Pint/Counter Pint was created out of necessity when Adam Watson (Against the Grain Brewery) wrote a loving response to the first Baylor on Beer article, Know your Enemy, written by Roger Baylor (New Albanian Brewing Company). At first we laughed whole-heartedly and admired the conviction and stance of both parties, and then we thought, “Hey, wait a minute… remember that old 60 Minutes segment called Point/Counterpoint?”
For those of you that don’t, Point/Counterpoint was a segment of the CBS Television News Magazine, 60 Minutes. Point/Counterpoint was a debate between spokespeople for the political right and left, respectively. This segment pioneered a format that would later be adapted by CNN for its Crossfire show. LouisvilleBeer.com adopted the format for an online debate between Adam and Roger. Welcome to Round 2.
Not In My House
by Adam Watson, Against The Grain Brewery
In the last issue of this here sparring match, I discussed a couple of the relative benefits of American megabrews but mentioned that I would not be carrying any of them in my establishment. After having paid token homage to the BMC overlords, I felt like I should expound a bit upon the last part of that statement. At the risk of pulling a broken record act, permit me to reiterate: Against the Grain will not be carrying macrobrews! This isn’t a matter of Superior vs. Inferior. It isn’t even about the little guy giving the fig to the mega-corporation. This here? This is about pride!
“Goeth before the Fall” issues aside, pride is what keeps the product good and what keeps the Beer Geeks coming back. Some bars can afford to put on products that make money but don’t taste good. If I go into Applebee’s and ask the bartender, “How’s the Coors today?”, I don’t expect a stellar detailing of the flavor nuances. I expect something along the lines of “It sells”. Knowing that this sounds a little fiscally irresponsible, I believe that brewpubs (such as your beloved AtG and NABC) have no business carrying macrobrewed beers.
As I said before, this isn’t an issue of Superior vs. Inferior. When faced with the choice of shilling a brew forged by the sweat of my own brow and one made by a stranger, I will always be more enthusiastic about my own. I care for this beer. It’s genesis was a thought bouncing about the neural pathways of my mind. I almost crushed myself moving the pallet of grain that would provide all the necessary sugars. I cut open a vacuum sealed bag and doomed 11 pounds of beautiful hop cones to a slow but inevitable degradation at the cruel hands of atmospheric oxygen. I burned my hands on the product water, and I whispered sweet nothings in the ears of innumerable yeast cells as I unleashed them upon their alcohol-producing feast. I am this beer, and it is me. That Bud Light? I got that off a truck. Guess which one I am more proud of.
One of the many blessings of having a bar attached to my brewery is that I get to decide what goes on tap. When someone is gracious enough to cross my threshold and ask for a beer, I get one chance to make that beer good. If it’s good enough, they might keep giving me chances. I refuse to fill a pint because it’s convenient, because it’s cheap, or even because it’s good. I fill a pint because I’m proud.
“But, Mr. Watson,” the snarkiest among you may say, “I have been to AtG before and seen your guest taps with my own discerning eye-blobs! Surely you don’t claim to have forged those oat sodas in your very own soul-smithy!” Rightly spoken, pubtroll, but my riposte is vigorous. Don’t confuse pride with self-centeredness. As a craft brewer, I find myself snuggled in the warm and nourishing, albeit sweaty and hairy, bosom of a community of craft brewers. And of these craft brewers I am proud, awkward dangly chin-beads and all. The guest taps I keep are not beers I am proud of because I made them myself; they are beers I am proud of because my folk made them. Is there a place for macrobrews? Sure. Is it my place? No, and it shouldn’t be yours either. Pride, son. Pride.
No Country For Principled Men
by Roger A. Baylor, New Albanian Brewing Company
Stagecraft is an essential component of the craft brewing business. If it wasn’t, Sam Calagione would be on the couch watching television, not gleefully hawking his wares on a television show like a modern day PT Barnum.
Along these lines, lately I’ve found it quite useful to play against type, and so before I run off to watch this week’s episode of Project Runway, white zinfandel in hand, permit me to express my gratitude to Adam for closing his vigorous (and hirsute) affirmation of a swill-free workplace with repeated assertions of “pride.”
Most of us recall pride being mentioned during certain Sunday sermons of youth — which was the last time I ever went to church. In fact, pride has long been considered one of the 7 Deadly Sins. It’s true that in the hands of a trained professional, this septet of intemperate emotions can provide essential lessons for a life of sustained debauchery, but it takes experience of an entirely higher order to render them into counterpints.
Accordingly, I’ve managed the remarkable feat of staying awake while culling through the self-indulgent dross printed in dusty back issues of “Advertising Age” and “Beverage Dynamics,” and have found 7 Deadly Reasons why a craft brewery actually SHOULD sell venal swill, as variously voiced by fictitious owners and customers.
I’m so goddamned tired of listening to Roger Baylor tell me what to drink, I could explode. He thinks he’s so smart for having a Lite Free Zone since 1994. I hate his guts, and that’s why I come to this brewpub here in Louisville, where I can look at the shiny brewery tanks while sipping on a triple-hopped Miller Lite, just to spite that bastard over in Indiana.
Our group of venture capitalists selected craft beer as a vehicle for the expansion of our investment portfolio precisely because the growth rate is so hopeful in these uncertain times. However, to ignore the huge segment of the marketplace occupied by light, low-calorie lager makes no sense from the perspective of our blushing, bottomed lines.
Look, we could take time to educate the clientele about the beers we’re paying these crazy hippies to make, and probably win a few medals while we’re at it, but why waste the effort? Customers want the lowest common denominator: Light beer, some box wine and lots of diet coke – and they all get advertised in the media everywhere, all the time. After all, we’re a restaurant. We can’t turn anyone away, right?
My girlfriend heard about this brewery place from her brother’s wife, you know, she’s an architect and all uppity trendy and %^$, and now I’m sitting here looking at this beer list, and what the %$@* does any of it even mean – but I can’t possibly let her know that I’m a absolute, stereotypical dullard, seeing that’s no way to get a piece of ass … hey … wait, they have the Silver Bullet in cold-activated bottles! Hot damn. Whew. That was an awful close call.
The red hot college chicks all hang out at trendy Bud Light bars, and without them for eye candy, we’ll lose all the male customers trying to escape the grim reality of their married, child-filled, workaday lives – and how can we expect them to find consolation in geeky concoctions like oyster stout and Belgian IPA? We need some buckets for those boobs – I mean, those longnecks.
Yes, I know: What we’re doing here is unique, and we’re a niche business with a promising growth curve and all that, but just once, wouldn’t you like to be Cheeseburger in Paradise, with all those nice fake trees and a gift card in every Wal-Mart from here to the Keys?
These barley pale hoppy black bock beers are so heavy. If I had me a good ol’ light beer right about now – well, they taste great AND they’re less filling, so there’s always room for that extra portion of gnarled goat gnocchi.