So, with the last article having given you all the tools necessary to appreciate beer (surprisingly easy, wasn’t it?), it’s time to take a bald eagle’s eye view of the state of beer in America, a vibrant portrait redolent with flavorful goodness. With that lofty intention in mind and my determined, handsome expression conveying a sense of gravity and purpose, I mount the dais and take to the podium to deliver… the Beer State of the Union. The assembled notables fall respectfully silent…
My fellow Americans… ericans… ericans… (dramatic reverb)
Beer was alive and thriving in early America. Beer was the only vice the Pilgrims allowed themselves without having to sew letters on their bodices. Large German enclaves retained their rich brewing traditions. Hordes of thirsty Irish needed it to fight off the shakes.
It was then that new American beer styles began to appear. There was steam beer, maize and barley beer, Dr. Vanderhoven’s revitalizing Opiate Arsenic Beer Tonic, and everyone’s favorite, the most popular and lasting contribution, the American lager; a blond, light lager with a clean finish. It was an exciting time.
Then it all went to hell. Why? Because of the Jews. It’s always the Jews. The Jews killed the dinosaurs.
But not really. Really it was those meddlesome do-gooders of the religious revival and their damn Prohibition. Once Prohibition was done salting the fields, pretty much the only thing that took root again was the American lager, typified today by brands like Coors and Budweiser.
So what happened? With Prohibition repealed, why didn’t beer culture start anew, why was the market dominated for so long by the same style, the same brands?
Perhaps it was because the American lager was so tasty, and so well suited to American prosperity. I mean, let’s be honest, nobody but nobody spending a day out in the glorious American summer sunshine wants to reach into the ice chest and pull out a pint of tepid ale spiced with coriander. If they do they should be watched closely because they’re obviously prone to inappropriate behavior and will likely pull their wiener out on the jumbotron.
But still, for years and years beer in America stagnated. Boring stuff. People started hating American beer. The taste hadn’t changed, but the brands collected negative connotations. First off there was the advertising schema: a dead-eyed bottle-blond tit parade interspersed with talking horses, talking frogs, and talking chameleons. Scintillating. Then there were more personal associations: What did you see scattered all over the trailer court? Sun-bleached Coors cans. What did that high school bully set down on the hood of his blue Charger before he beat you senseless in front of everybody? A Budweiser tallboy. The time had come for a change.
And change it did! Funky free-thinking innovators, probably sporting long hair and goatees, took to their garages and started producing interesting, challenging beers; beers that tasted like something long-forgotten, something half-remembered, like a wonderful dream that you can’t recall but haunts you long into the afternoon. Beers that tasted like choice and freedom.
America! Fuck yeah!
So as a long chapter in American beer comes to an end… end… end…
Another is already being written… en… en…
In the bars and liquor stores, and on the palates of our great people.
Good night, America, and God bless. (prolonged standing ovation, grown men weeping openly)
NEXT TIME ON ‘BEER SCHOOL’: The fly in the ointment…
Want more informative comedy from Brian? Try his Space Marines! and Dirtbag, both available here https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/bhenley from Smashwords. Or Check out his articles about the Marine Corps at http://www.splicetoday.com/search?q=brian+henley.