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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

How to Appeal to the 95%

Since I'm invoking Stan Hieronymus, let me give him a hat tip for linking to a new GQ opus on good beer.  And I do mean opus--it spans beer bars, cuisine, beer cities, best beers, glassware, the hot new country (Italy), and has a fair amount of that chatty kind of piffle the mags find irresistible.  Yet despite the packaging (the online layout has been engineered to produce the maximum number of clicks), the information is accurate and pithy.  Even I found something new; here's a bit from their guide to ordering beer online:

Madeinoregon.com
It doesn't sell only beer, but its selection of 119 vaunted Oregon brews is a well-kept secret.
Add to cart:
The hard-to-find Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Seizoen Bretta, an amber-hued saison-style brew with an earthy, herbal kick. ($11 for 750 ml)
I was totally unaware of that possibility and am delighted to learn about it.  

Is it introductory?  Yes--and that's good.  Craft beer has a 5% market penetration, and this feature is aimed squarely at the craft-curious without condescending to them.  Christian DeBenedetti does a nice round-up of beer and haute cuisine.  William Bostwick surveys the best beer bars (tagging Bailey's in Portland).  The writers choose the best beer cities, and I was pleased to see Cleveland and Los Angeles on the list.  Portlanders may wail to find they were slighted, but I assume it's intentional (Christian is, after all, a stumptowner)--it's not like the city needs yet another laurel.  Or San Diego, or Seattle.  This is advocacy reportage, and shows that towns on the bubble can develop good beer culture.  GQ does a great job with glassware and mentions Italian beer and lambics.  And wine expert Alan Richmond's "ten essential beers" piece is fascinating (click through to the end to see Richmond's worst beer--one you probably love). 

The section that will drive hits is "Fifty beers to try now."  It's a silly list, super heavy on stouts and imperialized beers, but who cares?  There's no way to assemble a best-of list that isn't ultimately silly.  (Even a list of a thousand beers would be debatable.)  Best-of lists generate commentary and opinion, the life blood of niche markets.  Is Dogfish Head really a good beer or gimmicky abomination?  The answer isn't nearly as important as the discussion--particularly if it leads you to talk about, say, the tradition of October ale. 

Beer geeks live in a bubble.  Inside the bubble, it's difficult to remember that a huge percentage of the population isn't totally clear on basic principles of beer, never mind deeply geek minutiae.  (Worse, I think sometimes the geeks like to guard the bubble from interlopers, as if the appreciation of a beer by a member of the rabble somehow diminishes it.)  GQ has put together an impressive guide that could expose thousands to radical new ideas about their favorite after-work tipple.  Good on 'em.

1 comment:

Peter LaFrance said...

The mainstream media has taken to craft beer like a fish to water!

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