Friday, August 22, 2008

New Orleans Beer Drinkers Blues

Po-boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Beer Drinker’s Blues
Yuppie Scum Are Out To Poison Me
I stopped off at The Royal St. grocery store with bated breath. ‘The whisper on the street’ had it that Schlitz beer had been sighted (“The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous”). I planned on having one of my favorite lunches: a ‘Tall Boy’ and a frozen burrito, yum yum!
Oh, sad day. Oh, bitter disappointment. Oh, sad singin’ and slow walkin’. Oh, wailin’ in the wikki-yup.
Yes, Schlitz beer had been in, but it had been a one shot thing. Now what they had was an esoteric, eccentric line of far fetched, far flung ‘designer beers’ with the gamut of multicolored Abita’s as vanguard and foreign ‘non alcoholic’ beers bringing up the rear. By ‘non alcoholic beer’ I mean: any beer that no self styled alcoholic would drink! Can you imagine any of your friends saying: “Boy, I went on a bender, and did those Coronas f--- me up! Missed two days of work after hitting the Dos Equis, musta been the limes!”
Nonononono! MY friends would be more apt to say: “Leon, found Schaefer at the ‘Pac ‘n Sac, Pic ‘n Pay, Put It In A Bag ‘n Git Outa Here’ store and bought ten cases! Four of us watched the Twilight Zone marathon, thirty pounds of boiled crawfish and didn’t even know what city we was in!”
Let’s get it straight from the gate; I’m an American. My beer is American, I smoke Lucky Strikes (non-filter), I chew Dentyne gum, I drink coffee with all the caffeine I can get AND half and half AND PLENTY OF SUGAR. I wash with Palmolive soap, I use Colgate toothpaste and when I want a mint, I go for LifeSaver’s, End of story.
Thirty years ago I worked for a man that was to become my mentor. It was at a country club in Denver and he had a keg of beer on tap in the walk-in refrigerator for the cooks. The beer was (and still is, when you can find it) Pabst Blue Ribbon. He said that it was the first beer that he had thrown up on and that was good enough for me. Since then, PBR has been, and remains, my beer of choice. Why? I like it. And, you know what? I have a slogan for that brewery: “Pabst Blue Ribbon--- It works!!”
Also, PBR comes in a nifty red, white and blue can. What can be more American than that? But, what is a red blooded American supposed to do in a world of beers that include weird ingredients (like berries fergodsakes) as incentives for doing what all beer drinkers are about (getting drunk)? Naturally, in direct opposition to this, I look for and buy when I can, American traditional, brewskis.
Anyone who is well over the drinking age (such as moi) can remember when the beer you drank was the beer that was brewed close to where you lived, made with the local waters. It wasn’t until the giant breweries started mass marketing that you started to get swill that came from afar.
Beers like Rhinegold and Ballentine and Oarlocker in the north. Black Label and Schlitz and Miller High Life in the mid west. Hamms on the left coast, and others. We knew where we were by the beers that were favored.
I come from a very disciplined family, if any of us kids acted up at the table, our mother would reach across the table with her soupspoon and whomp us, admonishing: “just drink your beer and shut up!”
I also come from a family of religious drinkers; not only do we drink religiously, but my mother told us that when God created beer, she put it in packs of six so that we would be aware that that was a portion. You can’t go wrong with a parent like that; although go wrong I did, it wasn’t her fault
Be that as it may, Falstaff, Regal and Jax beers are a thing of the past here, even Dixie is no longer brewed here (Blackened Voodoo beer? Gimme a break!). Rolling Rock, to my taste, is the closest thing to a traditional American beer that you can get and still be in a class joint.
I have a personal boycott going with the Bud and Bud products since the seventies when I found out that they were major funders of marijuana busters in Humbolt County, so they’re out. Miller will never taste the same unless it’s in that clear bottle. ‘Lite’ beer I dislike on princable, just as I disdain ‘sugar free’ anything. Red-Dog is for curb sitters and breakfast brown baggers. Busch and Miliwaukee Best are for ‘old man crotch scratchers’ (and is a Bud product). Foreign beers I’ll drink in foreign places, thank you. And the day that I willingly pay more money for a non-alcoholic beer than regular ones, just shoot me.
Tell me why I should want to drink beer any color, going in, than I want it coming out. Tell me why I should want a Thirty two-ounce can of beer???.
Have you even noticed that finding beer in twelve ounce cans has become a rarity? If you have, then you didn’t tell me. What’s gone wrong in this world? Barqs is even claiming to be a ‘root beer’! What’s up with that?
I was passing that newsstand on Decatur St. and saw the sign in the window proclaiming the availability of a gazillion beers. Do they have PBR? Nooooooo. Why bother?
And now, ‘the whisper on the street’ is that Coors is going to start brewing here. Hello! What, I ask you, am I to do?
In heaven there’s a barmaid that serves icy mugs of American beers for a buck. It won’t get much better that that.

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