In the annual Gallup booze poll for 2006, beer reigns supreme once again – the first choice of 41 percent of Americans – and continues to be the biggest seller in volume and dollar sales, accounting for almost 60 percent of all booze sales. Anyone want to take bets on how fast the newspapers won't be to report this crisp, hoppy smack to the merlot-hole?
In celebration, I popped open a big bottle of Sly Fox Rt. 113 IPA and compiled a list of reasons why beer is better than wine. Took me about five minutes ... but then Byrne said I had to cut it back to the ten best reasons. That took longer. Hope you appreciate the brevity!
If you drink beer from the bottle instead of pouring it into a glass first, you're just a guy. If you're necking a bottle of wine – doesn't matter how expensive it is, doesn't matter how "exquisite" it is – you're a drunk. Why do you think they call them "winos"?
Beer's cheaper. Don't tell me that's not a good reason. You can't pay much more than $25 for a single bottle of beer, maybe $40 in a good restaurant, and that's going to be a big bottle of some rare Belgian specialty that's so good your toes will curl. You can easily get two glasses of exceptional beer for under $15 anywhere. A $40 bottle of wine in a restaurant? At best it's drinkable, but it will probably peel the paint off the walls when the waiter unscrews the cap. Wine is so stupid pricey it can even cost you your job
Germans make beer; the French make wine.
People know beer's good without having to be convinced of it by some snot with a wine column. Easy to figure this one out: What do more people start on, beer or wine? Beer tastes like bread and spices and snappy citrus zest and a hundred other things, depending on how it's made. Wine? On first taste, good wine tastes like fruit gone bad. You need someone to explain to you what it is about wine that's actually pretty good. Because it is, I'll admit it, but ... it took me a while of wanting to like it before I did.
Beer makes you sing AC/DC. Wine makes you sing opera.
Beer comes in smaller bottles; opening one is an easier decision. That seems like a trivial thing, but wine marketers are pushing smaller bottles lately. Smaller bottles cost less and there's not as much in them, so people will make the decision to buy wine more easily. Beer's already there. And we've got the whole draft thing, too. Point to beer.
Five percent of wine corks are undetectably bad and turn the wine in the bottle to crap. That's why the waiter will give you the cork to sniff – or he did until too many ignorant people made fun of the practice. But that's not the real reason that makes beer better than wine. That's because even if a bottle of wine is corked, most people will drink it anyway, because they know wine's not supposed to taste "good." Beer doesn't usually go bad, but when it does, it turns skunky or sour or has floaters. This is nature's way of letting you know that the beer is not good. Thanks, nature!
Wine drinkers always go on about vintages and great years and wines of the past. Hey, too bad for them. Vintages run out; the brewer can almost always make more beer that's just as good as the one you loved.
Beer goes better with barbecue. And Thai. And ham. And cheese. And salads. And sausage. And bread. And crabs. And tomatoes. And waffles. And so on. In fact, if you read most wine books, there are a lot of foods an honest wine writer will admit just don't go well with any kind of wine. You can always tell when beer goes better with a food than wine does, because there's an easy test. Ask a wine expert what wine goes best with the food. If they say "Riesling" or "Gewürztraminer," beer tastes better than wine with that dish.
Beer is a much more direct drink: When a brewer wants beer to taste like fruit ... he adds fruit. If he wants it to taste like smoke, he smokes some malt – with real smoke – and he adds that. Winemakers get different flavors by adding suggestions, imagination and hints: "You'll taste smoke and hints of fresh herbs, with a flinty, mineral backsplash of firmness." And if you don't, goes the unspoken subtext, you're stupid. Surprise, surprise – everyone says, "Yeah, I can really taste the herbs! Fresh herbs, wow!"