In a survey of men’s Twitter profiles, over 60 percent identified as “craft beer enthusiasts.” I just made that statistic up, but you get the point: Craft beer is big. You don’t need me to tell you that every Tom, Dick and Hunter who went to college after 2005 got into craft beer. It’s the Scotch aficionado culture of our day. Everyone’s doing it.
Everyone except yours truly.
When I head out to the bar, the first thing I look for is Miller High Life, then Miller Lite. It’s not that I’m necessarily opposed to craft beer. It’s just that I have things I’d rather drink. I’m not a fan of Bud, Bud Light or Pabst. But I will drink whatever cheap grandpa beer they have on tap otherwise. It’s been a minute since I cracked a 40-ouncer of Steel Reserve, but boy do I pine for that smooth flavor of cheap beer that’s been used to soak pennies.
There’s a subjective quality to taste, but no earthly force could convince me that even the biggest craft beer snob doesn’t have some bottom-shelf delight they drink when their friends aren’t looking.
It’s not even that I can’t ever enjoy a craft beer. My last local only had Bud on tap, so I opted for Lagunitas… until the exact second I realized they sold Miller Lite in bottles. My previous local knew me as a Sierra Nevada guy. My old neighbor gave me a case of Hop Czar that I was pretty into. But no craft beer has ever sufficiently wowed me into giving up the Champagne of Beers and her sister brews. Good? Sure. Life-changing great? Does anyone actually believe this?
There’s something to be said for the no-frills pleasures of macrobrewed beer. Let’s take my personal favorite, Miller High Life. It’s got a crisp, clean flavor that doesn’t leave an aftertaste. No, they’re not paying me. I just like it and I don’t have to get an associate’s degree in beer tasting to enjoy it. I’m not looking for notes of oak and chestnut and cocoa or anything else. I’m looking to drink some beer.
The faux connoisseur aspect of craft beer really rubs me the wrong way. I know how to taste whiskey, but I spend precisely zero seconds actually applying this knowledge when I drink. When someone asks me what my favorite Scotch tastes like, I usually tell them “an old man’s feet.” There are hints and notes and flavor profiles stashed in there, but who cares? I’m not drinking to obtain my Ph.D., I’m drinking to get drunk and because I like the taste.
And cheap beer tastes good! I’m fully aware that some low-end beers taste like total garbage. The biggest offender is Bud Light, but Pabst is no picnic to drink, either. I’ve heard Milwaukee’s Best is a rather vile concoction. But I’m sure out there, someone is knocking back a 30-rack of the Beaster and loving every last drop. There’s a subjective quality to taste, but no earthly force could convince me that even the biggest craft beer snob doesn’t have some bottom-shelf delight they drink when their friends aren’t looking.
On any given occasion, I could probably kill a sixer of the High Life without feeling full, nor particularly tipsy. My superpower is basically the ability to process large amounts of booze with no effect. When I tap on craft beers, it’s usually not because of the sometimes higher alcohol content, it’s because I feel like I just drank a loaf of bread and I need to go lay down for a week. Pissing every five minutes is a lot more pleasant than that.
Part of my love of non-craft beers is a function of where I like drinking. If I walk into a bar and see a wall full of big-screen televisions, I turn right around and leave. I hotfoot out even faster when people are drinking craft cocktails and there are 6,000 taps with beers I’ve never heard of. No, I like a bar with some Hank Jr. and Garth Brooks on the jukebox, a pool table, a couple of dart boards and an aroma combining ammonia, stale cigarettes and urine. The type of place that has that ambigram of the ugly woman who becomes a hot dish after a few beers and lets me know that “hangovers are installed and serviced here.”
My love of Miller ties into a simple rule that I have about life: If it’s good enough for my grandfather, it’s good enough for me. Grandpa lived on a steady diet of Miller Lite and Camel unfiltered cigarettes. Those are two great tastes that taste great together. While I’m sure your grandfather might well have appreciated your favorite heavyweight craft beer, I can’t imagine him being as precious and fussy about it as you probably are.
And hey… cheap beer was also good enough for Bukowski. Forget about beer tasting being an Olympic event. Get back to basics and drink because it’s fun.