“Coldest Beer in Town.” For anyone too young to know, that’s the old marketing technique used by convenience stores to get a leg-up on the competition. However, in our current world of tulip glasses and Belgian dubbels, this idea seems as antiquated as renting VHS movies from a grocery store. These days, ice-cold, mass-produced lagers are supposed to be consumed exclusively by NASCAR fans or old men who call women ‘gals.’
But maybe those guys are onto something. Do you know who else drinks that swill? Me. Do you know who else should? You. That’s right, all of you highbrow haters, it’s time to admit that sometimes nothing tastes better than a dirt-cheap, corporate-owned, golden, American macrobrew.
Some things are just meant to go together. Like pork and beans or Cheech and Chong—summer and cold, cheap beer are a match made in heaven. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to spend the day canoeing down a river, what’s in the cooler—a 7.2% IPA? Only if you think an aluminum canoe makes for a comfy bed. If you’re headed to a music festival what are you going to buy—some Scotch Ale? Only if you want to spend a hundred bucks on a ticket and not make it past the opening act. If your perfect summer day revolves around sunlight and hours of drinking, some Corona’s or Busch Lights’ are the only way to go.
And it’s not just the lower alcohol content that makes them great. If it’s 85 degrees, and you’ve just finished working in the yard and the sweat is pouring, look right past that special nitro stout, grab the Miller High Life and quench your thirst with the Champagne of Beers. It’ll taste great and you won’t have to worry about finding the appropriate glass or making sure it’s at the ideal serving temperature. Not to mention that all of those beers are still ‘twist-offs’ and there’s a million ways to do that while looking like a badass.
I know what you’re thinking. You think that I’m just another hipster who likes to buy his PBR’s ironically and it’s more of a self-flagellating style statement than truly reflective of my tastes, but I’m married with two kids and the size of my love handles make ‘skinny jeans’ a physical impossibility. I assure you that if I’m holding a can of Blue Ribbon, it’s not as an accessory.
And speaking of tastes, there’s this notion that macrobrews taste like someone dropped a bunch of dirty pennies into a bottle of club soda and called it beer. But just because your palette has been tainted by sour beers and the bitterness of hops doesn’t mean that lagers and pilsners don’t have their place. And that place is setting right beside a bacon cheeseburger or a pizza. An Imperial IPA might pair well with an artichoke and arugula flatbread, but don’t overlook the beautiful simplicity of a double pepperoni pizza with a tall glass of Bud. Whether we’re talking about music, movies or whatever—the classics are classic for a reason.
Let’s also not overlook the simple economics. My wife recently bought me a $26 four-pack of beer. I’ll repeat that…a $26 four-pack. Of beer. Now, I liked that beer quite a bit. It was delicious. But I don’t make nearly enough money and I drink way too often for that to be commonplace. Sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable to channel your inner 22-year-old self and buy the cheapest beer you can find. (except Natural Light…I mean, we’re not animals, here.) Have you ever hosted a barbeque and wanted to buy craft beer for everyone at the party? You can spend $200 and it doesn’t even fill up your cart. There’s no shame in a keg of LaBatt’s.
I’m not arguing that you should ditch your growlers and give up on your neighborhood brewery. The craft beer industry has grown for a very simple reason—they make awesome beer. Large, corporate, macrobrews have a stranglehold on the American beer market that they arguably don’t deserve and they’ve abused their position of power. In the past, we bought our beer because of marketing gimmicks. There was a time when our buying decisions weren’t based on taste but rather on which group of retired jocks we thought were cooler. Today, small brewers are unquestionably making a superior product. They’ve taught us to expand our horizons and actually give some thought to what we order when we belly up to the bar.
I love craft beer. But they aren’t always the appropriate choice. “Casablanca” is an incredible movie, but in certain situations, “Die Hard” is the better viewing option. That expensive barleywine may be amazing, but I guarantee you the Coors Banquet Beer will make your next tailgate complete.
So don’t be afraid, my beer-loving friends. You too can live the High Life without regret. Spuds Mackenzie is a cool dude and all are welcome at his party. Just remember, no fancy glassware around his pool.