Monday, May 24, 2010

Vortex of Stupidity: Beer Advertising Gimmickry

If you’re like me and you watch excessive amounts of ESPN, you’ve undoubtedly seen a new marketing campaign for Miller Lite, advertising the new “Vortex Bottle.” Whoa! Sounds technical! Scientific even! What is it?

Well, the vortex bottle is a bottle with a grooved neck, so when you pour the beer, it sort of spirals around in circles before entering either A. your mouth or B. your pint glass. You know, all the better to unlock that classic triple hops brewed Pilsner taste.

The flavor is spiraling out of control!!!!!

In the commercial, an appraisal expert working at a generic Antiques Roadshow ripoff show notices a man drinking from a Vortex bottle. He inquires about said bottle, and is so enthralled by its majesty, that he drops the priceless family heirloom he is holding in order to go grab a Miller Lite from the lobby. Had I been there, I may have been inspired to grab a Civil War-era musket and stage an impromptu re-enactment of the Battle of Little Bighorn. Especially the part where George A. Custer and Crazy Horse team up to murder a douchey appraisal expert, reconcile their differences while laughing over his bloodied corpse, and open the first Waffle House. But I digress.

The point is, I’m a little irritated that Miller Lite thinks I’m a complete and total moron.
First of all, selling Miller Lite on taste with “Taste Greatness” is a mistake. No one who hasn’t scalded off all their taste buds with a hot curling iron believes that Miller Lite is the best-tasting beer on the market.

What’s the justification? It’s “Triple Hops Brewed.” Since the majority of the U.S. populace knows nothing or next to nothing about beer, “Triple Hops Brewed” sounds impressive. That must mean they use 3 times the hops that their competitors do, right? That’s the sneaky thing about advertising - They’re not saying that Bud Light, Coors Light, Sam Adams, Heineken, etc. aren’t THBed (just invented an acronym), just that Miller Lite IS. But you’re left with that perception. Well, if you’re an idiot. Because whatever effect this THBing process has, you sure can’t taste it. Just because you add an infintesimal amount of hops three separate times, that doesn’t make your beer hoppy. Or good. But that’s the magic of gimmickry.

Look, Miller Lite serves a purpose in the beer world. It’s cheap. Its blandness makes it impossible to hate, but just as impossible to love. I don’t have a real problem with it, and I even drink it sometimes. But via its advertising, Miller Lite is a piece of bologna trying to masquerade itself as a T-Bone steak. Just be yourself, Miller Lite. Be funny. Talk about having a good time. But don’t try to convince me you’re Stone or Dogfish Head, k?

And that brings me right back to the beginning, the Vortex bottle. Am I supposed to believe that swirling watered-down pee beer around in a circle is going to bring out a hitherto undiscovered plethora of flavor? Or that the Coors vented wide mouth can is going to take me on a magical journey to the Rocky Mountains? What’s next? The Bud Light Flavor Rhombus? The Milwaukee’s Best bottle with a corked top? I’ve got a better idea; take all that money that you’re throwing into R&D, and make a better beer. Because good beer doesn’t need to course itself through a Krazy straw to taste great. (See: Nevada, Sierra).

Until next time,
Ryan aka “The Vortex.”

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Balashi Pilsener Beer - Aruba

Bon Bini (that’s “Welcome” in the Aruban language Papiamento) to Food Plus Beer international addition! I’m blogging here from the island paradise of Aruba! What would a vacation be without beer?

Balashi is Aruba’s only brewery. They only make one type of beer, a pilsener that comes in both regular and light varieties. It’s yellow, light, crisp and refreshing and it tastes nearly identical to Heineken. After all, Aruba was founded by the Dutch. I decided to try a Balashi and a Heineken side by side, and did notice some slight discrepancies. Balashi was more carbonated, a bit crisper, and had a mild skunky taste that you might expect from similar green-bottle lager beers (especially Grolsch). Heineken went down just a little smoother.

Balashi also comes in 11oz cans – don’t ask me why, I haven’t been able to figure it out. But every beer here comes in a different sized container, even those that you’re familiar with in the US. The can also reads “brewed with Aruba’s pristine water…” across the top. You may be screaming “Don’t drink the water!” but don’t worry, Aruba’s water is actually great. It’s great because they don’t have any. All of the (drinking) water on the island comes from a massive desalination plant that purifies it right from the ocean.

The bottom line is that Balashi is good for what it is. It’s one ounce short of regular beer, and wouldn’t make the cut anywhere but here, but it’s exactly what you need to combat the scorching sun. It’s an island beer that’s good enough “as is” without a fruit topping. Just fill a cooler with ice and toss in Balashi until you can barely zipper it shut. Sit back, relax, soak in the sun, the steel drums, and 2 or 3 or 10 Balashis – no shirt, no shoes, and no citrus wedge required.