Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I'm Making a Stand Here.

When you think of bikers, do you think of a group of men delicately holding fragile glasses half-full of fermented grape juice? Even further, when you think of the American Male, do you think of a fellow in khaki's, swirling said grape juice around his mouth and commenting on the tannins and bouquet?

God, I hope not. Sideways was an entertaining flick (it even had a motorcycle in it!), but I don't want to grow up to be one of those idiots.

When I think of the American standard of masculinity, I think of a sweaty guy in a Dickies workshirt, clutching a can of beer in one hand and a wrench in the other, cussing at the infernal machine he's trying to repair.

Something seems to have gone wrong in the collective head of America, however. According to an article on earlier this year, wine sales are going way up, while beer sales have barely increased at all.

Personally, I blame microbrews and the accompanying beer-snobbery. Beer now comes with a dizzying array of choices to make. IPA? Double Bock? Seasonal brews? Suddenly, kicking back with a cold can of Budweiser isn't cool. Depending on your group of friends, such a beer choice could even result in scorn and derision.

If you're smart, of course, you'll just smile all the wider as you enjoy your perfectly drinkable - tasty, even - macro-brew which cost less than half of what their "John Hancock's Extra Creamy Chocolate Stout Frappe... er, just Stout" did.

I've certainly enjoyed my share of "craft" beers,

This wasn't an issue for our fathers and grandfathers. They drank Olympia, Hamm's, Stroh's, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Grain Belt Premium with their heads high and their backs straight. It was even less of an issue before their time. Back then, you drank whatever was available locally, and you were damn happy about it.

Slowly, particularly among the moto-enthusiast community, good old-fashioned manly beers are making a comeback. If a rider sees you enjoying a frosty can of PBR, they're more likely to join you than to turn up their nose.

As such, I'd like to announce the new, ongoing investigation to be found on my blog: The Great Motorcycle Manly Beer Reviews!

For this review, I've chosen Schlitz - "The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous."

Schlitz has been around a long time. First brewed in 1849, it was one of the top selling American beers until the late 70's. I have no idea if disco was to blame for the downfall of the proud brewing company, but I like to think so.

On to the beer - Cracking open the can, the first thing you'll identify is that special "cheap beer" aroma, a strange combination of alcohol, tin can and bread. As a manly American, you wouldn't pour your beer into a glass (unless it's a glass that can hold more than one beer), but if you did you would likely admire the light, clear golden hue of the brew. The head is thin, and dissipates quickly.

The beer itself has a surprisingly thick mouth feel. Almost (dare I say it?) creamy. There is a slightly bitter aftertaste, but you can wash that away with more beer. As for the flavor... well, I would describe it as non-offensive. I mean, it doesn't taste bad so much as it doesn't really taste much at all. Schlitz is definitely a hot-garage kind of beer. It goes down easy and, for $3.64 per six-pack, you can afford to keep some on hand to refresh yourself after a hard day working on the house, in the yard, or on your bike.


Wolfie said...

One thing you've got to understand is that the quality of American beer went down considerably after the 1st World War, what with mechanization and other factors. Chalk it up to no one wanting their beer to be "German" (the horror!), I don't know. Anyway, I'm betting that a pre-WWI Schlitz tasted better than a post-WWI Schlitz did. And if the macro-breweries go back to making decent beer, well, I'll drink it.

Lucky said...

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you here. Sure,the macro-breweries have made some mistakes (Dry beer? ICE beer?) that lingered too long, but the quality of the original product is usually good.

Actually, it's when they get away from doing what they did right in the first place that the problems start. Schlitz's downfall was caused by a foolish change to "hot-filtering" their beer, which made it taste like... well, bad.

In fact, one could say that the biggest problem with macro-brews is that in their rush to get new products on the market, they neglected their time-tested cans of deliciousness.

irondad said...

I like micro-brews, and I challenge anyone to question this Road Warrior's manhood! On the other hand, I don't drink wine. Many times I show up at social events and nurse a double-shot of Southern Comfort straight from the bottle while everyone else does their "rose" "pinot noir" or "whatever" thing.

So I salute you in "spirit" but differ slightly in the "letter".


Orin said...

Schlitz is one of the many regional beer brands swallowed whole by the Pabst Brewing Company, as were the others you mentioned. You'll probably find they come out of the same spigot in Inglewood, Calif...

Scootin' Old Skool

Anonymous said...

I met a regional distributor of a macro brewery on his boat. He would only keep beers less than ten days old and gave away the rest down the dock( which we drank). he said macro brews older than that lose flavor.
I drink wine and micro brews and am struggling to care what anyone thinks of that. I just dislike the advertising that macro brews drag in their wakes.

Tinker said...

In college, we did a study of Schlitz. We came to the conclusion that Schlitz lost its "good beer"
crown by making the product cheaper, and passing the savings on to the consumer. It was an image thing, people were willing to pay a bit more, to get a good brew and Schlitz seemed to be slipping downward. Didn't have any cachet...

Lucky said...

The psychology of price/value is fascinating. It's how we get brands whose only quantifiable claim to fame is being the most expensive. People will make up the rest of the qualitative properties on their own to justify their purchase.

Case in point, Dumble Amplifiers. I'm sure they're great amps, but most people only know them as "expensive."

Which is ok, so long as the manufacturer is honest. It's also kind of disturbing in a what's-wrong-with-all-of-us way that expensive automatically equals good.