Friday, July 6, 2007

Portfolio column: Summer beers

My latest column for Condé Nast Portfolio is up, an introduction to summer beers. I've got a few of my favorites in there, like Allagash White, Penn Weiss, and Nodding Head's Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse, and...well, I kind of felt I had to stick Miller Chill in there too, though I did say I hadn't had it yet. Has anyone? Is it nasty, curiously refreshing, or just plain strange? I haven't even seen the stuff yet, but it sounds like it's selling well, so I felt obligated to mention it in the closing paragraph about light beer. Because after all, as I said, if there is a season for light beers, it must be summer. I guess.

Me for a cold Steg 150...

7 comments:

bill mc said...

the miller is strange, like a bad corona with too much lime, but i can see its popularity witht he malternatives still out in force.

P.S. you were dead on about Elm City Brewing, not a bad one in the bunch, i especially liked the american pale ale, not as hoppy as IPA, but very smooth. all in all, i was impressed with new hampshire beers, if you get a chance, you should hit a few more of them really good stuff.

Steven said...

Miller Chill Swill is all over the Chicago area. Be happy to send you some, but I'm afraid to even touch the sixer!

Lew Bryson said...

I think Chill is going to appeal to a number of broad niches within mainstream drinkers, and those chunks put together may add up to success. Then again, it may just be like Ultra or the malternatives, a flash in the pan. We'll see.

Glad you liked Elm City! Hope to get a chance to try some more New Hampshire beers next week...

bill mc said...

an off topic comment that may need to wait a while, but i've noticed that in my past few issues of All About Beer that the beers they review tend to be heavy into the western states...is there an east coast bias or just the geography of things?

scott said...

Hey Lew,
I have to say that I really don't understand this compulsion to mention these new big-beer releases - especially if you haven't had it. Is it because it's a big brewery making something different that their usual lineup? Do you really need to spend your precious column space on it to spread the word? That's why they have billion dollar advertising/marketing budgets, right? (Disclaimer: I haven't read your piece yet.)

Maybe I'm a little sensitive though. A local free paper here called me a week or so ago because they were doing a piece on "fruit beers" - which as it turned out was really a thinly veiled advert for Chill. Misquoting my disinterest in this beer as disapproval for ALL FRUIT BEER, they asked me such insightful questions about what kind of secret process they might use to add salt to the beer... (um, take beer, add salt... bingo, salted beer!)

After I hung up, I realized the question I wanted to ask her was "Why are you writing about this?" So I'll ask you instead: Why are you writing about this - if only briefly.

Cheers,
Scott

Lew Bryson said...

Fair question, Scott, although "compulsion" seems a bit strong. Main point: the column is not a craft beer column, it's a beer column, and Portfolio's editors want me to keep tabs on the business of beer, it being a business mag. Chill, regardless of how I feel about it, does seem to be doing well, selling well, and that's a beer business story, worth covering even in a few words. Bud Select sucking wind is also a beer business story, and I'm figuring on getting some words in on that, too.

So...why mention Chill? If a different beer from a big brewer is doing well, it's a story. Mich Ultra was a story when it got huge, and it's just as much a story when it sags. May not be a really interesting beer story, but I'm not writing for a beer mag, I'm writing for a biz mag.

scott said...

Fair enough... I suppose that's the same story with the other publication I mentioned as well. Maybe I'm spoiled by Bob Batz Jr. here in the Post Gazette - who writes a "beer column" that really features craft beer - though the big guys get some ink now and then I think.

This helps my understanding, which in turn will help me give the next random person who calls some better content.

Compulsively yours,
Scott