Why are we constantly justifying beer?
Trolling the interwebs for beery news I've noticed that there's a good number of articles on the health benefits of beer. Why is that? I'm sure you might be able to find some redeeming health qualities about french fries, but nobody is writing articles for the Boston Globe or the L.A. Times saying that a new study shows three french fries a day actually reduces your cholesterol. French fries are french fries. We know they taste good, and we know they aren't very good for us, but no one seems to feel the need to speak out, on behalf of the french fry. Yet we do that all the time for beer.
This whole beer equals healthfulness thing isn't new either. Do a Google image search, and you'll find it's chock full of turn-of-the-century images of beer swigging mommas, with swaddled babies. Even earlier—during the mid-19th century— testimonial anecdotes about beer's ability to impart vim and vigor, from medical community were fairly common. Not to mention, that Guinness is apparently good for you.
Aside from beer's apparent healthfulness, we now have the word "craft" associated with it. Beer wasn't good enough, before, now it's "crafted". To, me craft implies two guys, Mike and Steve—the first, a former lawyer, the second a home brewer, both with a passion for great beer—got together to make beer that they want to make, like beer should be made, with only the freshest blood-oranges elderflower, and yak urine available. Craft has got to be good, right? It's crafted. Don't get me started on "Locally crafted" beer. That's got to be twice as good as regular old beer.
We've even goon as far to create mythology for beer. Beer unto itself wasn't exciting enough. We need to add a little swashbuckling to it. With tales of the high seas and our collective love of the hop. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the American brewing industry—to accurately recreate the brews of yore—we can now have they same beers that were brewed strong and heavily hopped to survive the trip from England to India. IPA restores our cultural heritage. Except the myth is exactly that, a myth.
Sarcasm aside, why do we make beer out to be something it isn't?
It almost feels like the justification is an effort to protect it—like public serve announcements. Beer isn't disappearing like an endangered species, but we act as if it might. We don't defend wine, or whiskey or gin that way. Yet, we treat beer like the troubled middle child who isn't as cool as its older sibling wine, or as fun as its younger one, tequila. Beer is the "big boy with a special gold star" to whom we need to constantly reiterate that fact, less its self-esteem drop.
Do we, as a society, feel collectively guilty about beer? Have we wronged beer in the past and now feel the need to make retributions to it? We seem to not want to accept beer for what it is.
At what point is beer just beer, and more importantly, when is that good enough?