Arizona’s Favorite Beer Is Not What You Think

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I enjoy beer. It’s basically a cliche at this point; if you’re a writer, you drink (you may also smoke, although I don’t). If you looked at my desk right now, the evidence would confirm everything you suspected. It might also tell you that I desperately need to clean my desk.

I pride myself on being a bit of a beer snob. At a bar, the minimum I’ll settle for is a craft beer. I drink local and regional microbrews with a fierce passion. I can tell you that my favorite region of beer is the Pacific Northwest, although Arizona does have some excellent options and my very favorite beer in the world comes from San Diego.

If you had asked me what the most popular beers were by state, I would have described the Northwest as being into craft beers. Maybe some of the more affluent regions of the Northeast. But the Southwest? Good ol’ Arizona with its cowboy hats, Wild West-esque love of guns, and its proximity to Mexico? Bud Light, maybe. Possibly Corona, if the Mexico angle is played up enough. Certainly nothing more exotic than that, though.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I read this map of the most popular beers by state. From the article: “America has a new king of beers – and it’s Blue Moon.”

Bud Light still has a strong grip on the Midwest, which isn’t surprising. I’m still surprised to see a Belgian-style witbier like Blue Moon is popular with my home state. Blue Moon still has a reputation as a craft beer, even if that reputation is the subject of controversy and disagreement among more elite beer aficionados.

I’m really curious to find out what prompted the shift away from a staple like Bud Light. Is it the taste? Is it a sign of a cultural shift away from “good ol’ ‘merica?” Is it becoming cool to be elite again? I certainly hope so. I like to think that beers like Blue Moon are the gateway beers; gateways to appreciation of excellent microbrew and craft options.

6 thoughts on “Arizona’s Favorite Beer Is Not What You Think”

  1. Yuengling! Way to go Pennsylvania, glad to see you carved out a little nook for yourself with a rather tasty lager. We blow through Yuengers at my tailgate, so I definitely add to PA’s numbers.

    As for why Blue Moon is doing so well, I think your observation that it’s cool to be elite again is pretty close to the mark. I think what it really is is that it’s cool to *care* about things again. For a while, if you professed to know the difference between a good beer and a bad beer, then you were considered a snob. If, on the other hand, you asked for the cheapest thing on the menu and chugged it with a wink and a nod saying “It’s just there to get you drunk!” then you were considered cool because you were above the game.

    I think it’s part of the same social change that has made being a geek cool. Saying that you enjoy and care about something makes you more interesting, not a snob.

    1. Yeah, I think the zeitgeist has shifted again and we’re in the decline of “disaffectation is cool.” Hipster-ism seems to be on its way out, at least in most geek circles. Passion is in and, like you said, it’s interesting. Being able to articulate your preference for a particular beer and why its your favorite is trendy.

      Frankly, I like this new turn. I hope it sticks around for a while, because the ennui of not caring about things was rather depressing.

      1. The downside is the obsession with pointing out poseurs and how easy it is to manipulate anything to seem more niche. Look at the obsession with “Fake Gamer Girls,” or geeks one-upping eachother with how long they’ve been a part of _____ fandom. And you can make an food sound more delicious by describing all of the ingredients in detail. Admit it, “Locally raised,” “Imported from the fields of ____,” and “crafted,” all sound equally appetizing, and one or the other are true of literally every ingredient you use.

        The biggest danger, in my mind, is dumping on people who just don’t care about something that you do. “You drink Bud Light? What a moron.” “Uhm…I don’t actually care about beer; I have other interests. You’re an asshole.”

  2. Fellow craft beer lover! I’m fiercely loyal to the local too and they are cropping up with a quickness all around me. It’s an exciting time to be a beer lover.
    While I don’t consider Blue Moon craft (it is owned by Coors, after all, and saddles up with Shock Top in my eyes), I do consider it a vast improvement and a step in the right direction. At least it has some flavor even if it’s technically a macro (and wits/wheats just aren’t my forte).

    Cool read!

    1. Glad you liked the post!

      I have a love/hate relationship with Blue Moon. It doesn’t fit the definition of craft, like you said, being owned by Coors and all. On the other hand, arguing that point tends to reinforce the “beer snob” stereotype, which just drives people back into the safe, bland world of Bud Light.

      I try to be friendly about it. “Oh, you like Blue Moon? Well, I have a few more craft beers I think you’ll really enjoy.” It worked on my roommate, even if he does still say things like “I like good beers . . . you know, like Blue Moon and Bud Light Lime.”

      Okay, it’s still a work in progress there. What’s your particular beer forte? Mine is for red and amber ales.

      1. I’m an IPA, Porter, Stout girl (in that order). But I’m not afraid to venture outside my faves.
        I try to make recommendations too. Some folks are put off by the cost, and that I can get. Many of the bars we go to do have some solid local stuff for around the same price as Bud though!
        Sometimes I just have to embrace that I might be a little snobby about it. Hahaha

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