So, what is a “big brewer” now?  I tried to figure this out.  I used the list of Top 50 Brewing Companies published by the Brewer’s Association.  There are actually two lists there – Top 50 Brewing Companies and Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies.  And thirty-six of the fifty top brewing companies are from the craft brewing company list.

And so I am confused.

Macro brewers used to be just ye olde Budweiser and Coors and Miller and the giant conglomerates that ate them up.  Maybe that’s what’s meant to be the focus of this month’s beer blogging Friday.  I’m just not sure.  The host said give thanks to the “big boys”.  Well, there’s lots of them now.  So, I am in a sarcastic and sour mood today; thus, my “thanks” shall indeed go out to the big conglomerates.

Of course, I want to try to be civil and fair.  That’s only proper.  Mayhaps there are good things that have come from the ilk of Anheuser-Buch.   Yes, there must be some positives.  There should always be positive things to say or write about other people, and in the end this is about people.  It’s not like the giant tanks and massive bottling machines magically produce beer all by their lonesome.  No, there is are people behind it all, masterminding it, diluting it, actually approving the product.

So perhaps that’s the first point.  They are employers.  Thanks for that.  According to the AB-Inbev 2010 annual report the company employs approximately 114,000 people.  I don’t know if that’s changed at all during 2011.

What else?

Thanks for banning other brewer’s at the World Cup a few years back.  That was extremely classy.

Thanks for the commercials.  Some of them are humorous though most are banal and adolescent.

Thanks for altering the taste buds of millions of people so that they do not even know how to appreciate beer.

Thanks for letting people know that beer is only good for getting loaded.

Thanks for glorifying a redneck lifestyle.  (Okay, this one is meant for Coors, my bad).

Thanks for ethical dilemmas, too.  I have personally avowed to never taste from the vine of the Budweiser.  Yet, I found myself in Wal-Mart today on an innocuous visit for sundry household items.  Apparently the collective consciousness of the Wal-Martians – no doubt driven by the saturation of their consciousness by overwhelming marketing propaganda of the Budweiserans – exerted a terrible influence upon me.  I found myself suddenly in the beer aisle, as if transported by some weird quantum wormhole, from the bathroom fixture aisle.  The AmberBock was staring at me, calling me.  I looked away, wandered to another aisle, but it called me back.  It is the one and only Bud product that I find palatable.  But it’s also a Bud product.  What of my personal boycott?  Out the window it went.  Somehow I convinced myself that it was okay to buy this particular type of spullwasser.  It has more body than the other stuff, I said to me.  It has a little more flavor, I continued.  Hey, I said to my own self, at least they didn’t try to pawn this beer off as a ‘craft’ beer.  It has always been just AmberBock.   Anyway, I bought and I’m drinking it and it’s Budweiser and I rationalized and, boom, ethical dilemma.

Thanks for Prohibition.  No, wait, it was Prohibition that gave birth to you, right?  You are like its sour progeny.  Right.

I’m getting bitter just writing these things.  Bitter, like the hops you must use in your beer but which I cannot identify.

I must move on to so-called positive things.  Without dictators and tyrants, there can be no revolution.  Thanks, big brewers, for being the despots that made so many seek the origins of beer and rise up in protest of your libation to call us back to the golden ages.

When I go to a store to seek beer I see lots of red, white, silver, yellow and blue boxes.  And the same color of cans.  It’s a diluted rainbow.  I blandly follow the rainbow until I find a shelf of real beer, bottles of gold and amber delight.  You forced me to look carefully for real beers.  Thanks.

Thanks for distribution lanes, I think.  I mean, sure, you try to dominate them but at least your insane need to distribute low quality beer nationwide engendered their creation.  Now the real brewers can somewhat make use of them to send out real beer.

Thanks for helping spread the use of refrigeration.  This is a real “thank you” since refrigeration is important to the health of beer, especially in areas that do not have naturally refrigerated areas, such as glaciers and very deep caves.

Thanks for consistency.  I appreciate this note from the Anheuser Busch website:

Pasteurization- Adolphus Busch responded quickly to advances in science and technology. Previously, beer had been highly susceptible to the influence of heat, light, storage conditions and spoilage. With the introduction of Pasteurization, heat could be used to destroy harmful micro-organisms, allowing beer to be maintained for longer periods without spoiling. Adolphus embraced this idea and became the first U.S. brewer to pasteurize beer in the 1870s. This new technology allowed beer to be shipped long distances without spoiling and made it practical to bottle beer.

You have blanketed the country, maybe the world, with bland, banal brews.  When a loser opens a Bud Light on the east coast it’s going to taste exactly like the Bud Light that another loser on the west coast is drinking.  You learned how to make the same beer, every time, without variation.  You’ve made a consistent product, but one without heart, without character.

Small brewers have made beers with some true character to them.  At first, the small brewers were only interested in the beers being the same from pint to pint at the brewery itself; then it was at local eateries, then maybe the next state.  They are using the power of the bad guys against them.  At least, that’s my viewpoint.

Homebrewer’s aren’t so interested in consistency (all right, fine, I’m not terribly focused on it) because “house flavors” and “accidents” can produce some unique beers.  But once brewers move into the professional realm consistency becomes more crucial.  When I go to Mudshark’s in Lake Havasu City, AZ and ask for Full Moon (the finest wit in the southwest, by the way) I know exactly what I’m getting.  And if there is a variation, oh!  That is anathema!  That is reason for blackballing!  That is why I no longer patronize the Boiler Room (another local brewery, but I shall not now speak of it).  So, consistency is vital.

Some other interesting “innovations” from the Big Bud:

Toward this end, Busch patented the first diesel engine, which was installed in the brewery to increase production. With the onset of World War I, Busch founded a subsidiary to produce the engines for Navy submarines. In addition, the Anheuser-Busch family purchased sufficient war bonds to finance two bombers–each named ‘Miss Budweiser.’ —

With his beer-derived wealth, Busch bought the American rights to Rudolf Diesel‘s invention, and established the Busch-Zulzer Brothers Diesel Engine Company to manufacture America’s first diesel engines. —

So, should we thank them for furthering the use of fossil fuels to produce a beverage which should be untainted?  Should we say, ‘hey, rock on, for not having a conscience and just supporting wholesale slaughter in war’?

Beer is pushed, by Bud and virtually every other brewer, as a social product.  It is supposed to bring people together.  Financing bombers?  The ethical dilemma arises again. 


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