I grew up drinking Miller products. Literally.
As a kid, if I wasn’t sipping my grandpa’s Schlitz, I was sipping my mom’s Lite or my dad’s Genuine Draft. With such a strong history in macro beer consumption, it’s not surprising that as an adult I continue to enjoy what I refer to as "yellow beers" or "beer waters."
However, I wholeheartedly support the spirit of local breweries and will certainly chug down a Riverwest Stein or a Louie’s Demise without complaint, but the truth is, if I am going to consume multiple beers, I’m going to stick with the (generally) thirst quenching, lower-in-alcohol, lower-in-calories brews.
That said, I have occasionally received shade from bartenders over the years for my perceived poor taste in beer. Nothing malicious, but after asking for a Lite, I once got "or you could order a good beer," and sometimes I can actually feel the internal eye-rolling, especially when I’m at a tavern with a beer list the length of Kinnickinnic Avenue.
I playfully refer to these interactions as moments of "beer shaming," a concept that macro-beer drinker Melanie Schroeder is also familiar with.
"Oh, ‘beer shaming’ definitely happens – and not just from bartenders," says Schroeder. "The worst beer shaming comes from my friends and my boyfriend, who is really into craft beer."
Ben Hebl owns Pourman’s, 1127 N. Water St., a Downtown bar with an extensive beer and spirits lists along with self-serve tapper tables. Hebl says beer shaming is absolutely real, and he "accidentally" beer shames people.
"I don’t mean to, because I drink Miller High Life, but in my opinion, drinking Miller Lite is a world of difference," he says.
Hebl doesn’t verbally respond to customers who order a Miller Lite – or worse, a Bud Light – but he doesn’t let it go, either.
"I might make a noise or chuckle or look at them like I’m deep laughing on the inside," he says. "But that’s not to say I don’t have ice cold Miller Lite or Bud Light and people should come in and drink many of them."
Hebl says his "beer shaming" does not come from a place of snobbery – well, maybe a little – rather mostly out of pride for his role in the service industry as well as the local beer industry.
"When you take your job seriously, like a professional, you want to put forward the best of what the industry has to give," says Hebl. "If someone came in here and said they loved vodka, I wouldn’t want to serve them a rail vodka. Instead, I would offer them Rehorst Vodka, made just down the street. It’s the same with beer."
Mike Brenner, the owner of Brenner Brewing Co., 706 S. 5th St., is an intentional beer shamer without any shame in being one.
"The people who come to a brewery and order a Bud or Miller are just trying to be a**holes," says Brenner. "I always try to be nice and offer them our German pilsner, but if they push me, I'll say, ‘Wait! I DO have a Miller Lite.’ Then I'll grab a glass and start to unzip my pants like I'm gonna p*ss in it."
Brenner believes buying a local beer is a choice that impacts more than a person’s taste buds.
"If you drink Miller, Pabst or even Goose Island for that matter, you’re pretty much just an ignorant piece of sh*t who doesn’t care about your own community," he says.
Adrienne Pierluissi owns Sugar Maple, 441 E. Lincoln Ave., a bar with 60 American craft beers on tap. She says the bar's approach to people ordering macro beers has changed since it first opened eight years ago.
"In the past five years, if someone orders a Miller or a Bud or a Coors, we see this individual as an opportunity to educate and nab one more craft beer lover," says Pierluissi. "We're not born all-knowing, and exposure is a bit of a privilege, so kudos to anyone who doesn’t think they like craft beer for even walking into a craft beer bar."
Anna Sweet, a bartender at Sugar Maple, admits she occasionally internally eye-rolls a customer, but mostly she enjoys the challenge of helping a macro drinker find a craft beer that appeals to them.
"I've served people who thought they weren’t beer drinkers and found out they actually love big, rich stouts," says Sweet. "It makes our bar a memorable place."
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.