Mug Shots

American swill is for turkeys

Nov 26, 2008 at 6:00 am

I’ll never forget an evening long ago at one of Louisville’s upper-tier steakhouses.

It was packed with fashionably dressed high rollers slapping down what seemed to me a week’s pay for immense cuts of aged beef, salads, shrimp cocktail, mushrooms and potatoes, preceded by top-shelf aperitifs and rare single-barrel bourbons, with their feasts accompanied by tipples of wine priced like mid-sized kitchen appliances.

And yet, amid the hedonistic displays of conspicuous consumption, a fair number of diners could be seen chasing their meals with light, low-calorie American lager. Tap water would have been as capable a match at a fraction of the cost.

Whether it owes to ignorance, Philistinism or the deadening weight of mass-marketing propaganda, beer usually gets a bum rap.

So, is it really Bud Light’s “drinkability” that matters … or is it mass psychosis? “Drinkability” is marketing-speak to ensure the timid that there’s virtually no chance of anything even remotely approximating the flavor of beer intruding on the desired experience of easily ingesting alcohol in quantities sufficient to ensure the desired profit margin.

Don’t let vapid beer-and-food-pairing nightmares happen to you this Thanksgiving, because there’s no better annual occasion to creatively match beer with food, whether you’re indulging in the traditional American turkey blow-out or doing it the way the Mug Shots household does, with carryout Vietnamese or Chinese.

Imagining these pairing possibilities can be pornographic, so you may wish to shut the door.

Why not Rodenbach Grand Cru and Okocim Porter with turkey and the fixings, and American-style IPA with the leftover sandwiches during the evening’s televised sporting events? I’m thinking dark, not light; brown and amber, not golden; and no less than medium body.

I’m thinking real beer for real food … and real people.

Roger Baylor is co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany. Visit for more beer.