Twitter / beerphilosopher

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Not Your Father's Problem?


By this time, most everyone has heard about the latest craze – Not Your Father’s Root Beer (NYF’s). Part of its appeal, undoubtedly, is its lack of availability in certain parts of the country including right here in southern Illinois. Inevitably a product that is not easily obtained tends to take on something of an elevated status and become a distraction, at least, and an obsession at worst. In some cases, this is justified. The classic example would be the ales brewed by the Cistercian monks of St. Sixtus at Westvleteren in Belgium. For years these Trappist beers could only be obtained (legally) at the gates of the Abbey and were not sold (again legally) at retail anywhere – ergo instant Holy Grail of beer status.

Lesser examples in our market are obvious – New Glarus, Three Floyds and even Yuengling come to mind. Brands that were once highly sought after are, dare I say, approaching ho hum status now because of their ease of availability. I’m talking to you Dogfish Head, New Belgium and Stone. Part of this is due to the well-documented promiscuity of the craft beer drinker who typically moved from brand to brand and beer to beer constantly in search of the next new thing. This is precisely why most craft brewer’s “flagship” brands have seen a marked decline in sales while seasonal and one-off specialty beers are now driving incremental growth. 

What does all of this have to do with the NYF’s? A lot, actually. For one, Not Your Father’s is the latest “new thing,” even though it’s really not. Hard root beer has been around a while (historically, a long while), but up till now hasn’t gained much traction at the consumer level. For reason’s I’ve yet to fully understand, and will elaborate on here, the NYF’s brand has managed to do something no other brand of hard root beer has done so far – capture the hearts and minds of the coveted craft beer consumer. It’s the craft crowd who is driving much of the buzz surrounding this brand and it’s largely the craft crowd who is inexplicably giving NYF’s ratings in the upper 80-point range on beer geek rating sites like and

But hold your sassafras just a minute. 

Could it be that the crafties are being duped? Without going into all of the details myself, and because it’s been done earlier and far better than I could offer, I will link to an interesting piece by fellow beer writer Don Russell who documents the origin and production details of Not Your Father’s right here. I recommend you read it if you’re interested in this brand and you care about the whole “craft credibility” thing. If not, carry on … you’re not part of the problem. 

We certainly have a conundrum on our hands. The very same folks who are quick to disparage FMBs (flavored malt beverages) as cheap alcopop, malternative crap - such as Bud Light’s Rita family, Four Loko and Mike’s Hard Lemonade are the same folks who are all in a tizzy to find, drink and rate with extreme prejudice NYF’s as the greatest new “craft beer” product of the year. 

I suspect that most of the craft devotees who have jumped on the NYF’s bandwagon are blissfully unaware that NYF’s is not in fact “craft” at all; a key litmus test for many craft intelligentsia … or I thought it was.  I mean, c’mon, the stuff is brewed at City Brewing in LaCrosse, Wisconsin – where many of the other much-hated, much maligned alcopop brands are produced. If those other brands aren’t craft and aren’t even considered to be real beer by some, why does NYF’s get a pass? 

Hypocrite much?

Maybe I’m being too hard on my craft friends. Maybe they honestly don’t know. Maybe they genuinely think NYF’s is a craft product; a real beer. Tough questions, but the fact is that now we’re faced with a decision, aren’t we? Either continue to feed the NYF’s frenzy despite the facts or stop trashing all other FMBs as crap. Fair is fair, after all. 

For the record, I don’t honestly care one way or the other. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I advocate for drinking whatever you want to drink regardless of who makes it, where it’s made or whether it meets some arbitrary criteria to be considered “craft” or “authentic” or safe to drink without running the risk of having your craft beer snob license revoked. For crying out loud, drink what you like, but while you’re at it don’t be hypocritical about it, people. 

Maybe it’s time you give that Bud Light Mang-o-Rita another shot though since, you know, you’re into alcopops now and they’re way cool.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Craft Beer Under Attack? Part One of Many ...

Many apologies for the lengthy hiatus on the blog, folks, but life has a tendency to do that from time to time. I will endeavor to post more frequently, assuming I think there's fodder for doing so. Speaking of fodder for doing so, I'm sure most have seen Budweiser's latest commercial which aired during the 3rd quarter of last night's Super Bowl game? If not, click the link below and watch it. This is my response to the debacle that followed and continues to smolder in social media circles today. I have secured my fate as a sellout and a soulless shill now, I'm sure. Here is the comment I posted on Facebook earlier today and the link to the entire conversation as well:

"Okay, this is turning into a real brouhaha, isn't it. There are some intrinsic problems with the commercial, undoubtedly, but on the other hand I think it's hilarious to see the beer snobs being poked at a little bit. After all, douchery needs to be tamped down wherever it is found and it is found far too often in craft beer circles these days. I should know; I'm a recovering douch. After feverishly scouring the douch-laden beer rating sites for affirmation, some observers have brought up the fact that Elysian - having just been purchased by AB InBev - has brewed a "pumpkin peach ale" and using this particular reference in a Budweiser commercial must be, de facto, hypocritical since both brands are owned by Ab InBev. Really? This is a BUDWEISER commercial, not a commercial for AB InBev's entire portfolio people. Take a marketing course and discover what branding is and you'll realize that companies with a large portfolio position brands against each other all the time in order to target the desired demographic and/or customer base ... even brands within the same book. I know your delicate sensibilities are bruised, people, but whether you like it or not this was more about drawing a contrast between what Budweiser is and is happy to be and what craft beer is and is welcome to be. They're not meant to be compared and contrasted within the same category or with the same sensory "fussiness" warranted by the greater complexity and variety found in craft beer. In other words, Budweiser AS A BRAND is okay with beer geeks constantly exclaiming that it is fizzy, yellow, watery whatever ... that's not Bud's demo. Further, the commercial did not state, or even imply, that a "pumpkin peach ale" is bad, per se. The message was intended, in my opinion, to convey that beers like that are fine for the demo they're brewed to appeal to but they're not for everyone. I agree with that. Those who got their panties in a wad because Ab InBev "insulted" craft beer are narrow-minded and myopic. Ab InBev did NOT insult craft beer here; they demonstrated that BUDWEISER isn't craft beer and the brand is more than okay with that. So what? Apples to oranges, folks. Finally, coming back around to the beerdouchery I'm so fed up with ... I think the real takeaway from this is that it proves the snobs can dish it out with Imperial Black Rye Habanero IPA-fuled fervor, but they can't take it. Oh, and if I'm right, comments will ensue below to prove my point."

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. Douchbaggers need not apply. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Goose Hunting?

Goose Island Vintage Series 2013
As many of you locals already know, several of the Goose Island Vintage Series beers have already hit the shelves of your favorite retailers this week! Halia, Juliet, Lolita, Matilda, Sofie and more are looking better than ever in their new 765ML bottles. You can find these girls - while they last - at The Neighborhood Co-op Grocery Store, Picks Liquors, Pinch Penny Liquors, Schnucks, Southern Illinois Liquor Mart (Murphysboro), Warehouse Liquor Mart and Westroads Liquors in case you're wondering.

Can good news get better? You betcha.

The much-anticipated 2013 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout hits the market this Friday, 11/29,
at the same fine establishments mentioned above! This year's offering - already largely spoken for on pre-order lists - is in a 4-pack configuration and will absolutely fly off the shelves ... assuming you can find it at all! The early bird gets the Stout and all ...

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2013
Happy hunting.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rare Goose Island Vintage Series Beers Coming Next Week

Southern Illinoisans are in for a treat this holiday season as Chicago-based Goose Island releases several hard-to-find ales from their highly-acclaimed Vintage Series to retailers in our market beginning next week.
These Belgian-inspired beers are packaged in special limited -release 765ml bottles that are perfect for holiday gatherings or as gifts for the discerning beer geek in your life. Why be predictable and bring wine when you can rock one of these beery beauties? Look for the following rarities on local store shelves very soon or ask your retailer about availability.
The red number listed after each beer represents its current rating. They just don't get much better, folks.   

  • Goose Island Halia Belgian-style Farmhouse Ale (wine barrel-aged w. whole peaches) 96
  • Goose Island Juliet Belgian-style Wild Ale (wine barrel-aged w. blackberries) 99
  • Goose Island Lolita Belgian-style Wild Ale (wine barrel-aged w. raspberries)  99
  • Goose Island Matilda Belgian-style Pale Ale 96 
  • Goose Island Pere Jacques Belgian-style Abbey Ale 97
  • Goose Island Sofie Belgian-style Farmhouse Ale 98 
Again, look for these beers in stores beginning some time next week. Oh, and if you've bothered to read this far, you'll be the first to know you can also expect to see the arrival of the crazy-good, 100 rated, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout coming in the next week or two as well. Cheers!