Even more than wine or whiskey, beer is boosted by image: You are what you drink.
So, when Anheuser-Busch heralded its sleekly packaged Bud Light Platinum, skeptics figured it would be the imbiber's equivalent of the Cadillac Cimarron or Pontiac Aztek.
In that cool, blue container is a brew you need never pour. Higher octane than basic Bud Light, yes. But this platinum is more quicksilver than "little silver" -- about as appealing as an illicit offspring of Colt .45 and Miller 64.
Almost as disappointing: Beck's Sapphire, another case of branding and marketing more than drinking. You notice the black glass bottle, read about the hops, and realize that the old Merkur XR4Ti was another name for a mediocre Ford. No need to invest in this faux jewel, either.
If you're looking for something new, however, Samuel Adams has brought back something old: New Albion Ale, using the original recipe of a fondly remembered craft beer.
New Albion Brewing Co. had a short life, pouring from 1976 to 1982. This isn't exactly a beer drinker's version of Proust's madeleine. But it definitely is very good: gilded, balanced, not too bitter, with a suggestion of citrus. A six-pack of New Albion Ale is about $8.
The Boston Beer Co. is brewing, bottling and selling it. The profits go to Jack McAuliffe, who founded New Albion.
Makes you remember Springsteen in '82, singing "Everything dies baby that's a fact / But maybe everything that dies someday comes back ..."