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Beer or Wine as a "Life Style" Choice

I polished off an Old No. 38 Stout by North Coast Brewing Co. last night. Good stuff. And as many of you probably know, this (and many other stouts) have, among other things: obvious roasted coffee and chocolate notes. This brought to my mind again something that I've never understood; how people who enjoy coffee (note: fairly dry with no creme) can find beer completely intolerable. I'd find it equally difficult to accept that anyone who enjoys tea couldn't find anything enjoyable about for example Yards ESA, Flying Fish ESB and others which include a certain tea character to them.
So I've concluded that for some ignoring beer is simply a "lifestyle choice" and has nothing at all to do with how it actually tastes. For some, beer doesn't fit their "image" of themselves. Maybe it's beer's association with High School and/ or college parties, or maybe it's the tacky and apparently endless marriage between sex and beer in TV and print ads.
To me it's almost like beer suffers from the very opposite phenomenon that wine suffers from; some people perceive wine as a "fussy" drink and wish to be associated with the more "working class" option of beer.
I've noticed though TV ads which address this very phenomenon within beer culture. Sam Adams for years has promoted the quality ingredients that it uses in it beers and Amstel has been promoting itself as an option for food pairing at serious restos. How can wine make itself more appealing to "joes"? Does it need to? And is beer on the right track?

Thanks!

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  1. I think I said this on another post but , my in-laws are very wealthy and they consider beer as low class and wine, vodka and scotch etc. to be civilized drinks.
    You should have seen their expressions when I mentioned that civilization as we know it probably resulted from the discovery of beer; they changed the subject.

    1 Reply
    1. re: niquejim

      I've always wondered how folks can close themselves off like that. I love good beer. I love good wine. I love good coffee. I think there are a subset of folks who drink for the societal reasons, and not because they particularly enjoy the taste. They drink beer because the guys at the superbowl party are drinking it, they drink wine because the folks in their music appreciation class are drinking it.

      I drink them both because they taste good.

    2. Interesting, I was just thinking about this today, because as I am a wine drinker for the most part, there are times when I prefer a cold beer. If I'm eating something spicy like Mexican or sushi I like bubbles. Beer or Champagne. It depends on the food and my mood. While I agree that adverts may want things to aqppear that beer is lower class. I have to say that is only the case if consumers give in to such perceptions.

      1. Actually, I think that with the rise of the "microbrewery", that beer has elevated itself concerning the public's opinion....Frankly, I am a wine drinker, but I have really never thought of beer as "working class", but rather that some people simply prefer the taste, and some like both...There are some really good, and sometimes expensive, beers out there...

        2 Replies
        1. re: jinet12

          The rise of the microbrews elavated beer in the eyes of beer "lovers" not beer drinkers, unfortunately.

          1. re: jinet12

            Ever watch "Cheers" back in the day? Cliff and Norm and Woody and the rest always drank beers. Frazier's character however when first introduced ordered IIRC a white wine spritzer. On the other hand I was at a large wine, beer and spirits retailer. Like many they have a regular wine tasting (which I attended). At the tasting there were two young guys who obviously knew each other, one drinking and the other not. As I recall the one not drinking was holding a 6er of beer and was wearing an NFL pullover. When the guy pouring wine asked him "Sir, care to taste any wine" he reacted as if he were asked to try on a skirt. Personally, I'd drink at a wine tasting just for the free buzz.

          2. I think there is another element going on with the rise of craft brews and I think it largely has to do with the brewers themselves, in many instances.

            Craft beer deserves to be taken as seriously as wine and, in some quarters, it is getting there. The problem is that many in the craft beer culture want craft beer to have a counter culture image - hence the drug references in some craft beer names, the artwork associated with some of the labels, etc. For example, I was at a beer festival yesterday and Magic Hat was handing out condoms and making an obvious sexual play on its branding.

            In addition to the counter culture, the demographic of craft beer also reaches out to college kids who don't really understand the brewing techniques but recognize that higher gravity beers are a ticket to a quicker buzz.

            I am more interested in the brew itself, so I look beyond the counter cultural and boozy elements of the craft beer culture. But, I think these elements need to be addressed if craft beer wants to be taken seriously by a broader demographic.

            5 Replies
            1. re: brentk

              In your opinion could you give us a few more examples of quality microbreweries out there that are "doing it right" and which are "doing it wrong" in terms of giving their beer a balanced image of both fun and seriousness?

              Thanks!

              1. re: Chinon00

                Clearly, Brooklyn has done the best job of positioning its beer to be taken seriously. They have probably been the most active in the east coast about setting up beer dinners to highlight the pairings of food and beer. Dogfish Head and Victory are two other east coast brewers that I see taking the higher road as well. To me, those are the three on the east that are taking a professional approach to providing a balanced image of beer. I would add Ommegang to this list as well. Not on the east coast, but Lost Abbey is taking a similar approach.

                Another brewery that I know less about but impresses me with its packaging is Allagash. In their big bottle series, their price points and packaging show that they are seeking a different market than most other brewers.

                In North Carolina, where I live, Highland and Duck-Rabbit are two promising smaller breweries that are doing it the right way.

                On the other end of the spectrum, I have already mentioned Magic Hat. I would add Sweetwater, with its 420 ale to that list. Not on the east coast, but certainly positioning themselves in the same way is Lagunitas.

                Mind you, this answer does not correlate with my preferences with respect to the beers, themselves. I would say, however, that I have not been overly impressed by the beers from the three at the bottom of my list.

                1. re: brentk

                  Out here in San Diego the local breweries make a lot of attempts at having their beer taken seriously via beer dinners with food pairing. I don't know how well it really works, since most of the wine geeks I know harbor some deep prejudices against beer, and a lot of the beer geeks I've met really embrace their vision of beer as the drink of the proletariat.

                  1. re: brentk

                    Funny that you said DFH is one of the breweries doing it right - it was the first brewery I thought of when you said this:

                    "demographic of craft beer also reaches out to college kids who don't really understand the brewing techniques but recognize that higher gravity beers are a ticket to a quicker buzz."

                    I volunteer to pour beers at a local beer fest that is held about 4 times a year, and whenever I pour for DFH, its always the young college kid who comes back again and again and doesn't care what kind of beer it is, but knows that its probably high in alcohol if its DFH.

                    1. re: LStaff

                      Yeah, DFH seemed to be in the wrong column, there. While I like many of their beers it's often *in spite of* their advertising/image. Take the re-named "Golden Shower*" (bet the frat boys loved that one) for instance, a 9% beer, in the copy of which DFH claims "Over three quarters of the beer made and consumed in America is sold as Pilsner. But it doesn't have the alcohol content..." Now, I have never heard that old world pilsners were once that high in alcohol and today's Bud (5%), Miller High Life (4.7%) and Coors (5%) are all *more* alcoholic than Pilsner Urquell (4.4%).

                      * (Now called "Golden Era" and available in bottles for around $14 a 4-pack)

                      Also, I was amused that they make a big deal out of their "Festina Peche- "A refreshing neo-BerlinerWeisse fermented with honest-to-goodness peaches to (get this!) 4.5% abv! Because extreme beers don't have to be extremely boozy!" but, of course, for that style, it's a lot more alcoholic than the standard bearers, Kindl (2.5%) or Schultheiss (3.3%).

              2. I'm a woman who likes really good beer and I don't see anyone marketing it to me. And I still find that at most nice restaurants beer isn't treated very seriously.

                3 Replies
                1. re: ccferg

                  I think they should market towards women. i have turned a few of my past lady friends into quality beer drinkers. many other women i have met harbour deep rooted prejudices against beer and wont like ti from the get go. Even if you tell them Guiness has less calories than a Corona, they will still opt for the Corona.

                  Hell I even have male friends who I have introduced to the wonderful world of Tripels. however they immediately hate swartzbiers with their preconcieved notions of dark beer being heavy.

                  Right now there are a lot of preconcieved notions people have about beer. These notions are sometimes class issues and they are sometimes ingrained notions about what beer they "should like" or how a beer should taste based on appearence. I definitely understand Chinon's confusion on why people who love coffee dont love stouts. I think this falls under the same auspices.

                  As to most nice restaurants not treating beer seriously, i think this is beggining to change at least in NYC. Many restaurants are compiling good beer lists to compliment their food.

                  For wine I like wine but I drink more beer for a couple of reasons. First is price. i can buy some of the most expensive beers and only pay a fraction of what a similarly regarded/quality wine would cost. Secondly when out at restaurants, good glasses of wine are much more expensive then good beer. In fact a good beer is often cheaper than crap wine. Regardless i dont want to hijack the thread.

                  1. re: MVNYC

                    If women only knew how cool they look when they order beer .. I'm fully heterosexual, but when I see a woman drinking beer I find her really appealing. I always wish she were my best friend. (But not if they order a Corona or a light-something.)

                  2. re: ccferg

                    I am another woman who really likes good beer and I wish beer was marketed more to us (well, other than Sam's Light - LOL). I also wish that beer was treated more seriously in nice restaurants - outside the brewery-restaurant and pub genres, good beer is sometimes hard to come by. I am in California, so we have it a bit better than in a lot of areas, but restaurants here are still seriously missing the boat.

                  3. THere are some foods with which I enjoy beer (Indian or Mexican, for instance) and some with which I like wine (French, Italian, etc.) What I don't like is having to accept uncritically someone else's prefabricated "lifestyle".

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ekammin

                      Yeah, I totally agree. Beer and wine encompass such a huge range of flavors that making any kind of rules about which beverage goes with which food is crazy. Beer can go quite well with Indian food in most cases, but there are certain styles that wouldn't work as well as the right kind of wine might. Conversely, depending on what French or Italian dish you're having, there could be beer pairings that are far superior to poor wine pairings.

                      I think the best approach is to be flexible and open to either.

                      Portuguese vinho verde can be a sublime match with Mexican food, and a nice biere de garde can pair supremely well with certain French dishes.

                    2. Many of the beer and wine makers/lovers I know "Swing both ways". I know I do. I buy wines, my husband makes and buys the beer-and we choose one or the other depending upon how we feel that day.

                      We even bring fine beers to dine out.

                      1. One thing I just noticed that is related to this topic. In the domestic beer thread people have been chiming in with their love of swill, PBR, Miller Lite, Budweiser, etc...They then get bent out of shape when people say those choices are awful. Their replies are that they like "real" beer and somehow imply that us craft beer drinkers have it wrong.

                        Do you think such a conversation would even go on in the wine board? If someone had the gaul to say that their favourite wine is Carlo Rossi would they then tell the drinkers of good wine that they were wrong? I for one dont think so. This seems another way in which people's preconcieved notions of wine vs beer as lifestyle choices.

                        i for one also dont understand why people who would seem to love food as they do here on chowhound would like and settle for MGD or Corona, but hey i am a beer snob and i admit it. I also would never eat wonder bread or kraft "cheese" slices so you get my drift.

                        17 Replies
                        1. re: MVNYC

                          I think what is awful is for people to say that the choices others make are awful.

                          Sharing suggestions and experiences are useful, but I have little respect for anyone who thinks their tastes and likes are correct and those who have different likes are wrong, inferior, misinformed, or 'settling'.

                          1. re: SuzyInChains

                            Thing is though, it's not really a matter of opinion. Not 100% of the time.

                            To go back to an oft-used example, you may enjoy the taste of McDonald's food. Obviously a lot of people do, or they wouldn't be in business. Now if you're someone who's into food, you know full well that there are any number of better hamburgers to be had out there. That doesn't mean you can't appreciate it for what it is, but I know of no foodie who would defend McDonald's as a great burger. It's pretty much a guilty pleasure if anything - the flavor brings memories, is comforting, is good in that same way that Nacho Cheese Doritos are, whatever.

                            The difference is that when it comes to beer, people take offense at being educated to the fact that Bud/MillerCoors are the beer equivalent of McDonalds. It's not a matter of pure opinion, but one of education and exposure (i.e. ignorance).

                            If someone who's never eaten anything other than McDonald's claims that McDonald's is the best burger, well you're certainly not going to take that perspective very seriously. If someone who has eaten high-quality burgers STILL defends McDonalds as an objectively better burger, you'd also not take that perspective very seriously.

                            When you know the history of beer making, and why it is that macro-brews are viewed with disdain by those who know the subject of beer very well, you have to concede that these aren't empty proclamations of mere opinion, but educated points of view.

                            If all you've known is macrobrew, and you've maybe tried one or two generic Euro lagers and a couple of micros, you're not really in a position to make a fair judgment.

                            There are really countless examples of where this applies. Imagine someone who only ever ate at Yoshinoya saying that Japanese food sucks, how absurd would you think that is?

                            Incidentally, the reverse of this is true as well. I've heard from numerous Europeans that American beer is garbage. Now in many instances they are right, and they are well-equipped to know this because they come from countries with rich beer traditions that still make good stuff. But once these people try some of our craft brews, they're singing a different tune.

                            1. re: Josh

                              No, I still flatly reject the argument that the taste of one is "better" than the other, and the inablility to recognize that is a lack of education or passion. This goes back to the music instructor I once had who was classically trained but had little exposure to jazz. She would often play two completely different versions of a song by different performers and require us to explain which one was "better" - no criteria, just better, and to her there was a right answer. But there is no better. There only is "which one I prefer" or "which one more closely follows some sort of arbitrarily defined guidelines".

                              If wrong is always wrong, and a beermaker from a foreign land who brewed a wonderful blablabla and never left his village happened to taste a Budweiser, a completely new taste to him, and thought it was wonderful, would he be wrong? Or is this all just the same old art vs. science, dot on the canvas, "mine is art because I studied art and know art but yours is just a dot" argument?

                              The bottom line to me is whenever someone calls someone else's choice swill, pisswater, flavorless, etc., and openly wonders how someone could actually like that, it discounting their personal preference and elevates the writer's preference to that of fact, not opinion. Throwing in the code words uneducated, unexposed or ignorant only conveys a feeling of elitism.

                              And yes, the example of someone who only ever ate at Yoshinoya saying that Japanese food sucks, would be absurd. However, someone saying that if you like the food at Yoshinoya, you are (wrong, ignorant, uneducated, low-class, etc.) is quite a bit worse. That's judging someone's opinion, regardless of whether they ever tried any other Japanese food, and that's where, to me, the line to being a chowsnob is crossed. Is that uneducated and ignorant of me?

                              We just live in different worlds. In mine, matters purely regarding taste are strictly opinion, never right or wrong, and need not be justified. If anyone thinks their opinion is more valid and that I only like something because I'm not educated in the subject, then I hope it makes them feel really good inside to know that.

                              1. re: SuzyInChains

                                Thanks for the thoughtful response.

                                It's a tough call, honestly, and this is an issue that (as you point out) crosses a lot of boundaries.

                                Were Warhol's soup cans art? Picasso's cubism? Jackson Pollock's drips and drabs?

                                I love modern art, as well as classical art, so to me it's kind of a no-brainer, but I think there is a difference between having an education in a subject and arriving at an opinion, and being untutored and arriving at an opinion.

                                To say one opinion is better or worse is obviously a judgment call, but you can certainly, clearly consider one opinion to be better informed than another.

                                Someone who never studied art history talking about how great the paintings of anthropomorphized martini olives is someone whose view on art you'd likely take with a shaker of salt.

                                1. re: SuzyInChains

                                  It's strange; beer is the only thing I can think of that continually inspires this particular sort of debate. People who like BudMillerCoors say that their preference is 'real' beer, and really don't seem to like beers with more flavor, while people who prefer craft beer really can't stand the industrial product. But there's disrespect on both sides. I guess it does come down to a matter of taste; but in terms of the skill and craft put into, say, a good Belgian-style ale versus Old Milwaukee, where they pump corn syrup directly from the truck into the brewing tanks (I know someone who used to work at the brewery) there is a real difference. The closest parallel seems to be art; some people really prefer black-velvet Elvis paintings, even after seeing the Mona Lisa. Who is anybody else to say their taste is wrong?

                                  1. re: Bat Guano

                                    I think wrong and right aren't really applicable labels here. I'd just say "informed" or "uninformed". It's kinda like religion and politics - people who are well-informed about subjects tend to hold more nuanced views than people who are poorly-informed.

                                    What gets up my nose is when those who are not well-informed want to force their ignorance on me. It really gets to me in restaurants, in particular. Good restaurants should be serving good beer, and the fact that so many don't is really a testament to ignorance.

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      There are two separate issues. I agree that many people who order industrial beer are uninformed. But there are also a number of people who, I know for a fact, have tried a number of better beers and still prefer Coors light or whatever. My beer-geek friends are always enticing their partners to try whatever they're drinking; the beer gets tried and rejected, and the next round includes yet another Coors light. So they really seem to prefer what I consider swill. Other possible explanations are that they like what they are used to, and maybe with enough good beer forced down their throats they'll come around; or they're concerned about gaining weight and don't want to like anything but light beer. In any case, you can't legitimately say they're uninformed about alternatives, because I've seen them at least sip all kinds of better beer. The most charitable explanation is taste - they actually prefer the tasteless mass-market beers. So they pass right by the Mona Lisa on their way to the black-velvet Elvis section (if the Louvre had a black-velvet Elvis section....)

                                      1. re: Bat Guano

                                        I look at it as some people just hate beer; so they drink Coor's light instead. As I've mentioned before, I have a friend who will order a bottle of Coor's light and then pour it over a pint glass full of ice. Obviously this person DOES NOT like beer and wishes (if possible ) to even further cloud the flavor of an already flavorless beer (damn that's hate). At another level there was a person I met at brewpub who could not get her head around why I would drive 50 minutes to a brewpub when there are about a hundred places to "grab a beer" in between the brewpub and my house. I just kept repeating to her "the beer is really good here". She never understood because to her beer doesn't have flavor or taste or any distinguishing character (at least the "good" beer doesn't).

                                        As a side note this same person asked about a great bar to go to for her birthday. I asked "what are you looking for exactly". She responded "some place in Philly where it's easy to park and to get in and out".

                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                          Yeah, that's really how I look at it too. There's a guy at a local place I go who drinks Budweiser on the rocks, and it's one of the premier spots for micros. I explained all this recently to someone I know who's kind of new to good beer. She was surprised to find out that the macro guys use rice and corn precisely because they are flavorless ingredients. When you get into how things taste, it's hard to wrap your head around that POV.

                                          1. re: Josh

                                            That does seem to be a logical explanation. I find it hard to fathom why people would drink something they don't like, though.

                                            1. re: Bat Guano

                                              But whether it is dining or reading or music (or other activities considered to be “leisure”) people have this notion that these parts of our lives should be almost completely passive. In other words to them leisure activities should require a minimal investment of energy to be understood and appreciated.
                                              But with this approach one cuts him or herself off from some of the most profound and moving experiences that life has to offer. It’s that simple.

                                          2. re: Chinon00

                                            This.

                                            I think you've nailed it on the "Coors Light as a different category of drink" angle. It's almost like it was a substitute for ginger ale or a beer spritzer or something. Difficult to explain.

                                            On the "great bar" comment - same thing happens in other categories. In our town, "best coffeehouse" generally means somewhere where free parking and couches. Has nothing to do with the coffee at all.

                                    2. re: SuzyInChains

                                      I can agree with you to a point that "matters purely regarding taste are strictly opinion, never right or wrong, and need not be justified". But as a food and wine lover how USEFUL to you is the opinion of a person who considers Applebees very good chow and rarely visits other genre restaurants? And again we agree that they aren't right or wrong for having that opinion but how useful would their dining opinions or suggestions be to you as a food and wine lover?

                                      Thanks!

                                      1. re: SuzyInChains

                                        So in your world nobody is more educated on anything that requires opinion? So someone who loves Safeway supermarket made sushi and has only had that as an example of the craft has just as valid of an opinion as a master sushi chef who has been making sushi for 30 years?

                                        I tend to value craftsmanship in food. The artisinal maker of cheese, cured meats, etc.. who truly loves what they do. Some people do not value this and just eat to live. However I would be more inclined to trust the opinion of the first example than the second. That is why I am on this site. Experience and knowledge do mean something on a website like chowhound whose purpose is for people to get the best. I do not come to this site to ask people what a good cheese to pair with a certain beer and have them come back to me with kraft singles. If that makes me a snob so be it.

                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                          I blame a misplaced sense of cultural relativism for this kind of thinking. It's not only found here, but in all areas. It's a weird misinterpretation of the notion of equality. Obviously, all people should be treated equally under the law, however this doesn't translate into all people actually being equal.

                                          Genetics and how we were raised make us all different, and when we say something is "better" than something else, it's based on some kind of scale. People are better than other people at all kinds of things - it's why there are pro athletes, entrance exams for medical school, and professional chefs.

                                          Obviously anyone would reject the idea that any cook is as good as any other cook. While it's nice to say that anyone can be anything they want to be and that we all have merit (which we do, certainly), it's not reality to say that everyone's point of view is equally valid. People who are ignorant about a topic should have their opinions on that topic viewed accordingly.

                                    3. re: SuzyInChains

                                      But if we don’t draw distinctions using some basis then this entire website loses all meaning.
                                      Is the opinion of a person who is admittedly indifferent toward food of equal value to yours or mine?

                                      1. re: SuzyInChains

                                        I was going to reply but Josh and Chinon have already said what i was meaning to.

                                    4. I believe too that with quality food and wine and beer gaining such a higher profile in the American consciousness that may of us are just really anxious about making the "correct" choices and about expressing those choices to our peers. Just today the bartender at my local told me that she "doesn't like white wine" and that her room mate drinks one of those "crap Pinot Grigios". So I asked her which were her favorite reds. She's responded "Just about any as long as they aren't sweet". This person is making no sense on many levels. But what is painfully true is that she's consumed with having the "right" opinion when it comes to this subject.
                                      So to me in the end it doesn't matter how or why people come to wine or beer or whatever because if they don't appreciate it for it's intrinsic value (to some degree) then it will have all been for naught anyway.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                        Exactly. While the beer or the wine may be for different outward appearences they are both chosen to fulfill some notion of ego. I suppose that many of us who think we know what we are talking about do the same thing. However I would like to think that most of those people who post on chowhound would be willing to eat anywhere, drink anything as long as it tastes good to them personally. There are always people who are going to follow some trend or buy some product if it makes them feel cooler.

                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                          This reminds me of a time out with friends, (about 10 years ago a co-worker of ours was known for dating complete idiots). We were all at happy hour and this girl says, with an air of confidence, that "I only drinks expensive wine, I only drink Pinot Grigio" I swear I almost laughed so hard my own wine almost came out of my nose. I at 23, had to explain to this 30 year old woman that Pinot Grigio was the type of grape, and you could just as easily buy a cheap Pinot, as you could an expensive one. To this day I still think of that when someone orders a wine (OR drink) that they associate with the notion of ego!

                                        2. re: Chinon00

                                          "I believe too that with quality food and wine and beer gaining such a higher profile in American conscienceness that may of us are just really anxious about making the "correct" choices and about expressing those choices to our peers."

                                          So true. MVNYC's comment about the PBR and Bud drinkers drinking swill while seeing them proclaim that craft beer isn't real beer illustrates that point. I used to call the pale lager drinkers "swillers" and thumb my nose at them because of it. I knew better. Now I just accept that many people like beer with lighter or less flavor and leave it at that. They're not interested in analysis and contemplation. Same with wine. Or that they're really drinking just to get a buzz or flat out drunk. Most of what they drink is inoffensive and isn't revolting like its made out to be.

                                          If someone has a problem with the beer I drink, that's fine. If he wants to tell me about it, that's fine too, although it's never happened. I'm more than happy to talk about craft beer. If he's an ass, I'll get a chance to see that and learn the real reason to dismiss him instead of for being a "swiller".

                                          If someone develops a genuine interest in beer (or wine or spirits) and starts to experiment and nurture that interest, that's great. Hopefully, they'll leave all the other baggage at the door. But the "lifestyle" stereotypes are hard to shed. With some, as their interest grows, those stereotypes are even reinforced.

                                          1. re: ultramagnetic

                                            Good comment - I was just about to make one along the same line.

                                            Part of the problem is illustrated by the question 'beer or wine lifestyle'. How about "I like beer, I don't like wine. or vice versa. It very often has nothing to do with lifestyle explicitly excluding one or the other for reasons of 'class'.

                                            It may be a lifestyle that is mildly intolerant (or not quite vice versa) only mildly tolerant of alcohol. I know people who will have one beer because that is all the alcohol they wish to consume.

                                            Some of us have lifestyles very tolerant of alcohol, I know I do. I keep liquor in the house, my small cellar is heavy on red Bordeaux and white Burgundies, but I seldom have any beer in the house. Doesn't stop me from looking forward to heading to the local German restaurant's beer-tasting nights.

                                            I don't know if anyone knows of a fictional character named Nero Wolfe (author Rex Stout, around WWII through the 60s). A major facet of the characterization was that Wolfe was a gourmet of renown - and a beer drinker. His fictional best friend owned the fictional finest restaurant in NY and was appalled that he could not get Wolfe to become an oenophile.

                                            A weirdo thing that has happened since I was a younger drinker is the exchange of positions between simple quaffable alcoholic beverages. When I was younger, it was common (and simple) to walk into a bar and ask for a draught beer. Didn't have to name the beer, weren't offered a half-dozen choices, just said "Gimme a draught." or words to that effect and you received a beer. Practically impossible today when still all I want is a cold drinkable beer.

                                            Whereas it is quite common now to not have to peruse wine lists at lunch - "I'll have a glass of red wine please" and you get a glass of wine.

                                            As noted above, sometimes a beer is just a beer. To the best of my knowledge, it is only in America where beer is not allowed to be just a cold refreshing beverage, nor wine just a lip-smacking quaff.

                                            I don't recall if it was critic Oz Clarke or critic Frank Schoonmaker who was so impressed with Gallo products some decades ago. Wines that are consistently quaffable year after year. A bad season had no impact on the quality of their product and it was affordable.

                                            Now as we see, Bud and Gallo drinkers are sneered at. That's the lifestyle that makes no sense.

                                        3. "How can wine make itself more appealing to "joes"? Does it need to?"

                                          Considering that the wine market has been growing for a decade and that wine passed beer as the most popular alcoholic beverage in America a year or two ago, I'd have to say your questions are untimely and out of touch. Just what I would expect from a beer drinker. (Just a joke)

                                          "And is beer on the right track? " Since it is losing market share the answer is probably "No."

                                          "I'd find it equally difficult to accept that anyone who enjoys tea couldn't find anything enjoyable about for example Yards ESA, Flying Fish ESB and others"

                                          Both of these beers are available to me and I enjoy them both. I think most tea is kind of crappy and hardly ever drink it. Why should the converse be difficult to accept?

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: FrankJBN

                                            FrankJBN:

                                            Sorry, but you're wrong. Please read "Beer Again Edges Out Wine as Americans' Drink of Choice": http://www.galluppoll.com/content/?ci...

                                            You're citing data that's two years old. 2005 was the only year that wine beat beer in terms of preference.

                                            The real losers in beer market share continue to be green bottle imports and American mega beer.

                                            1. re: peetoteeto

                                              Yes, the general catagory of beer is stagnant over the last few years, but the craft segment is experiencing steady and strong growth.

                                              http://www.beertown.org/email/ba/midy...

                                              This tells me more and more people are thumbing their noses at industrial lagers and starting to experience the diverse flavors that craft beer brings. Craft beer is heading in the right direction and its connection with food is what will drive the effort to raise beer's perception - just like it did for US wine producers. Still plenty of issues that need to be shaken out for it to take over 10% of the beer market though - finding the capital for increased production is one (more brewery start ups), distribution and freshness issues is another big issue imo.

                                            2. re: FrankJBN

                                              My only point was that there is a segment in America who will not drink beer because of perception (I'm calling them "joes"). And by "on the right track" I meant are current ads by Sam Adams and Amstel (which counter the bikini-sports ad approach of most beer TV ads) helping to broaden the image of beer.

                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                I remember doing a focus group for the bud light frog commercials. I was the only one in the room who said I would prefer them telling me how the beer tasted and couldnt care less about the frogs.

                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                  CORRECTION (Chinon00 Aug 28, 2007 04:53PM): "there is a segment in America who will not drink WINE because of perception"

                                                  Thanks!

                                              2. Beer is one of the few last great American commodities. In the so-called name of authenticity, many people (and, thus, many corporations) wish to maintain the image of beer as a common man drink. Why? Because we idolize -- and secretly wish we were -- a beer-drinking, straight-talkin', free-thinkin' blue-collar worker instead of the 9-to-5 subordinate suburban office boy many of us are.

                                                The fact that beer being elevated to an appreciation experience scares many who see staples of life -- be it salt, butter, wine, or potatoes -- unnecessarily elevated, revered, and stratified.

                                                The image of beer remains firmly industrial because 1) of its industrial roots and production process, and 2) so many people and mega breweries are, quite frankly, worried that the last great American commodity is being turned into a prissy, dare I say, effeminate experience.

                                                Flame away!

                                                1. Another observation: The only place that I can think of that is openly beer serious and focused as well as being family oriented are the brewpubs. And I think that being family friendly can soften beer's image away from that of the industrial worker or the counter-culture person. In the Philadelphia area Iron Hill has opened I believe it's 6th brewpub. The demographic that goes to Iron Hill regularly to my observation is similar to that of a Friday's (which is great because it exposes a broad range of people to a place that takes beer seriously as well as serves better food [and often with beer as an ingredient]). But typically the women who I see at Iron Hill are ordering wine (but they ARE in a brewpub so it's a start).

                                                  1. Article from "The Beer Enthusiast's Draft: Life On Tap" magazine (Sept/Oct 2007):
                                                    "FEMME-ALE"
                                                    In Germany, studies have shown that women view beer as fattening, unrefined and detrimental to overall health. (Maybe German girls have been to Oktoberfest one too many times?) To change ale's image, German brewer Karlsberg is promoting a new beer geared toward women called-of course-Karla. Sold through pharmacists, the two Karla varieties are being labeled healthy drinks that are low in alcohol content (1%). Karla Balance is meant to provide peace and serenity by mixing hops with lemon balm, which offers sedative effects. Karla Well-Be's ingredients include soy-derived lecithin (to lower cholesterol), vitamins and folic acid.

                                                    Note: Article continues

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                      The real question is what would Coco Chanel have to drink?

                                                      1. re: MVNYC

                                                        . I am now going to tell my husband to design and brew a new recipe. We'll call it "Chanel No. I lose count after the fifth pint"

                                                        I think Coco looked like a summer lager type of girl.

                                                        we could also brew a chocolate porter and just call it "Coco"

                                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                                          IIRC Coco Chanel was from the Loire Vallee so I'd like to think that she was a "Chinon" drinker ;]

                                                      2. My daily bike ride takes me past maybe 100 homes. A fleeting glance into the curbside recycling containers on pickup day provides an interesting snapshot of what is drunk inside many of them. The containers in the $million-and-up neighborhoods have lots of wine bottles and green glass. Residents in the $300K neighborhoods discard so many containers of Miller Lite and Bud Light that one wonders how their livers hold up. And they are fiercely brand loyal; it's one or the other. Predictable, of course, but nonetheless amusing to observe.
                                                        Maybe it's the Florida heat.

                                                        1. A couple of things, on average a bottle of beer (12 oz or 16 oz) is usally cheaper. The branding and naming thing also has a lot to do with it. Most people are put off by appelations, hence the rise of the new world wine. On the other side, a lot of newer breweries tend to name their beer something silly or inetresting vs the average winery. But...the rise of the "red wagon" +" yellow tail" type of wine shows that this isn't always a negative. Hell, I love stout but hate coffee. I love beer but am averese to beers w/special names.However, I do llike Racer-X and most Bell's products. Sierra Nevada hardly uses any special names for their products. They market their overall brand, maybe that helps them. I wonder if they have a richer demographic....

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: MOREKASHA

                                                            Ahh, the name on the label affects not the brew in the bottle.

                                                            he'Brew does some great beers. Hair of the Dog Adam is fabulous. Gonzo porter is great.

                                                            Brewers and Vitners have interesting senses of humor, that's all. Comes from standing over a hot mash all day. oh, and "sampling for quality".

                                                            One of my favorite beers my husband has brewed was named "Artemis puga phyga". My mother was shocked, amused and touched all at once.
                                                            The first one to figure out why is the winner!

                                                            1. re: Diana

                                                              Yeah, the name doesn't affect what's inside. But, when trying a new brew it might be one of the factors in considering to buy or not.

                                                              1. re: Diana

                                                                OK, Diana, this puga phyga thing is bugging me now. Give us a hint - what language is it? It's got something to do with you - Diana being the Roman version of Artemis - but that's all I've got so far besides conjecture that's not fit to put here....

                                                                Unusual names do seem to be more usual in the beer world than the wine world, and perhaps that's because of the general lack of pretension that seems to come along for the ride with beer. Which brings it back to why some people may think the 'lifestyle choice' of wine is in some way superior. Not saying that wine drinkers are pretentious snobs, since I drink it myself (though not as often as I reach for a beer) or at least not all of them.

                                                              2. re: MOREKASHA

                                                                Speaking of "silly" names/ labels, imagine the dynamics for a moment if you are at a nice restaurant for dinner with the SO and decided to do a 750ml of beer as an aperitif. Would you feel comfortable at the table (linen napkins, sparkling flatware, etc) with a bottle of Middle Ages' Wailing Wench (busty "wench" and all on the label)?

                                                              3. What won't alter beer's "joe" image is the new Bud Light "exploding bottles at the opera" commercial. The idea is simple: Real guys would only be caught at an opera by getting "ropped" in with their wives. And real guys would of course sneak Bud Light in to get through it. I hate that commercial.

                                                                1. I'm sorry for not reading all posts before my reply and I hope not to imitate responses, but this is my opinion.

                                                                  Wine is great for many situations. Beer is better. In all true-ness beer couples with food better than wine because of the way beer and wine effect the palate when coupled with food.

                                                                  The beer you describe is a social thing, but people can find that (good) beer can be far more sophisticated than wine. AND that beer is better! People that drink beer can get very "fussy" and I'll be the first to say that the "beer" produced by the major American brewing companies is trash. Find a good craft brewery and find a good beer, you'll have a friend for life!

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: HeBrew

                                                                    I wouldn't categorically say beer is better. There are some foods that I think are better served by an appropriate wine. It really depends on the situation.

                                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                                      I only say better because wine can mask food flavors where beer usually does not. While I agree that there are foods and dishes that are very good paired with wine, I think that the same foods can be successfully paired with beer with a result that surpasses the food wine combination.
                                                                      The cheese + beverage combination is a great test, if done right. People go to great lengths to pair cheese with the right wine, do the same with beer. The beer style guidelines of the beer judge certification program will help with this.
                                                                      Try it, I think you'll like it. Wine is good but I think that beer is better when pairing with food overall. Also the key is having good beer, similar to good wine. Most people only experience commercial beer, which is a travesty. Well made homebrew and craft brews will really prove the potential of good beer that most commercial beer cannot.
                                                                      Explore the world of good beer my friend, its standalone and culinary potential is so great that you should be able to replace the appropriate wine with the appropriate beer. I think you'll be very surprised and happy with the results.

                                                                      CHEERS!

                                                                      1. re: HeBrew

                                                                        You're preaching to the choir. I'm a big advocate of beer as food pairing. In most instances I think that beer is as good, if not better, than wine. However there are some foods that I think work better with wine than beer.

                                                                        This isn't, or shouldn't be, a religious discussion. I'm not dissing beer.

                                                                        Cheese, for example, I agree typically is more suited to beer.

                                                                        But certain kinds of foods just work really well with the right wines.

                                                                  2. I'm not really interested in what anyone else has to say about what I ingest. Life's short -- drink what makes you happy.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: thatfarmgirl

                                                                      I think that this is the point; are people drinking what makes them happy or what they perceive will elevate their image in some circles in an attempt to gain group approval and acceptance (which obviously are two very different things)?

                                                                      1. re: thatfarmgirl

                                                                        Hear, hear! I drink beer or wine, fancy stuff or everyday swill, depending on what I feel like having. I couldn't care less if it's marketed correctly or who else is drinking it, and I see no reason to take my drink (or much of anything else) seriously.

                                                                        To put it more simply, what I'm drinking isn't "me"--in fact, I'm just borrowing it for a while! ;)

                                                                      2. Hello all. I'm not a regular poster to the BEER board but I wanted to weigh in. I have been a wine drinker since I was legal (ok not quite 'legal') I went from your typical white zin in college to real wine. Now I'm quite the wino. I tasted a typical American brew (Budwiser, Miller) once and did not like it at all. In college I never drank beer thinking that it all tasted like that one. Eventually I did taste a darker beer (I think it was Red Wolf) and realized that all beer does not taste the same. Now I enjoy beer on a regular basis. I usually do not keep it in the house unless I have a particular craving. I can walk to my favorite brew-pub. I do keep wine in the house. So it turns out my perception of beer was wrong. I thought it all tasted like dishwater when really there are so many styles of beer.

                                                                        1. I think people who turn their nose up to beer, even if they enjoy some of its qualities in other food and beverages, either haven't sipped anything past the bottom tier in a while or they don't want to be part of a culture of what they may think are beer snobs. Beer has come a long way with some great microbreweries paving the way. Thanks to my local supplier, I have had a chance to drink my way around the country (and the world for that matter).

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: mplsmike

                                                                            I think I'd agree with the big problem being the conception some people have with beer, as it being something drunk at a game with a hot dog. Living in NYC, I know of all too many people, mostly women, who rarely touch a beer. It pains me to see a person order a cosmo with a specific vodka, because I know of few humans that could taste the difference between cheap and shi-shi vodkas. It really bugs me when these are the same people that cannot taste differences between a speyside, highland and islay single malts. Such people identify themselves as those who do things for image more than actual taste. Upon refelction, I like them making bad choices, because that leaves more good booze for me.

                                                                            As far as beer becoming a drink of choice that one can make, I think it originates with the law in the 1980s allowing for homebrewing, that law lead to more homebrewing, and the wave of homebrewers developed an interest in different styles, a demand for beers made in some styles that did not appear in the U.S. at earlier points in time, and created a bunch of people will to try to be microbrewers.

                                                                            Before the early 1990s, imported beers that one saw were still all lagers made in mostly a German style. Heineken and Becks were expensive premium beers and are now are just blah brands. Once prior to 1990 can I remember having a Pilsner Urguell. I cannot recall seeing a wheat beer before 1993, but now buying one is as simple as walking into most grocery stores. I cannot recall ever seeing Belgian beers prior to 1993. The law for homebrewing set the stage.

                                                                            1. re: Captain

                                                                              When I was a Scotch noob, I didn't yet know about the differences between highland, speyside, and islay. I just knew that I really liked the smoky and briny ones.

                                                                              The first good beer I had was in 1990, at a company picnic. The owner of the home ordered Chimay red by the case to keep in his wine cellar. I didn't much care for it when it was icy cold, but as it warmed up I was stunned at how the flavor improved. It blew my mind to think that this was beer, with all the varied flavors and complexities in it.

                                                                              More people need those "a ha" moments when it comes to beer, IMO.

                                                                              1. re: Captain

                                                                                Captain- "As far as beer becoming a drink of choice that one can make, I think it originates with the law in the 1980s allowing for homebrewing..."

                                                                                My interest in beer developed around the mid-1970's, and I was homebrewing by 1976 (first discovered it when I was living in L.A.). The "rebirth" of interest in good beer and the development of homebrewing as a hobby did sort of go hand in hand in some respects and for many, but not, all people, but I don't think homebrewing "created" the interest in good beer. And, legalizing homebrewing (which happened in the 70's during the Carter Administration, IIRC, tho' many states took a while to change state laws) was a bigger factor for the homebrewing *industry* (both dealers and the AHA) than it was for most homebrewers themselves.

                                                                                Michael Jackson's WORLD GUIDE came out in the US in '77, as did a similar, but less encompassing, book by Michael Weiner called "A Tasters Guide to Beer" and neither had any connection to the homebrew world. Around the same time, even as the consolidation of the brewing industry in the US continued, a few of the old line brewers came out with non-light lager styles of beer- Falstaff still had a handful of ales on the market (Ballantine XXX and IPA, Croft, Pickwick) and had re-introduced Narrangansett Porter and a new Ballantine ale, Brewers Gold. Ortlieb and Schmidt in Phila. both came out with a few ales and even a stout & an Oktoberfest, etc. A number of hoppy ales (McSorley's, etc.) and all-malt lagers (Augsburger) started showing up, as well. Bocks had not yet died out and some were revived.

                                                                                Anchor's first markets outside Calif., IIRC, were New Jersey and Mass. By 1976 New Albion, the first microbrewery in the US, was opened (before legalized homebrewing came about, as far as I remember).

                                                                                On the import front, there were a number of UK ales and stouts available (a 1964 official state price guide for NJ shows Guinness Extra Stout, Bass Ale, Whitbread Ale, Smithwicks and even Manx Oyster Stout for sale, along with lagers from Poland, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Yugoslavia and Austria as well as Germany- and a number of German brands had several different beers available- lights, darks, bock, sandlers, etc).

                                                                                I drank Pilsner Urquell occasionally in the 70's (with the corklined cap- it wasn't hard to find, but freshness was a concern) and had tried some Belgian beers (certainly Orval, but can't recall what others) but, until I read Jackson's book, I thought they were just very old and mis-handled <g> . Schultheiss Berliner Weisse was available in the 70's and Kindl before that (neither of which are exported anymore). I used to frequent a bar in central NJ in 1975 that had 8 or so German draught beers and several brands of bottled weiss beer which they served in the correct glassware.

                                                                            2. Quality ingredients is always a must. The biggest problem I see in the beer community is that people look at beer drinkers differently than wine drinkers. Consider that people view quantity..."Hey that guy's had 4 beers.." and "Oh, she's only had 3 glasses of wine..". The true effect isn't considered, so I think you're idea of "image" is right on.
                                                                              Unfortunately, what most people don't know is that a food pairing party actually is better with beer than wine. Wine tends to mask flavors of food where beer does not.
                                                                              Beer does have an image, but in my opinion that image has been created by the commercial mega-breweries. Step away from what those breweries sell and you will enjoy a better beer.
                                                                              Beer is on the right track, hotels and restaurants are starting to exploit good beer and beer is starting to become as discriminated as wine. I say good deal, beer should be celebrated and should be a part of all meals.

                                                                              <Check>OK, maybe not breakfast, but you get my point...

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: HeBrew

                                                                                Why not breakfast? Seriously. A nice dark chewy stout with a hearty breakfast on a snowy day when you've got nowhere to go is lovely. Ditto for a light hefeweizen or pale ale at summer brunch on the patio in your pajamas. Mmmm...

                                                                                1. re: Kinnexa

                                                                                  First time I was in the Munich airport transferring to Italy it was around 7am local time. And there were a handful of German businesspeople getting ready to fly westbound sipping big glasses of wheat beer with a slice of lemon. It was explained to me that it was "breakfast beer". Maybe just at the airport?

                                                                                  1. re: Kinnexa

                                                                                    You know, an omelet with wheat toast lightly buttered and a little blackberry jam in front of a fireplace and a slightly bitter stout in front of a fireplace does sound like the ultimate breakfast of winter. I like your thinking...

                                                                                2. Once I get past obviously inferior products, practically any wine or beer tastes pretty good to me. The ones that cost two or three times as much often taste better but they never seem to provide two or three times as much gratification. So after years of trying, I have realized that always trying to figure out what is truly the best evah or merely the best value is too much work. Relax and enjoy. Can I still be a hound?

                                                                                  Wine or beer? Put it this way. I could easily adjust to a world without wine. A world without beer would be sad. This has nothing to do with lifestyle or what anyone else thinks, just the relative size of the grin a glassful at the right moment can put on my face.

                                                                                  1. Who cares, really? If people don't want to try it, that's their loss.