Elysian/Sub Pop Records – Loser (American Pale Ale)
Elysian Brewing’s Loser is a fine American pale ale, not unlike much of Sub Pop’s fine American music. That’s not why it’s interesting, though. In January, the Seattle-based Elysian was acquired by AB InBev, Budweiser’s parent company. That inevitably made Loser’s tagline of “Corporate Beer Still Sucks” a little awkward. Now, granted: The Beer Internet is as prone to teapot tempests as any online subculture, but it feels fair to say Loser catalyzed a moment that had a lot of people considering the meaning of venerable independent beer and music brands becoming more corporatized. Elysian started in 1996, and a lot of breweries from that generation have started to weigh the value of their coolness and perceived authenticity against the comfortable retirement that would come from “selling out.” We haven’t really seen an acquisitions boom in music yet, probably because record labels are a bad investment in 2015. But music buyers are often concerned with the same major-indie split that beer drinkers fret about, and affiliations with one or the other go a long way in informing people’s perception of a band (or brand). No word on whether InBev will keep Loser in its portfolio in the long run, but it’s bound to raise hackles until they admit that they don’t really think corporate beer still sucks.