August 29th, 2006

Prestige – the new hipster beer?

Prestige beerRemember how it was cool in the 1980s to be seen with a bottle of Corona in hand and, a little later, a bottle of Red Stripe? Now that those imports from Mexico and Jamaica, respectively, have gone mainstream with TV advertising, a new brand of tropical swill is poised to accessorize the hand of the bargoing hipster: Prestige lager, the national brew of Haiti.

Other than being unknown, Prestige has several features that lend it cred in the eyes of the beer-drinking vanguard. First, the bottle: like Corona and Red Stripe, the label is painted right onto the glass, which lends a kind of retro cachet. Prestige’s simple, two-color banner and brown, short-necked bottle — similar to Red Stripe’s packaging — also place it high on the retro-meter.

Second, while Corona and Red Stripe evoke images of kicking back in a friendly, quasi-primitive paradise, Prestige only makes you wonder: could I drink this on a beach in Haiti without getting robbed or shot? In other words, while Corona and Red Stripe have slid into the frat-boy, middle-manager demographic, Prestige is for those who live on the edge.

Third, it doesn’t hurt that Prestige is actually a decent light lager whose drinkability doesn’t depend on a wedge of lime. Named Best American Lager in the 2000 World Beer Cup, it is dry and balanced and doesn’t have that adjunct (corn or rice) starchiness found in a lot of macro lagers (though it is brewed with a substantial amount of another adjunct, sugar). Like other beers in this style, it’s good for washing down bold foods. I first tried it with a hot, curried goat stew at Green Street. Next, I brought a six-pack to a feast of takeout barbecue from Soul Fire in Allston. I’ll be the first to admit that a Michelob would’ve done the trick on either of these occasions. But it sure wouldn’t have made me look as cool.

Check out the Brasserie Nationale d’Haiti website for another reason that Prestige has hipster cred: its way politically incorrect advertising image of a healthy-butted woman in a white thong.

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