In Defense of “Shitty” Beer

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The Keystone Light marketing department really knows their audience, which is just another reason I'm a big supporter of "keeping it smooth."
The Keystone Light marketing department really knows their audience, which is just another reason I’m a big supporter of “keeping it smooth.”

I came across the billboard pictured above at the beginning of the summer and was immediately smitten.   Not only did it hearken back to the “Tuesday is the new Thursday” motto we lived by the summer I first turned 21, but it’s blatantly trashy and in some grand form of poetic justice sits in a prominent spot in Carbondale.  The Keylight marketing people obviously know their target audience and don’t take themselves too seriously which I respect.

Keystone Light and I have a longstanding love affair.  Like many of you I’m sure , it was the first beer I used to regularly purchase due to it’s reasonable prices and not awful flavor (as compared to Natty Lite’s reasonable prices and GODAWFUL flavor) and was the regular at the college keg scene.  After Keystone, I graduated to it’s slightly classier cousin Coors but still don’t have a problem grabbing a case of it when my budget’s a little tight.

Now  microbrews, craft beer, and taphouses  are the trendy thing right now in terms of beer culture.    I’m not begrudging or trying to shit on this movement in any way shape or form.  Lancaster, where I live, has a number of great brewpubs and microbreweries in the city (Springhouse Taproom  is probably tied as my favorite Lancaster bar) and surrounding countryside and I’ve come to start enjoying various imports, microbrews, and craft beers.  I’ve even got to the point that I know the difference between a Pils, lager, hefe, stout and IPA and have started to really enjoy dark beer which I never would’ve thought was possible.

I like that it’s become a thing and it sometimes even gives you more of a purpose when drinking (tasting, trying new things) then just getting completely shitcanned, which is sometimes something I need.   What I don’t like about this movement is that it’s creating a new breed of drinker that can only have fun when there’s Troegs or Dog Fish Head available and complains consistently about having to drink “swill” whenever their faced with only the triumvirate of great American Light beers (Coors, Miller and Budlight).  They may not be trendy and they’re definitely not the best beer (although this is subjective), but they serve a purpose.

Like your craft brews and continually try to expand your repertoire, I won’t begrudge you there, but stop acting like these other beers are ruining your day or our society.  There’s plenty of legitimate reasons these “shitty beers” have had such longevity.  And just like the craftbeers, they have a time and a place.

  • They’re cost effective:  I enjoy the breweries in Lancaster, but at $5.00 a glass, they’re just not always economical, and to buy a case?  Forget it.  Dollar bottles and 24 beers for 18 dollars are hard to argue with.
  • Craft brews are good for a Friday night or happy hour, but if I’m at an all day barbeque or concert (or Preakness) I’m going to need to stick with something a little lighter in order to remain coherent and keep the buzz healthy, not gross.
  • I don’t want to be 800 pounds.
  • Shitty beer is watery.  Some people use this as an insult.  But, on a 90 degree summer day down the shore, I don’t want a stout.  I want a Coors Light, preferably in a frosted mug.  Also see: flipcup, beer pong, drinking at a fast pace.
  • Let’s face it, as much as we want to say we drink for the taste (which could be partially true) we drink for the way it makes us feel.  If I legitimately wanted something refreshing and delicious that I was drinking solely for the taste, I’d get some chocolate milk.  Also, judge away, but I like the taste of Coors Light.
  • If you want to drink in the US without being a hassle to those around you, you simply need to be ok with light beer.  There’s just some places: concerts, stadiums, open bars etc where these beers are your only option.  Don’t be that dick who spends an entire concert complaining because there isn’t an optimal IPA.  This applies doubly if you’re attending an open bar.  I remember being at a wedding that only served Amstel and Labatts Blue.   They would never be my first choice, but they were also free.

Then there’s the issue of an authentic Pennsylvanian experience.  Some of the bigger culprits of beer snobbery are those who travel a lot and have been privileged to see and taste a lot of different beers.  While the craft beer market in PA is currently booming (and one of the reasons listed in my reasons WHY PA IS COOL) that’s a recent development.  If you really want to drink like the locals, drink some Lion’s Head, Stegmeier or IC Light.  These were the shitty beer that the coal miners and iron workers used to relax with and while they might not be the best they definitely have some character and define the regions they’re from much better than that freshly brewed double bock  you’ve been raving about.

Again, I’m not saying anything against “good beer”, I’m just saying that I’m sick of hearing about “shitty beer” and felt like someone had to step up to the plate on its behalf.

3 comments on “In Defense of “Shitty” Beer”

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