John Curtas is …


Budweiser goes Belgian – true beer lovers rejoice

The beer true suds lovers love to hate isn’t really going anywhere, but Anheuser-Busch has just been bought by Belgium’s brewing giant InBev, basically because it’s been hemorrhaging profits like a busted keg for ten years. And it couldn’t have happened to a lamer, more insipid product.

In case you don’t get the point, we’ve always hated Budweiser (although we must confess in the past to having a certain fondness for Michelob). Here’s why we’ve disdained it so for years, concisely summarized in a piece that traces the rise and fall of our least favorite beer.

Although it did inspire the only two beer jokes we know:

Joke #1: Drunk to  drunk: “Does beer make you smart?” Drunk back to drunk: “Well it made Bud-wiser.”

Joke #2: How is drinking Budweiser like making love in a canoe? Answer: Because it’s f*cking close to water.

Writer Edward McClelland gets around to that last joke, at the very end of the article, and he bids a not-so-fond farewell to what’s been a blight on the American beer landscape for over a hundred years.

Fun Food Fact #1: early taste tests among St. Louis drinkers found them spitting Budweiser back at the bartender.

Fun Food Fact #2: founder Aldolphus Busch called his infamous brew “dot schlop” and drank wine instead.

Twenty years ago, Budweiser sold more beer in a day than all the craft beers in America did in a year!  McClelland also quotes another of our favorite beer statistics: in 1980 (the year yours truly discovered those fabulous elixirs known as Anchor Steam and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale) there were but eight craft brewers in America. Today there are more than 1,300.

So raise a glass (of Rogue Porter, Fat Tire Amber, Abita lager, Stone IPA, Hennepin Farmhouse Saison et al ) to the McDonald’s of breweries, and let’s hope those fer-in-ners (who know a thing or two about the art and craft of beers), will improve things….or permanently relegate “Bud” to the back shelves of 7-11’s everywhere, where it belongs.


The Best Burger In Town – LV Weekly’s limp lineup is laughable

Every so often, we pause from surfing the soft-core porn and Asian massage ads in the Las Vegas Weekly to actually read something in it. This week, since the election, war in Iraq, stock market free-fall, gas and housing crisis might be a bit too much…er…uh…information for those consumed with whether to hit Prive, Christian Audigier or The Bank tonight, this ‘zine/free porn provider/club promotional device/etc. decided to feature The Ten Best Burgers in Vegas as its lead story.

And it gets everything wrong. Well, in a spirit of generosity, let’s say almost everything. There’s no argument with the In-N-Out double-double, or the sliders at CUT, or Brand (although who on God’s green earth wants to endure the clusterf*ck of trying to get to the Monte Carlo these days?)

But after those three, though, things get decidedly worse….and stupid to boot.

Because if you’re gonna feature the Top 10 Burgers….why not stick with….uhmm… HAMBURGERS? As in: round patties of cooked, ground beef? Instead, the “article” spreads the love (Do we smell advertising revenue? I think we do…) around to Veggie Burgers (The Claim Jumper?…Puhleeeze!); a Turkey Burger (a different subject entirely); a Lamb Burger and a Bison Burger (ditto).

Forsooth, not-so-fair-Weekly! Dost thou sayeth that the most regal of American foods, the hamburger, hath crossed the Martini Line? I beseech thee! Thou shall not condemn thy most royal of foods to the mendacity and mediocrity of poor Caesar (the much-maligned salad.) Do not, I beg thee, abandon thy noble burger!

But it would seem the Weekly has, since four of the Top 10 aren’t really hamburgers at all; and a fifth, the beyond-mediocre patty-melt at Kilroy’s (not technically a hamburger either), also made it onto this list. So now, if certain burghers (hambones? dillweeds?) are to be believed, we’re supposed to consider anything on a round bun (or any sandwich made with chopped anything) a “burger” (just like any drink in any martini-shaped glass can call itself one, and any salad made of romaine may hail to Caesar.)

Sadly, as long as vegetarians, something-for-everyone restaurateurs, and meretricious editors are around, the mighty American hamburger will face this onslaught of perversions. But methinks this humble-but-authentic creation won’t go gentle into that dark Applebee’s night of salmon/turkey/veggie/tofu burgers.

And any food writer that helps it to do so ought to be forced to spend a week eating this.

Purists unite! And forswear any attempts to call anything that isn’t a hamburger a “burger.”

And FYI: The Best Burger In Las Vegas is at Bradley Ogden. It is the Tiger Woods of cheeseburgers – when it’s on its game (which is every night at the bar at BO), the others are playing for second place. It’s also one of the best burgers in America.

So sayeth me and multiple James Beard Award Winner Alan Richman. Read about it in more detail here.


p.s. For a great look at hamburger history, buy Josh Ozersky’s book on the subject here.

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