Earlier this month, acclaimed James Beard award winning chef David Chang made a bolt statement on GQ: “I hate fancy beer.”
Chef Chang can deal with cheese snobs, and he can deal with wine snobs. While it’s foreign to him, he can even deal with coffee snobs. But beer snobs? The ones who comb out their neck beards while arguing about hop varieties? They’re “the worst of the bunch,” he claims.
It’s important to note that Chef Chang does like how “fancy” beer tastes, it’s just that what he wants more often than not is something that is the “lightest, crappiest beer” available, and even suggests that’s how he orders his beer at a restaurant, often met with a dumbfounded look from the waiter or sommelier though he is very much serious.
I’m not saying that those beers don’t taste good. They do! And there’s a time and place for imperial stouts and barrel-aged saisons. (I have seen the sunrise from the bar at Mikkeller, okay, guys?) But 95 percent of the time, I don’t want something that tastes delicious. I want a Bud Light. I am not being falsely contrarian or ironic in a hipsterish way. This is something that I genuinely feel: I do not want a tasty beer.
Cue Brooklyn Brewery’s James Beard award winning Garrett Oliver. To nobody’s surprise, that didn’t fly with him and his response article in GQ was priceless. Oliver, predictably, said that he hates crappy beer and pushes the envelope one step further, flipping the script on Chef Chang saying that he’s the one that’s the snob, the very type of person that Chef Chang is rallying against.
Garrett Oliver’s response is posted in its entirety below. Well played, Mr. Oliver.
I’m a little worried about you. I mean, it was funny for a while. Like the time you told me in your restaurant how much you loved crappy beer. And then you told me in your other restaurant how you wanted the shittiest beer you could find. And the time one of your lieutenants asked me to make you a Momofuku beer, and that “Dave wants it to be ‘really bad, just like Tecate.'” And then you walked up to me at our mutual friend’s wedding a few months ago and said, “You’re really gonna hate to hear this, but…” I stopped you: “Let me guess…you wish that delicious cocktail was a terrible watery beer, right?” You looked a bit crestfallen. All this time I thought you were being, you know, spirited. As your column in this month’s GQ makes clear, you’re not joking at all.
C’mon man, give it a rest. You want us off your lawn?
The first beer I ever tried was at the age of 12 at a backyard BBQ. Miller High Life. I took a massive swig and spat it out into the grass. Turned out the stuff was nasty.
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.
Could I still murder a bag of White Castle cheeseburgers at midnight? Hells yeah! But I don’t go telling Danny Meyer about it every time I see him. White Castle is nostalgic, but Shake Shack burgers make me stupid with happiness. Now I can have a few nice things, and I like it that way. I respect industrial beer, but I don’t have to drink it anymore.
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. Why you frontin’? You spent your first three paragraphs insulting people just like you…is the cash, fame and luxury not working out?
We don’t come telling you how we love pink slime more than your Berkshire pork, or Cup O’ Soup more than your ramen, or a foil packet of carcinogens more than your tonkotsu. Why? Because that would be boring, that’s why. Come over to the brewery some time. We’ll have fun. I’ll show you how to do this, son.
With tough love,