One of the things that’s always puzzled me, and to some extent, humored me, is Joe Six-Pack’s desperate desire to be identified by his love of certain iconically “American” tchotchkes: Ford Trucks, Wrangler Jeans, Budweiser Beer. You can, obviously, depending on your pedigree, replace Ford with Chevy, Wrangler with Levi or Lee, and Budweiser with Miller or Coors. This desire to be associated with certain brands is not isolated to Joe Six-Pack but catches Joe MusicFan, Joe Moviefan, Joe Hipster, and Joe Everybodyinhighschool. Identity is a wormy little bastard and it’s often hard for any of us to know who we are. It is natural that we would seek out and claim certain static objects in life and claim them as a means of letting others know who we are, and knowing ourselves in the process. And “know thyself” is probably a snark hunt from the start, at least if feels that way to me.
The interchangeability of Joe Six Pack’s chosen brands is the most telling sign of his ideological purity. Joe Hipster and Moviefan etc have no guiding principal except sometimes an unworkable iconclasm to lead them to the next important branding opportunity. And it is easy to dismiss the red-white-and-blue fervor that leads to white knuckling the steel, denim, and aluminum that “makes America great” as nothing more than close-minded isolationism and the bitter clinging to artifacts of a faded American hegemony in all things combusion-powered, fashionably rugged, and delightfully fizzy. But this drive to not only “buy American” but also to live and identify as American is a streak that runs in a direct line from Pottsville founderies to west coast student rallies against foreign fabricated university gear.
Which is why I have been tickled pink by InBev’s purchase of Budweiser. (I hastily add that I am not tickled pink by the inevitable job loss that is likely to ensue if it hasn’t already.) Budweiser was “America’s Beer” long before Budweiser was the last of the big three to succumb to advancing globalization.
Miller was bought out from the Phillip Morris portfolio by South African Brewing in 2002; and Coors was bought by Canadian-owned Molson in 2005. So for the last three years, Budweiser drinkers had been winning the war of “most American drunkard.” But with InBev’s purchase of the King of Beers that ignominous title has fallen to Pabst Blue Ribbon and its core audience of tight-pantsed navel gazers.
Or has it?
This article, brought to my attention by Special Agent Dale Cooper, in Salon says no. Despite its claims as being the only choice left for those who wish to “drink American” Pabst Blue Ribbon …er…isn’t. Edward McClelland speeds through the arguments against this claim like the American 4X100 team past the French. (ooh burn) Hold on, here we go:
First, Pabst isn’t even a brewer. It closed its Milwaukee brewery in 1996, and now does business out of an office in suburban Chicago. Second, its beers aren’t made in American-owned breweries. Pabst farms out production of its brands to Miller — which belongs to a South African corporation.
BAM! Just like that.
In the article McClelland lists a miller’s handful* of options for the isolationist-prone beer guzzler:
- Genesee Cream Ale
- Shiner Bock
For my money, take the Yuengling if you can get it. Its only downfall for the NASCAR set is that it sounds and looks vaguely Chinesey. It is not. The beer is similar to but better than anything Budweiser, Miller, or Coors have ever offered. Double Bonus, Yuengling is not only an American brewery it is, in fact, the oldest American brewery having been founded in 1829, so it’s SUPER AMERICAN. Unfortunately it is also barely there…as it’s offered in only ten states–according to McClelland, although I am certain I’ve bought it here in Indy, even though we aren’t listed. I have drunk it during my two or three most recent trips to DC, where it is available because it’s that American.
For those who really are hungry for a Budweiser replacement that can adequately fuel jingoist fantasies Salon offers a nice long list in a separate piece.
*That, my friends, is a pun of Shakespearean proportions. If you don’t get, I need only tell you of my maternal grandfather a sawyer by trade who, due to a type of accident common in that industry, lost his first and third fingers to an “occupational hazard” known as”a giant fucking circular saw.”
- Yuengling Beer: Keeping it in the family, keeping it regional (shortformblog.com)
- Pabst Blue Ribbon goes to China: magically turns into a $44 brew (adland.tv)