Yet Another "Month" to Put on My Calendar...
I've just learned that July is American Beer Month or somesuch. Had I known earlier, I would have made it a point to go out and buy a case of foreign beer, quaffing one a day in a Quixotic protest against the blandness of American suds.
You can get more info on American Beer Month here:
Now I would normally support my country on just about everything, but not this. American beer is watered down, usually flavorless and has an alcohol content sufficent to disinfect most cuts, but not conducive to getting a good buzz. Excepting specialty and micro-brewers (who, if you ask me, often make the best beer in the country), we've been sentenced to a lifetime of Budwesier, Coors and Miller. I will put Sam Adams on the "not-too-bad" to "pretty decent" list. The passing years have seen us subjected to "Light" Beers (i.e. even more watered down), no-carb beer, beers with different colors, beers-in-different-shaped/colored/labeled-bottles-that-is-the same- crap-we-sold-before, beers pretending to be foreign. We've been introduced to dubious customs such as submerging fruit in beer (I'm sorry, but unless you're drinking beer made with actual Mexican water, you're really just engaging in pretense, and ignorant pretense, at that). There are Specialty bars in which you can sample actual "foreign" beers (I know of one place in NYC that serves upwards of 200 foreign brands) brewed especially for the American market (i.e. changed to conform to gov't regulation) at ridiculous prices. I once paid $27 for a bottle of Czech Pilsner -- it was only several years later that I learned that what I paid for was barely distinguishable from Bud. I wasn't the student of the art of brewing then as I am now (which is still not saying much).
All are piss water. I prefer foreign beers, particularly Canadian, English, and Belgian. Molson (the Canadian kind, not the watered down slop sold here) kicks the crap out of Bud. Stella Artois (Belgian) destroys anything that describes itself as beer around here. Very few things come as close to a religious experience than down a nice, cold, real Foster's on a hot day. You would be surprised at the difference between Budweiser in the States and the actual, original Czech product. Unfortunately, to get these beers (in their natural state) one must leave the country.
Export versions of most foreign beers have to be tailored to the American market, and this tailoring, more often than not, has nothing to do with consumer's wishes, but government regulation. The government regulates alcohol content (3.2% for most beers, 3.4-3.7% for "Ice-brewed" beers), a legacy of Prohibition.
Regulation of beer in a society in which people have access to harder intoxicants (scotch, whiskey, etc) is ridiculous. Especially when the underlying reasons for the regulations are near on 70 years old. Perhaps it's time we took another look at why our beer is so crappy before we start celebrating it. Of course, I doubt it will ever happen for political reasons.
When this country is capable of producing a beer that doesn't taste or feel like barley immersed in Pepsi Cola, I'll celebrate it. In the meantime, I'll continue to choose vodka.