Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cheaper Coin

I wonder if the advent of electrical refrigeration made possible not only the wider distribution of national beer brands but also the gradual lowering of quality of those national brands. Over the course of a relatively few decades, the populace grew accustomed to drinking beer cold -- which meant that the populace grew used to tasting fewer of the beer's flavors, because of that coldness. Once the popular palate's expectations were lowered, beer quality could be altered in ways that "had no effect" on flavor.

Some beer recipes presumably remained the same, from the later 1800s, when several famous brands reached for and achieved national prominence, through to the later 1900s: yet even if the recipes were "the same" on paper, the brewing industry's practices and procedures and additives changed, so that the results changed.

What was it like to drink, for instance, a Pabst or a Budweiser in the 1890s? Production had increased to an unprecedented degree -- yet the grains were being grown without intensive use of industry-produced chemicals, on soils that were relatively unstressed. The flavor must have been marvelous -- or it would have been, could our contemporary taste buds be transported back for a sip of that bygone beverage.

To the then-contemporary taste buds, though, it was simply good beer.

Cheers ...


  1. Supposedly an early example of marketing research explains the drop in the quality of U.S. beer. I forget the exact details but the anecdote went this way: After World War Two a survey was done that showed that only part of the population (well under 50%) drank beer and that percentage was getting no larger. Beer drinkers were largely male and lower class. One of the main reason the rest of the population didn't drink beer was that they didn't like the way it tasted - it was too strong. The solution was to change that, to make the taste more bland - more like a soft drink. Major manufacturers did that. Beer drinking demographics improved, people complained about the taste, imported beers began to appear in U.S. stores etc.

  2. rick1844 is Rick Bowes, by the way.

  3. Excellent. I like my impromptu idea -- but I very much like this perspective, too.

    Imagine a world in which "well under 50 percent" of the populace read books ... and the publishers suddenly said, "Wait? What can we do ... but wait! What about Light Novels? Same page numbers, but fewer ideas and less literary substance!"

    ... probably happened in this, our world.

    & thanks for commenting, Rick of the High Whispering Avenues of Hopeless Hopes.

    Cheers ...