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All Beer Is The Same!?!

I try to keep my criticisms of beer coverage by the mainstream media civil, especially since at times I’m one of them. But an article posted yesterday on MSNBC, Will You Drink Beer In A Box?, is so completely riddled with error and ridiculousness that the gloves are off. Author James Dlugosch may know stocks and the world of finance, but when it comes to beer, he’s an unmitigated idiot.

First of all, the premise of his article, taken from a Wall Street Journal article, is that Molson Coors, actually MillerCoors but I’ll try not to nitpick, is testing beer in a box, which he finds as distasteful as box wine. Which is all well and good, but it’s not in a box at all. It’s a small keg that fits in your refrigerator, similar to the mini-kegs the Germans have been selling for decades. See below. You can also see another view of it from the front at Gizmodo. The keg itself is in a cardboard box, presumably for easier carrying, but the beer is in a container no different than any other keg or can of beer. It’s like saying that since a six-pack of bottles are packaged in a cardboard six-pack carrier that the beer is in cardboard, too. What a maroon.

But it gets better. The reason he’s so opposed to a box has less to do with the container and more to do with his own twisted sense of how things ought to be. Here’s how he sees it:

Now, with beer, the box might be less objectionable since, in my opinion, the quality issue is not really in play. Despite what the microbrewers will tell you, all beer is pretty much the same. Consumers who pay a premium do so more for the experience than the taste.

So apparently an Old Rasputin Imperial Stout is exactly, excuse me, pretty much the same as Miller Lite. In the words of Bill Cosby channeling Noah. “Right ….” At this point, I almost feel sorry for him. Imagine having so little understanding or familiarity with taste and smell or such an underdeveloped palate that you could write those words and, presumably, believe them. It’s not that beer tastes differently, it’s just that we experience them differently. “Right …” Well that will certainly make judging at GABF this year considerably easier since we can just pile them all together instead of having to sit for hours with 78 different style categories and countless sub-categories, each pretending to have their own unique taste profile. Not that there’s much danger of this, but I sure hope I don’t get invited to the White House for a beer summit with this knucklehead.

But as ridiculous as that statement was, wait, this one’s even better:

But for me, the issue is the bottle. I like drinking my suds from a cold bottle. Period.

Put it in a glass, and the experience just isn’t the same.

Wow. I’ve found my complete opposite. I won’t drink beer in a bottle or can, but insist on a glass. I’m frankly quite glad the experience isn’t the same, how could it be? Beer in a glass is so much better that I’m continually amazed that people really will drink directly from a bottle or can and now here’s someone who only does what I find abhorrent and refuse to do. Of course, I do this for a reason. Much of beer’s aroma, an integral component of its overall taste, is locked in the bottle and is released through the head when it’s poured into a glass. That’s not just my opinion, but is backed up by at least a century of scientific research, not to mention the experience of billions throughout history. It also releases excess carbon dioxide and makes your beer much less gassy and filling, too. Then, of course, there’s the pleasure of enjoying a beer from its proper glass, all lost on Dlugosch.

Naturally, Dlugosch is entitled to his opinion but I’m so weary of such ignorance being passed off as expertise. His opinion is obviously the by-product of living in a society that has commodified beer as one thing, interchangeable but for brand names differentiated by marketing and advertising. And, but for a few exceptions, his statement about beer being pretty much the same might have been correct 35-40 years ago, at least with regard to American beer. But saying so today, with over 1500 breweries making craft beer in a myriad of styles and unique compositions, makes Dlugosch a doofus. Period.

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