Anheuser-Busch’s answer to Leinie’s Summer Shandy has arrived in some markets. Meet Shock Top Lemon Shandy.
… and of course, after reading words like these, all you really want to do is vomit forcefully in as many different directions as possible, preferably onto the well-coiffed heads of as many AB-Inbev and MillerCoors shareholders and executives as can be quickly herded together in one luxuriously upholstered and veneer-paneled board room, but then you suppress the gag reflex, and remember …
You’ve had no time for breakfast, either, and dry heaves just aren’t your thing, but moreover, although these mockrobrews are disgusting, horrific, and entirely uncalled for, as gateways or otherwise, there’ll be thousands of people lined up to buy them, as well as other marketing atrocities of similar ilk, and everyone involved will smile and insist that the experience is representative of “craft,” thus sending the very concept of “craft” into even faster a death spiral than it already was, because Goebbels was right, and the bigger the lie, the better chance of it being believed.
Granted, chicanery and fabrication have been hallmarks of American business history since the souvenir ashtrays made from Washington’s false teeth started appearing just after Valley Forge, but only one axiom in all of American history of any sort really matters, as mouthed so many decades ago by the comic strip character Pogo:
We have met the enemy, and he is us.
To me, the notion of being an uninformed, blinded and dumbfounded consumer in a world filled with focused Volk frantically peddling new and innovative ways to extract money from my wallet is not at all pleasing. Far from it, and in fact, being a sheep rather offends me. If there is any one core belief I endorse, and try to live by, it is that thoughts and ideas matter. For better or worse, the brain is what really counts, and it is our ability to think and reason – even when atrophied – that makes us human.
You may be asking yourself: So, damned Sierra-hating moron, what does any of this have to do with beer?
It’s because beer, brewing and the fermentable arts are all about ideas. Barley does not magically transform itself into beer. Thousands of years ago, it was the mind of man that devised the brewing process, by applying good ideas to the existing extent of observable reality, and finding solutions in route to a desired solution.
It’s never been hard to imagine men grasping the notion of fermentation, but what about the need for malting? It took some thinking to come up with malting. That’s why ideas matter. Beer matters, too. There are many reasons why I’ve come to feel the way I do about beer, and in no particular order, here they are.
First and foremost, I believe that history is a living, breathing concept, and is not confined to yellowed pages in a book or dusty displays in a museum.
Second, growing up when I did, when the supposedly halcyon fifties yielded to the decidedly turbulent sixties, followed by the verifiably moribund seventies, and with American triumphalism resurgent in Reagan’s fairy tale eighties … and then, as craft beer emerged in earnest by the early nineties … well, it left many indelible impressions. My reaction to these experiences, and my identification with them, is an amalgam of all my previous decades.
Third, and connected directly with history and my personal experience, I’ve become ever more disillusioned with mass-culture’s mega-cookie-cutter, not just when it is wielded in terms of beer, but in most other areas, too. I decry the Wal$Marting of America and the world, and whenever possible, I uphold local, regional and individual differences. The uniqueness of a truly human-scaled life is the watchword to me.
Fourth, and in spite of whatever else may or may not be possible during the course of day-to-day existence, I seek never to lose the ability to deploy the next-best weapon in my arsenal (my own conscience is the first), this being the contents of that very same wallet. My wallet is a sovereign means of direct action, capable of being shifted toward supporting entities I deem worthy, and withheld from those I cannot fathom supporting.
Fifth and last (for now, at least), I fully understand that the world is in flux. Transitions are constant, and they’re never complete. Whether in the limited world of craft beer or the wider planet beyond, thoughts and ideas will continue to compete; there’ll be a clash, and from it will emerge something new. There’ll come a time when I, too, adapt to changing realities.
Until then, I intend to continue writing, working, having as much fun as possible, and drinking beer. Thanks for reading. Writers tend to like that sort of thing.