Despite all the talk of craft beer’s ascendancy, traditional macro bullshit still accounts for nearly 90 percent of all beer sold in America. But even though it continues to dominate the market, Big Bad Beer is clearly feeling at least a bit of heat. They’ve responded to the minor craft threat in several ways: by running pissy advertisements mocking those fancy boys and girls who drink hypothetical-until-it-wasn’t pumpkin peach ale, by buying up the competition, by inventing new flavors of Puke-Rita, and by fiddling with their packaging to evoke the good old days when everyone happily drank their crappy beer.
I try to maintain a staunch anti-nostalgia position regarding most things. That’s one of the safest ways to avoid slipping into accidental racism or sexism, and it’s also a handy trick for steering clear of microwave French fries, Bill Cosby, and root beer schnapps. There’s a reason we left all that old shit behind. But I must confess that I’m a bit of a sucker for some of the cooler retro beer labels the marco monsters have been trotting out lately. Look at this Miller Lite can; say what you will about the beer, but that’s a nice can!
When we’re too proud to acknowledge stupid nostalgic weaknesses, we’ll often speak instead of “context,” a good catchall concept used to excuse all sorts of illogical affinities. Just yesterday, Drunkspin denounced the 64-ounce growler as an inefficient beer-storage device, but with the caveat that a growler does, after all, come with a festive vibe. Sure, it will wreck your expensive beer, but it’s kinda cool, too! There’s a down-market version of this curious insistence on drinking outside of our best interests. Even the most tasteful of us will, if pressed, admit to carving out an exception for at least one brand of fizzy yellow adjunct lager.
I long ago declared my silly and delicious devotion to Schlitz, but other objectively cruddy beers can also make me happy under certain circumstances. I’ll never pass up a Schaefer, though I haven’t seen one in the wild in quite some time. Same with Piels, which somehow conjures vaguely positive memories, even though I’m not entirely certain I’ve ever tried it.
I’ve been drinking a fair bit of Hamm’s these past couple years, too, for excellent reasons that have nothing to do with its quality. It was all over lower-coastal Delaware when I visited two summers ago for a wedding; it was a fun week that I like to relive whenever possible, and Hamm’s is a nice way to do so without buying Tim and Katey a blender or driving 11 hours through New Jersey. Additionally, they sell cans of Hamm’s at a fun newish bar near my house, and it’s sort of named after meat.
This all means Hamm’s is great, even though it tastes like nothing in particular and is no longer brewed by an independent businessman in Minnesota. It’s been a MillerCoors brand for the past decade and a half, and Heublein and Olympia owned it for a long while before that. Hell, am I even sure it’s not just Milwaukee’s Best in a different can? Nope. This is what makes it so hard to recommend nostalgia brews. But three or four times a year, a can of Hamm’s is just the thing for me. Name your poison in the comments.
This is Drunkspin Daily, the Concourse’s adequate source for booze news, reviews, and bullshit. We’ll be highlighting a beer a day in this space; please leave suggestions below.
Image by Jim Cooke.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain.