Just yesterday, I had a very unpleasant back ‘n’ forth with a small brewery (which shall, of course, remain nameless) in the Western part of the US. I had planned to visit the brewery next week and then saw a post from them on Facebook.
In this post, they were promoting their new bottled beer list, which was nothing but Corona and Pabst and a bunch of stuff from Anheuser Busch. I replied and said that I had planned to visit but now probably would not because they were supporting AB, which I don’t and won’t do, EVER. There was no actual Bud on the list but they were apparently unaware that AB/InBev bought out SAB Miller Coors in 2016 and that now Blue Moon and Miller Lite and Coors are ALL AB products.
I didn’t really expect a response but they answered and said all that beer came from the local Coors distributor and suggested that I do some research. I replied with a link about the sale of Coors to AB and there was only a stony silence in response. Their eventual solution was to offer me two free beers when I come in and they phrased it like this: “So, come on in and enjoy your two free beers but leave your hatred at the door. There is no room in here for that.“
Point One: The owner of this brewery evidently sized me up and decided that the exact price of my values and my objection to Anheuser Busch was two beers. This just proves that he has never visited this website and doesn’t know me, which he shouldn’t because he’s about 2,500 miles from me. But it was dead wrong and it indicates another problem that afflicts a LOT of business owners, not only in brewing but virtually every arena in which makers of stuff come into daily contact with customers: they spend so much of their time getting their asses kissed by their regulars and are so (justifiably) absorbed by their own businesses that they pay little attention to the fact that EVERY producer of goods with an open retail space gets their asses kissed daily and most even harder than they do. What I wrote was criticism and I spent about a half hour responding to these folks, explaining why giving your money to foreign companies like AB/InBev, as opposed to stocking a beer of EXACTLY the same type, is not a sound idea. I’m not talking about something vaguely similar. Chuckanut Pilsner is the EXACT same style of beer as BudMillerCoorsPabst. It’s just made properly, as the original European Pilsners were and MANY craft Pilsners are today. And it tastes a LOT better. So, if you’re getting a beer of the same type, that tastes even better than Coors and it comes from another member of the craft beer culture, why would you not let people taste it and decide for themselves? It’s a lot damned better idea than just pandering to the tastes of people who are so set in their ways that they can’t imagine ever even trying a craft beer because they’re so convinced that ALL craft beer is weird and foofy and “unmanly”. If these people ever ONCE tasted a Budweiser or Coors or Miller in a blind A/B comparison, they’d find out that they actually prefer a well-made craft Pilsner over that industrial swill and this brewery would have a convert who might just become a regular customer.
I even named a few beers that are widely available and which are distributed in their area – Victory’s gorgeous “Prima Pils”, Trumer Pilsner, North Coast “Scrimshaw” – that could be offered to those folks who insist that all craft beer is weird or bitter or foofy, as a way of bringing them into the whole world of craft beer. After all, what are those folks doing in their local brewery’s taproom if they weren’t ready for something different? I know this town and there is NO shortage of dive bars that push BudMillerCoorsPabst, 24/7. If this brewery does NOTHING to offer patrons a better alternative to watery crap Pilsners, how will they ever get them to drink their own beers?
I also pointed out that AB is – daily and all across the country – doing its level best to hamper, disrupt, and ultimately kill off the craft beer culture. They’d be okay with controlling it, probably, but their long-range goal is to ridicule, pester, and shame all of us who choose those “weird beers” back into our 120-year comfy rut of drinking the Same Old Shit, over and over again, from 18 to grave. I said that I was not prepared – something which I don’t have to explain, here in the beer-centric PNW – to patronize breweries which give aid and comfort – and dollars – to the Enemy.
Their response? They erased the entire comment section of their FB thread. No “haters” here, please.
Point Two: The other irritating aspect was this nouveau insistence on characterizing every bit of criticism or, hell, even mild disagreement as “hatred”. I know hatred, quite well, especially since this last election, and I didn’t even come close with these guys. There was NONE of the sort of email responses that I occasionally get, some of which have run as far as this one I got from some deranged guy from Bellevue, Washington:
“You better watch your back, asshole. You ever been sodomized with a baseball bat? You won’t like it much…or maybe you will. Girly fuckwad like you, you’d probably beg for more. I’d shove that thing so far up your ass that it would come out your nose and it can happen ANY TIME! Shut the fuck up, loser. We’re watching. Your blog shuts down NOW or we take action!“
THAT, my friends is a Hater. That was six years ago. The blog is still here and now there’s even a website. No one has taken action but the Bellevue police did pay a visit to my pen pal and explained the facts of life. End of threats.
And what triggered this knucklehead’s lunatic email? I said I didn’t care for a brewery’s beers and thought they’d improve with time…and I didn’t say it in The Pour Fool because I don’t EVER criticize breweries by name on this site and I NEVER write negative or even lukewarm reviews. I said that on a beer forum…which is now out of business.
“Hate” is a real thing. It has a definition and parameters and there are a hundred shades of dislike short of hating and a world of opinion and criticism that doesn’t fit ANY definition of “hatred”. But, today, with intellectual accuracy and coherent thought running miles behind fear and momentary passions, ANY perceived criticism is branded as “hatred”.
I do not, in fact, hate Anheuser Busch and/or AB/InBev, though they would undoubtedly find that hard to believe, given the wounded tones of the emails I have gotten from then, ranging from sullen martyrdom (“What did we ever do to you?!?”) to implying that attorneys could be called in (“Many of your comments have bordered on actionable.”). I very much disapprove of AB’s 120 years history of marketplace thuggery and their vicious mania for driving competitors not just into a secondary position but out of business, altogether. And I really LOATHE their arrogance and their Politburo-like insistence on rewriting their own shoddy history to fit the current narrative, as in that flatly fraudulent smarm-fest of a commercial that they whupped up about how the poor immigrant, Adolphus Busch, came to a hostile American with nothing but a Dream and carved out a business by his own bootstraps, when he was really a fairly affluent young immigrant who was accepted by St. Louis society and married the daughter of Eberhard Anheuser, a rich guy who just happened to own a brewery.
But do I think that Anheuser Busch should just be summarily waived out of existence? NO, I absolutely do NOT. Much as it shocks the shit out of me to think about it, some people actually DO prefer the flavor of Bud over craft beers and I want those people to be able to drink what they want. My own son-in-law is one of those. He has politely tasted and even enjoyed many craft beers but, when choosing something he wants to drink, he invariably picks Coors Light. I’ve even kept cans in the fridge for him, on occasion. Do I want these beers to disappear? No, I just want them to hurry up and become what they will eventually be, anyway: quaint, old-fashioned curiosities, in a small corner of the grocery store cooler. That’s what WILL eventually happen, as generations of kids grow up never once seeing Bud or Miller or Coors or Pabst in their parents’ fridge and never even forming the knee-jerk drinking habits that kept this country mindlessly swilling tasteless adjunct Pilsners for 120 years, never realizing that there was anything else that would be Better. My great-grandkids may never taste a Budweiser in their lifetimes. I just wish all this Beer Utopia would happen before I’m cremated and turned into patio tiles.
Some of you may read this and decide that I’m a jackass and should have just taken the two beers, been polite, and visited the brewery. I wouldn’t even dream of trying to change your minds about it. I’m not going to the brewery, for reasons which have been stated here dozens of times. Those posts about AB are still there in the archives and you can visit them if you care to. I really don’t care if I wind up being the only human being left on Planet Earth who gives a rat’s ass about AB’s sleazy business practices, the moral and ethical and practical and social virtues of spending our dollars within our own economy and not sending them to Belgium and Brazil (where AB/InBev’s dual HQs are located), or the very questionable decision to say “Fuck You!” to small businesses and those – the neighbors and friends and business associates and even our own family members – who own and run breweries in our burgeoning beer culture. Ultimately, as is the case with all of us, I have to look in my mirror in the morning, as I shave this silly old face, and I don’t want to look at a hypocrite while doing my toilét.
It matters if you give yourself a pass and have “just one Coors Light, ’cause it’s hot and I just need something light and cheap.” There are an increasing numbers of craft Pilsners that are ALL far, far better than BudMillerCoors and cost almost exactly the same. (Full Sail’s “Session” Lager is one of the best) If my tiny little stack of dollars that I spend yearly on beer makes no difference at all on AB’s P&L sheets, it’s STILL money they don’t get. And if I miss out on some nice beers because I choose not to frequent a brewery that’s stocking AB products, all because they can’t be bothered to seek out any one of the dozens of craft-brewed Pilsners being made by Indie breweries, there are a LOT more breweries to take their place. It’s both injurious to the economy and to that brewery’s own business to continue to fund AB…but these folks are so used to never being questioned that they won’t stop for a moment and ask themselves if I had a Point.
I decided to post some links below to some of the anti-AB posts from the past of this blog. In copying the addresses, I happened on a paragraph that summed up exactly why I don’t bend on AB and never will. Here it is, just an excerpt from a post called, ahem, “Fuck Budweiser“…
“It’s like this: REAL Americans gamble their REAL livelihoods, their REAL prosperity, their REAL futures to open small, independent breweries. They work themselves to exhaustion – ALL of them – because there is no other way to make it happen. They are brave and resourceful and self-reliant and gambling on their own abilities and the good faith of their communities, and CONTRIBUTING – in MAJOR ways – to the economy of their home states. Craft brewing is NOT some effete hobby. It’s not a dalliance. And it pumps BILLIONS into our own national economy – real dollars, generated by REAL Americans. When you advocate for these corporate lowest-common-denominator beers, you turn your back on your friends and family, your community, and your own best interests. You say “My self-image as a Good Ol’ Boy is more important to me than being a good citizen” and, sadly, there are a LOT of people who think that way…and won’t even admit it to themselves.”
And this one, reposted from its original form in the pages of the online version of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, from 2011…one of the most-read posts about beer in internet history…