If you were one of the 106.5 million people to watch the Super Bowl (largest American TV audience ever; take that, M*A*S*H series finale), chances are you saw a Bud Light commercial. Anheuser-Busch (or, rather, AB InBev) trotted out about 80 of them in part to assert its dominance on the grand stage of television advertisement but also to ring in the new Bud Light slogan, “Here we go.” My thoughts on AB’s marketing strategies are known, so it’s surprising to me that they’d go with the worst motto in history of beer.
In the spots, some guy finds out Bud Light has entered the equation somehow and exclaims “here we go,” as if a good time is imminent, like the crest of a roller coaster. Frankly, casting alcohol as a party drug the way this does is disgraceful and the implications of alcoholism are blatant. The Times reports “The idea has been to balance rational reasons for buying Bud Light, which were conveyed as product qualities under the umbrella of drinkability, with reasons that would ‘connect on an emotional level,’ (VP for marketing Keith) Levy said.” Here we go, because you can’t help it, you’re addicted. Talk about emotional.
I reproach Anheuser-Busch for highlighting the negative, consuming affects alcohol has on some. Good work, guys. And I invite you to visit my dad’s new blog on recovery and addition therapy if the topic interests you.
the pentultimate stout
We're all very poud parents.
It seems that I have something in common with Eric Asimov, drinks columnist and blogger of The Pour, both at the New York Times. Besides the odd notion of writing about drinking, we each enjoy a good stout. Thing is, though, Asimov likes my stout – or at least the stout I’m paid to make. (article.) Continue reading
and much of autumn, as well
In this building is a pair or rubber boots that have rubbed bald spots into my leg hair.
Faithful readers of All Hopped Up will have noticed a sharp decline in posting since April. Actually, that sentence is misleading; a “sharp decline” should read “a great nosedive to zero” and “faithful readers” implies that there are more readers than just you, Simon, and that those readers have a body of writing to be faithful to. So in the spirit of turning over new leaves and beginning afresh, I intend to fill you in on my summer. A summer so beer-filled that it would be a shame to leave it to inference and hearsay.
First, and most primary to my exploits in beer and my distraction from writing, I got a job. Continue reading
If you have one beer this summer, it better be at Mondial de la Bière
Note: The following is the last installment of All Hopped Up’s print version, in The McGill Daily. The electronic edition lives on right here. -jw
I’ve enjoyed this gig. I really have. But at times I realized that this column might not be the best way to get my message across. Before you call me a defeatist, hear me out. To reiterate an elemental goal of my column since its inception, a beer- drinking public that is informed of the depth and intricacies of the craft brewing movement might think about what they are drinking enough to try something they don’t know but may enjoy. Perhaps more importantly, an informed beer drinking public only strengthens and unifies a local beer culture, providing a better environment for craft breweries to operate in.
Though there are, and will always be, those for whom beer is a golden, tasteless alcohol, but our status as college students makes us receptive to positive encouragement. We seek out variety in all we ingest – food, drink, fields of study – and right now we drink more beer than we ever will again. Writing a beer column in a university newspaper is like advocating safe sex in a whorehouse. Sure, it looks good on paper, but the idea’s a no-brainer.
Beer journalism is important, but if this is your first time reading or your first time paying attention, it’s also your last. So what’s a student to do? Luckily, there’s an event approaching that will accomplish for the novice beer drinker in one afternoon what a year-and-a-half of beer columns might get you through.
Montreal’s largest and most successful beer festival, the Mondial de la Bière, enjoys its 16th annual installment during the first week of June. Continue reading
How female brewers are looking to change the face of beer culture
graphic by sasha plotnikova
Errol Morris, the Oscar-winning director of The Fog of War and The Thin Blue Line, is also the director of a lengthy campaign of commercials for Miller High Life extolling the virtues of being a man and enjoying a beer. Each spot has a 1950s air of male hegemony and revels in it, thick arms, hairy knuckles, and all. In one commercial, the gruff narrator asks a newlywed housewife standing before a supermarket beer cooler what kind of man she wants her husband to be. She chooses a High Life man, of course. Another asks a shirtless beer belly, “Is your name Sally? Sally, the salad-eater? No, you’re a High Life man and you don’t care who knows it.”
It’s not hard to admit that the prevailing undertones of the beer world are masculine ones. If we are to believe the dated notions that beer is the working class beverage and working class families are supported by a sole (male) breadwinner, then the brews in the fridge must be Dad’s, right? Wrong, says the growing number of women who drink, brew, advocate, and otherwise enjoy beer, and they want you to know it. Continue reading
Walking down Duluth east of St. Denis, I thought about browsing the newest selection at Épicerie José when I stumbled across a tiny storefront whose signs boasted a couple of Quebec craft-brews. Skeptical, I stepped into Au Coin Duluth (418 Duluth E.) for a closer look. (Even Provigo carries at least one local craft-brew these days.) I found a charming little dep that is packed with local beer even for its small size. The man behind the counter informed me that a renovation three months ago yielded room for a fully stocked representation of Quebec brewing. He also pointed me in the direction of the new-to-me Microbrasserie du Lac St-Jean. I grabbed up two for a little taste test.
Gros Mollet: Kudos to the folks in Lac St-Jean for turning to that greatest of Quebec forefathers, the lumberjack. This strong brown ale is named Gros Mollet, which means “fat calf” and since there’s a wonderfully drawn rendition of a giant axeman on the label, I’m inclined to conclude they mean this gros mollet and not this one. Continuing with the outdoorsman trend, the beer has an incredible flavor that suggests an homage to maple syrup rather than blaring it out. The roasted malts add to this by providing a chocolaty creaminess that round out the beer in the mouth. At 7.8% ABV, this beer is a great addition to what I’m recognizing as a specifically québécois style, the “bière forte.” Most breweries will put a hi-test beer in their line-up and simply label it “strong beer,” but Gros Mollet isn’t as abrasive as the others. It’s alcohol is a warming afterthought and not barrier to the beer’s flavor.
Boutefeu: I love these names! Boutefeu translates as “shot-firer” or “inciter of quarrels.” Although it looks like it could also mean “fireball,” I’d rather go with my favorite synonym “rabble-rouser.” An unfiltered red ale, Boutefeu looks mighty pretty in the glass, its foamy head sticking around minutes longer than Gros Mollet’s. It is equal parts malt and hops in the nose, but at first taste the sweet body of the style blankets over the bitterness. The hops, however, do have a presence; citrusy and sweet, these coat the tongue and comprise a lingering aftertaste. Well done, Lac St-Jean. Two fine beers.
In December, an installment of All Hopped Up was devoted to demystifying homebrewing by breaking it down to four essential steps. Given the right equipment and some very basic know-how, anyone who can read a recipe can brew beer. What many people don’t know about the drink, however, is that all beer is made with variations on these four steps. Benoit Mercier, the head brewer and owner of Benelux, graciously lent his brew pub and expertise to show that any beer – from Rickard’s to Rolling Rock, craft-brew to homebrew – is made using the same fundamental process.