I have written recently about attempts to pass off standard (or subpremium) lagers as premium. One newspaper, which has been outstanding in its quality coverage of beer over the last couple of years, has slipped into the same trap. The New York Times, no less.
Instead of praising the virtues of American craft beers, Czech lagers or Danish experimental brews, they have decided to sing the praises of Beer Lao.
The author is convinced by the sight of young backpackers enjoying the national beer. They must be on to something.
And the brand’s logo adorns everything from patio furniture to street signs, according to the NYT. As if that was a sign of anything. I can point to dozens of countries with a hot climate where advertising for the local beers is plentiful, but where the beer is, at best, mediocre.
If the product you are writing about is unavailable where your newspaper is sold, you can get away with nearly everything. With the web, there are lots of us who have tasted Beer Laos and can testify that the reason that this beer does not travel so well is that it is brewed with cheap ingredients in a hot climate and loses its magic when removed from its context. I enjoy pale lagers after a day in the hot sun as well. But if there is something of real quality as an alternative, I will always go for that.
There are lots of us who will try any new beer. Once.
My advice? Enjoy your national monopoly while you can. Maybe add some real premium beers to your range. If you are Czech trained, you know what I mean. No rice in the beer is a place to start. There are tougher times ahead, even if you don’t waste your money on an export adventure.
Thanks to Evan for twittering about this.
Where did I buy my bottle ? WholeFoods, Kensington, London. They have at least 50 beers which you should try before this. But if you’re a ticker, by all means. It’s not as if you’ll go blind drinking it.