Macrobrews: “Crap on Tap”?

Perusing the latest issue of BeerAdvocate, I found a letter in the Feedback section referencing an article that I could tell I just had to find: Andy Crouch’s “No Crap on Tap” article.

In this article, Andy lambastes the tendency for many craft/micro beer drinkers to describe beers from the Big Breweries as inferior, poor quality, “crap”. He bemoans the use of catchy rhyming cliches, like saying that your favorite pub has “No Crap on Tap” or, in other words, they don’t sell any Budweiser or its ilk.

It’s refreshing to hear more people voice the position that these macrobrews are far from “poor quality”. It’s something I’ve been saying for years.

In a nutshell: these beers are made to extraordinarily tight specifications, from the raw materials all the way the to finished package quality. They are made to meet amazing levels of consistency from different production facilities across huge geographical distances . The lack of flavor that they have compared to craft beers is not, in fact, a mark of inferiority but rather the mark of a beer that has nowhere to hide any flaws: the slightest slip-up in production means that faults in the flavor would stick out like a sore thumb.

What YOU should do about it: feel free to express your opinions about how lovely or how terrible that beer tastes. But realize that they are just that: opinions. Try not to conflate your opinions with your perception of quality.


10 responses to “Macrobrews: “Crap on Tap”?

  1. I see it as the difference between science and art in many ways. BMC are scientifically designed and marketed to appeal to the most people possible. They are quite boring due to that.
    Craft beer is not focused on purely making a product that will sell as many units as possible, it has heart and soul. To anyone who wants more out of their beer BMC is pretty much crap. Much of this has to do with style as American lager is pretty much the most boring, bland style that exists. Not always though as many of the smaller craft brewers that have been absorbed by the big boys have lost their way and become bland and focused on what will sell the most the fastest.

  2. No Crap on Tap is the slogan of the popular Denver craft beer bar Falling Rock. They do however sell a few BMC choices in bottles…

  3. I agree that the standards for BMC macro lagers are tough to duplicate, and require a lot of effort to produce. That doesn’t make the beers generally great in a craft beer lover’s mind though. Still, calling them crap is missing the point that they’re really harder to make than you might think. Just try to duplicate one via homebrew. Good luck with that. I’ve been trying to make beers that my Busch drinking brother will like. So far it’s blonde ale which he likes the best, and whilst I must admit it’s pretty darn tasty stuff, it’s nothing anywhere near the specs for Busch, Bud or Coors. I really don’t think I’m skilled enough to brew something that clear, that light, or that flavorless. I’m happy with that, BTW. Homebrew is not BMC macro brew. But yes, don’t dis on them for making crap. They make highly consistent, relatively flavor-free beers that are heavily marketed, and which many people prefer, for whatever reason. Craft beer drinkers don’t want that, they are in the market for an entirely different product.

    BTW if I might toot my own horn again, my blonde ale II all grain is so damn good that I might make it the house beer! Needs a little more flaked corn though… 🙂

  4. My problem here is NOT Macros, but Macros pretending to be Micros, or “Craft:” in that sense of the word. Sometimes it amazes me to what lengths they will go to disguise who they are.

  5. It is hard to determine whether macro breweries getting into craft beer is a good sign or whether it is slowly killing off the creativity in the niche. It is hard to imagine that if a really creative brewery like Dogfish Head were bought out by AB InBev they would continue to make the very expensive small-batch beers that really make them stand apart and keep pshing the edge of craft brewing.

  6. What is quality? If your measure of quality is being able to reproduce the same flavourless swill from batch to batch then the macros have it won hands down – but this means that you consider McDonalds and Burger King to be purveyors of quality. IMHO they are purveyors of consistency rather than quality – they consistently produce mediocre products, which may be made to their (low) quality standards, but not mine. So quality is subjective, and I say that the likes of BMC have set their quality standards far too low when it comes to taste. Please don’t confuse consistency with quality.

    • I’m sorry Brad, but I’m going to have to disagree. It’s pretty obvious from your language that you are carrying some significant biases against products that have low flavor intensity and complexity. However, it’s exactly these types of products that need to maintain the highest levels of quality in order to give their customers an experience that they expect – any deviation from the norm is highly noticeable, as opposed to craft-brewed IPA’s or imperial stouts which can hide a great many deviations behind its wall of hop aroma and bitterness or robust malt character and alcohol. The aspect of number 1 importance in producing consumer goods is predictability: if your customers keep getting a product from you that performs differently each time they acquire it, they will no longer accept your products as being of sufficiently high quality. Now each of the products has intended features which certain consumers will not appreciate or desire, and that is their right, but that does not necessarily speak to the quality of the product, only the consumer’s preference. Budweiser’s intended features are clean flavor profiles with no defects and low alcohol/bitterness/body to increase drink-ability. They have a workforce and procedures in place to audit their malt and hops suppliers to meet stringent quality requirements that no other breweries require at anywhere near the same degree of detail. These are not the polices of a company that strives to make products of a “mediocre” nature or that have “set their quality standards far too low when it comes to taste”. Low flavor intensity != low quality. Please don’t confuse a preference for other product styles with poor quality.

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