ON THE AVENUES: Drink real beer or die … of boredom.
A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.
This is quite strange.
I’ve always viewed the information superhighway as a convoluted maze of sorts, with plenty of mud paths and dead end alleys branching out in all directions from the modern clover leaf interchanges and shiny new stop ‘n’ robs, including more than a few decaying ghost towns in the style of western American states – broken glass, tumbleweeds rolling, coyotes wailing and tourist shutters snapping.
At work, we used to have a domain called richos.com, which passed from our control at some misty juncture when a renewal payment wasn’t made. It didn’t matter so much by then, because newalbanian.com was fully active, but the previous skeletal remains have continued to be visible, appended with links to cheap Viagra and Nigerian moneylenders, in keeping with ownership somewhere in the steppes of the former USSR – where the ghost towns come Chernobyl-sized.
Last night I inadvertently discovered that while presumably, the domain itself is as misplaced as ever, a complete snapshot of it can be accessed via some sort of Internet archive. There it is, vintage 2002, and while eleven years may not seem so long to you, it’s like an entirely different business was being operated back then.
Most days I can’t remember which beer I had for breakfast, so it should come as no surprise that the old website’s contents had long since become synonymous with lengthy gaps in Richard Nixon’s office recordings. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when the following polemic was revealed to have been among the centerpieces of my ideological thrust at the website. It would have been written well before 2002, and probably dates to around 1997.
Today at 53, I spend quite a lot of time contemplating the balance between the allowable percentage of narcissism in beer appreciation, and the wider interests of beer as community in a context of localism. Turns out I was on the scent at 37. As 2013 draws to a close, the major difference between then and now is my mellow imperturbability in the present age.
Let’s rewind to the Clinton administration.
Extremism in defense of good beer is no vice, says the Publican
Drink real beer or die … of boredom.
Among many unique talents, Americans are adept at maintaining the fiction of their individuality by means of rationalizing that a boastful allegiance to one or another mass-produced idea or commodity denotes independent thinking. Such self-delusion is infinitely less taxing than the all too arduous task of introspection that prefaces genuinely free thought.
In no other aspect of life is this more alarmingly true than when an American sets out to select a beer.
Nine out of ten Americans, most of whom are eager to pound their fists on the bar top in an impassioned defense of their uniqueness and individuality, nevertheless persist in lubricating their argumentative frenzy by buying the major national brands of beer to the exclusion of all others. In large measure, numbingly and with blind repetition, they drink the same beer each and every day.
It is a strange ritual, but it isn’t entirely the fault of the consumer. What passes in America for “choice” is shaped not by rational thought or informed free will, but by pervasive forces of marketing and advertising. These abysmal disciplines enforce and maintain the status quo for products that are little more than the tasteless residue of a cynical industrial process performed with antiseptic exactitude by bloated multinational corporate entities like Anheuser-Busch, Coors and Miller.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. Some of us openly, loudly and proudly dissent from the norms of American beer “culture”, and we have no intention of going away quietly. Confronted with a seemingly insurmountable ocean of swill, we have ignored this expression of the tyranny of the majority and have chosen the path less traveled – – the true, revolutionary path that leads to beer that does more than provide lowest common denominator satisfaction for the American desire to quaff small, easily digestible doses of alcohol diluted in generic golden liquid, which is the product of brewing as the mass production of a commodity, one utterly lacking artistic merit, and something that is peddled to the masses in a way that would make the famous totalitarian propagandists of old blush with envy.
We’ll have none of that. We demand flavor and integrity from our beer and we refuse to settle for less, because beer is important to us, and it is an important part of the story of humanity in a number of ways. The saga of beer is a long and fascinating one, with chapters that deal with all aspects of the human experience. Beer is about science and art, farms and cities, social history, local culture and geography. It’s about the places you’ve gone, and the ones you’d like to go. It’s about different textures and flavors to match your mood, the time of day, the season, and the task at hand.
Beer is all about pleasure, and it is my unshakeable belief that the pleasure of beer is enhanced by bolstering one’s knowledge of its diversity, and applying this knowledge to everyday life. We all recognize that life is short, and there are so many things to do and to learn, and so very little time, but there’s always time for a good beer – – so why not make that beer the best one possible?
If we are to define ourselves in even a small way by the beer we drink, we should do it ourselves, actively, with our minds and our palates in concert, and not because a bikini-clad model, an animated reptile or any other manifestation of corporate America has told us to do it.
The daily experience of our pub flows naturally from these revolutionary principles. We espouse the values of good beer, good food and a good life. We encourage the art of conversation and the marvelous times that follow from it. We enjoy the life of the pub, and the integrity to be discovered therein, and we want our guests to enjoy it, too.
Or, you can make it a Bud Light.