Food & Drink

Drinking cheap beer does not make you a hipster

PBR + Cash Money

I am not a hipster for drinking cheap beer. You can say I'm cheap for drinking cheap beer. You can say I have an unrefined palate. You can say I've never gotten over college. You can say I've never gotten over high school. All of these things would be true. But you cannot say I'm a hipster.

If I drank expensive beer, I would be living on the street, because I drink a lot of beer. You can say I'm bragging, but it's the truth. Look at my debit card statement if you want. You'll notice there are no charges for expensive hats or pea coats that despite their priciness look like they belong to a street person. That's because I'm not a hipster.

If I drank expensive beer, you could call me a hipster, because I don't really appreciate expensive beer, and people who cultivate an appreciation for things that they don't really appreciate are hipsters. If you run across a guy drinking a $35 Emelisse Marble Earl Grey IPA, you can call him a hipster, because hipsters love to pretend they love shit like that. Just be careful, because he might genuinely love shit like that. If he genuinely loves shit like that, then he is not a hipster. If you cannot determine whether or not his love for shit like that is genuine, you might have poor facial-emotion recognition, a symptom of the psychosis that causes you to label as a hipster every person you see drinking cheap or expensive beer

But back to me

When I drank Schaefer in the back of a minivan cruising Seawall Blvd in Galveston, I was not a hipster. I was taking Schaefer up on its "one beer to have when you're having more than one" motto as I economically tried to get to that state where you think handing your Mississippi fake ID to a cop is a good idea

When I drank $1 PBRs at the Black Cat Lounge in Austin, I was not a hipster. I was in college, discovering that you could really stretch your budget when you hung out at a place that charged $1 more for Blue Ribbons than it did for hot dogs. When I drank $2 Mamba tall boys ("the Michelob of the Ivory Coast") at the Black Cat Lounge in Austin, I was not a hipster. I was discovering that malt liquor has more alcohol in it than beer, and that 25 ounces is more than 12 ounces

When I drank Lionshead at the Grand Victory in Brooklyn, I was not a hipster. I was buying $15 rounds instead of $24 rounds. In New York City, that is a grand victory

When I drank Busch at the Rusty Knot in Manhattan, I was not a hipster. I was a man paying $3 less than the micro-brew lovers, because the Rusty Knot is next to one river, and my apartment is next to the other river, and that cab fare is far more painful than whatever hangover cheap beer supposedly gives you that expensive beer doesn't. Am I going to drop $7 instead of $4 to gain your respect? Sure. And after that I'm frantically peddling my Schwinn straight to the nice department store to get a designer brand polo shirt because you'll make fun of me if I wear that ratty t-shirt because we're in Sixth Grade

Of course I know the story of the PBR brand manager who allegedly invented hipsters by infiltrating niche circles of relatively well-off young men who didn't shave regularly and sliding them product on the down-low. Who cares. I used a particular brand of laundry detergent the other day, and it wasn't because I'm a mom whose kids just can't stop getting grass stains on their shorts and when I saw that commercial with the mom whose kids just can't stop getting grass stains on their shorts it really resonated with me. I used it because it gets the job done and it costs less than other major brands.

That was a lie. I use a laundry service that I pay for with the money I save by buying cheap beer. But if I did do my own laundry, that would be my philosophy on detergent

That brand manager never came into my bar. Which is fine. Even back then I didn't need the most maniacally brilliant marketer of all time just to tell me that spending less can sometimes be better than spending more. I doubt all those bike messengers he's credited with converting needed that either. Bike messengers might be dicks to pedestrians, but that doesn't make them members of the new leisure class. They earn a living delivering things on bikes -- it's not exactly Wall Street money

But say he had wandered in, and say I'd never considered PBR before, because instead of regularly taking advantage of what had become one of Austin's most popular beer specials 15 years before this brand manager embarked upon his devious scheme, I'd spent my college years studying, or banging my head against a tree, or something

If he'd made small talk until I was convinced that he didn't want to throw me in the back of a minivan, then offered to buy me a beer, I would've said, "Sure, thanks". If he'd asked what I thought, I would've said, "You know, it's not bad. And at this price, I can afford to chase it with a shot of middling bourbon". And then, years later, when somebody wrote an article about how me and a bunch of other suckers had been manipulated into joining the vanguard of the hipster movement, I'd say, "No, I was just a broke idiot blowing too much money on suds, until a wonderful man opened my eyes to a brave new world of incremental savings".

Are cheap beers getting more expensive? Yes. That's what happens when people buy lots of something that's cheap. That's also what happens when every single thing in the universe gets more expensive. When I moved to New York, my bodega charged $2.49 for a decent pint of ice cream. Lately I've seen as high as $7. Apparently rent is also steeper these days. Is the rising cost of cheap beer the hipsters' fault? Probably not. And even if it were, why would that make you angry? Because you're concerned for the working man, or because you were drinking cheap beer way before all those bandwagoners drove up the price? That whine doesn't sound familiar at all

But none of that's the point. The point is, don't judge me. I like drinking too much to care that much about what I'm drinking. If it doesn't make me gag, I'm generally pretty happy. I'm also not above or below appreciating something more expensive, as long as you're buying. Actually, you should take me up on that. We can have a great conversation about how your shoes clearly indicate that you're just another goddamn metrosexual.