The Working Man’s Brew
An acquaintance of mine brought up an interesting issue the other day. He noticed a gentleman order a bottled mass-market lager in an establishment that served draft craft beer. Curiosity getting the better of him, he asked the man why he ordered a bottled industrial beer instead of a “real,” craft beer. The man retorted that he made his choice based on wanting to have a “working man’s” beer, not some “fancy” beer.
So what is a working man’s beer? As my acquaintance pointed out, the bottled, mass-market lager is produced by a multinational corporation whose primary concern is profit, not the well-being of the working man or the quality of the beer. Does this working man think that supporting such an enterprise (by buying its product) advances the interests of the worker?
Craft beer, on the other hand, is typically produced by a small company whose owners and employees have a passion for their product. It is not unusual for them to work long hours in order to achieve financial viability without compromising their standards. Most are not living the high life.
This, then, is the irony of the so-called blue collar beer. Unwittingly, the worker is persuaded through multi-million dollar marketing campaigns that buying the corporation’s industrial lager is more appropriate than consuming a style of ale with a history pre-dating lagers by centuries — a style of beer that ale wives brewed at home for their male breadwinners.
Nevertheless, I don’t think our protagonist really understood what he was saying. What he really meant is that he wanted a cheap beer he could afford in quantity that did not challenge his palate. It was something he was accustomed to drinking that provided refreshment without contemplation or challenge. Unfortunately, he was misled as to what kind of beer he was actually drinking.
In B.C. we pay more for craft beer. Why? Because the government taxes it a at a higher rate than industrial beer. Given the market fundamentalist philosophy of our current government, I see that as a hypocritical handicap. With a level playing field, the true “working man’s” beer may be more affordable.