Friday, January 26, 2018

Nothing Golden Stays

"This Bud's for anyone whoever went to school, had a job or has a neck." That was how Robert Klein once described the pervasiveness of that distinctive red, white and blue labeled brew. His point, at the time, was that you could not sneeze in America without toppling over a Budweiser display. The majority of the litter at Iron Eye Cody's feet were crumpled cans of Bud. I lived up the street from one of our region's major consumers of that amber swill. This was a dad who kept cases of the stuff stacked in his garage, and as we grew older, we knew that if we were going to abscond with a six pack for the weekend, we knew where to go. It would never be missed.

My own tastes strayed from that baseline. Though I was born and raised in Colorado, I eschewed that state's "Kool-Aid," Coors. Instead, I went with the champagne of beers: Miller. It did not occur to me just how confused that particular comparison was all the time I was choking it down. Nor did I consider that the subtitle of this beer was "High Life," since that was what I was living for a good portion of the time I was pouring it down my neck. Mostly because taste was never really the point upon which I was fixated. It was a slow and steady march to the abyss of post-adolescent drunk. So unconcerned was I with the brewing process and all that rot, I switched to Miller Lite, nicknamed "the poorly spelled light beer from Miller." Plenty of my fellow beer drinkers were quick to point out that Michelob was superior in so many ways, but my response was that it was Miller Lite that pioneered the Briefcase Full of Booze, the case with a handle. Mine was a mission of quantity, not quality.

And all the while, Budweiser tankers were steaming across the globe, pumping their version of beer into any waiting mouth. That red white and blue label was the sign that might as well have read "America," and for the summer of 2016, it did. But that didn't mean that it was forever. This year, Miller Lite has become the number one selling beer in America, while Budweiser slipped all the way to number four. How did this happen? If I were still drinking, you might suspect that I had something to do with this. Since I retired some years back, I have noticed that the talk of craft brewing and hops and aging process has moved to the forefront. Millennials seem to be fixated on the way their beer is made and how it tastes. Brewing in shipping containers to speed the process of consumption seems no longer to be the biggest concern. People seem to be enjoying beer's flavor rather than the effects that accompany that flavor. I always assumed that I wasn't going to be tasting much after that fourth one anyway, so why bother?

Times change, but I confess I am a little chagrined to suddenly find myself somehow aligned with the number one beer in the country. Nearly thirty years after I stopped drinking it.

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