Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Overcoming the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

Moab Brewery
686 S. Main St.
Moab, UT

“Not to be a smartass, but…”

I realize that’s not the best way to begin a new relationship.

But other than bringing me a few brews and some food, my relationship with my waiter at Moab Brewery was going to be relatively short lived anyway.

You have to understand, I was just incredulous at what he told me.

“By state law, all the draft beer we brew is 3.2 percent,” he explained.

That’s 3.2% alcohol content by volume.

I mean, even your watered down puke American light beers like Miller Lite are at least 4.5%. Budweiser is 5%.

A good microbrew can approach double digits. Heck, I’ve got a bottle of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA I’m saving at home that touches 20% ABV. Definitely a special occasion sipping beer.

So who the hell wants to waste their time with a beer restricted to just 3.2?

Other than a few forgettable trips to Tulsa, Oklahoma, I’ve never run into this “three-two” beer crisis.

So I sure wasn’t expecting to confront this issue here – at a microbrewery, for Pete’s sake!

“Not to be a smartass, but what is the freaking point? I mean, why bother building a microbrewery if you can’t brew real beer?”

I think I offended my waiter.

Something about the look on his face.

He explained that he had worked in Salt Lake City for Uinta Brewing and they competed against breweries all over the world – and won – with 3.2% beer.

He assured me the alcohol content would not affect the taste.

I was dubious, to say the least.

But what could I do? Arguing with my waiter wasn’t going to cause a frosty mug of Dogfish Head’s finest to suddenly appear in my hand.

So I tried Moab’s “Merrimack Steamer”, a pale ale with a crisp, hoppy, tasty flavor.

I mean, this brew isn’t going to make the Beer Hall of Fame, but I have to admit, I was impressed.

Call it “the soft bigotry of low expectations,” as George W. Bush would say.

My second brew, the “Raven Stout”, seemed like a good choice because stouts tend to be low in alcohol anyway. Maybe I wouldn’t miss it, I rationalized.

Unfortunately, this oatmeal stout tasted watered down, not as good as the Steamer.

The good news is that unlike the beer, the food served at Moab Brewery is free from meddling restrictions imposed by the Utah legislature.

My “Chili Verde Pork Burrito” was chock full of fork tender meat that had been slow simmered in green chili sauce. If those Mormon lawmakers had the same attitude toward dead pig that they do toward beer, this burrito would be in serious violation of at least a couple Utah statutes.

Topped with cheese and a delicious chili of beans, onions, olives, peppers and tomatoes, my burrito was an ideal companion to my microbrewed beer.

On the side came sturdy slabs of fresh baked corn bread studded with jalapeño peppers. After slathering on a generous hunk of honey sweet butter, I was in corn bread heaven.

So I know you are dying to know. My waiter was too.

Is Suit757 a convert to hand crafted low alcohol beer?

Well, I’ll tell you what I told my waiter.

I’m impressed.

Moab Brewery moved me from “Why bother?” to “Hey, this is actually pretty good.”

I mean, I’m not going home and pouring my $13 twelve ounce bottle of 120 Minute IPA down the drain or anything. But I’m impressed. Impressed that Moab Brewery can overcome such a 3.2 ABV handicap and rise to the occasion.

So impressed, I cashed in my little “$1 Off Souvenirs” wooden coin at the gift shop and bought myself a Moab Brewery shirt.

So is Suit757 going soft in his old age?

I don’t think so. But who knows? You know what they say about low expectations.

Rating: Bought the Shirt.

Moab Brewery on Urbanspoon


  1. Bloody Mormons. Magic underwear and 3.2 beer. No wonder they need multiple wives.

    Does Suite 757 review the 120 IPA anywhere? I love the 90, but the 120 nearly turned me off of IPA's entirely. Burnt caramel and airplane glue (and I even let the bleedin' thing sit out for 30 minutes before drinking just like the brew master said).

    1. Actually, I'm aging my 120 in my storage closet for a special occasion (like the day Mitt Romney drops out of the presidential race). But I'll be sure to let you know my opinion, for what it's worth.

      I've heard Dogfish has tinkered with the recipe a few times to address that whole airplane glue issue. We'll see.

  2. Just to clear something up, beer in Utah is 3.2% by weight, not by volume. So in reality our beer is 4% volume. I know it's not much a difference, but by labeling our cans and bottles 3.2%, people automatically assume it's by volume and that it's weaker. I think it's to discourage people from drinking, but really, I think Utah wants them to buy more to "feel the buzz" which in turn means Utah is making more money.

  3. This was written a while ago but I feel that I must clarify. Microbrew Draft doesn't have to be 3.2 your waiter was in idiot. You can also go in the store and buy Microbrews at above the 3.2abv. The state has provided exceptions for Microbreweries because it's fucking expensive to regulate and moderate beer down to that number

    1. Well, to be fair to my waiter, he did say that you can buy real beer in the BOTTLE, but all draft beer in Utah must be 3.2% or lower -- even at the microbreweries.

      Unless the legislature came to its senses and changed the law in the last year or so. But that would be giving the politicians WAY too much credit. After all, their job is to create problems, not solve them.

    2. I feel like I need to clarify. First, beer in Utah is measured by weight, not volume. Thus, your waiter's reference to "3.2" was a measurement by weight. 3.2% is roughly equal to 4%ABV. Second, you make an important distinction between bottled and draft beer. 'Heavy beer', beer that is > 4%ABV, as it is called in utah is available by the bottle.

      These silly laws in Utah must be reformed. However, people's misperception of Utah beer laws blows me away. Get your facts straight before you go blasting away on the internet-or don't do it at all. Ignorance plagues the blogosphere and is undermining the valid attempts of some to objectively critique portions of the world.

    3. Volume vs. weight. 3.2 vs. 4.0. Whatever.

      Just leave my freakin' beer alone!

      I think a little confusion is understandable (and intentional). Out here in America (the other 49 states) we don't have to spend much time thinking about such distictions.