My former colleagues know me so well.
When it came time for my going-away party, I suspected there was a decent chance that I might take home a bottle of beer or two. And my friends at The Times didn’t let me down.
I mean, who could not get excited about a thoughtful, carefully considered six pack like that?
Because I am the beer nerd that I am, I promised that I would give each of these classics the full Beer Guy treatment. A couple Fridays ago, I broke ‘em all out, taking notes on each one. Here you go, boys and girls, in order of appearance:
IC Light, Iron City Brewing Co. Light American lager. 4.1 percent alcohol by volume. My thought was to get this one out of the way first, because I wasn’t only battling a not-so-good brewery but also the whole perception of the official beer of Stillers fans thing. As it turned out, though, IC Light actually tasted a bit like beer, something that would prove to be a bit unusual as we went through the six. It was also thin and pushed too much corny sweetness in my face, but all told, not awful.
Coors Light, Molson Coors Brewing (MillerCoors). Light American lager, 4.1 percent alcohol by volume. First thing? Coors Light is fizzy. As in like ginger ale fizzy. The other thing? This was the sweetest beer of the bunch, like a can of sweet corn soaked in syrup. And that’s not a good thing. This is also the second-biggest selling beer in the United States. That’s an even worse thing.
Budweiser, Anheuser‑Busch InBev. American adjunct lager, 5 percent alcohol by volume. Ahh, the King. Compared with the beer it followed, this Bud was almost palatable. But wait, let’s think about this for a minute. Sure, it lacks the candy bar sweetness of Coors Light; it’s also missing pretty much any indication of ingredients that are typically used to make beer, especially the kind of hoppy bitterness you’d need to tone down the cloying corn. There’s a thing to remember, boys and girls — Keystone’s “bitter beer face” commercials aside, a little bitterness in a beer is a good thing.
Rolling Rock Extra Pale, Anheuser‑Busch InBev. American adjunct lager, 4.5 percent alcohol by volume. I was a regular Rolling Rock drinker for a year or two way back in the day, well before the brand was purchased by A-B and production was moved to the glass-lined tanks of old New Jersey. And here’s the interesting thing: Rolling Rock is actually better now than I remember. Rolling Rock didn’t have the same sweetness as many of the other beers I regularly grabbed in those days; in fact, it the green bottles gave up enough to the sun that it wasn’t unusual to some across some skunky flavors pretty consistently. Now? Not skunky, but also not as much cloying sweetness as its counterparts.
Miller Genuine Draft, SABMiller (MillerCoors). American adjunct lager. 4.6 percent alcohol by volume. I spent some time with MGD in my youth as well, and this beer was pretty much as I remembered it — thin, bland and inoffensive. In this group, I suppose boring is OK, but given that this was marketed as a bold alternative, MillerMolsonCoors isn’t hitting the mark. Surprised? Me neither.
Michelob Ultra, Anheuser‑Busch InBev. 4.2 percent alcohol by volume. Of all the beers in the sixer, this is the one that actually made me angry. It is beer for people who don’t actually want to drink beer. It is a fiction created by marketers. It is an affront to everything I stand for. And it also poured the biggest head of any of the beers in the six (WOOOOO, ACTUAL BEER-LIKE TENDENCIES). Go figure. But that was the only surprise. Mich Ultra is watery, corny and way too sweet.
Were there winners in this experiment? I’ll count myself among the winners, because it was legitimately fun getting back in touch with some of these beers. And if we’re talking about the beers, let’s go with Rolling Rock, because it may have actually improved when it was taken over by our A-B InBev overlords, and IC Light, because it sort of tastes like beer and not so much like bowl of corn flakes soaked in honey.
And I should point out one additional thing: my friends also came through with a very generous Bocktown gift card, so I was able to buy a few more six packs with beer that’ll prompt many fewer complaints.
Thanks again, guys. You couldn’t have done it any better if I had picked them out myself.