What is a classic? Can anything be classic? A song by Eric Clapton? A 1965 Shelby Mustang? Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman in Mel Brooks’ legendary “Young Frankenstein?”
In the world of adult beverages, there are plenty of classics, especially in cocktails. We’ve all heard of the growth in classic cocktails such as martinis, old fashioneds, and Moscow mules.
But just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s a classic. A classic is an original idea, flavor or groundbreaking product that started industries.
I spent a weekend in northern Wisconsin this summer and enjoyed two classic products. Sitting around a campfire with old college buddies is classic in itself! But when you throw in a little beer — the stories get better, the classic jokes get funnier and your exploits turn from mundane college pranks into epic achievements of glory!
Miller Lite was the catalyst for many of the old stories. When Miller Lite came on the national beer scene in 1975, people were dumbfounded. Who wants a “Lite” beer? Who would have even thought of Lite? Who even knew beer had calories? They didn’t even know how to spell!
Miller Lite was the brainchild of a vice president in Milwaukee. His inspiration came from a trip to Germany when he had a lighter style beer. The different brewing process, lower calories and low alcohol struck a chord with an entire generation.
I am not a sociologist, but I would venture an opinion that Miller Lite created a new awareness of losing weight and healthy lifestyles that blew up in the late 1970s and ’80s. It is not too far a stretch that the Miller Lite craze begat the entire health industry. Would Jane Fonda and her iconic workout videos have started without the groundbreaking creation of Lite beer? Who knows?
Lite may not have been the entire catalyst, but it definitely helped. The commercials alone turned aging sports figures into iconic advertisers. The whole “Great taste–less filling” arguments still resonate today. Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner were my favorites.
Miller Lite is a good beer. It is not the trendy drink loved by the beer cognoscenti because it doesn’t use 14 different types of exotic hops and grains grown by hipsters using organic fertilizer from free range black angus beef cows. It is merely brewed in the time-honored and simple ways of any classic: water, barley, hops, and yeast. A crisp clean flavor with just the right touch of bitter hops is totally satisfying. Really classic American light beer!
Any classical reference to beer, has to include one of the largest and most influential beer brands in the world. Heineken has been brewed since the mid to late 1800s. Started by Gerard Heineken in Amsterdam, it has become one of the largest sellers worldwide. They have expanded carefully and smartly throughout the world.
The terrific branding of the green bottle, red star and the smiling “e” are known everywhere! Heineken is no one’s favorite beer, but it is everyone’s second favorite! Wherever you go, you know you can find a Heineken and enjoy the classic flavor. A little richer, a little more rustic than Miller Lite, Heineken always satisfies.
In the last 30 or so years, the Heineken family (even though it is publicly traded, a family member is still involved in decision-making) has embarked on a buying spree. They now own many huge brands around the world. From our southern neighbor Mexico, beers like Sol and Dos Equis are part of the Heineken family. From the Far East you can have a great Tiger beer from Malaysia. Not only is the beer good, but the business sense is great.
These two great beers are just two of the many classics available. Try the classics and never be disappointed. There is a reason — the greats keep surviving and prospering. Enjoy in moderation! Cheers!