YOU REMEMBER your father’s beer, don’t you? Piels . . . Schmidt’s . . . Ortlieb’s . . . When I asked friends on Facebook recently to name their pop’s favorite, they had no problem recalling those days gone by.
“Löwenbräu dark for fancy occasions and Budweiser for every day,” said Rebekah Nault.
“Every Friday afternoon, when I was a kid, a truck would deliver a case of Schmidt’s for my parents, and a case of Frank’s Soda for me and my brothers,” said Joe McDonnell.
“Colt 45! Dad had soul and said it had ‘More Flava!’ ” said Jeff Wells.
This Sunday, Father’s Day, millions of sons and daughters will reconnect with their fathers over a cold one, savoring a sip, affirming their bond, enjoying a moment. It is a simple yet meaningful act of sharing – a gesture that you might be tempted to enhance by offering your father a sixpack of the beer he used to drink when you were growing up.
Don’t do it!
With all due respect to your moment of Rockwellian nostalgia, don’t waste your money on one of those insipid, factory-produced cans of fizzy, yellow water that smells like a belch.
Think about it: Your poor father had to suffer through the worst era of beer in the history of mankind, when American conglomerates shut down regional breweries and dumbed down the sauce till it tasted – in the memorable words of Chicago newspaperman Mike Royko – like it had been run “through a horse.” If your father is between 70 and 90, his prime drinking years were at a time when every single beer tasted exactly the same. If he’s between 50 and 70, the best he can say is that they watered it down and turned it into light beer.
Buying your father a sixpack of Schlitz or Schaefer or whatever retro beer is gathering dust at the back of your local distributor is the equivalent of fixing him a sandwich with store-brand peanut butter and Wonder Bread.
Here, Dad: You grew up in the Great Depression. Let’s celebrate Father’s Day with a nice, steaming bucket of gruel.
Yes, I know, you think you’re honoring your father by offering him something from his youth. Or, as an Esquire writer blithered a few years ago: “By polishing off a sixer of Bud Light or Miller High Life, we’re tacitly admitting we’re more like our dad than we ever thought we’d be. Perhaps by having a few Genny Creams we’re actually admitting that we’re finally adults, because, to us, dad was always an adult.”
Uh, no, what you’re doing is being ironic. Especially if you’re wearing a trucker hat.
Either that, or you’ve got daddy issues.
I can’t help but remember ex-Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, after the 2014 AFC championship game, declaring that he wanted nothing more than a Bud Light. He took a lot of heat for shilling for Anheuser-Busch, and then defended his choice by saying: “My father taught me a number of things, one of which being that Bud Light is the preferred beer of the Manning household.”
To which my California beer-writing colleague Jay Brooks replied: “My only question is this: Peyton Manning is 37 years old. He’s also married with two children, and presumably no longer lives at home but has his own household. At what age did you stop doing everything your father told you?”
Wake up: Your father drank crappy beer made with corn and rice and even formaldehyde because he had no other choice. In the 1970s, there were fewer than 100 breweries nationwide, compared to more than 4,000 today. There was no such thing as “craft” beer or microbreweries. There were no growlers-to-go or imperial stout or beer week. No one talked about hops, except to say you couldn’t taste them.
Indeed, your father didn’t drink his favorite because he liked its flavor. He bought it for one of two reasons: It was the cheapest, or it had the best TV ads.
The nicest gesture you could make toward your father this weekend is to bring him a case of your favorite beer.
You’d not only be showing him something new (though I’d guess he’s already onto craft beer), but you’d also be sharing something you love, and that’s a damn nice gift to give your father.