I bumped into an old Alexander Keith’s beer commercial on YouTube this week—you might remember the series. It involved a crusty Scotsman with spindly legs, patchy facial hair, and an abrasive tongue, insulting young people for spilling beer, peeling labels, or otherwise disrespecting the pride of Nova Scotia.
“Alexander Keith toiled since 1820 for that beverage. You best be giving the brew the respect it deserves,” he would quip.
The commercials were in successful circulation until the actor playing the Scotsman was charged with possession of child pornography— the ads were quickly pulled.
Peddling alcohol is risky business, there are rules. It is an addictive substance after all. You have to walk a fine line between responsible promotion and bikinis. I’m pretty sure you still can’t show people drinking beer in commercials on television. Not so on YouTube.
YouTube runs the gamut of self-proclaimed beer experts, all downing frothy glasses and proselytizing in various states of sobriety.
The Albino Rhino is one of them. He’s big, pale-faced, and usually half-cut when he sucks back a pint and proclaims it to be smooth, or some random thing—”uhmm, pigmenty.” Watching him makes me want to invent my own beer descriptors, like “chweet” (sweet and chewy) because sometimes the English language is just…lacking. You know, like, why don’t we have a word like “backpfeifengesicht” (“cheek pipe face”), the German word for a face that just needs a good punch.
YouTube is one of those unreal places where you can diagnose a weird growth on your foot, find out how to make mulligatawny, learn how to move like Jagger, or watch Joe Schmo enjoy a brewski. There are literally a bazillion opinions regarding various brews on YouTube. Some are intelligent, even thoughtful, like the AllThatAles groovy hipster who sounds like he might actually know what he’s talking about.
And then there’s the 22-second beer review by cultmoo. Two buddies take turns downing various beers and emitting guttural one liners that may or may not be relevant to the beer they just hoofed. Sad, yes. I was one of the misguided 400 people who clicked play and wasted 22 seconds of my life.
But, if you really want to listen to someone’s opinion on beer, your time is best spent with the guru of beer – Michael Jackson, the Brit, the Beer Hunter. In his words: “My name really is Michael Jackson, but I don’t sing, I don’t dance, and I don’t drink Pepsi. I drink beer. That’s what I do for a living. I travel the world, sampling beers and writing about the ones that I’ve enjoyed.”
Yes. Dream job. If only I had thought of that before I wasted seven years of my life at university earning myself a vocation.
My favourite Michael Jackson, unfortunately, died of a heart attack when we were biking and beer drinking our way through Belgium in 2007. He was 65. He had a particular fondness for Belgian beer, as evidenced by a prominent framed photograph of himself on the wall of a popular beer bar in Brussels. Deeply knowledgeable about world beer styles, he wrote many articles and books on the subject. He even has a website that is still maintained by other beer lovers. If you are looking for information on world beer styles, beer culture, beer pairings or historical information, it is the place to be. Check it out at www.beerhunter.com
Michael Jackson started writing about beer at a time when there wasn’t too much competition. These days, the microbrewing and homebrewing movements have seen to it that there is no lack of words on the subject: All About Beer magazine, Taps magazine, Beer Advocate, Ale Street News, and a multitude of websites. There’s even Brewing News – a series of seven regional newspapers across United States and parts of Canada.
The Northwest Brewing News covers the west coast from northern California to Alaska (including British Columbia). The regular columnist is the Beer Bitch. Youch! I picture heels, studs, cleavage, and a trail of wounded men behind her.
I’m not sure what her credentials are but if you like a heaping of abuse with your leisurely reading, she’s your lady. Myself, I’ll stick with M.J.