Martha Stewart Declares Beer “The New Thing”

I should confess right up front that I’ve never been a big fan of Martha Stewart. I’m not really sure why, but her advice and how she presents it has always bugged me for some reason. I guess for me, it always comes across as trying to be for everyone, the common people, but can really only be followed by people with a lot of free time and money. Even my wife disagrees with me on this one, so I have to conclude it’s just a weird personal prejudice I have about her.

So Stewart was on the Today show this morning in a segment entitled “Bottoms Up! Martha throws a beer party.” And yes, I know it’s great whenever craft beer gets attention from the mainstream media, but the curmudgeon in me just can’t let it pass uncritically. Here’s how it went down.

Matt Lauer begins the segment by saying that “forget the college keg, beer has grown up. Now it’s all about pairing some cold brew with great snacks.” So those are the two choices of what beer can be, “college keg” or “grown-up?” I know it was just an off-hand remark, but sheesh. And being “grown-up” means pairing it with snacks? It just seems like they could do so much better if they really cared about it.

So in comes Martha Stewart, beer savvy housekeeping diva, and declares “a beer tasting party is like the new thing.” That statement reminds me of the actor or musician who finally has a big hit after toiling in his or her craft for thirty years and is suddenly hailed as an overnight success. For millions of people, beer tasting has been a pretty big deal for quite some time now, but now that it’s reached Martha’s notice it’s “the new thing.”

But before she goes too crazy, Lauer reigns her in, suggesting that she “keep it casual, it doesn’t have to be fancy.” Naturally, you should keep it casual, because it would be absurd to suggest otherwise. Stewart, who usually seems at ease in front of the camera, looked unsure of herself talking about the beer, and even appeared to skirt any questions about it.

After showing off the chalkboard oilcloth table cloth where people can use chalk so they “can write their impressions of the beer” right on the table, Lauer asks her what beers are on the table, and guesses, “light, dark and amber.” Stewart replies “yes,” explaining that it’s because “each have a very specific kind of quality.”

When they moved over to the food, she perked up and appeared much more comfortable and at ease. Her demeanor seemed far more confident, since she was now in her element. But the weird thing is, the food seemed much more fancy, with onion jam made with balsamic vinegar and maple syrup and cocktail meatballs with three kinds of meat. That’s not “keeping it casual” to me. So in keeping things “casual” because it’s beer, the food doesn’t stay casual? That seems weird to me. Beer can’t be fancy, but food almost has to be.

In the four and a half minute piece, no more than a minute was about the beer, and in the end, they never got any more specific about the beers than “light, dark and amber,” and that much only because Matt Lauer asked. No mention of what styles. No mention of what brands, though Greg Koch tweeted that he’d been told the dark beer was Stone Smoked Porter. Maybe they didn’t need to talk about specific brands, but to not even discuss what kinds of beers they were tasting seemed odd, especially since the whole point was supposedly to tell people how to throw “a beer party.” They never adressed how or why any of the food paired with the beer, apart from an offhand remark Martha made that the parsnip chips paired with the dark beer’s “smokey flavors.” In the end, it was really all about the food, and really very little, if anything, was communicated about the beer. Which, if you think about it, is pretty pathetic if, as they’re claiming, “a beer tasting party is like the new thing.” Like, for sure. And I guess it must be; after all I saw Martha Stewart say so on national TV.

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  1. Rossthefireman says

    First Snooki is pregnant and now Martha Stewart says beer is the new thing. The Mayans were right…….

  2. beerman49 says

    Martha Stewart is a pretentious bitch who should still be behind bars! She & Jim Koch would make a perfect pair! I buy NOTHING that either of them has any connection with!

    • The Professor says

      Ms. Stewart and Mr Koch sure seem to raise hackles in some quarters.
      I can probably take or leave Martha, even though I think she has put forth a few good ideas over the years. She’s harmless enough (and she served her time. LOL).
      But Jim Koch gets _major_ props from me for his business and marketing savvy, along with the the fact that Boston Brewing has managed to turn out very good product over many years while managing to maintain consistency despite massive growth. I guess his company is just getting _too_ big for some folks. While not specifically the topic at hand here, I will say that no matter how big the company gets, if the products remain as good as they generally are, BB will still be a “craft” brewery.

      In any case, I certainly find Mr. Koch nowhere near as pretentious as some of the other “craft” brewers out there.

  3. says

    The Pollyanna in me (or perhaps the rationalizer–you can’t get through the day without a juicy rationalization) says ‘hey, if the Queen of Mean has discovered that there are artisinal breweries out there that means people are getting hip to craft beer.’

    At least she wasn’t suggesting Buffalo wing caviar.

  4. says

    Well it’s about time Martha. Glad you joined the party, better late than never. Beer (craft beer specifically) has been a huge movement for about the last 10 years. Welcome to the good life- craft beer that is! Cheers, Katie

    • says

      I was thinking the same thing. They just randomly grabbed a beer and headed to the food. A prime example how journalist can ruin a perfectly good story because they know so little about so many things.

  5. says

    Martha Stewart, the Mitt Romney of craft beer evangelicalism ▌stiff, awkward, shallow, and wholly unprepared for ANY follow up Q’s.

    An Officer Barbrady moment, this: “move along now, nothing to see here people.”

    We salute you for ‘taking one for the (One Pint at a Time) team’.

    Na zdravi!

  6. beerman49 says

    Norm – the “Queen of Mean” was the late Leona Helmsley. Martha’s the “Pompous Princess of Presumptuousness”.

    • says


      Doh! You are absolutely right. I kept trying to come up with an alliterative for “felonious” and still come up empty. I like your alliteration, the “Pompous Princess of Presumptuousness.”

      The ‘felon doyenne of decor’ perhaps? I got nothing.

      • beerman49 says

        “Felonious Fraudulent Fraulein” would work (assuming she’s married); if not, drop “Fraulein”. “Disingenuous” would work with “Doyenne of Decor”.

        I’m into alliteration. I dubbed Sarah Palin “Boondocks Bimbo” in 2008; when she reappeared on the scene late last year, I changed it to “Tundra Twit”.


  7. Grant says

    I agree that this could have been a much more important segment than it was, however this was not bad press for beer. Martha is far more recognizable than most beer experts and even though she fumbled the information about the beer, the point was still clear that beer parties are the thing to do. Her recommendation has much more impact on the population of people that do not have any clue what beer is other than fizzy and yellow. Also she has much more clout with the ladies. I think in this case, any press is good press. Maybe after a start with Martha, they can move up to a real beer expert.


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