Drinking Politically: The Republicans' and Democrats' Choice of Beer

Staff Writer

They may not be able to agree on how to cut spending, but 23 percent of both Democrats and Republicans join on one important issue: beer is their preferred alcoholic beverage.


A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling between Feb. 21 and 24 of this year surveyed 500 registered voters about their food and alcohol preferences. Beer came in as the second alcoholic beverage of choice, after wine, which had a 27 percent approval amongst Democrats and 26 percent amongst Republicans. However, according to the survey results of the political parties, not all amber liquids are equal.


When asked whether they prefer microbrews or large, national brands, 29 percent of Democrats said they favor microbreweries whereas 27 percent of Republicans lean toward the larger brands, with Budweiser coming in as the leading beer brand amongst the party, at 17 percent.


When members of the group "Drinking Liberally" get to the bar, the first question is, "What’s the local beer?" according to founder Justin Krebs who agrees with the survey statistics. Krebs has traveled to many of the 65 chapters across the country of this politically oriented drinking and social group, and has witnessed the inebriant-inquiry first hand.


Drinking Liberally group members prefer "supporting the local economy" and ordering something “that has a good environmental reputation," said Krebs. He said members’ favorite beers across the country include Anchor Steam from San Francisco, which according to its website, is America’s first craft brewery. Fat Tire out of Colorado, which uses wind-powered energy, is another popular pick.


Coors, however, "is relatively unpopular among people who want to drink politically," said Krebs.  He explained that the company is notoriously involved with backing Republican causes. Indeed, the conservative think-tank, "The Heritage Foundation" was funded by Joseph Coors Sr. in 1972 and in 2012, Joseph Coors Jr. ran for congress as a Republican candidate in Colorado. Between 2004 and 2008 the company donated $440,662 to the Republican party and $148,450 to the Democratic party, according to the consumer database, "The Good Guide."


But the larger brands also have democratic characteristics that appeal to the liberally minded, according to Krebs, such as workers’ unions. Anheuser-Busch, which manufactures the Republican’s top pick, Budweiser (the second pick for Democrats at 12 percent) is unionized, as is the Democratic first choice of the big brands, Corona, at 15 percent.  As for the "local, artisanal" breweries, such as Six Point in Red Hook, Brooklyn, there’s "no way they’re unionized," said Krebs.


Unionization isn’t a top concern when David Stein, founder of The Republican Party Animals, chooses his alcohol. According to Stein, the group has 45,000 members nationally and is four years old. Primarily based out of California, it’s a libertarian leaning conservative social group that holds one event per month, with a big event that draws close to 500 members every quarter. Stein has purchased the alcohol for many of the large events and said that he’s learned what to buy through experience. The first time he ever hosted an event, he had to send people out for three beer runs on the night-of because he overbought hard liquors. Stein said many members are middle-aged, with families and "they’re not looking to get vodka or tequila wasted." Instead, they veer toward dark beers. Guinness and Samuel Adams are the two top picks.


"Conservatives have a natural desire not to look like we’re shaggy hipsters," said Stein. Instead, he said members prefer the classic imagery on the Samuel Adams bottles, which have a revolutionary war motif.  "We’re not some boy in Greenich Village drinking Pabst Blue ironically," he said. (The survey reported that only 1 percent of Republicans prefer that brand, as opposed to 4 percent of Democrats.)


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But sometimes, it’s not even about the labels, the company or the brewing practices. "It’s an article of faith at drinking liberally that what really makes your drink liberal is ordering by the pitcher," explained Krebs. "It’s inherently a communal act. Everyone can go and buy their own beer and get exactly what they want and pay a little bit more for it." But, likening it to liberal philosophies, Krebs said that ordering pitchers creates a community where "everyone is invested in this common resource."