The Today Show today aired another segment on craft beer, which they still insist on calling microbrews, though I guess it’s better than boutique beers, which they used way too much in a previous segment. Overall the segment was comme ci, comme ça, with some good points made, some great beers, but also some of the same nonsense that always bothers me when mainstream media covers beer.
The guest was the Today Show’s Food Editor Phil Lempert, who also bills himself as the Supermarket Guru. While the beers he chose were all pretty good (all GABF winners, he said), the mix and the way he presented them showed he doesn’t know as much about beer as he thinks he does. The beers they tasted were, in this order:
- Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA
- Arcadia Cereal Killer Barley Wine
- Hopworks Urban Brewery Ace of Spades (Organic)
- New Glarus Totally Naked
- Lost Abbey Carnevale
- Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
- Hopworks Urban Brewery IPA
All great beers, but it’s the order in which they tasted them that was awful: IPA, Barley Wine, Imperial IPA, pale lager, saison, brown ale and another IPA. Does that seem like the right order to anyone?
That, coupled with calling them microbrews, bothered me, though I know the rallying cry will be at least they’re covering craft beer. And while I agree that’s a good thing, I’d still be happier if they didn’t cover it quite so badly. This is especially true because Lempert characterizes himself as an “expert analyst on consumer behavior, marketing trends, new products and the changing retail landscape.” For someone whose job description is predicting trends and being on top of what’s going on, you’d think he’s realize that no one’s been calling them microbrews for at least a decade, probably longer. I know it’s a small point, but it’s indicative of a larger problem with food “experts” who read a few websites, maybe glance at a book or two, and think they’re beer experts, too. I just think there should be beer experts on TV, too, not just food and wine pretenders.
Then there’s the subtle snarkiness, the ubiquitous jokes about drinking in the morning that never seem to accompany wine tastings on morning shows. Why can’t they treat beer with the same seriousness? Why must is always accompany casual jokes and no respect. When Jillian Michaels, the trainer on “The Biggest Loser,” joined the tasting, she remarked about Dogfish Head’s brown ale by smacking her lips and saying “it’s very masculine,” whatever that means. She then admits, seemingly grudgingly, that beer has health benefits but frames it that “dark beer has some health benefits,” which Lempert agrees with by saying dark beers are healthier. WTF is that? All beer has health benefits. Since when are all the health benefits in roasted malt? And that’s what I mean about them being pretenders. Yes, it’s good to see beer on TV, but the price is misinformation almost every time.