The danger of the "sophisticated palate."

A couple of weeks ago, I went a little crazy on the subject of beer. Well, I came across an argument today that made me laugh. The article itself is innocuous enough--it's about how Anheuser Busch has been losing market share with its own beers and so has turned to selling imports like Stella Artois and Beck's to try to regain its crown. It was this bit that got me laughing:

"I chugged way too much Bud and Miller in college, and I like to think my taste is more sophisticated now," said Joe Manahan, a 26-year-old logistics planner for an import/export firm in Atlanta. "These beers like Heineken and Beck's, you want to sip them and really appreciate the flavor."

It made me laugh because the signature Heineken taste that Joe appreciates is what is commonly known as "skunked beer." It used to be caused by exposure to light and heat in the green glass bottles during Heineken's trip across the Atlantic, but now it's something done to the beer deliberately in order for the beer to taste the same everywhere.

However, in Joe's defense and in defense of Heineken drinkers everywhere (which include plenty of people who came to our party Saturday night and even me, since I'll no doubt be drinking the leftovers over the next week or two), Heineken does have a unique taste, and not a bad one either, and if, like me, you spent your college years chugging cheap beer--I was more in the Natty Light/Milwaukee's Beast socio-economic spectrum--then Heineken is a major step up in terms of flavor. And anything that helps a palate become more sophisticated is a good thing in my book, because it helps bring the cost of good beer down.

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