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Beer-tech just leaves me in the cold

Men of Spokane, let’s talk about our favorite subject: beer.

Like many of you, I find this topic endlessly uplifting, exhilarating, and need I say, effervescent. But today I want to deliver a short, yet heartfelt, lecture on a disturbing new issue:

Do we really need a Cold Activation Window to tell us whether our Coors Light is cold?

Coors Light is now advertising its newest innovation, which is, essentially, a hole in the case. Here’s how the company puts it:

“Known for continuous beer innovation, The World’s Most Refreshing Beer is introducing packaging that allows legal-drinking-age consumers to look through the Cold Activation Window, prior to purchase, to confirm the mountains are blue and thus their beer is ‘As Cold As The Rockies.’ ”

In one TV ad, a comely wife stands alluringly in a negligee. When she asks her husband if he likes what he sees, he excitedly agrees. He is staring, of course, into his refrigerator at his Cold Activation Window.

It’s the natural progression from another, even more monumental, Coors Light innovation, the Cold Activated Label. The mountains on the label turn blue when the beer turns cold. Technology marches ever onward.

Which leads to the question we all need to ask ourselves: Aren’t there simpler ways to tell if your beer is cold? Such as touching it?

Many of us have employed this method for decades, with 100 percent success.

Failing that, there are often visual clues, as well. Let’s say you are staring at a half-rack of beer. Let’s say it happens to be in your refrigerator. Let’s say you put it there last Wednesday. Using a simple process of deduction, you can determine all by yourself that your beer is cold.

I understand the desire for beer to be ice-cold – especially with light beer, which you don’t necessarily want to taste, and especially in July and August. Beer performs two important functions after, for instance, a 95-degree softball game or a mountain bike ride: It slakes the thirst and lowers the body temperature from the inside. Warm beer fulfills neither function.

(I have no scientific evidence to support the “body temperature” claim. I just know that guzzling a pitcher of hot cocoa after a sweaty round of golf has never worked for me.)

Yet sometimes we take this mania for cold beer too far. I have found at least two establishments in Spokane that claim to serve “the coldest beer in town.” That’s at least one too many.

And how cold does beer have to be? The intrepid staff of the Boise Weekly, an alternative newspaper, recently took it upon themselves to go around with thermometers and measure the temperature of draft beer at every bar and pub in Boise. The coldest was 30.2 degrees. That’s below freezing.

That just makes my fillings hurt. Seems to me that 34 to 38 degrees, which was about the average, is plenty cold enough.

Meanwhile, let’s drop the thermometer for a moment and marvel at the existence of an even more useless technological innovation, the Miller Lite Vortex bottle.

It has “specially designed grooves” inside the neck that create a spiral vortex which in some mysterious way enhances the great taste of the “triple-hops brewed pilsner.” Or makes it easier to chug. Or, more likely, neither.

So my question for my fellow men is this: Are we dumb enough to let these packaging gimmicks sucker us into buying beer?

No, I assert, we are not. We are men, we are intelligent consumers, we are thoughtful shoppers. We will decide on beer the way we always have: By seeing which beer is cheapest, which is closest to the checkout line and which feels coldest when we pick it up.

Take that, MillerCoors. You can’t snowball us that easily.

Reach Jim Kershner at jimk@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5493.


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