People drink different beer for different reasons. For some, it’s a matter of taste. Others, price. For many, though, it’s a matter of image. Why else would beer companies spend millions of dollars to alter their brand and change the public perception of their product? Every company tries to make their beer the “it” ale, especially among the oft-swilling college demographic. The business-minded folk among us likely realize that many beers — even some that seem so drastically different in terms of both taste and tradition — are actually brewed by the same companies. For some it’s devastating to find that the Blue Moon Brewing Company doesn’t exist and that it’s actually a product of Coors. There’s no denying the power of advertising.
To straighten things out, here’s a sampling of several beers at different price ranges, and a brief analysis of their consumers.
Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR)
This beer, like many others at the same price, is not likely consumed for its taste. Instead the lure of this drink is its straight-up grunge appeal. To many there’s nothing better than popping open a sparse white can of PBR and pushing down its watery contents.
Who’s drinking it? You’re a hipster on a budget. Maybe some day you’d prefer to drink something foreign like Leffe, but right now you can only afford the no-nonsense 40s of PBR, which usually sell for less than $3. You consider yourself “punk rock” and/or “hardcore.” You dig irony, and you hate the government. Maybe.
It’s possible that this dirt-cheap Coors beer is a simple concoction of dirt, horse urine and water. But that doesn’t stop many a frat “brah” from “indulging” in this perennial party favorite. Still better than Budweiser.
Who’s drinking it? You probably like to get trashed, and often. You may not have taste buds, or taste in general. You possibly also like drinking watered-down urine.
This beer, like most, has both lovers and haters. But one thing is clear: It’s simple to drink and relatively inexpensive. It’s watery and mostly tasteless, which is why most people add a wedge of lime. With Corona, citrus is savior.
Who’s drinking it? Anyone who wants to pretend they are sitting on a beach in Mexico. You’ve likely seen the advertisements that depict just how peachy life can be when you have a Corona on hand. A white-sand beach doesn’t hurt either. Who else drinks it? Dudes at the bar who are trying to pick up ladies. A Corona says: Look, I don’t drink Keystone Light.
This Belgian beer drinks easily. It’s slightly crisp and has a definite taste of hops. Its maker, InBev, recently purchased mega-American beer producer Anheuser-Busch — so now many a patriot’s favorite beer has direct ties to the hoity Old World. Sad.
Who’s drinking it? Belgians. And Americans who wish they were Belgians. Or anyone who wants a beer that’s better than, say, a bland old Bud.
Local beer buffs couldn’t be more proud of this hometown brew. The company, which opened in 2005, specializes in well-crafted beers that can’t easily be categorized. The Surly Furious is one of the year-round offerings. It’s made with a Scottish malt that has a distinct bitterness that doesn’t overwhelm. From start to finish it’s a hoppy sip — first a citrusy flavor, then some spice, maybe some caramel or bready tones follow.
Who’s drinking it? Well, fortunately for the Twin Cities, Surly is on tap at a number of local bars. But its relative newness can make it difficult to find. When you do, it’s truly a delicious treat, a beer-drinker’s snack. Unfortunately at this point it’s the older crowd enjoying Surly, but the college scene could benefit from a Surly invasion.
Here are some other beers that deserve to be drunk more often.
Grolsch Premium Lager
Aside from sporting the keenest green bottle and swing-top around, this Dutch sweetie is pretty drinkable.
Newcastle Brown Ale
This is a good starter for anyone looking to get into brown ales. It’s dark but not overwhelming — always great for winding down, not necessarily the best for pumping up.
Summit Extra Pale Ale
This local beer may be seen most often in the hands of white-haired retirees kicking back at neighborhood block parties in Cathedral Hill. But the beer is also delicious to young people, so sip up. Plus it’s as local as local gets.
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