Two Nations Joined By Water
Why can't we admit it? We are all sitting around drinking flavoured water. We craft beer lovers like to pretend it is like wine, an art based on the manipulation fruit juice - but it ain't so. In a very real sense, fine beer is a far more crafted product than fine wine. People put it together, do the job of the vine. And it is put together for the most part with water.
My favorite Pennsylvania (unless Mario Lemieux is now officially a Pennsylvanian) Lew Bryson is continuing to develop his very cogent argument, as we have discussed before, for the support of lighter flavourful session ales as an equally legitimate part of the broad beery spectrum. To my mind, the problem is that the water in beer needs to be described in a way that is the equal to the pervasive mass marketing by the macro-industrial BeerCo or as legitimate as the current alt.beer mania for the big bombastic hophead's dream or rarefied boozy ancient monkish elixer.
In short, there has to be something about lower strength beer that can be described to capture the imagination. Think about water - it is vital, something we consume daily, it is can be fresh and refreshing...yet to call something "watery" is a slander. And remember when we talk about water we actually are talking about a heck of a lot more than the H20. Water is the conduit for the mineral make up of beer, the very defining element of the terrior that in large part makes the finest wines desirable. We know that Burton and Colorado makes hard water beer while Dublin and central New York make their brews soft due to what is under foot. It is the under foot print.
What is the campaign slogan that can make the water in your beer the preferred characteristic of distinction? All I need to think of is good old batch 29 but that is just me. Twenty five years ago, we Canadian kids, then aware of the then superiority of our brewing, knew the very successful "Tastes Great...Less Filling" ad campaign for southern brew Miller Lite was really all about taste and low alcohol strength. We were all told that anyone could drink it all night and so you could - except we up here would never dream of it because we were looking for the effect, we were going for the buzz. Does that idea of beer should not let you down now need to be added to the cultural mix? Does a long day at work demand a long night's worth of beer without the hangover or the drunk tank? You can see what would happen. First, MADD would go...mad. It would be glorifying beer drinking even if it would be a campaign for moderation. Then, there would be the issue of price. I should be able to drink four pints of 3% beer for the same price as three pints of 4% and two of 6% or at least there should be some significant reflection. But that may strike at the bottom line. How can that be the story be told without risking the premium rightfully placed on brewing craft ale becoming part of the spin?
So what is the slogan that will frame it all for us so that we get the idea that we can learn to love the water, too? Having one for the road is never the right idea but having another because it is a beer that it built for two might be exactly what we all need.