A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to Brew?

An alert reader sent me this interesting column from The New York Daily News, pointing out that Boston Beer Co., brewer of Samuel Adams brands, is the largest American-owned brewery now that big boys Bud, Miller, Coors, etc are owned by ferriners. (Pabst is American-owned, but Miller brews its brands.)

The author, former Al Gore speechwriter Jeff Nussbaum, argues that we truly need an American-made macrobrew. Microbrews like Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada won’t cut it.

Please. These are the coastal elites of beer. These companies are to beer what the knowledge economy is to the real economy, or what intellectual capital is to actual capital. Yes, they’re sophisticated, contemplative and complex. So is John Kerry. And like John Kerry, they remain a regional and acquired taste.

Where’s the beer whose cans can be crushed against fraternity foreheads with pride? Where’s the beer that will be nestled into foam cozies and novelty cup holder hats (and heaved onto the track in disgust at a Jeff Gordon victory) across NASCAR nation?

Where is our liberty lager, our patriotic Pilsner, our red, white and blue stripe?

 Where indeed? Minnesota, perhaps?

That’s my nomination. What’s yours?



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10 responses to “A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to Brew?

  1. Tim

    I prefer beer that has flavor, but do occasionally buy Grain Belt when I want a plain ol’ brewski, so that’s a fine suggestion.

    If not GB, Point Special or Leinenkugel Original are worthy “macro” beers.

    Hamm’s deserves consideration, just because a revivial of the Hamm’s bear commercials would be great, but the beer would have to show some improvement first.

    Also, I hear good things about the new “original recipe” Schlitz, but have not tried if for myself.

  2. Dewayne

    Two votes for Point Special.

  3. Tom

    Unfortunately, Leinie is part of SABMiller now, so they don’t count as true Ammurican anymore. Though it’s still decent industrial lawnmower beer. The new old Schlitz is owned by Pabst and brewed by SABMiller, too. Though I still want to try it.

    I could just imagine the uptight neo-prohibitionists getting all worked up in a lather over the Hamm’s bear.

    I vote for Point. Or maybe a can of Blatz (just cuz it’s there).

  4. JimD

    Oh Man…

    It would certainly be cool to see Grain Belt break out of it’s niche and become the new beer of the masses, but my own personal preference would be “Old Style”, the G. Heileman masterpiece. Sure, there’s the whole brewed-by-Pabst-licensed-under-Miller thing be worked out, but if they could just open their own large-scale brewery in an abandoned meat-packing plant or old grain elevator somewhere, they’d be well on their way. Just think of the great brewery they used to have in La Crosse, WI, that included the “world’s biggest six-pack”; able to hold enough beer to fill 7,340,796 regular-sized cans of beer. In other words, the heritage is there.

    Now, if you haven’t tried an Old Style, just quit reading and go pick up a six-er (it will surely make reading the rest of this easier). It’s quite simply, the best beer nobody’s had. It’s got a real flavor (that’s real good), but not quite enough of it to scare off the six-pack-at-a-time guys that are the backbone of this nation’s barely pop (or “barely soda” depending on your point of origin) economy. Extra-double secret bonus if you can find it in bottles, and try not to be tempted to start with Old Style light – it’s good, but it’s just not the same. Finally, make sure it’s absolutely ice cold (a requisite of most American beers), and if at all possible, crack that first one open on a hot afternoon with something grilling nearby (and it better be over charcoal for the full experience). A radio (preferably on an AM channel with just a hint of crackle) broadcasting a local sporting event loud enough to drown out any loud neighbors/pets/kids/spouse/etc. doesn’t hurt either.

    Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah – the heritage thing. In a land where bigger-is-better, I can’t see a more American beer come to the forefront than the one which used to reside in America’s biggest six pack. Plus, what’s more American than baseball? And when one thinks about baseball, it’s hard not to think of the Cubs… the team that’s been sponsored by Old Style for 52 years. As if that’s not enough, the freakin’ can is RED, WHITE, and BLUE for cryn’-out-loud! It couldn’t be a more American beer unless they came out with an apple-pie flavored variety of the stuff… (and I’m not saying they should, I’m just saying…).

    So, there it is – Old Style for America! Typing all this has worked up quite a thirst. Seems it’s time to hop in my ’67 Cadillac (the tank is so big, I’m still burning $2.20/gal gas), cruise on down to the locally-owned liquor store, and pick up a case of what should be America’s new iconic mass-market premier #1 top-selling American-brewed beer – OLD STYLE.


  5. Tim

    Nice ode to Old Style!

    Of course, the old brewery in LaCrosse is now the City Brewery, makers of La Crosse Lager (and many others). They’ve enven redone the world’s largest six-pack with La Crosse Lager labels (although it’s kind of cheesy–they didn’t repaint the giant cans, they just put covers over them).

    The saddest thing about Pabsts acquistion of Old Style is right on the can–it no longer says “fully krauesened.” That’s been replaced with “fully aged.”

    Regardless of ownership or quality, Old Style is the only beer that one should consume when in Wrigley Field

    P.S. Tom, I forgot about Blatz–it’s still out there (sadly, also made by Pabst).

  6. marcmwm

    I’ve got to dig through my old bedroom closet at my parent’s house.

    I’m sure there’s a 25-year-old case of Dubuque Star in there.

  7. JimD

    Fully Krauesened!!! Yes! Thanks for mentioning that Tim – I had completely forgotten about that little detail. Those Pabst bastards.

    I am glad to hear there’s at least some kind of label on the big ‘ol six-pack though. The last time I drove by it, there was nothing but off-white paint covering that hallowed land mark… it really seemed like a waste.

    I have to admit, I did enjoy the La Crosse Lager I had the last time I was over that way. Had it fresh out of the tap at Edwardo’s with a killer pizza made in their wood-fired oven. Mmmm…. Granted, it was no Old Style (…maybe a Blatz 🙂 ), but it did it’s job well enough.

    Speaking of pizza places, does anyone know if Big Al’s still goes in downtown LaCrosse? I think it’s been over 15 years since I last ate there. I don’t even remember what the food was like, mostly just that the place had a great atmosphere.

    Might be time for a road trip.

  8. Tim


    If it’s Dubuque Star you’re looking for, Old Capitol Brew Works in Iowa City is making it on a contract basis (the reasons have something to do with trademark law–the guy who owns the label had to actually produce some in order to keep the rights, so he contracted with Old Cap to brew a batch). They even use an old Star tap handle in the pub.

  9. jamiekelly

    I vote for National Bohemian, a beer you can’t find very well outside the east coast, even thought it’s now brewed in Wisconsin. Cheap (~$7 or less for a 12 pack) and way better than it has a right to be.

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