"Beer shaming" is a real thing
I grew up drinking Miller products. Literally.
As a kid, if I wasn't sipping my grandpa's Schlitz, I was sipping my mom's Lite or my dad's Genuine Draft. With such a strong history in macro beer consumption, it's not surprising that as an adult I continue to enjoy what I refer to as "yellow beers" or "beer waters."
However, I wholeheartedly support the spirit of local breweries and will certainly chug down a Riverwest Stein or a Louie's Demise without complaint, but the truth is, if I am going to consume multiple beers, I'm going to stick with the (generally) thirst quenching, lower-in-alcohol, lower-in-calories brews.
That said, I have occasionally received shade from bartenders over the years for my perceived poor taste in beer. Nothing malicious, but after asking for a Lite, I once got "or you could order a good beer," and sometimes I can actually feel the internal eye-rolling, especially when I'm at a tavern with a beer list the length of Kinnickinnic Avenue.
I playfully refer to these interactions as moments of "beer shaming," a concept that macro-beer drinker Melanie Schroeder is also familiar with.
"Oh, 'beer shaming' definitely happens – and not just from bartenders," says Schroeder. "The worst beer shaming comes from my friends and my boyfriend, who is really into craft beer."
Ben Hebl owns Pourman's, 1127 N. Water St., a Downtown bar with an extensive beer and spirits lists along with self-serve tapper tables. Hebl says beer shaming is absolutely real, and he "accidentally" beer shames people.
"I don't mean to, because I drink Miller High Life, but in my opinion, drinking Miller Lite is a world of difference," he says.
Hebl doesn't verbally respond to customers who order a Miller Lite – or worse, a Bud Light – but he doesn't let it go, either.
"I might make a noise or chuckle or look at them like I'm deep laughing on the inside," he says. "But that's not to say I don't have ice cold Miller Lite or Bud Light and people should come in and drink many of them."
Hebl says his "beer shaming" does not come from a place of snobbery – well, maybe a little – rather mostly out of pride for his role in the service industry as well as the local beer industry.
"When you take your job seriously, like a professional, you want to put forward the best of what the industry has to give," says Hebl. "If someone came in here and said they loved vodka, I wouldn't want to serve them a rail vodka. Instead, I would offer them Rehorst Vodka, made just down the street. It's the same with beer."
Mike Brenner, the owner of Brenner Brewing Co., 706 S. 5th St., is an intentional beer shamer without any shame in being one.
"The people who come to a brewery and order a Bud or Miller are just trying to be a**holes," says Brenner. "I always try to be nice and offer them our German pilsner, but if they push me, I'll say, 'Wait! I DO have a Miller Lite.' Then I'll grab a glass and start to unzip my pants like I'm gonna p*ss in it."
Brenner believes buying a local beer is a choice that impacts more than a person's taste buds.
"If you drink Miller, Pabst or even Goose Island for that matter, you're pretty much just an ignorant piece of sh*t who doesn't care about your own community," he says.
Adrienne Pierluissi owns Sugar Maple, 441 E. Lincoln Ave., a bar with 60 American craft beers on tap. She says the bar's approach to people ordering macro beers has changed since it first opened eight years ago.
"In the past five years, if someone orders a Miller or a Bud or a Coors, we see this individual as an opportunity to educate and nab one more craft beer lover," says Pierluissi. "We're not born all-knowing, and exposure is a bit of a privilege, so kudos to anyone who doesn't think they like craft beer for even walking into a craft beer bar."
Anna Sweet, a bartender at Sugar Maple, admits she occasionally internally eye-rolls a customer, but mostly she enjoys the challenge of helping a macro drinker find a craft beer that appeals to them.
"I've served people who thought they weren't beer drinkers and found out they actually love big, rich stouts," says Sweet. "It makes our bar a memorable place."
" Last, imo, beer shaming (like any shaming) is a tactic used by insecure people that like to act cooler than they are." Not true. I could say someone who feels beer shamed (because they wanted a Miller Lite) is insecure with their choice in beverage, and is afraid to take the smallest of risk. Am I right? Maybe not. Maybe that beer shamer wants you to extend your limits and try something that actually has taste and flavor. High life or Miller Lite is great if you want to drink all day or tailgate, like Molly said. But you might as well have a Hard Cider or Gatorade. No one is trying to act cooler than they are, they are just disappointed that you would pay for something that is kind of awful. Not mad, just disappointed. There are literally hundreds of different styles of beer. Try some. Maybe you'll like it.
While I completely understand the idea of economics in drinking macro beer (Bud or Miller) nowadays is completely different, the fact is I have several friends that still feed their families from these breweries. Therefore all is not lost. For those drinkers who choose to drink macros and have given craft beers an honest try, I say to each is their own and let them enjoy what they enjoy. For those drinkers who perhaps have not tried many craft beers, instead of rolling your eyes maybe your pretentious ass would be better received if you made yourself useful and suggested something craft first and if the customer says no thanks then give them what they asked. You might even get a tip out of the deal. Turning someone from a macro to craft is always gratifying knowing you had a hand in it and its better for everyone in the end for the craft market. I've been drinking craft beer for over 15 years and understand the biz quite well. That said I do not fault anyone for drinking macro beer. To each is his own. If craft brewers turn their nose up to the macro drinkers........ then I say make a beer that attracts those people using better ingredients. As for Mr. Brenner. Way to represent the craft community. Your beer is barely drinkable. I've tried a few and is absolute garbage. Seems to be the norm with the other comments here and with everyone I chat with about local craft breweries. Create something worthy and perhaps people will listen. I can only hope whoever buys your stainless when you go out of business will put it to good use.
There are so many great beers now and more all the time. How can anyone have just one go-to beer? You could try a different beer everyday for years and never do one twice.
Based on the quality of the beer coming from Brenner Brewing, I take his comments with a huge grain of salt. :|
Here, here, mereum!!! My husband has the same issue and is a strict Miller High Life drinker for that very reason. Sometimes you have to stick with what your body tells you what it can handle.
Show me the other 8 Talkbacks
13 comments about this article.
Post a comment / write a review.
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.