The Wall Street Journal recently dropped a satirical sendup of the craft-beer craze that rankled Houston Press enough to induce an earnest defense of both industry and community. In the WSJ spoof, Joe Queenan plays the role of a beer ignoramus who’s unable and—perhaps more to the point—unwilling to accept the microbrewing takeover.
In between examples of how little he knows of craft beer, we see a portrait of a man mourning the loss of his cultural cachet: “I used to be able to hold up my end in barroom conversations, because I knew a lot about sports… Now they talk about beer. Craft beer.” These are the words of someone who feels he is an “outcast at life’s rich fest.”
By namechecking the likes of König Ludwig Weissbier and Goose Island Matilda alone, Queenan indicates that he’s playing a role, and knows a lot more than he’s letting on. The point is to bring a little skepticism to the unchecked fervor over craft beer, but unfortunately the attempts falls flat because, frankly, it’s just not that funny. But no matter—Joshua Justice of the Houston Press took the bait anyway, penning an impassioned retort and calling Queenan out for his ignorance. While we agree with many of Justice’s points, the failure to read the original piece for what it is is indicative of the defensiveness that often undercuts the opportunity for real debate about craft beer.
Let’s call the whole thing a tempest in a pint glass, shall we?