The Brooklyn Growler

"Life is all skittles and beer." — Tom Lehrer

Photodump Friday: Let’s Hear It for Autumn

Sam Adams, Octoberfest, Boston, Mass.

Wolaver’s, Will Stevens’ Pumpkin Ale, Middlebury, Vt.

Berkshire Brewing Co., Octoberfest, Deerfield, Mass.

Dogfish Head, 60-Minute IPA, Rehoboth Beach, Del.

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MillerCoors: Same Beer, Different Bottle

Is Blue Moon the biggest craft beer in America? That’s the idea put forth by Tom Long, president and chief commercial officer, of MillerCoors today.

Speaking to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Long said, “We have the biggest craft brand in America with Blue Moon and another one in the top five with Leinenkugel’s.”

Previously the company reported that second-quarter sales of Blue Moon and Leinenkugel’s saw double-digit growth amid flat or declining profits from Miller Lite and Coors Light. These sales figures are what have led MillerCoors to expand into the craft-beer market with Tenth and Blake.

In 2009, shipments of craft beers rose 4 percent to 4.3 percent, with companies like the Craft Brewers Alliance, which produces Redhook beer, and the Boston Beer Co., seller of Sam Adams, leading the charge of the craft-beer brigade.

So, it’s perhaps more accurate to say that Blue Moon is the biggest craft beer produced by MillerCoors and anything else is hyperbolic marketing speak.

One last thought. The most salient point made by Long was in regards to producing new products. “There are a lot of consumers out there that are serial triers,” he says to the Journal Sentinel. “So, in light beers, we have to use new packaging.”

Which is to say, it’s not what’s in the bottle that matters but just the bottle itself, thus spake Vortexathustra.

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Why Limes Don’t Chase Away Flies

This was the scene on my kitchen island after a trip to Trader Joe’s and an Associated. I’m back from Montana, though I’ve been playing catch-up with what’s left of the week and feel satisfyingly tired, which is the sign of a nice vacation, I think. There will be another post on some Montana beers in the next few days and then back to whatever it is we do here.

Anyway, so I dropped $3.99 on a two-four of Cerveza La Playa, est. 1968, at ye olde Trader Joe’s. Then for fun, I put it in a fancy Sam Adams pint glass with a slice of lime. Why the lime? Common wisdom (i.e., the crypto-racist ramblings of lazy Americans), says it’s because when you’re drinking a beer in Mexico, the lime wedged in the mouth of the bottle chases away flies.

I’d believe it if I heard the same said about a slice of orange in a hefeweizen.

The reason is just style. Perhaps also to mask the not-so-greatness of the beer. Also, a lime is most commonly seen in a bottle of the Mexican pilsner-style Corona. Y’know, the imported beer that is sold in a clear, glass bottle. There’s a reason why most beers are bottled in dark brown or green bottles – it keeps the sun and other ambient light out while it sits on the shelf.

I’m a big fan of Mexican beers, in general. Never been much for Corona, although the Grupo Modelo Brewery (which brews Corona) makes some of my favorites – Pacifico, Negra Modelo, and Modelo. Cans of Modelo are frequent visitors to my fridge. Dos Equis is also a welcomed guest to my tummy.

However!

One of the greatest beers I ever drank was a Tecate. I was on a bus in Mexico heading back from a day spent touring the ruins of Chichen Itza, a Mayan pyramid. It was a very humid, sunny day in early March. After a day spent in such a hot environment with very little shade – I was all tuckered out. So then about forty minutes into the ride back, the tour bus driver opened up a cooler and started passing out cans of Tecate. No limes. “This is the best beer in Mexico,” he said. I cracked mine open and took a long pull. He was right. He was so right. He was also the greatest tour guide ever. What’s even better, is that I could crack open a Tecate right now and feel the same. I just love that beer.

Right, so, La Playa.

It’s a little sweet. Very drinkable. The head up there in the picture is what was left after thirty seconds of snapping bad pictures, thirty seconds more of bad photography, and the head was gone entirely. Definitely some corn or corn-syrup flavors. Aftertaste can be a little soapy. It’s much improved by a wedge of freshly cut lime.

Unlike other Trader Joe’s beers (Red Oval; Simpler Times), La Playa doesn’t create as much tummy rumbling. Granted, I stopped after two, which isn’t really getting in the spirit of pounding cheap beers and such. But still. This beer is similar to a Corona Light in that it also has a certain staleness of flavor that some watery light beers can acquire – sitting around absorbing too much sunlight.

Cerveza La Playa tastes better in the can, honestly. It’s not one you’ll crave later. So – go fast; go hard.

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