Not all locally-produced beers are “bad,” Jim.
Jim Gaffigan has spent a good chunk of his standup comedy career talking about food—and this material is among his best. For instance, his 2012 bit about how no one wants to admit they go to McDonald’s despite the company selling “6 billion hamburgers a day” is an all-time classic—primarily because it adheres to a classic comedic rule: It’s funny ‘cause it’s true. For a while now, Gaffigan has also served as a regular commentator for the show CBS This Morning, giving his treatment to a wide range of topics like horse racing and napping. Yesterday, he turned back to his wheelhouse of things you put in your mouth with a commentary on the current state of beer. Granted, these opinion segments are often meant to mine humor out of pushing extremes, but sadly, I'd say Gaffigan missed the mark on his supposed takedown of craft beer.
Despite opening his commentary by saying “I like beer,” the 52-year-old comedian quickly proves he’s out of touch with the modern beer scene before he even gets into the crux of his argument. “A beer preference is personal,” Gaffigan states. “At family reunions, my brothers will always make fun of me for liking fancy beer…. As far as I can tell, what makes my beer preference fancy to my brothers is that it requires a bottle opener.”
Setting aside the fact that Gaffigan says “a beer preference is personal” before going on to mock millions of people’s beer preferences, let’s look at the bottle opener statement: Though this joke might get a laugh at family reunions, it overlooks the fact that, actually, cans are the fastest-growing packaging out there—and currently the package of choice for many of the best beers in the world. This joke tips Gaffigan’s hand that we’re about to hear a retread of the problems with craft beer—an uncharacteristically boring path for a man of Gaffigan’s talents to follow. But yup, here we go.
Obviously, such an absolute statement—along with a telling smirk—is meant as humor. And at this point, with his track record, I find myself thinking, let’s see where Gaffigan is going with this. But the whole commentary quickly digresses into a similar set of talking points from Budweiser’s infamous 2015 “pumpkin peach ale” ad—as if none of us were watching the Super Bowl when it aired.
“I guess I’m a traditionalist. I don’t want a beer that tastes like chocolate or oranges or avocados,” Gaffigan says. “I want a beer that tastes like, I don’t know, beer.”
For the record, despite all the hype, flavored beers are still an extremely small percentage of the beers being produced. But there’s a larger point here: Jim, long before beer tasted like the pale lagers that you seem to define as “beer,” ales and lagers inherently came in a much more diverse range of flavors. In fact, benign-tasting “beer” is actually a modern development: Plenty of traditional beers have chocolate notes (like porters) or fruity notes (like wheat beers).
But the most misguided part of Gaffigan’s commentary is his conclusion. “Oh, America. What happened?” he jokes as a Star-Spangled Banner plays in the background. Actually, America’s current beer culture can be considered the first time America has had its own indigenous beer culture. Previously, most U.S. breweries were simply trying to recreate the beers of Eastern Europe and England. The biggest contribution America had made to beer was “light beer.” Now, America is a global leader in beer innovation. For the first time, the entire world is looking to America on how to make beer. If anything, for once, Americans can stand proudly when it comes to our beer accomplishments.
So Jim, if you want to learn more about beer, I encourage you to reach out to me for a brief meetup. You can literally choose any city, town, or hamlet in the entire country, and I’ll find a good, locally-produced beer for you to drink. I promise it won’t even have any fruit, chocolate or other flavorings in it.