I am not an anthropologist of the American beer scene. I would be troubled by anyone who claimed to be—if he came up to me at a bar and asked if he could study me I would say yes and then try to muddy his research, like by continually swishing beer in my mouth and spitting in back in my glass, explaining that this was how “real beer folk” do tastings.

But sometimes, some beers beg for a non-traditional assessment. Even if you’re not going to pretend to be a formal researcher, you can at least judge a beer based on something other than your illiterate, visceral reaction to its supposed lack of flavor. Go ahead, all you assholes who rate beers without writing about them, tell me why you gave this one a 2.2 out of 5. Cus it doesn’t taste like hopslam, right? Because your pallet has been shaped over the course of the last 6 months, ever since you met Cody, the cool Applebee’s bartender who encouraged you to try something other than Bud heavy? Fuck you.

We have been presented with a video. In this video, Jim Koch tells us that this is the very first American craft beer, and that the entirety of the American craft beer scene spawned from this ale. I don’t know for sure whether or not this claim is true. But I do know that this claim is the base from which all judgments of this beer must proceed. You either got to debunk the paradigm of the claim or else work within it, because, seriously, the claim is the only reason that anybody’s talking about this.

Now, utter morons are giving this beer a 2.something out of five. These are the people who confuse the word “hops” with the word “flavor.” These of the people who buy Food Network brand pans even though they cost twice as much and are exactly the same as the non-name brand pans. They are the trendmongers, the bastards and whores who have made the beer scene so expensive, so intolerably Caucasian. I regard them as beneath contempt, and so I feel no need to address them here.

Instead, I’d like to have a talk with the people who give this a 3.something, who maybe perfunctorily mention the beer’s history and then go on to explain how it just doesn’t jibe up with their own hip, modern tastes. I’ll admit that there’s some merit to these reviews: they’re self-aware. If I had started writing about this beer before thinking about it, I probably would have said very much the same thing. But these reviews are also far too reserved and conservative. They need to strike out more if they want to move from self-awareness to honesty.

Think: what does it mean, that we feel the need to mention the beer’s historical import before giving it a middling score? Put it another way: what score would you have given the beer had you simply drank it sight unseen, without watching that video or knowing its history? Probably something much lower, right? I would have.

But you, like me, did not. You’re allowing context to influence your score. That’s a good thing, but you need to take it further. Even if this beer ain’t exactly your cup of tea, you need to consider the context in which it existed, and you need to judge it by its influence.

Here, watch this whole video if you have time. If you don’t, skip to 7:25, when a pre-Velvet Underground John Cale plays a short piece by Erik Satie:

Did you see that? The audience laughed at him. It’s a gorgeous piece. And even if you disagree with me and think it’s boring or bland or otherwise un-gorgeous, you probably didn’t laugh at it. Why? Because you have 40 years of hindsight! You’ve been exposed to the Beatles. You’ve heard of Miles Davis, and Lady fucking GaGa has been blasted around you at some time. Pretty much no matter what your taste, you’re into something weirder and more oblique than Erik Satie.

You see how the good natured host tried his best to make sense of the song? That’s Gary Moore, who made his living off his ability to sound like an expert while talking about stuff he knew nothing about. That song, which sounds maybe a little tinny but is in no way odd to you and I, was enough to stymie him.

Now, on a weirdness scale of 1-10, with 1 being Bud Light and 9 a smoked gueuze and a 10 being something I can’t quite conceive of, what beer would be the equivalent of the Satie piece you just heard? I’d say maybe Fat Tire, maybe Sierra Nevada Pale.

So, the question regarding this beer shouldn’t be “does this taste good to me?” The question should be, when your product is being received by completely foreign pallets, how weird can it afford to be? Because that Satie piece, that “landed a the 3 on the weirdness scale, maybe not your cup of tea but is still completely inoffensive” that got fucking laughed at. On national TV, by a room full of somewhat cultured New Yorkers, that got mocked.

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