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Friday, May 10, 2013

The Politics of Beer

Below is an astounding takedown of an American politician using the fulcrum of beer.  I'm going to quote it at length, but I'd like to point out that it's not actually partisan.  The charges leveled here could apply to any congressman or senator in the country.  There's just two pieces of info you need to know to understand the context.  The first is that the politician is from Wisconsin, where Miller is the sacred local brewery. (The dynamic is identical to Detroit and GM.)  The second is the precipitating event, when said Wisconsin pol turned up at Belgian gastropub in DC and was chagrined to learn that the 115 different available beers didn't include Miller Lite.  Then comes the takedown:

Such a man of the people!1

It's worth noting that [the politician's] tastes in alcoholic beverages do not always run along such downscale lines. In 2011, [an opponent] confronted him drinking a $350 bottle of wine at Bistro Bis2, a swanky French restaurant catering to the political elite3. ("Its regular guests include Senators, Congressmen, celebrities and powerbrokers looking to dine in the ambiance and luxury of one of Washington's most popular restaurants," boasts its website.)

Bistro Bis probably does not serve Miller Lite4, which likely forced [the politician] to instead order $350 wine as a fallback, as most Miller Lite fans do when their beer of choice is unavailable. And you can see why he mistook a Belgian brewery for a French restaurant. The one time he was publicly confronted at Bistro Bis is probably the only time he has ever patronized a European restaurant of any kind, and he probably naturally assumed that all European restaurants are French5, 6
 Let's break this down:1) beer is the people's drink, the tipple of the (choose your meme) 47 or 99%.  2) Wine is the drink of the upscale, though permissible if vinted in, say, Fon du Lac, WI, and French restaurants are, it goes without saying, suspect.  3) Especially when patronized by political "elites," a term of art politicians only use when referring to the opposition party.  4) Ordering Lite was an especially nice touch, as its workingman cred is as unimpeachable as its likelihood of being on tap in a gastropub is remote.  5 and 6) This is a deft slam by the writer, who simultaneously evokes American crassness and our ignorance of the foreign world--hanging it around the politician's neck--while reminding readers of a time when America inexplicably targeted France as History's Greatest Monster in the period before the Iraq war. 

This is why I do my best to avoid dragging tarnished politics into the wholesome beer world.  It's more amusing when politics tries to drag beer into its world in an effort to polish things up.


  1. Is Miller Lite regarded as a tough, working man's beverage? I'd have though the "Lite" would make people consider it a girly drink?

  2. Your optics are off. Light beer is the most popular beer in America. In Dairlyland, people enjoy it because it keeps them svelte.

  3. Paul Ryan is an idiot.

  4. Some of the comments from that post are hilarious:

    The Least Interesting Man in the World

    cut to scenes of Paul Ryan emptying the dishwasher, feeding his goldfish, playing Spider Solitaire

    "I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I'd like to have heard of it first"