Ave Maria: Bobby McFerrin Accompanies His Own Audience

Published in: on May 31, 2007 at 6:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

My World Today

You know, the filter. An error. The translation.
There was an encounter. Cry for me, Argentina.


Published in: on May 30, 2007 at 4:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

My World Today

You know, the filter. An error. The translation.
There was an encounter. Cry for me, Argentina.


Published in: on May 30, 2007 at 4:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

California Guitar Trio’s Bohemian Rhapsody

Before we were married, Jodie and I went to see these guys at the Cactus Cafe. When they broke out this tune, everybody started singing along, just like here. They commented that Austin sang it better than anywhere they’d ever played. Polishing nails on shirt. But these Québécois et Québécoises grab mikes and take to the stage with it (my French is bad, but I think he says, “dans la prochaine chanson, nous vous invitons à chanter” – “in the next song, we invite you to sing”)


Incidentally, The Cactus was where we saw Susan Werner on Valentines Day, the night I proposed.

Published in: on May 24, 2007 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

California Guitar Trio’s Bohemian Rhapsody

Before we were married, Jodie and I went to see these guys at the Cactus Cafe. When they broke out this tune, everybody started singing along, just like here. They commented that Austin sang it better than anywhere they’d ever played. Polishing nails on shirt. But these Québécois et Québécoises grab mikes and take to the stage with it (my French is bad, but I think he says, “dans la prochaine chanson, nous vous invitons à chanter” – “in the next song, we invite you to sing”)


Incidentally, The Cactus was where we saw Susan Werner on Valentines Day, the night I proposed.

Published in: on May 24, 2007 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thanks, FG. I Needed That.

I got my recommended daily with this one. Maybe it’s my love of Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day,” the ’80s thing, Al Gore as prez, or the 2500 times Francesca and I watched “Back to the Future” when she was 5. This kept me laughing for a good long time. I am better now.

Published in: on May 24, 2007 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thanks, FG. I Needed That.

I got my recommended daily with this one. Maybe it’s my love of Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day,” the ’80s thing, Al Gore as prez, or the 2500 times Francesca and I watched “Back to the Future” when she was 5. This kept me laughing for a good long time. I am better now.

Published in: on May 24, 2007 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

My Response to "In Praise of Budweiser"

(Bradley Dot Johnson shot Cleb and me a link to this article, from crookedtimber.org. My notes in red. I slaved away in a Texas microbrewery, which humbled me to the conviction that knowing how to drink beer doesn’t mean you know how to make it. And I’m still wondering why the author thinks Bud tastes good. Daniel, please don’t sue me. I don’t really think you do crank, or know nothing about brewing. Wait, only one of those is true. )

In Praise of Budweiser
(contains extended footnotes)
(Because the author was on day two of an extended crank binge)

Posted by Daniel

I tend to regard myself as Crooked Timber’s online myrmidon of a number of rather unpopular views; among other things, as regular readers will have seen, I believe that the incitement to religious hatred legislation was a good idea (perhaps badly executed), that John Searle has it more or less correct on the subject of artificial intelligence, that Jacques Derrida deserves his high reputation and that George Orwell was not even in the top three essayists of the twentieth century[1]. I’m a fan of Welsh nationalism. Oh yes, the Kosovo intervention was a crock too. At some subconscious level I am aware that my ideas about education are both idiotic and unspeakable. But I think that all of these causes are regarded as at least borderline sane by at least one fellow CT contributor. There is only one major issue on which I stand completely alone, reviled by all. And it’s this; Budweiser (by which I mean the real Budweiser, the beer which has been sold under that brand by Anheuser-Busch since 1876) is really quite a good beer. I have been threatening this post in comments for a while now, and here it is:

I am perhaps biased in this because Budweiser was the beer I was brought up on. When I was a kid, we lived in Oklahoma for a couple of years, which was at the time one of the states where the brewers sold beer that was 3.2% alcohol in order to comply with local regulations. My mum and dad therefore reasoned that it was a suitable beverage for ten-year-olds to have with Sunday lunch[2]. I didn’t actually like beer all that much at the time and only took a few sips in order to feel grown up, but I suspect that it probably had some formative effect.

So anyway, anti-Budweiserism, the form of mindless anti-Americanism that even anti-anti-Americans are prepared to endorse. The facts of the matter are as set out below: (by the way, I heartily recommend Maureen Ogle’s book “Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer (which has not gone down well with beer snobs. And just because I’m so happy to have found the Ogle book, here’s her blog)

  • Budweiser has been around for at least as long as your “traditional” British ales, most of which also date back to the Victorian period (No, it hasn’t. “Most” date back to the Victorian period because they’ve been around for an additional 400 years or so) . The Anheuser-Busch company began selling it in 1876. This was a full 20 years before the Budvar brewery in Ceske Budejowice was even built, (Budweiser [literally, “from Budweis”] has been brewed since 1265. Like all good marketers, A-B wanted to associate their product with a region of the world that had an historical craft tradition; Bordeaux, Scotch, Champagne. Doesn’t someone claim to be the Champagne of beers? Who’s really the Budweiser of beers? That just blew my mind) a subject I will come back to. The recipe has not changed since then, apart from a period during Prohibition when the alcohol content was reduced to 0.5% in order to comply with the law. It is an authentic, traditional product just like the ones CAMRA promotes (If you say so, Scooter. But only if authentic means “derivative,” and “traditional” means “relatively new”).
  • Budweiser is not “full of chemicals”(Well, not “full,” but it definitely contains added chemicals, mostly used to adjust the water chemistry. So that’s kind of a weasly statement). It does not comply with the German “Purity Law”, but this is because it has a non-barley grain in it (rice). The Rheinheitsgebot is a stupid law in any case, and was originally passed not to safeguard the sacred purity of German fluids (a concept that ought to be regarded as suspicious in its own right, as history has shown that when the Germans get keen on “purity” it is not always a wholly positive development) but to preserve wheat for making bread. Budweiser is brewed with barley, hops, yeast and rice, and has a small amount of tannin in it from the beech chips used in conditioning (Looks like he fell for that “beech wood aging” crap too. Wood tannin, in extracted chemical form, is added and then filtered out to support a meaningless marketing gimmick). It’s a natural product. It is not “processed” either; it’s filtered to remove sediment (in other words, it’s a lager (Wow. “Lager” means “filter?” I’m not sure he’s familiar with basic brewing terms)) and the bottled version is pasteurised, like Budvar or Guinness (Wait, I thought he just said it wasn’t processed. The processes described define processed beer, as opposed to unfiltered, unpasteurized craft beer). Unlike Guinness, however, it isn’t served using a nitrokeg process (Nitrogen infusion? What has that got to do with the price of hops in China? Again, Newbie Brewing 101, guy).
  • Budweiser has rice in it. So what? So do Asahi and Kirin of Japan, Bintang of Indonesia and Efes of Turkey, and nobody has such a hate on about them (Yeah, but nobody’s forced to drink it outside those countries. Believe me, that beer tastes weak too). Lots of the people who claim to hate Budweiser will out of the same mouth discourse long and pretentious about the merits of sake. Rice is a perfectly sensible bulk grain to make beer out of if you want a light lager, particularly in countries like America which grow a protein-rich strain of barley. Plenty of real ale types will maintain that Anheuser-Busch uses rice in its brewing in order to save money, which shows a worrying lack of curiosity, as anyone making this argument can’t possibly have looked at the price of rice and the price of barley (Worried about your curiosity? Growing, malting and kilning barley turns it into one of the most expensive grains there is. Malted 2-row barley has always, and always will, cost around 5 times what rice costs). Adolphus Busch in 1876 was a German master brewer of exactly the sort that beer nuts go gooey over, he was trying to make a high quality beer (as proved by Budweiser’s use of expensive Saaz hops (in the smallest amounts possible without eliminating them entirely), and he decided that the best way to brew a lager was to use rice (and that decision was to be a cheap bastard and cut his grainbill in half with rice, instead of brewing even a 60% barley beer. “The best” to Adolphus meant “the cheapest possible before it starts to taste like hopped saki”).
  • Budweiser does not taste like piss. Normal urine has a pH of 4.6 to 8.0. Budweiser, like most lagers, has a pH of around 4.0. Therefore, Budweiser is definitely more acidic than piss. It’s also just the ticket if you happen to be drinking beer for breakfast, as the fresh taste of the rice content goes particularly well with most cereals (it is not coincidental that nobody has yet marketed Barley Krispies) (ah! ha! You said “piss.” Twice. Such rapier wit).
  • Budweiser is not for poofs. In fact, it is Bud Light which is the Anheuser-Busch brand targeted at the gay community, not Adolphus Busch’s original recipe (ah! ha! Such ironically homophobic intonations).
  • No, bollocks to your “microbreweries”. These so-called “craft brewers” are a newfangled modern invention and have very little to do with the traditions of the brewing industry (Agreed. I want nothing to do with industrial brewing). We have no real way of knowing what beer tasted like in Ye Olden Days Of Bavaria Etc, but it was probably horrible. Beer as it is drunk today is a product of the Industrial Revolution; it was arguably the first recognisably modern industry. It is not an artisanal product and up until very recently could not be produced in small batches at all with any acceptable consistency of quality. “Microbrews” are in general wildly overpriced – some of them are quite nice because they use extremely expensive ingredients, but they are not intrinsically better than industrially produced beers. There are good and bad industrially produced beers – I am only arguing here that Budweiser is one of the good ones, because it has an excellent pedigree, it is 100% natural, the recipe has never been altered and it has never compromised on the quality of ingredients. This is not true of a lot of competing American (and Australian, the sad state of whose brewing industry probably merits a post from someone more familiar with it than me) beers (What insightful and informed opinions. Thanks for sharing. Still no mention of why Bud tastes as good, or better, than beer made with purely malted barley and detectable IBU levels, in batches less than 15,000 barrels a year (against 40 million). I’ve yet to be convinced the author drinks Bud for any other reason than to cop a cheap buzz, albeit a righteous one. Of course, for that I can’t fault anyone. Solid. Respect).
  • Budweiser did not rip off the poor little Czech government. Budweiser did not steal the Czechs brand name. Budweiser is not a copy of Budvar. Budvar is not the original Budweiser. Budweiser does not use malicious lawsuits to keep the honest Czechs down. And a number of related issues. Ahem. (Apparently the author’s summarizing Ogle’s book, which he apparently didn’t fact check, and manipulates to prove a weak thesis, à la Coulter. Ahem indeed)

As I mentioned above, there is no question at all over which beer has been sold for the longest under the brand name “Budweiser”. It is the Anheuser-Busch product. The Budejowicky Budvar brewery sold beer under the brand name “Budvar”, (because that’s what the brewery is called) for most of its history until in the 1960s they realised that they might be able to stick on a few export sales if they put “Budweiser” in bigger type on the labels (Without a citation in his manic footnote collection, this just sounds ad hominem. Anheuser-Busch didn’t magically pull the name out of the air, as he implies in the next sentence).

Anheuser-Busch had got the trademark on “Budweiser” internationally, and defended it in a pretty reasonable fashion. It is true that “Budweiser” is a generic term for beer from Budweis in the same fashion as “Pilsner”. (I parametrically note that the word “Budweiser” seems to me to be the only German place name that Czech nationalists get all proprietorial about (“Budweis” is spelled this way in Czech, in the same way “Deutsch” is spelled “German” in English, which the author would know if he “parametrically” possessed any of those languages), with the possible exception of Prague/Praha. IMO, if they want to be consistent, we should go back to Budweis, Pilsen, Carlsbad, and in general fewer diacritics on the road signs). But of course, Budvar didn’t want to establish it as a generic term – they wanted to claim the “Budweiser” trademark for themselves (Again, says who? I could say that Adolphus wore hop-flowered dresses on the brew floor, but where is this supported?). “Bavaria” is also a pretty generic term, by the way, but somehow the Bavarians, who certainly care about their beer, don’t get so bent out of shape about it being trademarked by the Dutch (What? You can’t order a “Bavarian” in a bar because no such brand exists, Dutch or otherwise. Dude, at this point, we’re just making shit up).

However, in a number of European countries, Anheuser-Busch have either lost judgements or ended up settling out of court on disadvantageous terms to themselves (mainly France and Germany; Budweiser is marketed as “Bud” in a lot of Mediterranean countries, but this is because the name is easier to pronounce).

On the merits of the case, it appears to me that A-B have got pretty badly screwed in quite a few jurisdictions (Aww, poor, poor A-B. I cry myself to sleep every night). As a pure trademark case, it certainly seems that they have got priority, so the Czechs’ case tends to revolve around “Budweiser” being a geographical indication. But this really doesn’t fit in with the reality of the brewing industry. Beer is an industrial product, not an agricultural one (Ha! It’s true: thin, insipid, heavily processed beers are certainly industrial products, and taste that way. But real ale and lager is, dare I say, by definition an agricultural chef-d’oeuvre. Bud is to any Czech pils as hot dogs are to pheasant). It’s made from grain, a standardised commodity. Breweries can and do move from one location to another. There’s no real basis for a geographic appellation scheme for beer (Drivel. Beer and wine appellation is, and always will be, derivative of their indigenous ingredients. Unless, like Bud, it’s so generic and ball-less it can be made out of shipped-in groceries from any Giant or HEB).

It seems not impossible to me (it sounds not unpretentious to me) that in a few cases, the legal judgements may have been coloured by the prejudices of beer snobs for a beer that wasn’t Budweiser. It wouldn’t be the first time it had happened.. The notorious “Beer Orders” of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission in 1989 were basically a love letter to Camra. They had very little economic reasoning (the consumer interest in the beer market was in local monopolies in pubs, not large brewers) and they did very little to halt the slow decline of the independent UK brewing sector – all they did was create the “Pubco” specialist pub operating companies which – guess what – the real ale types are now whining about. (John Kay thinks that the Beer Orders were good for the licensed trade, but not in a way which the connoisseur would find congenial) (Uhhh…he lost me. Must be a Brit thing. I thought we were talking about how the self-coroneted American zymurgic king tastes like high-quality beer. Wait- didn’t this guy claim to be part Okie?!).

People seem to lose all rationality when dealing with things like beer (As this barely-reasoned, excessively winded diatribe definitively proves). Football clubs are a bit similar – all sorts of idiotic and dishonest business practices are tolerated there, and people like Simon Jordan who try to insist that people honour contracts, tell the truth and don’t self-deal in business transactions get disciplinary hearings and dark mutterings that they are “not football people”. Meanwhile, it seems pretty clear to me that if Robert Mugabe were to buy West Ham tomorrow and promise to spend £100m on players, he’d be described as “a slightly controversial figure, but beloved in East London” by the end of the week. One good thing about countries like America where everyone with an income greater than a subsistence farmer but less than a Russian oligarch calls themselves “middle class” is that they don’t have this phenomenon of sensible middle class people doing silly things in order to pretend to be working class. Another good thing about America, of course, is Budweiser beer (Another good thing about chuckleheads like this guy [and bad thing about the internet] is their “both idiotic and unspeakable” opinions tend to stay in one tiny pub in one tiny village in one tiny country off the coast of Belgium, where truly delicious beer can actually be had. Now go fetch me a Lone Star, Goddammit)

Published in: on May 24, 2007 at 4:03 am  Leave a Comment  

My Response to "In Praise of Budweiser"

(Bradley Dot Johnson shot Cleb and me a link to this article, from crookedtimber.org. My notes in red. I slaved away in a Texas microbrewery, which humbled me to the conviction that knowing how to drink beer doesn’t mean you know how to make it. And I’m still wondering why the author thinks Bud tastes good. Daniel, please don’t sue me. I don’t really think you do crank, or know nothing about brewing. Wait, only one of those is true. )

In Praise of Budweiser
(contains extended footnotes)
(Because the author was on day two of an extended crank binge)

Posted by Daniel

I tend to regard myself as Crooked Timber’s online myrmidon of a number of rather unpopular views; among other things, as regular readers will have seen, I believe that the incitement to religious hatred legislation was a good idea (perhaps badly executed), that John Searle has it more or less correct on the subject of artificial intelligence, that Jacques Derrida deserves his high reputation and that George Orwell was not even in the top three essayists of the twentieth century[1]. I’m a fan of Welsh nationalism. Oh yes, the Kosovo intervention was a crock too. At some subconscious level I am aware that my ideas about education are both idiotic and unspeakable. But I think that all of these causes are regarded as at least borderline sane by at least one fellow CT contributor. There is only one major issue on which I stand completely alone, reviled by all. And it’s this; Budweiser (by which I mean the real Budweiser, the beer which has been sold under that brand by Anheuser-Busch since 1876) is really quite a good beer. I have been threatening this post in comments for a while now, and here it is:

I am perhaps biased in this because Budweiser was the beer I was brought up on. When I was a kid, we lived in Oklahoma for a couple of years, which was at the time one of the states where the brewers sold beer that was 3.2% alcohol in order to comply with local regulations. My mum and dad therefore reasoned that it was a suitable beverage for ten-year-olds to have with Sunday lunch[2]. I didn’t actually like beer all that much at the time and only took a few sips in order to feel grown up, but I suspect that it probably had some formative effect.

So anyway, anti-Budweiserism, the form of mindless anti-Americanism that even anti-anti-Americans are prepared to endorse. The facts of the matter are as set out below: (by the way, I heartily recommend Maureen Ogle’s book “Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer (which has not gone down well with beer snobs. And just because I’m so happy to have found the Ogle book, here’s her blog)

  • Budweiser has been around for at least as long as your “traditional” British ales, most of which also date back to the Victorian period (No, it hasn’t. “Most” date back to the Victorian period because they’ve been around for an additional 400 years or so) . The Anheuser-Busch company began selling it in 1876. This was a full 20 years before the Budvar brewery in Ceske Budejowice was even built, (Budweiser [literally, “from Budweis”] has been brewed since 1265. Like all good marketers, A-B wanted to associate their product with a region of the world that had an historical craft tradition; Bordeaux, Scotch, Champagne. Doesn’t someone claim to be the Champagne of beers? Who’s really the Budweiser of beers? That just blew my mind) a subject I will come back to. The recipe has not changed since then, apart from a period during Prohibition when the alcohol content was reduced to 0.5% in order to comply with the law. It is an authentic, traditional product just like the ones CAMRA promotes (If you say so, Scooter. But only if authentic means “derivative,” and “traditional” means “relatively new”).
  • Budweiser is not “full of chemicals”(Well, not “full,” but it definitely contains added chemicals, mostly used to adjust the water chemistry. So that’s kind of a weasly statement). It does not comply with the German “Purity Law”, but this is because it has a non-barley grain in it (rice). The Rheinheitsgebot is a stupid law in any case, and was originally passed not to safeguard the sacred purity of German fluids (a concept that ought to be regarded as suspicious in its own right, as history has shown that when the Germans get keen on “purity” it is not always a wholly positive development) but to preserve wheat for making bread. Budweiser is brewed with barley, hops, yeast and rice, and has a small amount of tannin in it from the beech chips used in conditioning (Looks like he fell for that “beech wood aging” crap too. Wood tannin, in extracted chemical form, is added and then filtered out to support a meaningless marketing gimmick). It’s a natural product. It is not “processed” either; it’s filtered to remove sediment (in other words, it’s a lager (Wow. “Lager” means “filter?” I’m not sure he’s familiar with basic brewing terms)) and the bottled version is pasteurised, like Budvar or Guinness (Wait, I thought he just said it wasn’t processed. The processes described define processed beer, as opposed to unfiltered, unpasteurized craft beer). Unlike Guinness, however, it isn’t served using a nitrokeg process (Nitrogen infusion? What has that got to do with the price of hops in China? Again, Newbie Brewing 101, guy).
  • Budweiser has rice in it. So what? So do Asahi and Kirin of Japan, Bintang of Indonesia and Efes of Turkey, and nobody has such a hate on about them (Yeah, but nobody’s forced to drink it outside those countries. Believe me, that beer tastes weak too). Lots of the people who claim to hate Budweiser will out of the same mouth discourse long and pretentious about the merits of sake. Rice is a perfectly sensible bulk grain to make beer out of if you want a light lager, particularly in countries like America which grow a protein-rich strain of barley. Plenty of real ale types will maintain that Anheuser-Busch uses rice in its brewing in order to save money, which shows a worrying lack of curiosity, as anyone making this argument can’t possibly have looked at the price of rice and the price of barley (Worried about your curiosity? Growing, malting and kilning barley turns it into one of the most expensive grains there is. Malted 2-row barley has always, and always will, cost around 5 times what rice costs). Adolphus Busch in 1876 was a German master brewer of exactly the sort that beer nuts go gooey over, he was trying to make a high quality beer (as proved by Budweiser’s use of expensive Saaz hops (in the smallest amounts possible without eliminating them entirely), and he decided that the best way to brew a lager was to use rice (and that decision was to be a cheap bastard and cut his grainbill in half with rice, instead of brewing even a 60% barley beer. “The best” to Adolphus meant “the cheapest possible before it starts to taste like hopped saki”).
  • Budweiser does not taste like piss. Normal urine has a pH of 4.6 to 8.0. Budweiser, like most lagers, has a pH of around 4.0. Therefore, Budweiser is definitely more acidic than piss. It’s also just the ticket if you happen to be drinking beer for breakfast, as the fresh taste of the rice content goes particularly well with most cereals (it is not coincidental that nobody has yet marketed Barley Krispies) (ah! ha! You said “piss.” Twice. Such rapier wit).
  • Budweiser is not for poofs. In fact, it is Bud Light which is the Anheuser-Busch brand targeted at the gay community, not Adolphus Busch’s original recipe (ah! ha! Such ironically homophobic intonations).
  • No, bollocks to your “microbreweries”. These so-called “craft brewers” are a newfangled modern invention and have very little to do with the traditions of the brewing industry (Agreed. I want nothing to do with industrial brewing). We have no real way of knowing what beer tasted like in Ye Olden Days Of Bavaria Etc, but it was probably horrible. Beer as it is drunk today is a product of the Industrial Revolution; it was arguably the first recognisably modern industry. It is not an artisanal product and up until very recently could not be produced in small batches at all with any acceptable consistency of quality. “Microbrews” are in general wildly overpriced – some of them are quite nice because they use extremely expensive ingredients, but they are not intrinsically better than industrially produced beers. There are good and bad industrially produced beers – I am only arguing here that Budweiser is one of the good ones, because it has an excellent pedigree, it is 100% natural, the recipe has never been altered and it has never compromised on the quality of ingredients. This is not true of a lot of competing American (and Australian, the sad state of whose brewing industry probably merits a post from someone more familiar with it than me) beers (What insightful and informed opinions. Thanks for sharing. Still no mention of why Bud tastes as good, or better, than beer made with purely malted barley and detectable IBU levels, in batches less than 15,000 barrels a year (against 40 million). I’ve yet to be convinced the author drinks Bud for any other reason than to cop a cheap buzz, albeit a righteous one. Of course, for that I can’t fault anyone. Solid. Respect).
  • Budweiser did not rip off the poor little Czech government. Budweiser did not steal the Czechs brand name. Budweiser is not a copy of Budvar. Budvar is not the original Budweiser. Budweiser does not use malicious lawsuits to keep the honest Czechs down. And a number of related issues. Ahem. (Apparently the author’s summarizing Ogle’s book, which he apparently didn’t fact check, and manipulates to prove a weak thesis, à la Coulter. Ahem indeed)

As I mentioned above, there is no question at all over which beer has been sold for the longest under the brand name “Budweiser”. It is the Anheuser-Busch product. The Budejowicky Budvar brewery sold beer under the brand name “Budvar”, (because that’s what the brewery is called) for most of its history until in the 1960s they realised that they might be able to stick on a few export sales if they put “Budweiser” in bigger type on the labels (Without a citation in his manic footnote collection, this just sounds ad hominem. Anheuser-Busch didn’t magically pull the name out of the air, as he implies in the next sentence).

Anheuser-Busch had got the trademark on “Budweiser” internationally, and defended it in a pretty reasonable fashion. It is true that “Budweiser” is a generic term for beer from Budweis in the same fashion as “Pilsner”. (I parametrically note that the word “Budweiser” seems to me to be the only German place name that Czech nationalists get all proprietorial about (“Budweis” is spelled this way in Czech, in the same way “Deutsch” is spelled “German” in English, which the author would know if he “parametrically” possessed any of those languages), with the possible exception of Prague/Praha. IMO, if they want to be consistent, we should go back to Budweis, Pilsen, Carlsbad, and in general fewer diacritics on the road signs). But of course, Budvar didn’t want to establish it as a generic term – they wanted to claim the “Budweiser” trademark for themselves (Again, says who? I could say that Adolphus wore hop-flowered dresses on the brew floor, but where is this supported?). “Bavaria” is also a pretty generic term, by the way, but somehow the Bavarians, who certainly care about their beer, don’t get so bent out of shape about it being trademarked by the Dutch (What? You can’t order a “Bavarian” in a bar because no such brand exists, Dutch or otherwise. Dude, at this point, we’re just making shit up).

However, in a number of European countries, Anheuser-Busch have either lost judgements or ended up settling out of court on disadvantageous terms to themselves (mainly France and Germany; Budweiser is marketed as “Bud” in a lot of Mediterranean countries, but this is because the name is easier to pronounce).

On the merits of the case, it appears to me that A-B have got pretty badly screwed in quite a few jurisdictions (Aww, poor, poor A-B. I cry myself to sleep every night). As a pure trademark case, it certainly seems that they have got priority, so the Czechs’ case tends to revolve around “Budweiser” being a geographical indication. But this really doesn’t fit in with the reality of the brewing industry. Beer is an industrial product, not an agricultural one (Ha! It’s true: thin, insipid, heavily processed beers are certainly industrial products, and taste that way. But real ale and lager is, dare I say, by definition an agricultural chef-d’oeuvre. Bud is to any Czech pils as hot dogs are to pheasant). It’s made from grain, a standardised commodity. Breweries can and do move from one location to another. There’s no real basis for a geographic appellation scheme for beer (Drivel. Beer and wine appellation is, and always will be, derivative of their indigenous ingredients. Unless, like Bud, it’s so generic and ball-less it can be made out of shipped-in groceries from any Giant or HEB).

It seems not impossible to me (it sounds not unpretentious to me) that in a few cases, the legal judgements may have been coloured by the prejudices of beer snobs for a beer that wasn’t Budweiser. It wouldn’t be the first time it had happened.. The notorious “Beer Orders” of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission in 1989 were basically a love letter to Camra. They had very little economic reasoning (the consumer interest in the beer market was in local monopolies in pubs, not large brewers) and they did very little to halt the slow decline of the independent UK brewing sector – all they did was create the “Pubco” specialist pub operating companies which – guess what – the real ale types are now whining about. (John Kay thinks that the Beer Orders were good for the licensed trade, but not in a way which the connoisseur would find congenial) (Uhhh…he lost me. Must be a Brit thing. I thought we were talking about how the self-coroneted American zymurgic king tastes like high-quality beer. Wait- didn’t this guy claim to be part Okie?!).

People seem to lose all rationality when dealing with things like beer (As this barely-reasoned, excessively winded diatribe definitively proves). Football clubs are a bit similar – all sorts of idiotic and dishonest business practices are tolerated there, and people like Simon Jordan who try to insist that people honour contracts, tell the truth and don’t self-deal in business transactions get disciplinary hearings and dark mutterings that they are “not football people”. Meanwhile, it seems pretty clear to me that if Robert Mugabe were to buy West Ham tomorrow and promise to spend £100m on players, he’d be described as “a slightly controversial figure, but beloved in East London” by the end of the week. One good thing about countries like America where everyone with an income greater than a subsistence farmer but less than a Russian oligarch calls themselves “middle class” is that they don’t have this phenomenon of sensible middle class people doing silly things in order to pretend to be working class. Another good thing about America, of course, is Budweiser beer (Another good thing about chuckleheads like this guy [and bad thing about the internet] is their “both idiotic and unspeakable” opinions tend to stay in one tiny pub in one tiny village in one tiny country off the coast of Belgium, where truly delicious beer can actually be had. Now go fetch me a Lone Star, Goddammit)

Published in: on May 24, 2007 at 4:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Bill Richardson is not Hillary or Barack. That’s all I know right now.

I got a letter in the mail (does donating $10 to Barack Obama put me on some kooky hippie liberal mailing list?). The front had a quote along the lines of, “The first thing I’ll do as president is end the Iraq war. The second thing is go about making America energy independent.”

Caught my attention, because that’s what I would do too, in that order. So I looked into this guy. So far, this is all I got. But me likey so far.

Jon likes him. I somehow missed this Daily Show.

Published in: on May 22, 2007 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment