The front page of today’s Washington Post features a photo of a hundred or so craft beers on the shelves at Total Wine & More, and the headline reads: Cold Comfort In Hard Times.
With a headline like that I thought this was going to be a story of good news. But then I read the subhead: Beer Holds Up as Vice That’s Not Too Pricey.
Huh? What makes beer a vice? This article reflects America’s ongoing schizophrenic attitudes toward beer and drinking in general. Read the article for yourself below.
Life’s guilty pleasures usually thrive during tough economic times. Though we may forgo new frocks or fancy dinners out, we have traditionally turned to the three big vice industries — gambling, smoking and drinking — to help ease our pain. Read the rest of the article here.
This flaw aside, the article is in fact mostly good news. Beer does fine in recessions. My favorite line in the article is from Rob Sands, chief executive officer of Constellation Brands, who said his “customers haven’t been trading down so much as trading across.” In other words, choosing beer over wine or a cocktail isn’t a step down but a move to something else that is equally good.
(Btw, I discuss the issue of America’s ambivalence toward beer in more detail in my book Fermenting Revolution.)