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November 13, 2007

Mug Shots: Sacrilege and mass merger

As if it matters to anyone outside the readership of the Wall Street Journal, two bloated giants of mass-market lager manufacturing have announced their intent to combine operations. The forthcoming alliance of MolsonCoors and SAB Miller is being dissected by breathless industry analysts, who deploy catatonic terminology culled from the moldy pages of discarded MBA textbooks to explain the many benefits of economy of scale as they pertain to the shareholders.    Understanding that none of it is likely to advance the cause of beer as beer was meant to be, I see this latest marriage of heavyweights as a blessing in disguise. May they happily emit noxious liquids ever-after while the rest of us cruise happily beneath the radar.    I’m reminded of my favorite passage from Sinclair Lewis’ novel “Elmer Gantry.” To set the scene, the title character, who has introduced himself to a spiritually genuine ascetic named Father Pengilly, embarks upon a colossally vapid, self-serving monologue intended to document his many empty achievements as a popular evangelist.     “Why, say, we’ve started the only class in show-window dressing in any church in the United States — and I should suppose England and France! We’ve already seen the most wonderful results, not only in raising the salary of several of the fine young men in our church, but in increasing business throughout the city and improving the appearance of show-windows, and you know how much that adds to the beauty of the down-town streets!”    The old man listens without comment as the half-baked quack prattles on, and when Gantry finally pauses for breath, he responds with a question:        “Mr. Gantry,” said Andrew Pengilly, “why don’t you believe in God?”     A variation of the same question might be asked of MolsonCoorsSABMillerAnheuserBusch and any other megabrewer: Why don’t you believe in beer?Roger Baylor is co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany. Visit www.potablecurmudgeon.com for more beer.