The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Problem With Beer

Slate recently featured this article about the problems of the beer industry. Beer has a lot of problems, but the biggest problem is wine. Beer has let itself fall in with the processed, the mass produced, the fatty snack, and fast food. Beer is essentially a modern endeavor, involving metal parts and big barrels.

Wine is seen as organic, natural, and every batch is unique. Where macro-brews struggle for uniformity, wine wields its diversity like a scimitar, slashing beer's market share.

To some extent, microbreweries can combat this problem, but for the big brewers this problem may prove intractable. I have a suggestion for every major brewer. Embrace the modern, embrace technology, and go for a reduced hangover.

This is, I realize, in terrible taste. The very notion admits to the encouragement of binge drinking, and would almost certainly result in hundreds of lawsuits. I believe it would be worth it.

Drinking is fun, but the aftereffects are unfortunate. Why should this be? I suspect we only put up with it due to some deep-seeded puritanism embedded in all of us which tells us that we deserve it. This is ridiculous.

We now have some understanding of the hangover, and with that knowledge comes the power to stop it. I'm certain that if any major brewery put their R&D into the project that they could come up with some kind of intoxicant that significantly reduced or eliminated the hangover in all but the most extreme cases.

In short, breweries need to build a better beer, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. They have the capital of a long-lasting well-established purveyor of mind-numbing intoxicants, and they have the research facilities ready to go. Do you remember that "flavored malt beverage" craze a few years ago, when beer companies made Bacardi Silver and Skyy Blue and other crap like that? The researches who figured out how to make beer taste like rum and vodka are probably sitting around doing nothing right now.

Alcohol is fine, and I'm glad that something like it is actually legal in this country, but it could use a tweak.


  • Well said. If any beer could make a valid claim that it doesn't cause a hangover it would sell like crazy. Jack Daniels should do the same.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 11:10 PM  

  • I don't know fellas...
    You tweak it so there's no hangover effect, you're going to have a lot more puked-upon shoes, I suspect. Some people can't stop until it causes pain to themselves, which of course limits the liabilities to others. Beer drinking gets a bad name now because it's no longer working class or a student thing. Those groups by definition quit drinking when the shot-and-beer money ran out.

    If you keep overriding all the controls, and don't move up your tastes on the drinking scale to the stronger stuff, it's like trying to do 120mph in a Hyndai. I mean you can, but that's not really the purpose and you'd be better off finding a stronger vehicle to get you there. Mmm beer is meant to be a snack beverage, a pleasant in between meal, or liquid to wash down the meal. You don't want to be driving a Hyundai the rest of your life, anymore than you want to be enclosed on public transportation, right? Tradition is fine and all, but sometimes you want to open up the motor and really run. Better not to have too much sloshing around in the tank, better to buy a higher grade of gas that can get you there quicker.

    Plus, you must have a patient wife. She might tolerate the shoes thing -- your birthday and all -- but nobody likes bouncing on a beer belly that comes after a few more birthdays when you keep going for quantity over quality. I've always though that men with big bellies dont' really care all that much for pleasing their wives to their deepest abilities, you know. It's kind of a selfish thing that gut, or acknowledgement that your own personal needs come before hers. Status sure, but what about the sex quality??

    Ah, a beer that would let men keep their potency when drinking... like Viagra for the old guys. That would sell.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:40 AM  

  • On the subject of americans and beer:

    The June 25, 2007 Issue of Newsweek, under the Health Section, titled "The Teen Drinking Dilemma, " Newsweek mentioned a study that tends to support a statement I have made a few times, namely that "binge drinking" is much higher in households which allow or condone drinking earlier. There is also a neat table in the magazine, which I didn't see online, that shows how we are huge light weights when it comes to binge drinking compared with most every country in Europe. For all the reasons that there are for supporting lowering the drinking age, the argument that it leads to more binge drinking is not a stong one.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:20 AM  

  • that last sentence should have said: for all the arguments which exist for lowering the drinking age, the argument that it would decrease binge drinking is not a strong one.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:21 AM  

  • Regarding wine's uniqueness: see Mondovino. It puts a dagger into the heart of the "wine is the product of the seasons and its barrels" argument.

    By Blogger Peter, at 8:23 PM  

  • I'm all for it. At 27, I'm right at the age where I still love to drink...but old enough to actually consider the forthcoming consequences to my Sunday. If I could have my beer and eat it too...I could pretend I was 21 for a few years longer..and probably pay a premium for it.

    By Anonymous JW, at 11:42 AM  

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