases like “craft beer” with “organic food” to sum up the curmudgeonly preposterousness of this article.

    After all, artisan beers which actually taste good and aren’t full of cheap adjuncts are for fussy and pretentious snobs, right?. Hundreds of years of culinary culture and history tied into things like Real Ale are only for people who don’t appreciate a good Natty Ice, right?

    You are right about one thing, though, Bob. We are laughing at you.

    • Bob Bires

      Thanks for your comment. People around where I live drink both ways. Let’s face it–sometimes you splurge for a great beer, sometimes you go for the bargain, sometimes a beer goes with food, sometimes it’s too powerful a taste to go with food.

      As I state in the piece: I enjoy a good craft beer; I just don’t enjoy the condescension that comes with it.

      • abrahamsandwich

        I appreciate your respectful and understanding reply, Bob. Few people on the internet have this much class.

  • brewerpac

    How does this guy get to write an article? He’s an idiot. This would have been a mildly amusing piece circa 1992, but today? C’mon Food Riot! We can do better than this.

    • Amanda Nelson

      Name calling isn’t acceptable here. Thank you.

  • Rob

    I miss the good ol’ days too. No smartphones, but instead pay phones, pagers, fax machines etc etc…

  • abrahamsandwich

    I don’t understand why the Deadspin piece ranks Yeungling so low. I don’t understand a number of those ratings, actually.

    Personally, I will always happily pay more for a good beer. I don’t do it for the “craft” label, however. There are many bad “craft” beers, that I would happily choose Yeungling over.

    As far as the light stuff goes – I’d really rather just not drink it. I don’t do it to be snobby – I just think beers like Coors Light taste a little bit like a aluminum. I’d rather drink water than NOT enjoy my beer.

  • RichardNixon

    Corona and Heineken are every bit as bad as Coors Lite (worse in my opinion). If you consider Corona and Heineken to be “the good stuff,” then you’re the one worried about the image you’re projecting. Why else would you drink an ad campaign?

  • SmarterThanYou

    Personally, I’m indifferent on whether you like to drink Yuengling or Coors or Natty or whatever. What you want to drink is your prerogative.

    But I have to question the worth of an article that essentially looks down its nose at craft beer enthusiasts because of some misguided belief that anyone who drinks craft beer is looking down their nose at people who don’t. It’s the height of hypocrisy.

    What really loses me is the comment about how beer used to be a means instead of an end. Yes, it did used to be a means, and for many people–usually twentysomethings, but not entirely limited to that age group–it still is a means. A means to get drunk (buzzed, tipsy, sloshed, wasted, etc). I have no issue with the intoxicating properties of beer and enjoy those properties myself, but part of the point of craft beer is to drink something that tastes good for its own sake (to the drinker), rather than drinking something because it’s an easily consumed vessel for alcohol.

    The interesting part is that I get far more beer “snobbery” from my friends who prefer Bud, Miller, Old Style, etc. than I do from any of my friends who like craft beer. Any time I try to share my love of craft beer with my non-craft friends, I get all sorts of faces of disgust and questions of how I can drink something so bitter. They think I’m the idiot for liking a beer that doesn’t have the less-aggressive flavors that they enjoy. Heck, I’m even couching my description of Bud-like beers, using the term “less aggressive flavors” instead of “blander flavors”, because I’m afraid if I describe it accurately, I will be lumped in with the stereotype of craft beer snobs who think less of non-craft beer drinkers. All this even though I’m not saying that blandness is inherently a bad characteristic. People like lots of foods because they lack robust/aggressive flavors and there is nothing wrong with that.

    Too many fans of the Bud/Miller/Coors think that the very fact that I prefer beers that aren’t like Bud/Miller/Coors means that I’m looking down on them for liking it. Whereas most of my fellow craft beer enthusiasts chalk up differences in taste to just that–differences in taste, not an unspoken judgement that their tastes are inferior to mine.