Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Corporate Beer Still Sucks

Hello everyone

Fall is here.  It's not terribly cold, but the leaves are starting to fall off the trees.  And the shadows are getting longer, which means the sun is working its way south.  I'm not dreading winter as much as I used to back in the Oregon days, though.  Instead of eight months of overcast skies and constant drizzle, we tend to get a decent amount of sun in between the snowstorms.  Plus, snow is much more fun to go outside and play in than a rainstorm at 40 degrees.  Although, I've been hearing rumors we're supposed to get an extra-harsh winter, one for the record books, if the Farmer's Almanac is to be believed.  Also, the Idaho Transportation Department, in its "infinite wisdom," decided to suspend overnight plowing on all the major highways.  Gotta pay for those tax cuts for millionaires somehow, eh?

Good thing I work at home.

Beer (and a bit of Music) Talk  

I mentioned in my last post that I had recently tried a few new beers.  So I figured now is a perfect time to discuss one of those, "Loser" by Seattle's Elysian Brewing Company, which commemorated the 20th Anniversary of Seattle's Sub Pop record label (even though it's about 25 years old by now). 

The first thing I noticed was the generic-ish looking label, with the slogan, "Corporate Beer Still Sucks."  I can get behind a slogan like that as it is, but I was also immediately transported back 20 years to my senior year in high school, when the latest edition of Rolling Stone magazine had arrived at my house (yes, I had a subscription) and featured Nirvana on the cover, complete with Kurt Cobain wearing a t-shirt with "Corporate Magazines Still Suck" scrawled across the front.  The obvious irony was that one had to sift past page after page of corporate ads to get to the Nirvana article.

Anyway, this Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Nirvana's Nevermind, and Alternet has a story where the author claims it's the most important album of all time.  I'm not ready to go the full Monty and agree just yet, but the author makes a damn convincing argument, and the article is a great read.  Nevermind was Nirvana's first major-label album after releasing an earlier album and a few singles on the aforementioned Sub Pop, and Nirvana arguably single-handedly turned the record label from a little struggling business with some local buzz into a nationwide success, as they took a lot of credit (deservedly or not) for "discovering" Nirvana and the Seattle scene of the early 90s.

I should note that "Loser" was the name of a mid-90s hit by Beck, who, as far as I know, had no ties to Sub Pop.  But I guess the sentiment was the same.  In the wake of 80s bands who flaunted money and excess, the art nerds took over the music scene, at least for a few years.  It was a beautiful thing.

And the parallel to beer is striking.  On one hand, you have the big corporate brands whose focus is on marketing, with commercials featuring women in bikinis and other nonsense.  And on the other hand, you have the small brewers who care about quality and taste.  Guess who's winning?  Hint: it ain't the big guys.

Anyway, on to the beer itself.  After I finished amusing myself with the label, I cracked the bottle open.  The first I noticed was the smell, or should I say lack thereof.  It was the weirdest thing.  I always smell a new beer as soon as I open a bottle, and I always smell something.  But this time all I could detect was a faint odor of the bottle itself.  I poured it into a glass and nothing.  I stuck my nose right into the glass--to the point that I got beer on the tip of my nose--and inhaled deeply, but still, nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Zip.

I thought maybe my sniffer was broken, so I passed it on to Cathy, and she agreed.  Nothing.  Seriously, even swill has an aroma, though not a good one.  It was unreal.

With no odor, I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of taste.  It turned out to be malty, though not cloying.  There was somewhat of a hop bitterness, but not much, and no floral or citrusy flavor whatsoever.  The finish was a bit nutty, and it left a slightly lingering bitterness on my tongue, but nothing unpleasant.

In short: It was good.  Not groundbreaking, not knock-your-socks-off phenomenal, not even incredibly unique.  But something I could see myself enjoying over and over, perhaps for years to come.

Kinda like Nirvana.

In Closing

Not to assign homework, but I highly recommend checking out this article in The Atlantic about college sports.  It's very long, but thorough, and a fascinating read, even if you don't care about college sports.

Now here it is, your moment of Tucker Yak:


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I admit to trying the Loser because I was amused by the supposedly anti-corporate corporate tie in with Sub Pop. The irony did not escape me.

I too found the beverage to not be the end all-be all of beers, but at the same time not at all bad. Loser is just a good, simple, accessible, and at about 7% alcohol, extremely effective brew.

Similarly, I agree that Nirvana was probably not really the end all-be all rock band that they are sometimes described to be. Instead, I think that Nirvana is just a good, simple, accessible, and with over 25 million records sold, exremely effective rock band.

Commentary aside, I would totally crack open another Loser given the chance. However, the next time I do, I will be sure to take a careful whiff. Perhaps that oddly absent smell was the smell of Teen Spirit.

5:33 PM, September 25, 2011  
Blogger Rob said...

Teen Spirit! I see what you did there, Anon. Well done!

10:34 PM, September 25, 2011  

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