Friday, June 21, 2024

An Open Letter To Anthony Bourdain And His Hatred Of Craft Beer

Anthony Bourdain, chef and author of the famed memoir, Kitchen Confidential, was recently interviewed by Thrillist about a myriad of topics, from food to craft beer. Bourdain took the time in this interview to describe his hatred of beer culture. As a longtime bartender and lover of beer, here is my rage response:

Dear Anthony Bourdain,

I read today you don’t like craft breweries. That one afternoon in San Francisco, you were “desperate” for a beer and you walked into a bar and couldn’t get the pint you were looking for. (It’s highly unlikely, by the way, that the bar wouldn’t have a cold pilsner or lager, but whatever). You were disgusted by the folks talking about and drinking different shades of craft beers as if they were diners talking over the traits of their appetizers. Let me jog your memory.

I walked into this place…and I noticed there was a wide selection of beers I’d never heard of, which is fine. But I looked around: the entire place was filled with people sitting there with five small glasses in front of them, filled with different beers, taking notes. This is not a bar. This is f—ing Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This is wrong. This is not what a bar is about.

People in bars. Taking notes and inspecting samples of beer. Discerning flavor and composition and complexity of something they’ll soon consume with their bodies.

I’m sorry, did I miss something? THIS IS LITERALLY WHAT YOU DO FOR A LIVING WITH FOOD. Except in this case, the bar was down the block from whatever hotel you were staying at and not in a restaurant in some developing nation that you could exploit on television.

Over the years, Tony, you’ve become as well known for your criticism of other people as you have for your food. And the brewers and drinkers of craft beer have caught your eye now. Why? Because you would rather stumble into a dank, depressive bar — bars with patrons slung over the last bit of beer holding out hope someone will buy them one more shot. That’s your history, right? Drinking for depravity. That’s always been your thing. Lights low, so no one can see what you’re doing. You don’t want a room full of people articulating what they enjoy about a glass of something under warm lights. Well, not unless it’s something over which you can purport mastery.

And I get it. Craft beer is bougie. There is room to criticize, but not by you, Tony. Not by a scam artist. You appropriate culture and you’ve made gobs of money doing it. You bring cameras and artificial lights to fisherman docks in Vietnam, to noodle houses in Cambodia, to farms in Mexico and then take what these workers have made and put your name on it. You’re a cancer. You give back nothing.

And when you can’t get a cheap glass of cold piss beer to wash down your hip flask, you throw a tantrum. You go on a national platform and tell people craft breweries are turning people into zombies? Homie, you literally look like a zombie.

I’ve been a bartender in a beer bar for over six years and I’ve written about beer for the last two. Beer evokes fantasy and image, history and conversation. It’s one of civilization’s oldest creations and is experiencing a renaissance. And this new plethora is often digested in public. Deal with it.

If you walked into my pub tomorrow, I’d ask you to leave. I’ve always had this feeling you were an untrustworthy hypocrite, from your pithy east coast affect to this latest nonsense. So, Tony, I choose to raise a glass to you out of the goodness of my heart. Wherever you travel to next, I hope you learn a real lesson.

Cheers, Tony.


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