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Helles lager and brewery boycotts
I will not apologize for the Worcester slander.
It’s a small shame that the shitheads have co-opted the concept of “virtue signaling,” by which they mean the commission of any act from which one doesn’t directly profit. Feeding your cat without extracting cash up front is virtue signaling to these crudbutts, because cats are notoriously shaky credit risks.
I regret their capture of the phrase, because now what’s left for the rest of us to describe the inanity of a college-campus coffee shop that hangs a zero-stakes “niceness is good, to me; more so than meanness, in most cases” sign next to the flyers for ukulele lessons and rooms available in Wet Steve’s apartment? Or maybe we don’t need a word for that, because no kind gesture, even the safest and least effectual, is wasted. Discouraging plastic straws doesn’t help in any tangible way, but it does remind people that single-use plastic is bad for the planet, so I dunno, go for it. I struggle with this. My public setting is to praise all acts of decency, but I have to confess that my private eyes roll from time to time.
It’s good and necessary to lean toward virtue when you can, and if either your meat or digital bodies exist in society there will arise occasions when some folks will register your signal. It’s fine. And we can be adults about other people possessing virtues that we happen to lack—it’s not threatening when someone is morally superior to us in a certain way, it’s just annoying, and we can live with that. Veganism is an ethical choice and I applaud it! Also more cheese for me, and also get off your high Beyond Horse, hoss. This shit is nuanced, but we’re up to the task of decoding motives and evaluating actions and results. We can all flawlessly interpret every instance of legit good intention, every naked play for praise, and every combination of the two. No further discussion is needed. When in doubt, refer to the “being virtuous is good, basically” needlepoint hanging over the kegerator at Worth a Shot headquarters.
Now is a fair time to wonder if I’ll ever shut the fuck up about this kind of thing.
I’d love to and I intend to. Turns out that Josh Hawley references do not drive traffic to the old beerletter, which makes perfect sense because who has the energy to consider the broader ethical ramifications of each sip of the old ruckus juice. I get it and I swear I will tone this part of the program way down as soon as it’s medically advisable to stand inside a room other than my own for longer than it takes to buy toilet paper, which is admittedly longer than it should be because I can never remember whether I prefer the extra strong or the extra soft, and it seems frankly punitive for the toilet gods to make us choose. But you see I am currently leading a very dull life, largely because of politicians and daily decisions made by the part of society that votes for the bad ones, so we need to talk about unfun junk like when, if ever, you should boycott a business.
I started writing this one a few dozen hours and Nugget Nectars ago and as I pick it back up this morning I can’t fully recall how the virtue signaling part meandered its way into today’s—what is it I do here again? Ah right—beer recommendation. I think I was trying to acknowledge that things like few-hoss boycotts of giant corporations don’t always amount to a lot more than letting the hoofful of brave soldiers post about it, but I still think it’s a worthwhile endeavor if it makes you and maybe a couple other people in your orbit remember that, in the grand capitalist scheme, where you spend your money matters and you should be mindful of it, even when the CEO of Goya absolutely does not give a shit that you switched to the Whole Foods canned beans for three huffy weeks before you came crawling back, because Whole Foods beans are curiously crappy and Goya is an important employer on an underfunded island or whatever you needed to tell yourself at the time.
Some boycotts are easier than others, and that’s why levels of righteousness felt or excuses made by the prospective ‘cotter vary from case to case. If the leading manufacturer of ground beef-flavored hard seltzer were to publicly misstep, I would disavow them immediately, as I only drink lime hard seltzer, and only on boats.
But what about trickier cases for the enlightened beer drinker, such as Anheuser-Busch InBev? Global conglomerate with anticompetitive business practices, but they also employ more union labor than every American craft brewery combined, which counts for something to plenty of reasonable people. Their beer’s mostly not great, but is mostly cheap. Hmmmm I dunno, call that one for yourself. Founders, on the other hand, makes much better beer but has also handled accusations of workplace racial discrimination about as poorly as possible, so I don’t drink Founders anymore. Not even Backwoods Bastard! That one stings a little; it would sting less if I were a better person or could find a comparable barrel-aged Scotch ale.
Closer to home, I recently looked into rumors that a locally prominent and pretty good brewery in Central Massachusetts was too Trumpy for my bucks. I went so far as emailing them! I’m a reporter now. A high-ranking employee emailed back to say yeah, one of the several guys who own the place donated to the GOP, what can you do, we respect his rights and his amendments and all that, plus the overwhelming majority of our employees have not, in fact, ever tacitly endorsed banning Muslims from entering our shithole country. I wasn’t satisfied at first, but then I did the guessmath on who invests in breweries versus who votes for Trump and accepted that a 20 percent rate for any given outfit is, depressingly, not bad. No explicit Willcott on this one.
But why don’t I shift a couple of my Central Mass beer dollars over to Redemption Rock? They’re a Certified B Corporation, they pay their taproom employees actual decent wages and can therefore donate all tips to legit local charities, and their CEO appears to be a woman with pink hair. They also put Black Santa and dreidels on their holiday beer label without begging for good-boy points for it.
They brewed a maize and rooibos beer in collaboration with African Community Education. They are a good company.
I’ve never visited and have only tried one of their beers, the outstanding Three Decker Helles Lager. Their website says, and who am I to argue, that Three Decker has “a rich honey malt aroma with a touch of floral noble hops, and a balanced mouthfeel with a crisp finish.” Phew to that second-to-last bit, last fuckin’ thing I’m going to endorse, other than Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, is an unbalanced mouthfeel. I will only add that it comes across as exceptionally pure and clean, which is a weird thing to say about something from Worcester but there you have it.
Today’s other recommendation is Target brand beans, All Gathers Great and Small or whatever the hell they’re calling the house label this week. They’re only 75 cents a can!