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 started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.