Tuesday, November 08, 2005


The alcohol laws here are, to say the least, confusing; and lead to strange anomolies.

In Oklahoma, outwith liquor stores, beer can only be a maximum of 3.2% ABV (alcohol by volume). Liquor stores may sell beer of any strength they want, but if the ABV exceeds 3.2%, they have to sell it at *room temperature*. Nowhere, however, am I able to find a definition of *room temperature*. References in the laws to *not chilled* exist, but everywhere here is chilled most of the year, air conditioning sees to that. So, either that *chilling* is unlawful, or the law is so badly framed it's virtually un-enforceable.

Notwithstanding any concerns about refridgeration, the big three brewers here (Budweiser, Miller and Coors), all brew a special batch for distribution in Oklahoma and, I think, one other State. Their normal brew, tasteless thought it might be, still has a decent amount of alcohol (around 5%), but here it is 3.2%. Due to crazy distribution arrangements, the full strength product is not even available in liquor stores ..... you can get any number of micro-brews, or imported beers, but if you want BMC you have to go to Arkansas, or Texas ......

I'll pause for a moment to explain *tasteless*.

This is not meant to be a cheap shot at BMC beers, although I believe they deserve it, but a simple question about how the big brewers view their target customer base. Quite simply, they ALL TASTE THE SAME !!! Yes they do! Quit arguing. And the silly people who say they prefer one over the other (and thus pretend to know something about beer) simply demonstrate the fact that they know very little about beer!

I wouldn't mind, but the big companies have a vast depth of experience in brewing, employ some of the most skilled brewers and have access to equipment most breweries can only dream of. So why do they do it? Simple. I'll tell you .....

They do it because the marketeers and accountants run the brewery, and not the brewers. They do not set out to brew beer that will please most of their customers, they brew so as to offend the fewest! They all do it, and the result is that they are all brewing beer designed to be served so damned cold, and so lack definable character, that even if there were any differences between them (and there aren't), then you wouldn't be able to tell.

Did the Americans learn nothing from the UK in the seventies?

Our breweries tried that approach. It didn't work. CAMRA was born, and so began one of the most successful consumer pressure groups in UK history. They managed to persuade the major brewers that they would broaden their appeal, and please their customers by continuing to give them beer that was the envy of the world. They have largely remained true to this principle ever since. Sure the major brewers produce pretty cheap and cheerful *session* beers, but they also offer a range of high quality products that the US major brewers don't even come close to.

To be fair, when we are at our local Karaoke Bar, we drink Michelob Amberbok. This is a dark lager brewed by Budweiser, and it's not bad. It's not that good either, and Jodie has recently been heard to mutter something about supplying our homebrew to the bar ....

It's possible that the BMC group of brewers have it right. There are plenty of folk around here who actually LIKE their BudMillCoor beers.

Education of our friends continues. It may take some time.

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