Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Mommy, can beer really bring Fluffy back?

This is going a bit far. While I appreciate any opportunity to delude myself that beer is health food, this website goes to the point where you'd think you could reanimate your dead cat with the stuff.

The website is financed by the professional federation the Belgian Brewers, eager to inform visitors about the health benefits of a moderate beer consumption, without neglecting to warn against the negative consequences of excessive beer drinking. In this sense the website wholeheartedly supports the philosophy of the Belgian Brewers and the Arnoldus Group: "Beer brewed with love should be drunk with good sense".

Which leads me to my next thought: the Belgian brewing industry is a truly baffling Janus of the beer world. Consider on one hand their awesome marketing power, and the sheer size of their market share (thanks to Interbrew). Consider on the other hand the unbelievably goofy (dare I say homebrewish?) labeling and marketing style of the small breweries, and the stunning variety of styles made in small amounts locally throughout the country. How do they maintain such a balance between big industry and local yokel? Why hasn't Leffe or Stella Artois eaten up all the Piraats and Deleriums? While the major players love to use the visages of smiling monks and barns with grain silos in their branding, those things still actually exist - in large numbers, in fact - and that strange intertwining seems integral to the whole paradox.
However they've managed to avoid a Starbucks-like black hole of homogeneity, it's hard to complain too much on this side of the Atlantic. After all, consider all the joy the Duvel Moortgat people have brought us - not only through their flagship beers, but through their work with Brewery Ommegang. Or what about the synthesis between Boon and New Belgium?


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