When is it Cool to Drink a Macrobrew?

I had a Budweiser yesterday, for the first time in a loooong time, and I have to admit that it tasted pretty good.

For some that’s not a shock, as they happily drink Budweisers all the time.  But I’m a guy who’s a bit fussy about his beer, and  it takes a special set of circumstances for me to truly appreciate the taste of an American Industrial Lager.*

Looking at the picture above, you don’t have to be Monk to figure out where I was when I had my macro-treat.  A sunny day in November, the New Meadowlands Stadium, Giants football far below.  It times like these that make a Budweiser taste alright.

Of course, a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or a Dale’s would’ve been even better, but my palate has been brainwashed though years of conditioning to accept a Bud or Miller as a fine companion in places like this.  State fairs, rodeos, ballgames, and Idaho weddings.  Sometimes a loveless lager is a-ok.

So what do you think?  Are there times when drinking below your standards is better than just okay, it’s kind of cool?  Have years of conditioning trained you happily sip a macro-brew under certain conditions?  As always, let us know below.




*I told you I’d steal that phrase Evan! 🙂

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48 Comments on “When is it Cool to Drink a Macrobrew?”

  1. November 29, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    Great question. I feel there are times and a places for these things and for the most part you are spot on with the places you mentioned. One of the great things about those who TRULY love beer is that they are humble. They can remember a time (or if they are too young, they have knowledge of a time) when we weren’t in “the third wave of American Craft beer.” Before the current “wave” we are experiencing, good beer was a hard thing to come by. But the best beer is the one in your hand. And if you can’t get a Dale’s can in there, too bad. The only thing worse than a flavorless beer is no beer at all!

    • November 29, 2010 at 10:49 am #

      I was thinking about that myself, Mike, how there was no craft beer when I was younger. If you wanted to drink beer at a bar, you were lucky if they had Guinness or Bass, and if somebody bought a keg for a party it was going to be Bud. Because of this, I have fond memories tied into the taste of macrobrews, even if I avoid them whenever possible these days.

      21-year-olds today have tons more access to good beer than I did at their age, but they’ll probably wind up with a soft spot for a cold macro lager, too. It’s cheap, universally accepted and available everywhere. They’ll have fond memories of bad beer, too.

  2. November 29, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    Yo Jimbo!

    I had a similar experience when I went to a Phillies game in September for my 25th High School reunion. I was “forced” to drink Bud and it wasn’t as bad as I remember. As long as it’s cold enough (the beer I mean), it’s tolerable. And there’s the crucial difference between good beer and the average swill… when a really good beer loses it’s chill, it’s still very drinkable, and quite often, it even gets better as it approaches room temperature.

    Peace Yo!

    • November 29, 2010 at 11:05 am #

      Yo, G-LO!

      Good point. Warm Bud is awful. The beer pictured above was like a Nicolas Cage movie: gone in 60 seconds.

  3. Elena
    November 29, 2010 at 10:44 am #


    • November 29, 2010 at 11:06 am #

      I’ll put you down for “never.”

      • lefos
        November 29, 2010 at 11:40 am #

        I was recently at the Meadowlands and rather than have a $9 bud opted for nothing. I was a little annoyed when I noticed the Brooklyn lager in a corner on my way out of the stadium.

        • November 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

          I would’ve been thrilled with a Brooklyn Lager, but didn’t see it and didn’t have the time to search for it. For a second, I thought they had Yeungling, but it was a cream-colored Bud Light handle. that was a bummer!

  4. November 29, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    I don’t find anything wrong with it. Everything has its time and place, and sometimes you just want a beer. Thankfully my baseball team (Astros) has local microbrew options so I don’t have to make that choice. But I will certainly partake if the situation calls for it. Although not Bud Light, I just can’t take it.

    • November 29, 2010 at 11:22 am #

      I wish there was a local option at the Meadowlands, but the place is totally controlled by the big boys (at least from what I saw) and I don’t see that changing. I could have gotten a Blue Moon or Amstel Light in a plastic bottle, but I go for what’s on tap at stadiums.

  5. Evan
    November 29, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    When I’m out camping, sitting around a camp fire (which happens quite often given my fly fishing habits), I’ve found Rainier to be tough to beat. To me, a bottle/can/glass of beer is about the experience, and these industrial lagers have found no other circumstance with me where the experience of drinking them is all that fantastic.

    • Evan
      November 29, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

      Rainier is our regional industrial lager. I suppose the easiest thing to compare it to, image wise, would be PBR. But it’s got a little less of a hipster vibe to it. The hipsters here still go after PBR. But the rest of everyone who wants to grab this type of beer, but don’t want to reach for the big 3 grab a Rainier.

      • November 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

        Sounds like Yeungling out here, Evan. It’s also a serviceable lager. Nothing fantastic or “crafty” but a solid little beer that’s good ice cold on a hot day.

        • Evan
          November 29, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

          I’ve had many a Yuengling. It’s far “craftier” than Rainier.

        • November 29, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

          I’m sorry to hear that…

  6. November 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    Jim – interesting question. I have to admit that I tend to be a snob at times when it comes to beer and bourbon. I’m at the point that I don’t buy bourbon at a restaurant because the rail selections are run of the mill and not appealing to me (especially at what they cost). Beer I’ll drink when going out to dinner on occasion but only if they have something that is other than macrobrew selections and go for things like Newcastle, a Seasonal selection or Blue Moon to name a couple. I prefer to drink at home or with friends since we all share what we have be it bourbon or beer. I guess I’m of different mind, why spend the money on something if it’s just ok. As my wife puts it when trying a mediocre dessert “it’s not worth the calories”.

    • November 29, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

      I usually go for unsweetened iced tea when I’m out and the beer selection is limited. I agree – it’s not worth paying through the nose for a beer you don’t really like.

      That said, it’s nice to have a beer at the game, even if it’s Bud. But at $8.75 a cup, I limit it to one!

  7. Greg K.
    November 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    I love my craft beer, but I typically don’t have a problem with a Bud Heavy or a Miller Lite. Whenever I’m tailgating, I’d much rather do a macro as it’s much more sessionable. Whenever I decide to tailgate with craft beers, it always ends up poorly for me. I’m an IPA or an Imperial Stout guy. So typically I drink beers with a high ABV, and when I’m tailgating I’m typically drinking quickly too. Also, if I’m hanging out with a group of friends that have no desire to drink craft beer (as much as I may try) I wont push it on them and I’ll go along with the crowd and have some Miller Lites.

    • November 29, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

      I’m the same way – I like big beers and drink fast when I’m socializing, so higher-ABV beers can pose a problem.

      I think I could have had 5 of those Buds and it wouldn’t have made me woozy at all. But at $8.75 apiece, the price would!

  8. Dave
    November 29, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    Hey Jim, the only and I mean ONLY place I’ll drink a macro these days is at most of Chicago’s fine summer art fairs, since Budweiser seems to have a stranglehold on that concession. You just can’t walk around on a hot summer day without a cold beer, and besides, after a few of them, it’s much easier to purchase a necklace made of guitar picks or a fruit bowl crafted from a melted vinyl record.

    Fortunately Chicago’s sports venues all have a decent beer selection. As a frequent White Sox tailgater, the best beer selection in the entire lot is usually found in my cooler.

    On a semi-related subject, are your Giants and my Bears headed for another showdown in the playoffs? I’m still not sold on the Bears, even after yesterday’s big win over the Eagles.

    And on a completely unrelated subject, I had the pleasure of tasting New Glarus’s Unplugged “Apple Ale” over Thanksgiving. I’m not a big fruit beer drinker so it took some getting used to. More like cider than beer, to me anyway. Still very tasty, though.

    • November 29, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

      Speaking of New Glarus and summer fairs, I was pumped to find New Glarus Spotted Cow on tap several places at the Wisconsin State Fair this summer. I used to drink MGD at the fair (it was a Miller town, after all) but no more – give me better beer any day!

      On the football front, I’m not sure either team is as good as its record. The Giants looked awful yesterday and the bears have Cutler at QB, so you never know if he’s going to throw lasers or picks. I think it’s Atlanta all the way.

  9. November 29, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

    Used to have beach parties in my college days (before I knew what craft beer was). We’d quietly bury kegs of macro in the sand the night before (most beaches weren’t beer friendly). All next day and into the evening we’d surf, roast burgers on hibachis and discreetly fill emptied soda cans from taps hidden in the sand with our preferred beverage. Put me in that situation again today, and I venture to guess that I’d happily down a few macros. Then again, these days, on a hot sunny beach, I’d prefer to bury a keg or two of kellerweis! :^)

    • November 29, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

      I love how college kids are so industrious about getting their beer.

      I bet a macro brew would taste pretty good with a beach BBQ, Chad. Flavor memories are cool things.

  10. November 29, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    In the 10 times a year or so that I go to Busch Stadium, it seems downright blasphemous to not drink the A-B products. Even then, I tend to be a bit of a snob about it- I insist on Bud. No Bud Light, no Busch or Busch Light (I’m not even sure you can get those at Cardinals games). Bud only.

    They have Schlafly as well, plus several other micros, but you get half the beer for almost the exact same price. They take away all incentive to drink the micros.

    • November 29, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

      Bud at a ballgame is fine, but I’d be all over the Sclafly’s, regardless of whose name is on the stadium. You get twice the beer, just less of it. 🙂

      • November 29, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

        That wordplay is excellent. And so very true.

  11. Matt
    November 29, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    You have to separate the flavor and enjoyment of BMC (Bud, Miller, Coors) products from the unethical distribution and marketing tactics they employ. Bud is a fantastic light lager. It’s unrealistically consistent and refreshing. However, just because it tastes fantastic watching your favorite team you can’t forget you’re supporting one of the largest lobbying organizations in the world that do everything they can to make sure your favorite craft brew doesn’t hit store shelves.

    Needless to say, I will go out of my way to make sure I’ve exhausted all micro options and will only hit BMC as a last resort.

    • November 29, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

      I agree that Bud (and the others) are more figuratively distasteful than literally distasteful. But when in Rome…

      • Matt
        November 29, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

        …drink wine?

        • November 29, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

          No, eat ’til you puke and have an orgy!

          Didn’t you watch Caligula in health class like we did at Ron Jeremy Middle School?

        • November 29, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

          The Fightin’ Hedgehogs!

  12. November 29, 2010 at 3:32 pm #

    I think its OK, but personally I’d probably pass in the same situation. The bang-for-the-buck (in my mind) just isn’t worth it. I wouldn’t need a beer that badly to hand over $9 or whatever for minimal enjoyment.

    OTOH, if its the Idaho wedding where Don is footing the bill, then bring on the Bud!

    • November 29, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

      I was there with my wife’s dad and her sister’s husband, so it was a “let’s have a beer guys” moment that I didn’t want to snob my way out of. Under normal circumstances I probably would’ve passed or hunted out some better beer (I hear they serve Brooklyn there someplace).

      But it still tasted pretty good.

      And it’s Bud LIGHT for Idaho weddings, as low as you can go, y’all!

  13. November 29, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    I won’t even read the post or comments. The answer is “NEVER”.

    • November 29, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

      Okey-doke, Zac.

      Oh, why bother? You’re not reading this! 😉

  14. November 29, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

    i don’t mean to schiltz hairs, but there’s a couple things i’d like to say (which are more lowenbrau than high brow, be warned). Beauty is in the eye of the beerholder and a lot depends on the circumstances. After all, a Bud in the hand is worth 2 in the Busch.

    Al K Hall
    Functional Alcoholic Slurperson

    • November 29, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

      Well slurred, sir!

  15. November 30, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    I’m a social drinker definitely. If that’s all I can find or I’m low on cash and at a bar, you can bet I’ll have a PBR in hand… I always take Keystone Light w/ me in the water during the summer months.. Be it beach, river, lake or pond… But now that craft beer is leaning towards cans I might be able to change that, but I’ll still always have a place for some of the macros… I’m not too proud of a craft beer drinker to not drink any..

    Think of it this way, if it wasn’t for these Macro brews would you have ever drank a beer? There is no way you’ll get a 15 year old drinking for the first time to throw down a Ruination or a Arrogant Bastard… Not that I condone 15 year olds drinking but you catch my drift. Macros were a gateway to our craft beer obsessions. You can’t completely knock them.

    • November 30, 2010 at 11:19 am #

      I think most beer lovers have a place in their hearts for the occasional macrobrews, because they’re attached to good memories from days gone by.

      I used to play horseshoes or fix cars with my buddies while consuming many Coors Lights. Put me in the same situation now, and that almost flavorless beer would taste just right.

      Like you said, these are the beers we grew up with.

  16. November 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    My short and not-so-sweet answer is: Whenever you damn well please!

    No, I don’t go out of my way for macro beer. I don’t buy it. I rarely drink it. But it has its place in the American beer landscape. I had some PBR and Rainier not too long ago, and the PBR was actually enjoyable (even though I still haven’t the faintest clue what a hipster is). Typically, I refrain from drinking beer when macro beer is all that’s available, but sometimes I figure “Ah, what the hell!” Not too concerned about my “street cred” when it comes to beer. Given the choice between macro and macro-light, I’d go with macro.

    • November 30, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

      That’s exactly how I roll as well, Tex. I went through a “no macro” phase early on in my beer nerd career, but have since loosened up and will drink one if it’s handed to me and the mood is right.

  17. Bryce
    December 2, 2010 at 3:48 am #

    One of the coolest beer-related moments I’ve experienced was when I was at a Giants-Dodgers game in SF. I got up to get beer for me and my bro and side by side were 2 beer carts: one selling Coors Light, the other Anchor Steam.
    The Coors Light cart had no line, while there were 8 people lined up for the Anchor Steam cart (it was also selling Blue Moon, but that makes the story a little less cool, and most people were ordering Anchor).

    • December 2, 2010 at 8:27 am #

      I love to see when people choose better beer. It reminds me of when Don and I went to Victory Brewing, and the pub was packed with locals. Many looked like blue collar locals who were thrilled to have great beer in their town.

      It backs up my theory of “if you brew it, they will come!”

  18. December 6, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    The other day, I was at an old-style butcher shop where they sell all kinds of classic wursts. They also have a bunch of Bavarian mustards, European chocolates… you get the idea. It’s “old world” German. And at 9 a.m., while standing in line waiting to order my Hungarian bratwursts, the owner of the store offered free beer to anyone who wanted it. The beer? Busch Light.

    I instantly thought of this article. Busch may taste like Clydesdale urine, but I’ll be garsh-darned if I’m gonna turn down a free one at 9 a.m. when it’s offered to me by my Bratler.

    • December 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

      That’s a perfect example of when a drinking a macrobrew is mandatory!

  19. December 9, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

    If you’re someplace where it’s okay to wear a trucker hat, than it’s more than okay to drink NASCAR Beer

    • December 9, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

      And if you’re wearing a trucker hat in a place where it’s ironic, you’re probably drinking a PRB.


  1. Beer in the Morning » Around the Beer Blogosphere December 4, 2010 - December 4, 2010

    […] When is it Cool to Drink a Macrobrew? If you are reading this blog, it’s probably because you have discerning taste in beer. Still, macro beers aren’t the work of the devil and the guys over at Beer & Whiskey Brothers give a little insight on when it’s alright to throw back a macro brew or two. […]

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