Monday, March 30, 2009

"It's Toasted!"

On the AMC series Mad Men, Don Draper is an advertising genius in the early 1960s, who, in the pilot episode, realizes that the Surgeon General's decree that cigarettes can't be marketed as healthy is actually an advertising boon. You have several companies with essentially identical products, so you can say anything you want to sell your product. Hence, the creation myth for Lucky Strike's "It's toasted!" slogan. The fact that ALL cigarette tobacco is toasted is meaningless.

And now, almost a decade into the 21st century, we are seeing a similar phenomenon with Beer.

Miller Lite has abandoned "Tastes Great/Less Filling" catfights and celeb-soaked "Man-Law" roundtables for a more craft-oriented advertising approach: telling you to drink their beer because it is "triple-hops" brewed.

The fact is that all beer everywhere, from my 2.5 gallon homebrew batches, to dozen-year-old barleywines made by monks, to the huge behemoths of Miller and A-B, are all triple-hops brewed.

Un-hopped beer would be cloyingy sweet and not pleasant to drink. Much of the sweetness is taken out at the "bittering" stage, where hops are added at the beginning of an hour-long boil. "Flavor" and "Aroma" hops are added at times closer to the end of the boil, depending on the style.

Bottom line, don't mistake process for craft.


  1. In your professional opinion, what is "drinkability?"

  2. Low cal, low alcohol, low taste = able to take in high volumes.

    Thus, drinkability, or rather, drunkabiltiy.


  3. I'm interested in cloyingly sweet beer. I suppose, from what you've written, a beer that didn't go through the bitter process wouldn't be beer, but I would still be interested in tasting what a non-hop beer was like just to get a better understanding of hops and bittering.

    Also, I clicked on the "" google ad so you could get some money. It was the most likely to be inappropriate for work and I heard there is a bunch of money in the stimulus bill for people who get fired for reading beer blogs and clicking on dubious links all day!

  4. Thanks for the click, I wonder if there's any stimulus money out there for those of us who pay our mortgage on time...

    Technically, any fermented liquid made from grain would be beer, but the concept of beer has been so intertwined with hops, it has almost gotten to the point that no hops = not beer.

    If you've got a sweet tooth, you might try mead (fermented honey) or some of the belgian fruit lambics. These are minimally hopped and very sweet.

    I didn't add hops to my first couple batches and they were very sweet. Sort of like a non-diet soda, makes your teeth feel "furry." Not pleasant.