Saturday, November 18, 2006

A "Great Gulp" time machine: 31, going on 100 years ago.

Leave it the the “Dean of American Rock Critics” to declare U2's masterful “Achtung Baby” a bomb, and award an A Minus to a beer called Walter's from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Context is useful in this instance. U2's album was released in 1991, and Walter's Beer perished about the same time, but Christgau's foray into beer writing took place even further back, in 1975.

The Great Gulp: A Consumer Guide's to Beer, by Robert Christgau and Carola Dibbell.

Eighty percent of the beer in this country is consumed by 20 percent of the drinkers. That's why the most effective beer slogan ever conceived claims that its product is the best beer to have when you're having more than one. Oui's consumer guide to beer, presented herewith, has been devised for the 80 percent of American beer drinkers who care about that first one.

Kudos to Todd (Keg Liquors) Antz, who brought this amazing archival selection to my attention yesterday. After perusing it, I replied that Christgau's listing brought back many memories – most of them bad. There's no better summary of the cultural milieu of the 1970's, when the post-war imperial era had concluded, and the marketing- and technology driven contemporary era hadn't quite arrived.

As a time capsule transporting the reader back to a far-off time when “Schlitz and Anheuser-Busch have been taking turns at first place in national sales for years,” the guide is incomparable, as is the Falstaff Brewing Corporation fan site, source of the Walter's link.

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