The other day my Mom came down the stairs with a bag of snacks and said something to the effect of “These kettle corn rice cakes are evil! You just can’t stop eating them!” This is of course the goal of snack food. It is developed to be something that you want to eat forever but that never satisfies. Such consumption without being sated is also the goal of the biggest beer manufacturers.
Last week I was reading the fall issue of “The Beer Connoisseur” and I came across an interview with Molson-Coors magnate Pete Coors. It was a very interesting interview as despite corporate beer’s omnipresence in the ecosystem, the leaders rarely give candid interviews. One thing that came out in the article was the Coors emphasis on “drinkability.” This is the ability, and the desire, to drink several beers in quick succession.
Coors is currently pushing the message of drinkability in the battle for taps with craft brewers, reminding retailers that drinkers of the traditional American styles tend to linger at the bar and drink more volume. “Craft beer drinkers like to savor their beers,” said Coors. “Premium light drinkers like to drink a few.”
Now on the one hand, I get it. Coors brewed 11 million barrels of beer at their Golden Colorado brewery last year. They are making and selling a lot of beer, and that success has come precisely because their product is cheap to buy and goes down easy. However, do we really want our default products to be things that by definition never satisfy? Isn’t it better to consume less and enjoy what we consume more?
I know that for myself I would much rather drink two pints of excellent craft beer than six pints of Coors Light, even if the overall cost remains the same. The good news is that I am not alone. The overall production of “craft” beer in 2014 was 22.2 million barrels. Now that is 22.2 million barrels spread over thousands of small breweries (3,464 at the moment, with about 2,000 in the planning stages) rather than a single massive facility, but there is no doubt that beer worth savoring is becoming very popular.
I feel like the landscape of American food right now is encapsulated in this duality, between products that are engineered to addict and products that are crafted for flavor and satisfaction. My hope is that craft beer can find ever greater success, despite its lack of “drinkability”.
What do you think? Do you prefer quality over quantity? Or as Stalin said, does quantity have a quality all of its own?