Dates: 2nd September – 8th September, 2013
Bottle shop: Countdown Johnsonville, Wellington
Beer(s): Double Brown, by DB (well, Heineken), (18 x 330ml cans, $21.99)
Let me explain.
A few weeks back, I bought a dining table from a Nice Chap on Trade Me. Because I’m utterly useless, I didn’t measure the internal dimensions of the Whānau Wagon before driving up to his place (which was way up the Kapiti Coast, no less – i.e. just enough to be annoyingly far given my cock-up). Inevitably, the table didn’t fit. As I was standing there, scratching my head (and seriously contemplating whether my wife would notice the saw marks if I made some slight alterations), Nice Chap piped up: “Whereabouts do you live? I could drop it off in my truck tomorrow.”
Stop a stranger from looking like a dick: Legend.
Nice Chap had saved the day; it wasn’t his problem to fix, but he fixed it anyway. And there was only one way to repay such a deed: with that most-stable of all traded commodities, Beer. Nice Chap couldn’t have been happier with his 18 Double Browns (his choice, by the way), and we had a lovely shiny dining table delivered the very next day.
I could have given Nice Chap $20 for gas, but I knew that Beer was a far more valuable offer. Why? Well, it’s simple: when traded as a commodity, beer appropriates a value well in excess of its sticker price. There are always plenty of staples to spend $20 on – two loaves of bread and a bottle of milk would just about do it – but Nice Chap went home that night with a little something ‘special’ that was just for him. That’s why beer is such a stable commodity; you effectively force someone to take something that they’re virtually guaranteed to get enjoyment from (you know, assuming they like beer).
Which brings us back to the present: Double Brown is my beer this week because a) I wanted to talk about beer as a currency, and b) I wanted to know what would cause a man to be so loyal to a brand that, when offered the choice of any beer, his choice was clear and unequivocal.
I’ve covered the first part – but after 18 cans, I’m still drawing a complete blank on the second. Double Brown is, well, Poos. Really Poos. Really Really Poos. It’s basically bitter water with a vaguely caramel flavour. Coming home after a hard-days-researchin’ to a cold can of Brown this week was just plain demoralising. The first sip results in an uncontrollable shudder – like that first teenage sip of beer all over again.
I tried my best to get through the whole box. We made beer bread, which strangely enough (and very disappointingly) tasted like Double Brown, and thus was a waste of perfectly-good Surebake.
I even used a can in a Beef and Ale stew, which was actually pretty num num – but I would guess with a fair amount of certainty that that was in spite of Brown, not because of it.
By the way – I’m not just being a beer snob here, teeing-off on Brown because it’s hip to hate mainstream beers. I’d like to think that I give everything a fair trial and then pass on my honest reflections. For example, it’s really not that popular to like Boundary Road beers – a quick Twitter search will show you what I mean – but in the past 10-odd weeks of this blog I’ve given glowing reviews to a couple of their beers. My beef with Brown is that it smacks of a beer which no-one in the brewing process gives a shit about. It’s swill, and they know it – so they put 18 cans in a box and sell it for Bugger All. But that’s not value – that’s just cheap, in every sense of the word. An engagement ring bought from The Warehouse is certainly cheap, but that doesn’t make it good value.
The standard-issue defence given by fans of Brown and its tasteless kin is that Beer Is Beer – that cold beer on a hot day all tastes the same, blah blah blah, etcetera. But that argument is as Poos as Brown. Cheap Beer Is Cheap Beer. Likewise, Good Beer is Good Beer – and as I’m proving, you can still get outstanding beer value on a Double Brown budget. There might not be 18 cans of it – but that just means you’re less likely to waste your Surebake.