Friday, January 19, 2007

Pity the fool if you must, but don't be taken in by his ploy.

On Wednesday, columnist Mike Seate of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reminded us that P.T. Barnum’s lessons on human nature and hucksterism haven’t been entirely forgotten.

Writes an annoyed (well, maybe) Seate:

Someone please explain to me where anyone in this day and age finds enough free time to worry about the well being of beer or any other inanimate object.

Actually, the preceding quote is from one of two blog entries that Seate has posted since the publication of his Wednesday column, “Beer snobs forget the true meaning of beer,” which begins:

During the weekend, I stopped by the Sharp Edge bar in East Liberty for a few beers. Nothing spectacular about that, except for one small problem: It's one of those so-called beer emporiums, trendy little places that specialize in styles and brands of beer so obscure, you need a Frommer's travel guide just to pronounce them.

I caught word of this tempest in a growler yesterday, but didn’t have time to find the article in the newspaper on-line archive. Then, earlier today, Todd “Keg Liquors” Antz forwarded the link. It obviously doesn’t require BJCP judging credentials or an understanding of lambic brewing techniques to hazard a guess that Seate would be inundated with angry (and to me, a few embarrassing) responses, some of which he’s published in his subsequent blog entries:

Something To Contemplate Over a Beer

Too Much Free Time On Their Hands Dept.

If you ask me, none of this should be taken very seriously.

Seate’s having far too much fun with this “workingman’s” issue to suggest that his initial grenade toss was anything except a shrewdly calculated gambit to elicit the sort of feedback he’s received to date, although I suppose it’s still possible for there to exist an educated adult genuinely unaware of concepts like marketplace diversification, or to put it more bluntly, different strokes for different folks -- and different prices, accordingly.

Think of it as a Fox-News or Howard Stern sort of ploy, and it makes more sense. Writers want to be read, and need to be read, and one way to be read is to be outrageous. Perhaps Seate was insulted by a waiter’s rolling of the eyes, although I stick with my diagnosis of premeditation.

Against my best judgment, I responded to Seate’s provocations with what I consider to be a measured, reasonable tone – for me.


You wrote:

Is it just me, or has somebody forgotten that beer is supposed to be a workingman's drink, as free from pretensions and airs as a kielbasa smothered in sauerkraut?

Apparently so. And until local bar owners remember this, I'll be doing my drinking at home, on the cheap, from a Styrofoam cup.

Actually, your premise is invalid.

You're mistaken in holding that there is a commandment stating that beer is "supposed to be a workingman's drink," and yet the validity of your argument stems from this one assertion.

Beer "can" be such a thing. It also "cannot," in certain circumstances. It all depends on the beer, and there are many and always have been, even when Americans developed a "workingman's" tradition of its own.

Often what we fail to understand, we misconstrue, and dismiss. I find it regrettable that as a published writer, you resort to this sort of invalid argumentation.

Alas, it is something that we (the reading public) all too frequently encounter.


antzman said...

The styrofoam cup thing still eats at me. You don't drink anything except for bad "corporate meeting" coffee or flat Coca Cola at a family picnic from styrofoam. Even the macro-brewers in all of their advertising wisdom never showed a pale lager getting poured into a foam cup. I think a "bottle-baby" is a step up from this.

If he was hoping to illicit a lot of responses from "beer snobs" then I am sure he received more than he wanted to.

The best response that I saw to this article was on where someone had changed their avatar to a picture of the columnist with the word "douche" super-imposed over his head. Maybe a bit crass, but appropriate nonetheless...

The Well Hungarian said...

After reading Mike Seate's blog and the comments from others about his blog, I agree with him on some of his points. First of all, I think this is my main point. Beer is not that important to me and it kills me to pay upwards of 4-5 dollars for a beer or a cup of coffee for that matter. These products do not make me who I am. I don't have to prove that I'm intelligent or sexy(which I am by the way) and that I appreciate so called quality ingredients and products just because they are more expensive or vice versa. ( high purchasing price doesn't always equate into quality products and hand crafted products are not worth paying extra for, especially if they're not that important to you) What is important, is the discussion, friendships and camaraderie that is found when sharing these beverages with others.

The New Albanian said...

Beer is not that important to me and it kills me to pay upwards of 4-5 dollars for a beer or a cup of coffee for that matter.

There's really no need to go any further, and I don't mean that in a confrontational way.

If beer isn't important to you, then there's almost no way that I can muster the proof to explain to you why it's not just my job, but my life.

I return to my words to Seate: "Often what we fail to understand, we misconstrue, and dismiss."

The Well Hungarian said...

I appreciate and understand the pursuit of your passion although myopic.

The New Albanian said...

1. Ophthalmology. pertaining to or having myopia; nearsighted.
2. unable or unwilling to act prudently; shortsighted.
3. lacking tolerance or understanding; narrow-minded.

Don't worry. There's help available for sufferers of myopia, but one must want to get better before treatment is possible.

You are being self-deprecating, right?

Anonymous said...

I think both the well hunagrian and Mike Seate are missing the forest for the trees. Head to any upscale establishment (particularly one offering 50 taps) and you're going to pay upscale prices.

I frequently cringe at seeing Bud listed on fine dining menus at $4 and up. That's why I spend that money on good beer, instead.

My own response to Seate's editorial is at my Bar Stories blog.

The Well Hungarian said...

I frequently cringe at seeing Bud listed on fine dining menus at $4 and up. That's why I spend that money on good beer, instead.

What is good beer? Is that not pretty subjective?