For this month's Beer Blogging Session, the Beer Nut asks us for a labor of lager. I am one of many who avoid watered-down mainstream lagers at all costs, but that's the thing, unless you wanna be a real pain in the ass, there are times when they are unavoidable.
The Beer Nut poses, "I'm sure I'm not the only one whose early drinking career featured pale lager in abundance, so consider this a return to our roots as beer drinkers...leave your doppelbocks and schwarzbiers out of this one...(W)hat's so great about them, and what's awful?"
To begin, it's true. No beer aficionado started on Dogfish Head 90 Minute or Russian River Pliny the Elder. Hell, the most recent beer I bought was Mikkeler's Beer Geek Brunch - Weasel, not just an Imperial Stout, but one brewed with Kopi Luwak, a.k.a. Monkey Poo Coffee or Crappuccino, a coffee bean so rare, farmers have to pluck it from the droppings of tree-dwelling, overly-caffeinated civet cats. At $18, it better be damn rare and delicious.
If my friend Colin knew I dropped as much on a single bomber of beer as he could get OVER a case of any cheap-ass "beer," well, he'd shit himself. And since he's currently crashing on my pull-out, I'm gonna keep quiet about this because I really don't want that to happen. More on Colin in a second.
As I started to say above, it's true. I used to drink "fizzy, yellow beer" by the buttload. In my college, Natty Light was the brand of choice. $9.99/case. One story I always come back to is when I dressed as Papa Smurf for Halloween and in order to keep drinking through my fluffy, white beard, I had to suck it down through a straw. Classy.
Obviously, the cheapo choice of lager beer today is PBR. From the swamps of Florida to Beervana (Portland, OR), it's a staple among, if I may, a less discerning set, especially hipsters. Truth be told, I personally think it's one of the worst mainstream beers out there even next to Budweiser and Coors Banquet, but when you're uber thirsty and strapped for cash, at a typical two-bucks a pop, it does the trick. During a recent dining experience at Patxi's Pizza in San Francisco's Hayes Valley, they had it for $1! While I opted for a $5 Sierra Nevada Celebration, it occurs to me now that next time I'm there, it may behoove me to go for, essentially, the FIVE-FOR-ONE special.
Now back to Colin. He just turned 24 this week and his favorite food is Cheez-Its. No foodie nor ale enthusiast is he. During SF Beer Week, on another night he was calling my sofa home, I dragged him to the Toronado for Ommegang night, to which he responded by escorting me across the street (OK, a 45-degree angle) to his home-away-from-my-pullout, Molotov's. In true dive-bar fashion, they offer $2 PBR. But get this. Unlisted on the beer menu, known to regulars like him, you can score a buck-fitty can of Hamm's. This is the one shite beer offering at City Beer just so they can offer something at the $0.89 range and it's Craig's attempt to replace PBR as the hipster beer of choice. (Keep in mind, if you drink it there, with their corkage fee, it becomes $1.89!) Colin generously bought me one and we enjoyed it as any two people should enjoy beer no matter what's in the glass. Or bottle. Or in this case, can. Like any mass-produced beer--this one hailing from Miller Valley in Milwaukee--it's decent when ice cold. It's dry, crisp, refreshes without the sweetness of soda pop, and it has alcohol in it.
Tell ya what, if I didn't have some bottles of my first batch of homebrew now at the ready, I'd rather stock my friend Mike's cooler with Hamm's than the PBR I know he'll have in it when we go play some disc golf this weekend.