September 16, 2008

Mug Shots - T’eed off - drink better beer

The Ryder Cup is here in Louisville, and while I’d like to offer a compelling explication of the natural affinities between golf and better beer, such a feat probably isn’t possible without drinking a pint or four of Wee Heavy.

The “19th hole” in American parlance remains the undisputed domain of light lagers, and arguably the only good thing that can be said about these industrially produced, carbonated alcohol delivery devices is that they quench a duffer’s thirst, albeit far less effectively than plain, non-alcoholic tap water.

There is general agreement that modern golf originated in Scotland, and many fine ales are brewed there, too, but nowadays more than half the beer sold in Scotland is pale lager. Too bad, because a solid case can be made for the traditional ale of the vicinity: amber to dark in color, rich and malty sweet with little hop character.

That said, the traditional demographics of golf and better beer come very close to being mutually exclusive. 

While it is clear that during the latter half of the 20th century, golf’s core demographic underwent a massive transformation — and the game is far more egalitarian than it was for centuries — the sport continues to require investments in equipment and time, and the availability of suitable real estate, which precludes it from being the game of choice for urban kids who can play soccer in an alleyway with a tin can for a ball.

Until quite recently, people who had the time and money to play golf simply were not the same people with a disposition toward better beer. They might be able to afford to pay for better beer but would have relegated the beverage to plebian status, and sipped red wine or cradled rare whisky instead. 

Be democratic. Drink better beer while watching the Ryder Cup.


Roger Baylor is co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany. Visit www.potablecurmudgeon.com for more beer.