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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Light [lite] concerns

I had one of those puzzling and infuriating discussions about light beer yesterday while enjoying a pint of Clipper City's Red Sky at Night Saison at RFD, a restaurant and good beer emporium in downtown Washington DC.

"I'm of the age that I need to drink light beer", my elbow neighbor at the bar told me. "Why don't microbreweries recognize my demographic and brew light beers?"

I replied, "I'm older than you and I don't find any need to drink light beer. If weight control is a concern, drink less! And eat thoughtfully. The 140-180 calories from ONE glass of beer won't fatten you, but the pizza will! "

He still demurred, not convinced, "But why won't you make a light beer? Samuel Adams does."

"The market for light beer is mostly about calories and price and not about flavor. Without the economies of scale that the large breweries enjoy, we would be forced to charge significantly more for our light beer than the big boys do. We would quickly and dramatically lose sales and be in danger of going out of business."

"And anyway," I laughed, "We don't like the way light beer tastes. Would you drink light wine, would you eat steak devoid of flavor?"

He wasn't convinced. And that's one reason why the big boys have been so successful. The idea that a beer can be a diet aid is, in and of itself, absurd, and yet the large breweries have insidiously and successfully inculcated that canard into our collective psyche.

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