Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Oh no! They kidnapped me and forced me to drink beer! Some victims get all the luck.

But I could do without the kidnapping, as it's not a necessary part of the beer-drinking experience. Depends, I guess, on who is doing the kidnapping. Somehow, it ran concurrently with this article, on a recently aired commercial in North Korea for their state brew, Taedong River Beer.

The piece mentions how there are never commercials for any food, much less beer, on DPRK state TV, which is regularly episode after episode of propaganda pieces on their mighty leader, including the usual slogans and factory descriptions. (Factory descriptions! Perhaps they're on to something, because it's actually a pretty popular show on the Science Channel: How It's Made.) So why did Kim Jong Il decide to make a beer commercial? Who knows?

The advertisement, which lasted nearly three minutes after a news program on Thursday, showed a grinning Korean man with sweat on his face holding a glass of beer, with a caption that read, "Taedong River Beer is the pride of Pyongyang."

The commercial said the beer relieves stress and improves health and longevity. It also showed images of a pub it said was in the capital of Pyongyang, filled with people drinking.

No girls in bikinis? Anyway, I picture all those extras being kidnapped by the State and then forced to drink beer for the commercial. If they had any sense, they would do it wrong repeatedly for the retakes. How does one act poorly in a beer commercial? Without smiling, of course. I suspect everyone smiling in North Korea is a professional actor for the State. Then again, it would be difficult to enjoy a beer under the threat of a DPRK forced labor camp. You should check out the beer spot here, comrade. You owe it to your countrymen to drink up and enjoy.

Here in America, we bask in the luxury of a thousand different beers, and as many bad beer commercials, as I'm sure you are well aware. I've been partial to IPAs recently, where I used to despise them. I've never seen a commercial for an IPA, but here's one: Deschutes Brewery makes an IPA that really hit the spot and got me on a bender, so I began trying a few others. Still, I don't mean to sound racist, but there always seems a little too much "India" in the India Pale Ale for me, where I prefer a little more "pale". Sierra Nevada's IPA was a disappointment, which seemed so overly-hopped that it obscured all the other simple qualities of beer. Stone's IPA is preferable, but I'm heading out of that town now. It's summer. We need a lighter fare.

I brought home some Wyder's recently, which is always pleasing. Their Pear cider is tasty enough that Mrs. Ditchman has been drinking it, (and nearly finishing the bottle!) But it tastes like soda pop to me, and I fear I might down most of the six-pack and then drive off through the neighborhood with the last one in my left hand, resting on the open window of the car door. There are several "Summer" beers available now, usually crafted by microbrews who spend the year making heavier stuff. (The Winemaker says Sierra Nevada has gone downhill. Their summer beer is evidence of this.) Oceanside Ale Works has a nice one that they serve with a slice of orange, but my real favorite is a new one from Maui Brewing Company. Their "Bikini Blonde Lager" has a sweet, malty finish that sets it apart from others. Maui Brewing Company sells their beer in cans, which they claim is more environmentally sound. Perhaps it is, but selling beer in cans for ten dollars a six pack does not seem to me a winning marketing strategy. It's too bad, as their near-perfect "Coconut Porter" has to be tasted to be believed. To make matters worse, it comes in a four-pack, also cans.

This weekend, if I can make it there, we will be heading to the Stone Brewery for their third annual "Sour Fest" which should be fun. Do I like sours? Not particularly, my friends, but any excuse... any excuse...