Time for a Break: WTF Beer?

By James Fallows

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:

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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.
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* 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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/07/time-for-a-break-wtf-beer/242038/