Monday, May 16, 2011

Unrealistic Fantasy #1: Cans

Unrealistic Fantasy will be a recurring piece where I wish for something that I know in my heart will probably never happen.

#1: I think it would be cool if all alcohol would be available for purchase in cans.

The fantasy came to me somewhere between the announcement that some company in Panama has started selling Irish whisky in a can, and my discovery that Asahi was producing 1000ml cans. Whisky in a can (bad whisky) is a pretty insane idea, because if we learned anything from Four Loko, people don't consume cans in "servings". They drink the whole goddamn thing, and if its a can of Four Loko, they break into the zoo and try to fight/eat the animals.  Asahi was pretty cool, because they were making many different sizes of cans. It was the first time I realized that can size didn't need to be fixed on 12oz.

It finally took flight in New Orleans at Avenue Pub when hanging out with Liz Dowty and John Mitchell. We wondered out loud, wouldn't it be cool to have Charteuse in can?

I might also have learned how to shot gun beer less than a month ago (the enabler tricked me into it). I thought it would mar the reputation of beer and cans in my eyes. Far from it, it poured gasoline on the fire of curiosity.

Anyway, craft beer is getting up in everyone's face about how they're "taking back cans". Traditionally cans have been relegated to cheap gross adjunct lager. So in recent years, we start seeing high quality beers being put in cans. Some have been doing it for a while, some just started. This slightly irks me, because it reminds me of how annoying it was when the wine industry wouldn't shut up about screwcaps and how revolutionary they were. Every time someone told me how crazy it was when they tried plumpjack reserve in screwcap I couldn't yawn hard enough. Oh yes, vino-lock, glass corks. Please, tell me more. Either you want oxygen transfer or you don't, stop writing books and blog posts about closure methods. *stares at camera indicating I'm aware of my double standard*

But you know what? Cans are pretty utilitarian. They're incredibly light, they're easy to recycle, they're unquestionably airtight, and block 100% of harmful UV light. Its the ideal vehicle to pass to your girlfriend with a large purse to sneak into a movie theater (nothing is more embarrassing than dropping a glass wine bottle in a theater). Why is beer the only category that gets this kind of extreme utility?!


We could learn a lesson from the beer industry: high quality booze can exist in cans. Nay, it should. With that, here are the top 5 things that will never be put in cans that I want to see canned.

#5: Nonino Picolit Grappa

Nonino was the first grappa distiller to ever produce a single-varietal grappa. They first did it in 1973, and they chose a rare fruilian white grape called picolit. This produced a grappa that was hauntingly delicious, driven by fruit and spice. They also pioneered the movement of putting grappa in beautiful, albeit maddeningly fragile decanters. It would only make sense that they be the first grappa producer to can their flagship grappa. If you subtracted the cost of the decanter, a 12oz can would run you about 100 dollars. They'd probably find a way to make the can a work of art. Nonino: a family of talented jerks.

#4: Orval

When it comes to beer, I am fiercely loyal to trappist beers. When it comes to trappist beers, I am fiercely loyal to Orval. Trappist monks are famously severe, but Orval is especially uncompromising among the seven trappist breweries. It only makes one beer (1.5 if you count petite orval), it only uses one bottle shape and size, and it doesn't package in kegs. Orval is a bottle conditioned Belgian pale ale, and it goes well with the food category of "everything". They are the perfect candidate for the first canned authentic trappist beer. A six pack of 12oz cans would probably run you about 35 dollars. And you'd look like a total badass if you showed up to anything with a sixpack of Orval.

#3: Chateau D'Yquem

Ok, if you're curious why you or anyone ever should like D'Yquem, check a few posts back. But basically, Chateau D'Yquem would be the most unbeatable one-upper at a party:

"Hey man, check out this beer! Its called 'gubna' and its an imperial IPA! In a can!"

"Thats cool man."

"What are you drinking?"

"This? 2001 Chateau D'yquem."

"Is it, uh, Belgian?"

"It's one of the rarest, most expensive dessert wines on the planet."

"How much did you pay for that can?"

"600 dollars."

"You're an asshole."

*sips smugly*

#2: Veuve Clicquot
So, I didn't mean for this to turn into an LVMH fan blog. And its really not, because I think LVMH has been an overall negative influence on the word of booze. But lets ask ourselves: what is the goal of LVMH? To inflate high end wine prices, and get rich as hell in the process. So, if LVMH was the first company to put true french champagne in cans, the novelty would be so outrageously profitable that money raining from the sky just seems inevitable. Veuve Clicquot is not the best champagne in the world, but it is one of the most recognizable and consistently solid quality. Nevermind the difficulty of designing a can that can safely contain 6 atmospheres of pressure- this is the champagne that needs to get put in cans, fast. Because holy crap, LVMH stands to make so much damn money from doing so. Points to Coppola for putting the Sofia sparkling wine in a can (I think they're way too small), but its time we had THE sparkling wine put in cans. Hey, CIVC, get on this now. You'd likely pay something around 25 dollars for a 12 oz can.

However, if LVMH did want to put the best champagne in the world in cans, I'd be cool with that too.

#1: Fernet Branca

Fernet Branca is already WAY too popular within the bartender and sommelier communities, but goodness gracious, can you imagine how hard we'd all lose our jobs and wind up in the gutter if they started making fernet branca in CANS? Some of us would be hospitalized, others would become drifters, panhandling for just enough change to make it to that next can of Fernet. Want to wipe out the wine and cocktail industry in your city? Four words: Fernet Branca Vending Machines. For approximately 20 dollars a 12oz can, you can pretend to be a sommelier, and drink an unhealthy amount of Fernet in one sitting. It'd be a good joke to throw a couple into an icechest full of normal beer at a barbeque.

*guy blathering about something inane*
*pops cans and takes a big sip*

Curiously, beer nerds do not seem to be afflicted with an obsession for Fernet Branca. I don't know how you guys dodged the bullet on that, but good job. I do like Fernet, maybe just not as much as my peers would prefer.

Shout out to Argentina option: Fernet & Coke in a can. I bet that one could happen one day! Jack Daniel's proclaims "Jack and Coke: America's cocktail." as they release canned jack and coke. Thats cool. I'll be over here enjoying Argentina's cocktail instead.

So, that's it. I think cans are incredibly functional, and a bunch of fun. If any of these five boozes get put in cans, expect to see me wearing something like this, with zero irony:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blog Readers

I'm proud that people have responded so positively so early on to my bleg. One thing I wanted to draw attention to that I think is awesome: apparently a decent amount of traffic towards this blog recently came from forums about off roading and another blog devoted entirely to Z-28s. This is awesome.

I am definitely interested in sharing my views with communities other than say, the Houston food and drink scene. I would also like to share them with groups of people that love muscle cars and build vehicles designed to traverse hell itself. What other groups of overtly tough, Americana laden people am I aiming for?

-Hunters (ESPECIALLY bowhunters)

-Anyone involved in racing

-People who are overzealous about concealed handguns

-Anyone who is into survival

-Anyone into classic rock

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I wish Ted Nugent read my blog.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A positive letter to Anheuser-Busch

Dear Anheuser-Busch,

I have been seeing your products since I was old enough to remember visual stimuli. I have only recently formed a concrete opinion about your beers, as I have only been paying close attention to beer for about a year.

I think those Clydesdales are super cool.

So Stompy!

Your best selling beer is Bud Light, and it's an adjunct lager. The Beer Judge Certification Program in their 2008 Beer Styles guide defines Bud Light and its cohorts (Miller Lite, Coors Light, etc) as a
"Light American Lager".

This beer style is typified by

"Little to no malt aroma, although it can be grainy, sweet or corn-like if present."

"Very light body from a high percentage of adjuncts such as corn or rice."

"May seem watery."

"Designed to appeal to the broadest range of the general public as possible."

"Strong flavors are a fault."

Typical alcohol by volume range is 2.8 to 4.2 percent.

"Commercial Examples: Bitburger Light, Sam Adams Light, Heineken Premium Light, Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors Light, Baltika #1 Light, Old Milwaukee Light, Amstel Light"

Hey little guy!

You know it's an adjunct lager. You know because you make it. Personally, I don't like any of the beers listed in the aforementioned commercial examples section, including Bud Light. As it is the number one selling beer on the planet earth, you are probably well aware that my lack of endorsement will not cause the brand to implode on itself. Because you absolutely print money. You are so rich you could probably have me killed. But why would you bother? Please spend the money you had set aside for assassinating me on making more Bud Light. Oh you were already going to do that? Ok.

I really will not stick my neck out and try to argue that your beer is inherently gross. I will only express my dissatisfaction with it in normative terms like "I personally feel that Bud Light tastes like a hate crime." I do know that a lot of people drink it for a lot of reasons, so it is pointless for me to really discuss the flavor or lack thereof in Bud Light.

What I want to talk to you about today, Anheuser-Busch, is your gimmick.

As I'm sure your Death Star market research department (or watching tv) will tell you, Coors Light and Miller Lite both have a ridiculous gimmick that they will not shut the fuck up about. I'd like to briefly rage about them with you:

GIMMICK #1: The Cold Activated Bottle
DONT DRINK IT YET                                                           OH SHIIIIIIIIIIIIT

I think Coors started this nonsense with a color changing label. This is a completely stupid gimmick that reminds me of the Hot Wheels cars that changed color in cold or warm water back when I was little. But I guess its not completely insane because it honestly does let people know the exact temperature adjunct lager becomes tolerable: cold as the apocalypse.

Plus, I must concede that I like the word choice of cold "activated" bottle. Its dynamic. It makes me think of "TURN YOUR KEY SIR". It certainly implies something more significant is going on when you chill the bottle other than some paint on the outside of the bottle changing color. Even though this gimmick does contain an iota of useful information, I still feel like its ridiculous. It's not like people are gently warming it in snifters or some crap. Its Coors Light. Any freedom-loving, redblooded American knows exactly how to drink Coors Light and ALL other adjunct lagers. Nuclear winter cold.

GIMMICK #2: The Vortex Bottle

So I thought my intelligence was being insulted with the cold activated can, but my mind got real blown with the Miller Lite Vortex Bottle. Gun barrels are rifled on the inside- this is a series of small grooves that are in a spiral pattern. These grooves cause the bullet to spin as it exits the barrel. This helps promote accuracy and a further distance the bullet travels. Last I checked, this has nothing to fucking do with beer (except maybe someone shooting their television when they imbibe too much Miller Lite). Seriously, the only thing they can claim is that it promotes "marketplace differentiation". Which is an implicit concession that it has zero effect on anything that involves making Miller Lite taste better. "It's specially designed grooves let that great pilsener taste flow right out!" Oh my god, hang yourselves.

GIMMICK #3: The "My Bud Light" Bottle

You made a beer bottle that people can write stuff on? At first I was disgusted. How does this show me when the beer is ready to drink? HOW WILL I GET IT OUT OF THE BOTTLE WITHOUT A VORTEX? How does this gimmick explain, in the most insulting way possible, that this beer is cold and delicious and buxom women will flock to me as soon as I open it? How does it dodge the fact that this beer is THE DEFINITION of a cheaply made, mass produced, aggressively marketed opiate of the masses? It doesn't.

You put a blank canvas on the 1# selling beer in the world (albeit a small canvas). You didn't invent an arbitrary phrase like "Triple hop brewed"- which means nothing to people that love the beer and is a joke to people who know how these beers are actually made. You basically put an etchasketch on a beer bottle. For what feels like the first time ever, you gave up on trying to convince the world that bud light tastes good. Instead you gave people that drink bud light something that takes their mind far away from even questioning whether bud light is cold, refreshing, lady-attracting, or delicious. You used clever misdirection with a clever gimmick.

Anheuser-Busch, you did something that not only didn't piss me off, but it honestly made me want to buy your beer. Trust me, I won't actually buy Bud Light ever, but I want you to know that I think you've stumbled across something brilliant.

Hey, Miller-Coors, come in here, I was just talking to Anheuser-Busch. Yes this concerns you too.

Adjunct Lager makers of the world, hear my plea: everyone knows these beers are, by design, nearly flavorless. So can we please drop the act about how the beer tastes or how refreshing it is and all that crap? Bud Light, you put something genuinely novel on your beer bottles, and it has NOTHING to do with the flavor of the beer, the coldness, or the speed with which you can potentially consume it. That is awesome. You will never convince anyone who knows what they're talking about that Bud Light is a delicious beer. The people that do think its delicious probably don't care about real beer. So it would make sense to maybe market almost entirely on novelty.

Honestly, a vortex bottle is ridiculous. I think its stupid because you're implying it does something. It doesn't. As long as you're spinning bullshit, why not go all the way and be full on ridiculous? I have some ideas for all of you:

-Try the new Coors Light Magnetized bottle! It relieves joint pain, promotes mood stability, and enhances cell phone reception!

-Check it out bro, its the new Miller Lite Beer Bag! 75 bucks for an entire garbage bag full of beer!

-Hey Becky, have you heard about the new Lady Bud Light? Its Bud Light, but for us! *pink bottles with flowers and kittens and spatulas*

COMPLETELY NOT JOKING EXAMPLE: An adjunct lager in cans that has instructions on how to shotgun it. How to hold it, maybe a weak point in the bottom of the can that makes it easier to vent. It would be outlawed almost instantly, but you'd get famous as hell in the process.


Oh you want a reference to current events while still staying topical? Boom:

Here we go!