Monday, September 27, 2010

You Are What You Drink (an Anti-Coors Rant)

Everyone has prejudices. Yes, you, too. There are different levels of prejudice and degrees of insidiousness, but all humans have some bias that cause them to instantly (although hopefully not permanently) dismiss someone based on something superficial. A guy I work with states that he hates everyone until he meets them.

If working in a bar has taught me anything, it’s that, sad as this may be, 90% of the time, you most certainly CAN judge a book by its cover. The way a person presents him or herself to the bartender speaks volumes. Aside from clothing and overall visual style, manners, attitude, and taste all come into play. And this is where my greatest prejudice can rear its ugly head.

It’s a long standing one, and one that has only deepened in my years as a bartender: With precious few exceptions, I cannot stand people who drink Coors beer. Any Coors product, but most egregiously of all, Coors Light.

I’ve hated everything about Coors since I’ve been old enough to drink beer. How strong is this hatred? When I was in my early 20’s, I attended a party where Coors Light was the only beer available. I drank water that night. On a date about four years ago, the young lady ordered a Coors Light. That choice immediately confirmed my suspicions that we had no future together. This past July 4th, some friends brought a six-pack of Coors Lite to the party at my girlfriend’s place (as a joke). We later took it and left it on a bench at Pier A Park on the Hudson in Hoboken (although I’d like to think that even homeless people have better taste). Why am I so full of vitriol for this concoction, you ask? Let’s tackle the reasons one by one, shall we?

First and most obviously, the taste: Succinctly, Coors Light tastes like urine. Okay, so I’ve never actually TASTED urine, but since I can’t think of another beverage that’s as offensive to the taste buds for the sake of comparison, we’ll stick to pee. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m lucky enough to work in a bar that doesn’t carry any Coors products, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get the requests. And when I do, I’m always baffled by people whose reaction to my telling them (with a slight sneer) that “we don’t carry Coors” is shock and disappointment akin to a kid finding out there’s no Santa. “Do you have anything similar to that?,” they may query. The temptation is to retort “I can piss into a cup of ice!”

Coors’ second crime is its politics. While in recent years, the corporation has made great strides to try to curry favor with the gay and lesbian community (by offering same-sex benefits and contributing to GLAAD), those actions came only because of a very successful boycott. The Coors family’s history of financial donations to right wing organizations (mostly through the Castle Rock Foundation) includes such ominously-titled groups as the Heritage Foundation, the Center for Popular Culture (who publish an anti-gay monthly called “Hereodoxy”), the Promise Keepers, a right wing think tank called The Institute on Religion and Public Life and such individuals as Jesse Helms, Jerry Falwell, Pat Buchanan, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson and Donald Wildmon. These donations continue today, although officially the corporation is “neutral” on controversial social and political stances. Coors has also come under fire for being anti-union, racist and sexist (do a Google search on “Coors Boycott” and spend a week or two reading up... there’s some good stuff buried amongst the rhetoric).

And finally, my third major gripe with Coors is its image, unabashedly catering to the misogynist frat boy lurking within weekend warriors. Billboards picture a woman holding a six pack of “the silver bullet,” showing her only from the neck down to the waist, clad in a bikini top. Another infamous billboard shouts “Here’s to twins!” as two silicone-stuffed blondes press boobies to sell the pee-beer. Commercials give us groups of drooling sports fans who seem to barely be able to afford the coveted sixer. Party animals light up the night, every one of them yelling “whoooooooo!!!” Bear in mind, this is a company that intentionally misspells words (remember Coors Artic Ice?) rightly assessing its demographic as a bunch of morons.

Coors is endemic of something I despise at my core: the apathetic, unquestioning, unthinking consumer. They’re the people who go see the big blockbuster movie because they think they should, they stay home to watch Rachel have a baby on FRIENDS, they wear Nikes and buy whatever fluke million-selling CD fits into their demographic. And I’m not trying to be a snob here, if you genuinely love FRIENDS, knock yourself out! But most Americans just accept whatever’s laid in front of them without making the effort to see what else is on the menu.

And, although I’m acutely aware that all taste is subjective (hell, that’s my mantra!), I honestly cannot see how, in a world of delicious beer, anyone would choose to drink this sour, annoying little brew. Light beer drinkers in general give me pause. There’s a time and a place for counting calories, and a night out at a bar ain’t one of them. Skip that fast food lunch and have a salad. Then enjoy a good, hearty beer that night. Light beer is like meatless hamburgers and Quentin Tarantino movies edited for television: Without the guts, what’s the point?

But even if you’re someone who’s used to the watered-down “taste” of light beer, why harbor such staunch brand loyalty? Most light beers taste alike. At my bar, I always feel a little beat of pride when some Coors drinker steps a rung up the ladder and has a Rolling Rock or even an Amstel Light, fer Chrissakes.... maybe they’re starting on their way out of the sludgepit of the worst beer on Earth and embarking on a delightful journey into the wide world of hops! If only more people would make the trek, the world would be a better place! * sniff! *

POSTSCRIPT, 2008: Sadly, a few years after this piece, my bar began carrying Coors Light.

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