Beer is NOT the New Wine!

My late friend and colleague, Michael Jackson, the Beer Hunter and Whisky Chaser, once stated, “People ask me if I also drink wine, as if beer is a prison rather than a playground.”

With that statement, Michael deftly summarized the problem with headlines like this one, which imply that people might or even should drink one thing over another to the point of exclusivity. Like Michael, I am fond of a glass of wine or whisky, or a pint of dry cider or a well-made cocktail. And even though I’ve written or co-written eight books on beer, I would balk at ever suggesting that ale or lager is categorically better than wine or spirits.

The point being that a multitude of different flavours exists in all three broad categories of alcoholic beverages – beer, wine and spirits, plus cider and saké – and still more flavours might be obtained when any of the above are mixed together into a cocktail. Each of these deserve exploration by curious imbibers, and if one or another proves not to be to your taste, then so be it.

Just don’t suggest to me that because of the size of shape of the bottle, or the trendiness of the advertising and marketing, than any one beverage is the “new” version of another, entirely different beverage. Beer is beer, wine is wine, and spirits are spirits. Period.

7 Replies to “Beer is NOT the New Wine!”

  1. Your point is well taken, but one would do well to think twice about bothering to expend any energy over any article that includes the word “malternative.”

  2. When I hear the phrase “beer is the new wine” I don’t understand it to contain the implication that one is somehow unequivocally ‘better’ than the other. To an extent, I even find myself agreeing with the statement insofar as beer is now sampled, collected, reviewed, scrutinised, aged and revered in a way that was once, only really the domain of fine wines and spirits.

    Beer’s profile in society is on the rise and people are finally starting to appreciate the artisanal nature of well crafted brews. Where wine and cheese pairing was once a staple of the cultured classes, we now see beer and cheese pairing taking its place: I’ll even be hosting just such a night at the end of the month in my bar.

    Beer is not objectively better than any other drink but, thanks to the craft beer revolution of the last couple of decades, I think I could argue a good case for it being better than it ever has been and for it being better received by those with a connoisseurial approach to their booze.

  3. People are always shocked to catch me drinking something other than beer! This is especially common at weddings with a disappointing beer selection – I usually opt to drink Scotch or wine instead!

  4. Beer is the new product to market as if it was wine. As Gary Vaynerchuck , one of the more accomplished contemporary marketers likes to repeat, “Marketers ruin everything”.

  5. The funny thing about the phrase is I’ve been hearing it for 20 years or more. It’s a long time coming… 🙂 But really it means simply (IMO) that there is new interest in beer – people are looking at it in a new way, which they analogize to how wine is perceived in gastronomy. It’s not meant to suggest that wine is not as good as beer, as I’ve understood it. Personally however, I’ve lost the taste for wine. I still like a shot of the hard stuff once in a while, but beer has become my main drink. Wine doesn’t taste as good or as right except when dining out sometimes. But this is strictly a personal view and evolution. Everyone is different and Jackson to be sure enjoyed wine until his passing. He loved Tuscany and part of that was an enjoyment of its wines, for example.


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