Time for a Break: WTF Beer?


OK, enough policy for a while. I have been neglecting the beer, aviation, running, language, tech, and China beats and will try to catch up. Lots in the queue, but let me start by noting the arrival of the spring seasonal Wilco Tango Foxtrot beer, from the storied Lagunitas of California. This live-action shot courtesy of reader TMF (Tango Mike Foxtrot) in California:

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Lagunitas2.png

WTF Lagunitas.jpgAlthough it turns out that even here there's no escaping depressing policy realities. Check the topical fine print on the label, at right: "A Malty, Robust, Jobless Recovery Ale" and so on.

Aviation buffs know that if we were going full phonetic-alphabet, the appropriate rendering of WTF would be "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot," not "Wilco...." I assume the Lagunitas legal department ordered the switch* because of the implications of saying "Whiskey" on the label of a bottle of beer. As for other implications of the name or acronym, perhaps Lagunitas is sending a signal about our incredibly benighted politics of the moment?

Meanwhile, not yet having seen or tasted WTF, if I were looking for a relatively high-alcohol Lagunitas brew, I could stick with the excellent Hop Stoopid Ale (photo below). Or better yet, since higher alcohol means a lower limit on the number of beers you can prudently consume, there is the always enjoyable plain old IPA, rightly touted as the flagship of the Lagunitas line.

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That is all. But it's better than most other news of the day.
* Update: Thanks to many readers who have reminded me of the band Wilco and its album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I guess that could have been on the Lagunitas people's minds. I had assumed they were looking for the next most familiar aviation-type term beginning with W, which would be "Wilco." It's something a pilot says, for "Will comply," many times during a flight.

Extra update: Thanks to reader JW for the reminder that there is an Austrian beer whose name in English is a far less subtle than WTF. This is a family website, so I'll just refer you to an article in Spiegel Online.

Final update-update: Thanks to the additional readers who have pointed out that the name is actually *not* about Wilco. So says no less an authority than Pitchfork! Plus the Idaho Statesman, after an interview with Lagunitas folk.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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