Brewmaster Garrett Oliver Calls Out David Chang

A couple days ago, we empathized with David Chang’s “cheap, shitty” beer manifesto that appeared in GQ; there’s something relatable about frustration over the complexity of craft beer when what one yearns for is something simple and familiar. And he makes a good point: Cheap beer works with food. You will never overpower pad thai with Coors Light. But Chang’s piece simplifies the argument between the high and the low. Today on GQ, Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver responds with an open-letter to express his concern over what he considers to be an over-romanticized nostalgia for the shitty stuff.

Chang does assert craft beers “taste good,” but it’s difficult to overlook what Chang impetuously refers to as the “epicurean snob sets,” to which Oliver responds, “It’s not the fancy beer you don’t like. You don’t like us, your people. You have a ‘tenuous relationship with the epicurean snob set’? You are the epicurean snob set! I’ve seen you with champagne in one hand and a Noma lamb leg in the other, chatting up celebrities.” There is a time and a place for champagne or gueuze or Bud, and that’s the beauty of embracing both high and low without judgment—and knowing the appropriate moment for each.

Oliver goes on to point out that, like most collage-aged youth, he had a past with shitty beer (and White Castle, for that matter), but appreciates that today, standards are higher (and Shake Shack exists): “I continued to drink industrial beer all through college. But the fact was, I hated it. I also hated instant ramen but ate it every damned day, five packs to the dollar. I was a student. I didn’t have any money. I did it out of necessity; I wanted some booze.”

Where Oliver finds Chang’s taste for Bud disturbing, Chang has reminded us that cheap beer has a time and a place. But, when you’re drinking with Oliver, that’s the time for the good stuff, son.  [GQ] [Image: Flickr/paintnothing]