On the Supreme Importance of Sub-Par European Beers (Or, an Ode to Carlsberg)
June 24, 2007
There is no product in the world with a better slogan than Carlsberg beer: Probably the best Beer in the World. It’s instantly memorable, and totally irrefutable. One can challenge whether or not Gilette is the best a man can get, but how can one ever disagree with Carlsberg’s non-declarative ad campaign? They’ve couched their bets against all criticism. The beer itself is decidedly cheap and average, available in 500ml cans for 11 sheqels, but that doesn’t stop them from proclaiming their likely superiority to American microbrews and Guinness (whose ad campaign is self-defeating. “Guinness is Good For You.” Other than carrots, has anything good for you really lived up to the hype?), nor does it stop American bars from charging upwards of 6 dollars in Gold bullion, or 500 billion Yugoslavian Dinars for a pint.
Carlsberg is something that I miss when I leave European or Israel. Despite its averageness I find myself willing to pay whatever bars want to charge for it back in the states. It’s something small that I can hold onto when I get back home, something that reminds me of travel and the idea of travel. Languages slip away from you; your breezy chatter with the sweep whilst ordering drinks fades, but the beer is still there. Maybe that’s why, 60 years after the end of colonialism, IPAs are still as popular as ever. We may not need Beers strong enough to serve the long sea journey to India anymore, but we can still drink them.
Presumably there will be posts about good European beers in the future; as Grover says in “Kicking and Screaming”, there’s the going abroad, “… now I know how bad American beer is thing.” But today seemed like the right time to focus on the things you miss without missing. Going abroad you may realize American coffee is terrible, but sometimes you just want to sit at a diner with a bottomless cup.