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Jimmy Carter, Founding Father of the Beer Revolution

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I don’t even know if Jimmy Carter drinks alcohol, but this Tom Philpott piece on the struggles of the beer conglomerates to keep control over the market suggests that no one did more to facilitate the microbrew revolution than our favorite Baptist president.

First, this interesting chart on the rise and fall of beer variety:

The United States used to produce a huge variety of different beers. Most breweries never reopened after Prohibition, but there was still a good variety (though mostly of homogenized lagers by this point). Still, most regions of the country had several local beers to compete with the growing conglomerates.

By 1979, most of these local brewers were no more. I remember a few from growing up in the Pacific Northwest–Henry Weinhard, Olympia, Rainier, Lucky. Friends of mine a bit older could remember beers like Great Falls Select. But most were gone. However, in that year, President Carter deregulated the beer industry, allowing the sale of malt, hops, and yeast to home brewers. Thus began the microbrew revolution. From the perspective of Miller executives, this sucks because they have to produce an ever-increasing number of beers to keep control of the market. I mean, if everyone just drank piss, we could make so much money!

From my perspective of course, this is an unadulterated good. Not only has it allowed the United States to become second only to Belgium in the production of quality beer (and I’ll take an argument that the US is #1), but it has opened the minds of even people who would normally be happy to drink crappy beer. I mean, Shock Top and Blue Moon are not good beers, but they are better than Bud Light.

And thus we make a mark in the good column when discussing Carter.

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  • BradP

    Free Market Fairy!!!!

    • mpowell

      Lol. Hey, I’m a liberal not a communist. I think there are plenty of areas where opening markets increases total value.

      • Njorl

        It’s only when free markets break down and produce irrational results, like for health care or vodka, that you should want to eliminate them.

        • BradP

          And promptly start up blogs making snarky responses about all of the irrational results produced by the managers of the markets without a trace of irony.

          Amirite?

          • Malaclypse

            Because markets for beer are just like markets for appendectomies.

            Amirite?

    • Tony

      Okay this article is nothing but bullcrap propaganda. James Carter was NEVER the founding father of the craft beer industry. The author should get their facts straight and actually do the background work. If they did they would see that everyone in US was allowed to buy Malts and such ingredients during the 70’s as well as before and after it. The article is either a lie or just a piss poor job by the author!

      • Jack Burton Mercer

        Carter signed a bill that included decriminalizing home-brewing. That in itself led to the renewed interest in good beer here and worldwide. Also, he did some other deregulating that made smaller breweries, and other businesses, profitable.

  • kmfg
  • Njorl

    I’m sure Jimmy got sloshed in his heart.

    • Bill Murray

      and Paul Volcker started a series tight blood policies to make sure that heart did not inflate.

  • c u n d gulag

    Jimmy Carter:

    Thanks!
    ‘Hoppy Days are here again!’

  • c u n d gulag

    Since coming to America, my Uncle worked as a machinist for pretty much every brewery in NY City from the 50’s to the early-mid 70’s.

    When they closed, he then commuted upstate NY on Mondays, and went home to Queens on Fridays.
    Sometimes he’s stop off and drop off a few cases of the beer whose company he worked for for my father and me.
    As I remember, he worked for Piels, Shaefe in NY City, and I think Schlitz and Ballentine upstate. None of them will ever be cofused with some of today’s geat beers, but let me tell you, when you’re a teenager, there’s no such thing as a bad beer.

    I still love an ice cold Ballentine Ale on a hot summer day.

    • c u n d gulag

      Here’s a look at some of the old NYC breweries:

      http://home.earthlink.net/~mrsfanatic/id15.html

    • Njorl

      They had better commercials than Bud and Miller too.

      The most rewarding flavor in this man’s world for people who are having fun!
      Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one.

      • ploeg

        They had better commercials than Bud and Miller too.

        Those commercials have their own kind of truthfulness.

        More Taste = We’re talking about quantity of taste, not quality.

        World’s Most Refreshing Beer = Our beer tastes almost exactly like water.

      • bleeding gums murphy

        Ah…memories…my high school Spanish teacher had us all singing: “Shaefer es la una cerveza cuando quires mas que un!”

    • CJColucci

      About 35 years ago, when my family was still in the beer distribution business, I was involved in a regular poker game in Syracuse, NY, where it gets very cold in the winter. Each member of the group had to contribute a case of beer, which was kept on the host’s unheated front porch. Someone contributed Bud, someone contributed Labattt’s, and I contributed a case of Ballantine IPA. Between games, a cold snap gave us 20-below temperatures. The Bud bottles cracked, the Labatt’s froze solid, but didn’t break. The Ballantine IPA didn’t even get slushy.

      • Njorl

        IPA is chemist lingo for isopropyl alcohol.

        • kmfg

          Its also beer lingo for India Pale Ale. Wouldn’t want to get those mixed up.

          • Walt

            kmfg, you should know that whenever someone on the internet fails to get a joke, an angel has his wings ripped off.

      • That Ballantine IPA was okay stuff back then. It was usually in cans, but it tasted like something. In those days people thought skunky was how beer was supposed to taste, because that’s what Heineken tasted like. I used to grab a Ballantine IPA out of the cooler at Penn Station to drink on the LIRR on the way home, while I read the late edition Post.

  • firefall

    Wasn’t Jimmy’s brother famously fond of beer?

    • rea

      That would be Billy Carter in the picture accompanying this post.

    • DrDick

      Jimmy’s brother was famously fond of bad beer.

  • Scott Lemieux

    United States to become second only to Belgium in the production of quality beer (and I’ll take an argument that the US is #1)

    Correct. And Germany is far below either.

    • kmfg

      Had some german colleagues visiting who weren’t very happy when I told them something like this.

      I’m a huge fan of many different German beers.

    • Anyone who tried to claim this title for Germany or, god forbid, Ireland, could not be taken seriously.

      • Anonymous

        I think it was more of an issue of national pride as these particular colleagues didn’t seem too versed in beer.

      • Mrs Tilton

        I think even few Germans (except possibly the Bild-Zeitung readers) would claim that Germany makes the world’s greatest beers. (Hell, they don’t even make the world’s greatest German beers; that would be the Czech Republic.)

        Thing about Germany is, it’s really hard to make a truly bad beer. Even though the ancient Reinheitsgebot, the Beer Purity Law, is now, thanks to the EU, more like the Pirate Code, German brewers stick to it. And when you make your beer from water, barley malt, yeast and hops*, and nothing else, it’s going to be half-decent at worst.

        The basic drinkability of almost all German beers is in spite of, not because of the brewers. There is still a bewildering plethora of labels out there, but almost all of those you see regularly are now nothing more than brands of a big faceless concern. For example, Binding used to be a small regional beer competing with the equally small and undistinguished Henninger. Henninger disappeared when the two breweries merged (the beer, not the company; the old Henninger was the survivor but adopted its victims name). It is now the biggest brewer in the country, having bought up better-known brands kike Jever in the north, Radeberger in the east, Schöfferhoffer Weissbier and Sion Kölsch — all now marketed nationally. They don’t bother marketing Binding outside Frankfurt, though. You can drink it (thanks, Reinheitsgebot!), but it’s powerfully meh. (Not surprising; beer is not Frankfurt’s traditional tipple and the city have no great brwering tradition.) These companies would happily brew beer as cheaply and crappily and as full of sawdust and propylene glycol and high-fructose corn syrup as Anheuser Busch do, if they could only get away with it. But they can’t; Germans wouldn’t buy it. As with so much else in Germany, it’s not about excellence, it’s about adhering to well-established minimum standards.

        Sidenote 1. What I said above is only partly applicable in the south. You will still find small local breweries everywhere in the country, but in most places are rapidly disappearing into the maw of the Bindings etc., and the survivors are rarities. But in Württemberg and Bavaria, time has stood still in brewing as in so much else, and it remains the rule rather than the exception that every small town has its own brewery (or two). And these beers are often very good indeed. You just need to know about them and be in an area where they’re available. Of course, they’re not very dramatic, so if you’re a beer bore, you’ll be happier sticking with soemthing from Dogfish Head with enough hops to cause hallucinations, or a traditional 80-proof Trappist Cherry Ghghgheuze.

        Sidenote 2. When the World Cup was in Germany a few years ago, Sepp Blatter signed a deal with Anheuser Busch under which the only beer sold in the stadia was Budweiser. American Budweiser. It’s obvious why Blatter did this. Oh sure, FIFA made money out of the deal; FIFA always make money. But Blatter is Swiss, and therefor axiomatically hates the Germans. It would be naive to say that Blatter will roast in hell for what he did — there are plenty of reason’s he’ll be spitted and barbecues in the hereafter even if he had personally brought frosty mugs of Czech Budweiser to me as I watched S.Korea beat Togo. But surely that little stunt earns him an extra mopping with sauce as the spit turns.

        * Cheap labels replace some or all hops with hop extract, which is within the law. Still, the law limits the damage the brewer can do. The worst German beer will always be better than the best American mass-market beer.

        • Mrs Tilton

          Great Cthulhu’s Gizzard, that comment is glistening with typos even by my standards. I assure you this is not because I have been conducting hands-on comparative beer research as I type. Rather, it is before breakfast, and I have not yet had me tea.

        • Halloween Jack

          I’ve never been to Germany, so maybe I’ve just never had the good stuff before it goes over, but based on my samplings here (in a town with a lot of nth-generation German Americans and some more-or-less authentic German restaurants), the German beers that I’ve had have varied quite a lot in quality. Also, WRT the inappropriateness of beer concessions, our town has also had years in which the exclusive vendor of beer at the local Irish Fest was Anheuser-Busch and Leinenkugel. At least A-B had Bare Knuckle, their mostly-palatable attempt at eating Guinness’ lunch, but even though Leinie isn’t the worst beer out there… well, let’s just not talk about it.

    • Ronnie P

      The US has actually become quite influential overseas. Belgians brew IPAs with Belgian yeast (mostly to export to us, I think), and breweries such as Brew Dog in Scotland and Mikeller in Denmark are heavily influenced by the American scene.

      I think the Germans may come around too. They have some breweries there who want to experiment a bit more.

      • Jay B.

        There are some delicious Belgium style IPAs floating around on taps in the L.A. area. The best i ever had was a very fresh limited edition barrel from the people who run Fat Tire, I think it was called Belgo. It was transcendent. Stone does a pretty good version called Cal-Belgique. I’m not a huge fan of the Belgian versions — Chouffe, etc. they taste pretty much exactly like traditional goldens– but I love the thought.

        • Mrs Tilton

          Jay, no snark, but what is “Belgian-style IPA”? I have always thought of IPA as an English brewing style, and indeed a relatively obscure one until it became all the rage with American craft brewers.

          • Nathan Williams

            It’s a description being applied to some beers that are brewed strong, hoppy, and fairly pale, like (American) IPAs, but with some Belgian flavors, usually from the yeast.

          • befuggled

            It’s along the lines of a golden ale or a trippel but hopped like an IPA (often with American hops). You can find them made in both America and Belgium. The only one I remember seeing in the wild is Carolus.

  • jc

    Belgium *might* beat the US for Belgian styles (debatable), but the US is far and beyond better for pretty much everything else IMO.

    Try finding a decent, local IPA or stout in Belgium. Now try to find a decent, local quad or sour in the US.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Yes, this is the best case. The variety in the U.S. is amazing, even if one concedes for the sake of argument that the very best Belgian beers are superior.

      • rkd

        Per capita Belgium wins hands down, though.

        • jc

          How so?

          • Malaclypse

            Because all Belgian beer is at least okay. They have nothing as dog-awful as, say, Coors Light.

            • rkd

              Also, 500+ beers in a country of 11 million.

    • Njorl

      Yes, but if you poured all of the beer produced by a country into one big vat, then who would win?

      • MobiusKlein

        wine makers. Who would drink that beer swill all mixed together.

  • ploeg

    From my perspective of course, this is an unadulterated good.

    Or in some cases, an adulterated good.

    Personally, I’m not one to turn up my nose at an occasional Bud Light (though a good Blatz serves the purpose just as well and is a lot less expensive). But let a thousand hops bloom, eh?

  • We are living in a great time to be a beer drinker, but not everyplace is equally favored. Chicago is a surprisingly hard town to find a good brew (although Hopleaf is an exception). You can find good beer in St. Louis, but you have to hunt for it. For a long time the New York metro area wasn’t all that, but it has improved.

    • Michael Furlan

      Chicago, the home of Goose Island, next door to Three Floyds in NW Indiana, a hard place to find a good brew?

      • elm

        Yeah, I immediately thought Goose Island when I read Bill’s comment.

        • wengler

          You mean InBev subsidiary, Goose Island? The same Goose Island that moved production of its signature Chicago beer 312 to an upstate New York Budweiser facility?

          Sorry, this is kind of personal for us that live around here.

          • elm

            Huh, didn’t know that. I moved away from Chicago about a decade ago and guess I didn’t keep up with the local beer scene.

          • Seitz

            First of all, 312 and Honkers really aren’t all that great. Second, if ABInbev wants to give John Hall a ton of money for those brands so that Hall can continue to make Sofie, Madame Rose, Juliet, and the variety of Bourbon County Brand Stouts, among others, that’s fine with me. Goose’s best beers aren’t the ones that are easy to find on shelves.

            • kmfg

              except they paid Hall a ton of money to go away

              • Seitz

                You might be thinking of Greg, not John. Greg is the son. John’s the (former) owner, who is still very much involved in the process.

                • kmfg

                  AH, sorry. At the risk of being completely wrong again I think Greg had a little too much fun after hearing about his payout and got naughty in a chicago bar.

                  Its good to know that they will still be making some of those tasties.

      • The Goose Island line doesn’t do much for me– it seems like the Midwest version of Sam Adams, good in a pinch, certainly better than most mass-produced stuff, but not really all that. In my experience Indiana is uniquely favored with an abundance of terrific beer. Even crappy chains like Fridays have great taps in the Hoosier State.

        And yeah, I know what Hopleaf is. It is an oasis where you can escape the mundane taps that most of Chicago has on offer.

        • kmfg

          Try Maproom, village tap, publican, sheffields, etc.

        • Scott Lemieux

          The Goose Island line doesn’t do much for me– it seems like the Midwest version of Sam Adams, good in a pinch, certainly better than most mass-produced stuff, but not really all that.

          Agreed.

          • Seitz

            See my comment above, but while Goose’s everyday beers are sort of meh, their Belgians and stouts are off the charts good. There’s a reason that Goose had two of the top five beers on BeerAdvocate’s 2010 list.

    • kmfg

      Goose Island
      Half Acre
      Two Brothers
      Three Floyds (Munster IN but, close enuf)

    • kmfg

      and hopleaf is a bar, not a brewery. there are tons of bars in chicago serving all manner of wonderful microbrews.

    • “We are living in a great time to be a beer drinker, but not everyplace is equally favored”

      This is absolutely true, with many parts of the South lagging way behind (though there are some good southern beers).

    • Henry

      Yeah I was surprised about Chicago. Restaurants had very limited selection and Liquor stores were not much better.

    • Scott Lemieux

      It’s not that hard to find Bell’s in Chicago…

      • livex

        It is, in fact, damn easy to find Bell’s in Chicago. Three Floyd’s and even New Glarus, also not too hard. And various Dogfish Heads in plenty of places, too. If you know where to look.

        • Seitz

          Actually, it’s impossible to legally find New Glarus in Chicago. They don’t distribute outside of Wisconsin. You can, however, stock up at the Cheese Castle just over the border. You can also head over to New Buffalo and stock up on Short’s Brewing, which doesn’t distribute outside of Michigan.

          Three Floyds is hard to find on shelves, but a lot of places have it on tap, and they’re always well stocked at the brewpub. I usually make a point to pick up a case when I’m in the area.

          • livex

            hmmm … I could’ve sworn I’ve seen New Glarus about town, but maybe I’m confusing it with a trip to Milwaukee!
            The 3F Alpha King is a fixture at most of my bars!

            • kmfg

              big fan of Dreadnaught

            • Seitz

              I’ve heard there are places that will go pick it up and truck it in from time to time, but I doubt it lasts long. No one officially carries it, though.

              kmfg, have you tried their other double IPA, Arctic Panzer Wolf? I actually like it a bit better than Dreadnaught, but they’re both really good. They have another Pale called Zombie Dust that’s only available on tap right now, but they’re supposed to start bottling it soon. Really delicious.

              • kmfg

                no, I’ll have to pick that up. A buddy used to brew for GI and then went to Three Floyds for a while before hanging it up a few years ago. He would show up at parties w/ mini kegs of gumballhead and all manner of delicious brew. sure was nice.

                I’m a huge fan of Lagunitas as well. I’d like to plan a vacation around that place, have to trick my wife into that somehow

    • There is a really quite good beer selection in the grocery stores like Fairway and even whole foods (esp. the one w/ its own beer store, on Houston street) in New York City. The selection at every corner store might not be great, but there’s a quite good selection at a large number of places if you look.

    • Seitz

      Bill, I think it depends on your expectations. I think just about every Northside bar has at least something acceptable on tap. And more and more places are becoming beer bars. I live around Belmont and Southport, and I can think of at least four places within a five minute walk that have a tremendous selection on tap (Sheffields, Guthries, Beckett’s, and Northdown). Others have already mentioned the Map Room, but there’s also Quenchers, Twisted Spoke, Risque Cafe, Fountainhead, Four Moons, Local Option, etc. Throw in great brewpubs like Piece and Revolution, and we’re pretty lucky.

      I’m to the point where five or six good taps is really all I need out of a bar. Places like Hopleaf are fun, but a huge selection of beers really isn’t much of a turn on for me. It’s nice that you offer 200+ beers, but I’m probably only going to drink three or four, so I don’t need that many.

      It’s also nice to live a short trip away from the Half Acre brewery. Daisy Cutter is, for my money, the best year round brew we have in town, and they do a lot of great one-offs, seasonals, and collaborations. They throw some terrific parties as well.

  • witless chum

    However, in that year, President Carter deregulated the beer industry, allowing the sale of malt, hops, and yeast to home brewers. Thus began the microbrew revolution.

    The Green Lantern theory of presidential beer politics!

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  • Knecht Ruprecht

    Jonathan Bernstein says not so fast.

    • BradP

      Look at that. Another democratic president getting steamrolled by a republican congressman.

    • Left_Wing_Fox

      Nice catch.

    • Ronnie P

      Growing up in western NY, I still will never forget my junior high school social studies teacher waxing on the virtues of the then retiring Barber Conable. She was like our very own David Broder. Never mentioned beer, though.

  • A home brew is a very good thing.

  • A home brew is a very good thing.

  • Apparently by inadvertent double post, a home brew is twice as good as I thought.

  • Apparently by inadvertent double post, a home brew is twice as good as I thought.

    • Bill Murray

      make that 4x as good as you thought

      • RhZ

        There’s the inflation McMegan has been warning us about!

  • jmack

    New Glarus Spotted Cow is quite a good pairing with reading this comment thread.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t know how you define quality beer, but I find it highly questionable to put Belgium and the US in ahead of Germany and the Czech republic in that regard.

    • kg

      Well the US surely has a better representation of various styles of beer, many of which are done to a very high quality so there’s that.

  • Odder

    I’ll certainly side with the US if pitted against Belgium in brew quality: never been a fan of Belgians. More of a hophead here, and the B-brews tend toward that sour tang that reminds me way too much of my father’s truly crappy homebrew made in the 60s with Blue Ribbon malt syrup, cane sugar, water, and baker’s yeast– period.

  • buckyblue

    Grew up in the Nort’west with Hanks, Rainier (which had the best commercials), Olympia and a little later, Red Hook. In the cheese/beer state now and plenty of local microbrews on tap around the region. Just over at BW3’s picking up take-out wings and had a Sprecher Amber, much better than the Spotted Cow, IMHO. Always drink American, or cheeseheady, if I can. Water St. in Milwaukee has no less than four brew pubs in a one mile distance, the best being the Milwaukee Ale House. No reason to drink the European stuff.

  • Anonymous

    “Not only has it allowed the United States to become second only to Belgium in the production of quality beer (and I’ll take an argument that the US is #1)”

    Whoa. Number one to _Belgium_ in “quality beer”? Let’s not get carried away.

    @ second to none in my love of American IPA and other microbrews, but let’s keep SOME perspective here

  • Oh come on now

    Gee whiz, another tiresome beer thread featuring a bunch of kids who probably wouldn’t know a gutter if they were rolling around in one.

    • Halloween Jack

      You must be looking for the Buckfast thread, son.

  • joejoejoe

    The Carter-era Department of Justice either brought or threatened to bring an antitrust suit against the proposed merger of Schlitz and G. Heilmann Brewing (makers of Old Style). I’m not sure if this move helped or hurt the move towards better quality beer. Schlitz used to be a peer of Miller and Anheiser-Busch in the brewing business. I read the antitrust tidbit in a history of brewing and always wanted to read more about the politics of the decision.

  • nice strategy

    Are the best German beers even being exported? I went to a brewpub in Berlin in the early 1990s that was mindblowingly good. Based on my experience, Belgium #1, US #2. Not being a hophead, the IPA trend has grown tiresome for me and US brewers are obsessed with the stuff.

    • (the other) Davis

      This. As a non-hophead, during my long stint in Seattle the only way I could avoid the NW tendency to hop beers into oblivion was to seek out bars that provided a solid selection of Belgians (thank you Brouwers). Belgium at least has a nice variety of beer styles that suits all tastes, from sweet to hoppy to sour: dubbels, tripels, brown ales, sour reds, lambics (ok, those are nasty, but still).

      • Linnaeus

        Yep. I made this same observation on another beer thread w/r/t Pacific NW beers. Lots of good stuff, but lots of not very good stuff masquerading as good because of the damn hops. I now make a point of drinking the least hoppy beers I can find when I go to a brewpub or some place similar.

    • Yeah, I find most US microbrews to be horribly unbalanced (read crappy). Give them another 300+ years of experience like the Europeans, and they might find some subtlety.

  • As a Canuck, I am honour bound to pull out my inferiority complex and wave it in your faces.

    • Malaclypse

      If it helps, I’m so old that I remember when Moosehead was considered to be good beer.

    • Hogan

      Dude, try some Fin du Monde or Maudite (from Unibroue in Quebec). That’ll put some spark in your “eh?”

      • Geez, Ontario’s even got it’s own Craft Brewers association and here y’all are talking aboat teh eastwardly provinces.

        From Unibroue, I’m partial to Trois-Pistoles. Not just because it suits my taste really well, but also because TROIS-PISTOLES!!! is great to yell when your drunk. Although it is a bit dark for a summer beer.

  • CJColucci

    How about we all go out for a few beers?

  • A diabetes diagnosis has greatly limited my beer consumption in the last year, but having lived in Germany, there were some good beers when I lived there, but Belgium in my me ory has always been better.

    I also think it’s safe to say that the better beers are brewed in countries with colder climates. I could not find good local beer in Spain, Portugal and Italy. Brazil, with the exception of Xingu Preto and Caracu (if you’re desperate) has awful beers in my experience: light and watery and Brahma’s malzebier is like beer flavored soda pop. Brazilians living here love Coors Light and Bud.

    Of course if you’re going to drink in Brazil, caipirinhas are much better and in Spain, Italy and Portugal, the wines are much better.

    • Got to give Brazil credit though, those beers may be crappy, but they are very, very cold.

      • Tru that, but caipirinhas are even colder :-)

    • Devassa was just becoming big in Rio when I first visited there in 2005, and it was remarkably good. They even had styles (a blonde lager, a red ale, an IPA, and a porter). Of course, Brazilians originally hated the “strong” taste (read: any taste at all), but in the 18 months that I was there between 2006 and 2008, it was becoming increasingly popular among the Brazilian population as their palate for actually tasty (rather than just below-zero) beer grew. I found this remarkably encouraging, and it was still going strong in 2009, though I haven’t been back since. That said, I’m not sure of Devassa’s availability outside of Rio.

  • Mrs Tilton

    A question to the American readership. Is there any really drinkable American mass-market beer? I don’t mean some exquisite craft-brewed nectar made from heirloom hops massaged daily with Kobe beef and bottled in individually-blown quartz-crystal flasks. I mean stuff you’d pick up at the 7-11, or find in a bar that serves PBR non-ironically, if such a thing exist.

    I found Yuengling’s surprisingly good (soft bigotry of low expectations, yes; but I actually enjoyed drinking it.) I understand it’s pretty regional, though.

    • Sam Adams, IMHO

    • Sierra Nevada is basically mass-market beer.

    • Also, Anchor Steam and Anchor Porter is pretty good.

    • Linnaeus

      I don’t mean some exquisite craft-brewed nectar made from heirloom hops massaged daily with Kobe beef and bottled in individually-blown quartz-crystal flasks.

      You really should copyright this statement. Not only is it funny, it’s a a good reminder to check oneself every now and then.

    • Halloween Jack

      That depends on what you personally peg as “mass market”. If Sam Adams doesn’t count, or if you don’t find it acceptable, I don’t really know what to say. (If it’s the latter, then I’d basically give the same suggestion that I give to people who think that Starbucks makes bad coffee: remember what it was like before they came around, in over 90% of the country.)

  • stickler

    Mrs. Tilton:

    Sam Adams is, essentially, the Starbucks of American beer. Not the best by a long shot, but available everywhere. When you’re stuck in a beer desert, Sam Adams will be there for you.

    Starbucks may be kind of crappy coffee, but it’s light years better than Folgers in a can. Same thing with Sam Adams: I wouldn’t buy it intentionally in Oregon, but if I’m stuck in French Lick, Indiana, and it’s Sam Adams or BudMillOors, well, then the equation changes…

    • Halloween Jack

      Oh, you made about exactly the same point that I did.

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    • AM

      Yes, that is a picture of Billy Carter, the ne’er-do-well drunken brother of Jimmy, who may be a teetotaller (not sure, but he is certainly a traditional/religious type). Billy was briefly famous in the 1970s when he lent his name to Billy Beer. It was not good beer, which I can personally attest to. In fact, when Billy was asked what he thought of Billy Beer, he said it tasted like motor oil (or something to that effect). Not the sharpest marketer.

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  • Goaltender66

    The post isn’t quite accurate. Carter didn’t deregulate the sale of malt, hops, and yeast to private people, because sale of that was never regulated to begin with.

    What Carter did was remove (or more properly, clarify) the regulations about homebrewing. Specifically, in the enabling regulations enacted with Prohibition’s repeal, the ban against homebrewing beer wasn’t expressly lifted, some would say because of a clerical oversight. Carter signed the bill enabling the homebrewing of 100 gallons of beer per person (or 200 gallons per household) per year. This created a beer underground as people started brewing beer at home as a way to make brews unavailable in the market. The underground turned mainstream about ten years later and the rest is history.

    So in a way I guess we have Carter to thank for signing the bill, but he didn’t do what the post suggests he did.

  • Robin

    Where are you getting your facts to substantiate the statement “the United States to become second only to Belgium in the production of quality beer”?

    Are you talking about quantity? In which case, that’s a pretty dull point for such a large country. If it’s genuine quality, then I don’t think the US is second in the world.

    Perhaps Belgium is indeed first, but I think the US has a few more European countries in front of it as well. What about Germany, Austria and the UK?

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  • Sue

    Hate to tell you this, but this is BILLY Beer. If you look at wikipedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Beer you can see the quote that you have incorrectly attributed to President Carter.

    • No it isn’t, it’s Jimmy Carter beer.

      • elm

        This is impressive. A week after the post is made, and a week after the mocking of another person who made the same reading comprehension mistake, someone else comes along and doesn’t realize that Erik is not claiming the guy in the picture is Jimmy.

        • Malaclypse

          It is the sneering condescension of the “Hate to tell you this, but…” that really tied the comment together.

        • I have a confession to make–I actually thought the man in question selling the beer was neither Jimmy Carter nor Billy Carter, but June Carter.

          • mark f

            She sang “Slip Away,” right?

            • Hate to tell you this, but “Slip Away” was sung by a man — Vince Carter, in fact.

              • Vince Carter? Hell, I thought it was sung by Carter Glass.

              • Malaclypse

                I used to be a liberal, but Berube’s sneering elitist condescension regarding one of baseball’s greatest goaltenders makes me want to bomb Syria.

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