Do you care what Jim Gaffigan’s beer preferences are? I really don’t. His whole schtick is that he’s a goofy, uncool dad, so whatever brewski he likes to crack open after mowing the lawn and coaching T-ball is none of my concern. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale? Sam Adams Boston Lager? Bud Light Lime-A-Rita? Whatever, man. But Gaffigan’s beer comments on a short CBS morning-show segment really cut to the core of some sensitive folks in the craft-beer world, who swiftly raised their hackles so defensively it made me cringe.
What terrible insult did Gaffigan hurl at craft beer? As part of a recurring contributor segment to a fluffy Sunday morning show, Gaffigan dared state the opinion that hey, he kinda likes beer that tastes like beer. (Quelle horreur!) He pokes fun at the silly flavors and more twee aspects of craft beer—“I don’t care how beautiful the hand-drawn label is of a cactus wrestling a penguin”—and defends “beer that taste like … I don’t know, beer.”
Yeah, he gets a touch hyperbolic to make his point, taking a swipe at small breweries with: “Now, it seems every city, town and hamlet I visit has its own beer made by locals: Specialty beers, microbrews, craft beers made by community artisans. And I have to tell you, without exception, they’re all bad.”
Am I alone in thinking Jim Gaffigan cannot actually believe all craft beer is bad? He’s making a point, with a bit of humor, as is the whole damn purpose of his little morning-show segment. Few people would have even noticed this whole “controversy” if some in the craft beer world hadn’t been so aggrieved that they responded with overly sincere pleas and efforts to convert Gaffigan to craft beer. (Methinks craft beer doth protest too much.)
First came an official response from the craft beer trade group Brewers Association, which ran under the ominous headline: “BA Responds to Comedian Jim Gaffigan’s Criticism of American Craft Beer.” In it, the group’s program director, Julia Herz, wrote Gaffigan a multi-paragraph letter defending craft beer, urging him to attend this week’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver (Author’s note: I’ll be there! Say hi if you see me!), and even enclosed a sampling of some craft beers she thinks might change his tune.
I won’t go so far as to call the effort misguided; it’s more like overkill. It makes craft beer look defensive, in my opinion, and easily offended. Instead of celebrating the fact that Gaffigan is literally promoting beer on TV, it makes craft brewers look like a quirky, small faction within the larger industry.
But the BA isn’t the only group to clap back at Gaffigan. Paste Magazine staff writer Jim Vorel, who heads up that site’s beer coverage, penned a lengthy rebuttal to Gaffigan entitled: “Jim Gaffigan’s Anti-Craft Beer Op-Ed Is Equal Parts Pointless and Short-Sighted.” Vorel argues that Gaffigan isn’t in character in his morning-show segment; he says “there aren’t any jokes to speak of in the CBS News piece.” I disagree; I think Gaffigan is still playing the expected role of the fuddy-duddy dad in the clip (he mentions his weight, age, and maleness extensively in the intro). Regardless, is this worth spilling more ink over?
Sure, if Jim Gaffigan mentioned his opinion on beer to me in person (slim chance), I might buy him a Jack’s Abby lager, or a Live Oak hefeweizen. Dude, tell me those don’t taste like beer, I’d joke. But to publicly push back on Gaffigan’s comments to make some kind of sincere argument for the dignity of craft beer only serves to reinforce the stereotype Gaffigan’s poking at: that craft beer drinkers precious navel-gazers who are too busy debating beer’s minutiae to have any fun.
Let’s not prove him right.