Monday, March 9, 2009

Old Milwaukee Light

My recent "research" has driven me farther and farther back into the darkest corners of walk-in coolers all over town. As most people know the good stuff's up front, leaving a veritable showroom of bottom shelf gutter runoff to choose from in the back. For those who value quantity over quality, look no further as most cases in this section of the store can be taken home for less than $10. They probably won't taste good, but they will most certainly get you drunk.

Trying to pace myself on the awful, it was only natural that I'd be drawn to the box with the awards on it. Enter Old Milwaukee Light, apparently one of the finer beers available, winner of the gold medal in the American-Style Light Lager category of the 2008 World Beer Cup over such other notables as Lone Star Light and Natural Light. Apparently Week-old Coffee and Dirty Bathwater didn't compete this year.

All funnies aside I have to admit that this beer wasn't really that bad. Really. I don't expect it to replace my beloved Miller High Life as the every day go-to beer of the summer, but there might actually come a day when I buy this one again. If you bother with a glass you're likely in for a surprise. Visually, it had all the things folks usually look for in a beer: thick, lingering off-white head with a surprising amount of web-like lacing that was present from start to finish. The taste was not overpowering but certainly more flavorful than most other catchy-labeled macro swill. No real hop presence or alcohol bitterness. In fact, it tastes about like you'd expect: slightly sweet with light malt flavors and a mild bitter finish. Just don't smell it. Please. Don't. Smell. It. Trust me.

So there it is. Next time you're tailgating, mowing the lawn or just in one of those quantity over quality kind of moods, give it a shot. The price is hard to beat and if you generally find yourself reaching for bottles of Bud/Miller/Coors Light, you may be surprised to find you actually enjoy beer-flavored beer. And if your friends give you shit, point to the Gold Medal on the can and keep drinking.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

With a name like that...

I don't know what possessed me to buy this, but being driven by a wicked combination of intense self-loathing, alcoholic gluttony and outright curiosity I decided that I had to have it. Lately I've been going through a kind of 'adventure consumables' phase. I won't detail my other exploits here but I will admit that they were unpleasant, with not one that I'd willingly return to. An imaginary line had been drawn in the sand, this can of Steel Reserve was to be my next conquest.

Staring at the giant silver can I'm reminded not slightly of Coors Light, which while not my favorite still has a generally enjoyable purpose. The contents of this container probably have a purpose too, but the only things that come to mind are a cruel form of torture and maybe de-greaser, given the high alcohol concentration (8.10 percent!). Unfortunately for me, however, Coors Light this isn't and keen to back down from a challenge I'm not.

The first thing anyone is likely to notice about a beer is the smell, and this one had little to offer along those lines other than the overwhelming smell of alcohol. That's right, alcohol. Like what you put on cuts and scrapes if you're a tough or mean son of a bitch, depending on whether you're treating yourself or the very unlucky kid that you must hate. If you've made it that far, you might as well give it a taste, which I unfortunately did. A lot of big beer brewers will at least attempt to cover up the high gravity with extra hops or some roasted chocolate or molasses flavors. Apparently the kind folks who brew Steel Reserve think that sort of nonsense is for pussies. What you'll taste is alcohol, and lots of it. The kind of alcohol that will put hair on your chest. The sweetness of the malts only seems to bring out the overpowering alcohol and with hardly any hop character to speak of this turns out to be a very burley, mean-spirited bastard of a beer. And not in a good way.

Whether you're using it as first aid for a gunshot wound or to treat a downswing from your bipolar disorder, despite tasting perfectly awful this beer does get at least one thing right: it will most assuredly get you window-licking drunk if you've got the palette to finish it. And the only way that is likely to happen is due to the ABV: by the time you down half the can, you probably won't really care what it tastes like any more. Bravo.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Camo 900 High Gravity Lager

The subject: Camo 900 High Gravity Lager.
The verdict: Sweet merciful Christ.

Up next is a beer that, looking back, had to be a mislabeled can of equal parts goat urine and Mad Dog 20/20 (the orange flavor). For what is probably the first time in my life I'm at a complete loss as to how to describe this beer. No clever puns. No awkward, self-referential over-your-head sarcasm. Not even a good penis joke. Plain and simple, this beer tasted like nail polish remover smells. At 9.0% abv, I think it might actually be a cheaper alternative to lighter fluid. And just as tasty!

As with any fine spirit in a can, the first thing you're likely to notice is the smell. Oddly enough, this actually has one. Think: cheap wine. No, cheaper. Cheaper. There, that's the one. On the bottom shelf in the gallon jug. As for flavor, mouthfeel, carbonation and appearance...well, who gives a rat's ass. This drank will get ya drunk on.

Bottom line: do not touch.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Did I say spark plug?

...what I meant was butt plug.

Up first on my journey through the dirty underbelly of the beer world (those to be had locally, anyway) is an interesting little number called Sparks Plus. Here before me is a can that I've passed over hundreds of times at my local supermarket. It's neither bold nor particularly exciting, quite contrary to the "extreme" label that this sort of thing tends to carry. This drink falls into that space that I've yet to explore, where uppers and downers are mixed and the end result is a kind of confusing mess of tired, jittery giddiness that can only come from a 7.0% abv, 1 pint 16oz can of alcoholic caffeine. And taurine. And guarana-ginseng blend. And natural flavor. And certified colors. And a little FD&C yellow number know, for flavor.  Maybe that's what the '+' means.

I have to admit at this point that I've already finished the entire can. In less than 5 minutes. I think it's the caffeine. You see, you have to prepare yourself for these things. You go into each "adventure consumable" experience assuming that this will not be pleasant. This will not be the kind of beverage that encourages sipping, to be enjoyed slowly over a few chapters of a nice book or an engaging convesation. You kind of steel yourself against the worst possible outcome, as if you're pouring a can of straight Devil's piss. Well, I'm happy to report that it actually wasn't that bad, kind of like a Red Bull but not as sickeningly sweet. I don't mean to imply that it was enjoyable by any means, but I can safely say I've had worse. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go run some laps around the house before I wash the cars, buff the floors and finally crash into the peaceful hibernation that usually follows this kind of energy rush. EXTREME!!!