Blame the Romans or blame the barbarians; blame Sideways or blame Beerfest. Somewhere along the way, people got it into their heads that wine was somehow better, classier and more sophisticated than beer. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a drink that comes from girly-whirly purply-nurply grapes, but comparing wine to beer is like comparing the precocious scribbles of a preschooler to the finest paintings of Picasso. So the next time you order a beer and a wine snob gets in your face, gun him down with these 11 reasons beer is better than wine.
With beer, you usually get what you pay for, and then some. But with wine, there’s almost an inverse relationship between price and quality. How can one take it seriously when Two Buck Chuck tastes better than that bottle of pinot you’ve been waiting to open since 1969?
Beer is the most complex, aromatic and flavorful fermented beverage on earth. Wine doesn’t even come close. In the words of Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster at New York’s Brooklyn Brewery, “If you love food, but you know only wine, then you’re trying to write a symphony using only half the notes and half the orchestra.”
Simply put, beer built civilization. Without the discovery of beer, humans may never have developed agriculture or built cities. And the Egyptian pyramids? Forget about ’em. (Fun fact: even the straw was invented as a way for ancient Sumerians to drink early beers, as the solid byproducts of fermentation sat on top.) Beer—the beverage being hoisted by legendary philosopher Homer Simpson below—made it all possible.
OK, so maybe “pairability” isn’t a “word”, but beer consistently shows more versatility, range, and food compatibility than wine. “But wait a minute,” you say. “I thought wine paired better with food.” Yes, there are some great food and wine combinations out there. But try asking a sommelier to pair a wine with American BBQ, a spicy Thai dish, or classic Mexican. Ten bucks says he runs screaming from the room. Meanwhile, a good German-style smoked beer complements all three.
Wine varies with the weather. Beer varies with the brewer.
Beer, at its core, is a local product. Sure, people drink beer from all over the world. But some of the best beer is brewed in your own backyard. It doesn’t have to come from friggin’ France.
While wine is all about classist exclusivity, pseudointellectual cliques, conspicuous consumption, and cutthroat competition, beer’s all about community and collaboration. Which is why no one ever says, “Hey, let’s all get together for wines tonight.”
Sure, Anheuser-Busch InBev controls the lion’s share of the word’s beer market. And the advertising for their products is worth more than the products themselves. But they don’t control the culture of beer. The culture of beer belongs to the people. Wine, on the other hand, is completely mired in lifestyle marketing. The culture of wine is all sizzle and no steak. Just pick up a recent issue of Wine Spectator to see what we mean. Actually, don’t. Just skim it in the aisle.
Turns out those 100-point rating systems you see in the wine magazines are dictated by advertising revenue. The more a winemaker spends on advertising, the better its ratings. And while the big beer companies aren’t above disingenuous advertising—guys who drink Coors Light are not constantly surrounded by hot chicks—at least they don’t pretend their crap is worth $150 a bottle. We’re talking to you, Dom Pérignon.
Beer reflects the creative vision and technical skill of its maker. Wine reflects the soil and climate. Both are cool, but only one is art.