Tag: Beer

Schlitz is a Business School Case Study

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I never knew what happened to Schlitz. When I was a little kid, I remember seeing Schlitz all over the place and thinking it was “the” beer. By the time I started drinking, it was one of those beers I’d drink because I could get a case for $5 (in the 1980s), putting it in the category of Buckhorn, Blatz, Red White and Blue, and Beer (the generic “brand”).

It isn’t just my murky childhood memory. Schlitz was the beer. In fact, for much of the twentieth century, it and Budweiser duked it out for top beer in the United States. But then Budweiser took over that top spot in the late 1950s with effective marketing, and Schlitz fell decidedly to number two.

In response, it decided it would become the most profitable beer in the U.S. and started to slash production costs (now called the “Schlitz Mistake”). When drinkers noticed and its sales plummeted, it responded with an awful marketing campaign that seemed to threaten viewers (now laughingly called the “drink Schlitz or I’ll kill you” campaign).

It’s all laid out in this article that I stumbled across last night.Read the rest

Killing Trappist Beer

The Trappist brewers are getting old

This is one of the saddest drinking stories of the past few months: Trappist beers are declining due to a lack of new vocations.

The Trappists don’t screw around: The Authentic Trappist Product label is only given to beers that are

  • made in the immediate surroundings of an abbey,
  • produced under the supervision of monks and
  • sold to fund the monastery and for charitable works.

If you lack one of those things, like a brewer monk, you don’t get the label.

Monastic vocations have fallen off a cliff, especially in Belgium, the “spiritual home of Trappist beers.” There are still five or six Trappist breweries and 100 brewer monks in Belgium, but most of them are older (this article says at least one is in his early 30s). I gotta believe they’re going to start dropping like flies around the corn-mash vat.

We need an updated Seven Storey Mountain in Flemish. Merton published his autobiography in 1949. By 1950, monastic vocations were surging. From Wikipedia:

“The book has served as a powerful recruitment tool for the priestly life in general, and for the monastic orders in particular. In the 1950s, Gethsemani Abbey and the other Trappist monasteries experienced a surge in young men presenting themselves for the cenobitic life. It is a well-known bit of Catholic lore that, after the book’s publication, many priests entered monasteries or seminaries with a copy in their suitcase.”

From Belgianhappiness.com:

10 Trappist breweries worldwide

“Worldwide there are only 10 Trappist abbeys where Trappist beer is brewed. Six of them are Belgian Trappist breweries: AchelChimay, OrvalRochefortWestmalle and Westvleteren.

“In The Netherlands there are two Trappist breweries: La Trappe and Zundert. In Austria there is the Engelszell … Read the rest

Black Wednesday Arriveth

You can pick up that nifty shirt at this site.

Of course, it’s too late to get the shirt this year, but heck, everything is too late this year. We should’ve had Black Wednesday in October, before the newest wave of lockdowns occurred.

Me? I thought about defying Michigan’s order, but I’m not. I’m having a handful of people stop by, but due to the various times they’re stopping by, I should be in compliance with the order at all times. My goal is to have a drink with as many different friends and family without doing so irresponsibly.

For good measure, though, I’ll have the windows open and air purifiers cranking.

I was going to play my Spotify “Garage Rock Elite” playlist, but it promises to be a more laid-back affair, so I might go with my “Mellow” list. We’ll see.

My “Garage Rock Elite” playlist has a bunch of songs I’d never heard. A partial list:

“Demolicion,” by Los Saicos (for fans of Peru punk garage rock from the 1960s),

“Don’t Ring,” Come on In, by The Ding-Dongs,

“Tall Cool One,” by the Kingsmen,

“Chicken Half,” by the Sugarman 3,

“Older Guys,” by the Flying Burrito Brothers,

“Rudie Can’t Fail,” by the Clash,

“Brand New Cadillac,” by the Clash,

“Subterranean Homesick Blues,” by Harry Nilsson

“I’m No Count,” by Ty Wagner,

“Voodoo Cadillac,” by Southern Culture on the Skids

If your favorite Black Wednesday watering hole is shuttered by the science, crank these songs out, pour yourself a whiskey, and jam quietly by yourself. If you want the entire playlist, the Spotify playlist (“Garage Rock Elite”) is under “eric.”

And maybe you can enjoy those tunes in your garage.

The weather is unseasonably warm in most areas, and it keeps you in the fresh air, where … Read the rest

How We Can Still Celebrate Holiday Drinking in These Troubling Days?

Black Wednesday looms, though I’m not sure I should refer to it as “Black Wednesday.”

The decadents think it’s a shortened version of “Black-out Wednesday,” but it’s not. It’s a play off “Black Friday,” which is “black” because retailers turn huge profits that day. “Black Wednesday” is black because it turns huge profits for bars.

But not this year.

One of my bar clients told me this week that he had been eking along, breaking even over the course of the year, hanging on for Black Wednesday and the following three weeks, which are his biggest weeks of the year.

And Whitmer has shut him down.

“For the public good” you say?

I don’t want to turn this week’s “Drinking Matters” column into a screed (this column is supposed to be a celebration—joyful—not a critical jeremiad), but if you believe these shutdowns are a good idea, please consider the other side and the impressive mound of counter-facts.

A great place to start is The Tom Woods Show. Tom has pretty much destroyed the notion that these lockdowns are a good idea. He doesn’t deny COVID is a risk (though he disagrees it’s as dangerous as the Whitmers of the world want us to believe). He just denies that the lockdowns make any difference . . . and presents the facts to prove it.

If you don’t listen to podcasts, you can try his free e-book about lockdowns. I haven’t read it, but it looks pretty good. (You’ll probably have to give Tom your email address in order to get the book.)

“Living Room Bar,” E. Studs Mulligan

So what good drinking news is out there?

Plenty. For starters, we are on the eve of festive drinking. I’m a fan of Zen drinking: by myself, contemplating, maybe a book in … Read the rest

How Many Beers Does It Take to Find the Tao?

C.S. Lewis would’ve said “zero.” It’s the Tao that helps you find the beer.

It is Nature, it is the Way, the Road. It is the Way in which the universe goes on, the Way in which things everlastingly emerge, stilly and tranquilly, into space and time. It is also the Way which every man should tread in imitation of that cosmic and supercosmic progression, conforming all activities to that great exemplar.

That’s C.S. Lewis writing about the Tao in his famous book, The Abolition of Man. Since the book’s publication in 1947, Lewis’s name has been associated with the Tao because of his love and respect for the natural law it embodies.

But I associate Lewis with the Tao for a different reason: his beer drinking.

You see, Lewis spent many Tuesday mornings at the Eagle and Child public house drinking beer with J.R.R. Tolkien and other friends.

It’s vintage Lewis. Although he was at times melancholy, Lewis could find enjoyment almost anywhere doing almost anything: attending church, taking long country walks, living at his humble Kilns, tutoring students, writing theology or children’s fiction, teaching.

The difference between enjoying and enjoying the enjoying

Lewis’s capacity for enjoyment stemmed at least partly from the early influence of a little-known Australian philosopher named Samuel Alexander.

Alexander pointed out the distinction between enjoying something and being aware of the enjoying. Here’s how Lewis put it:

“Enjoyment and the contemplation of our inner activities are incompatible. You cannot hope and also think about hoping at the same moment. Of course, the two activities can and do alternate with great rapidity, but they are distinct and incompatible. . . The surest way of spoiling a pleasure [is] to start examining your satisfaction. . . [N]early everything that was going on a moment

Read the rest