Oktoberfests seem to be brewed in July so they can be shipped to every liquor store and supermarket shelf in the western world by October. Most American Oktoberfest beers are simply caramel-flavored American lagers unpleasantly bumped up in flavor and alcohol. By making everything extremely loud, nothing truly stands out and what results is usually some tomato-tasting malt flavor with either too much or too little hops and and a warming alcohol finish rather than anything resembling the traditional märzen style. Sierra Nevada avoids this by partnering with a different traditional German brewery every year to brew what is annually one of the best American examples. For 2016’s version, Sierra Nevada teamed up with Mahrs Bräu to produce a simple, well-hopped pale lager. As the beer hits the tongue, the spiciness of the Germanic hops take hold and lead into a doughy, slightly chewy body of toasted white bread that finishes with a spicy hop finish and a slight note of warming alcohol. The warming finish and palette fatigue prevent the subsequent consumption of multiple bottles but Sierra Nevada’s 2016 brew thankfully avoids the grapefruit and mango IPAs for women trend to produce a decent, inoffensive drinking beer with well-developed simple flavors that can be savored while still letting you think about whatever else it is that you’re doing without having to pander to Panera Bread “crafted” bullshit such as pineapple phenol scented specialty Okinawan hops mixed with smoked habanero peppers in a stout that tastes like the fruity candy you leave for the annoying relatives you despise in a box of chocolates.
The original Coors that is usually advertised with “Banquet” in the title is the least dumbed down for carbonated corn syrup soda chugging couch potatoes of the big three American adjunct lager brews. Budweiser and Miller High Life both taste strongly of green apple while Coors is still clean tasting. The beer smells of bready pale malts, adjunct grains, and somewhat fruity yeast esters. Gulping it down, carbonation slams the tongue, followed by a chewy combination of pale malt and adjunct sweetness that in combination with the yeast flavors, resembles liquefied banana bread. Coors probably slightly stresses the yeast of their flagship Banquet beer to obtain that banana fruit ester while most American brewers, including the so-called craft ones, have terrible control over yeast flavors and generally opt for a neutral yeast profile in comparison to the ancient British and continental breweries. Coors Banquet finishes with a bitter hop finish, noticeable but balanced to not overpower the other ingredients. At well under twenty dollars for a rack of twenty-four cans across the country, Coors Banquet puts hipster and yuppie swill to shame for a balance of flavor and price.
Miller High Life, the apple juice of beer. The cheapest of the big three of Bud, Miller, and Coors, High Life is your typical heavily cost-reduced in both ingredients and production process mass market lager. The beer starts with beer flavor, then corn grits continuing into green apple-scented acetaldehyde, and finishing with a chemically bitter off-flavor resembling Bitter Apple brand dog deterrent rather than a proper dry or bitter hop finish. High Life might as well be carbonated apple juice with corn starch and detergent dumped in due to the cut-short lagering to stock urban liquor store shelves full. While the cheapest of the cheap outside of Game Day Ice, High Life is a beverage only suitable for sharing a swig with unwashed bipolar bums in bus shelters. Pabst Blue Ribbon, the watery favorite of Dennis Hopper and hipsters everywhere, is much more suited to the task of rehydration while sitting outside in ninety degree heat. High Life will only bring irritable bowels and unlike those bums, you won’t be comfortable squatting in the corner of a glass-enclosed bus stop. With food? High Life will make you hate yourself into not wanting to be like them: the homeless hammering you with their fists over refusing them change for crack, the larded alcoholics homebrewing IPAs, and the sweatshirted sports hooligans watching the NFL every Sunday while downing eight tallboys; High Life motivates teetotalling and fasting.
Occasionally an artist’s work and the chemical inspiration thereof are inseparable and must be experienced together. Occult Burial’s recent ersatz, Hideous Obscure, was inspired by the sloppy, mid-Eighties Teutonic speed metal recordings of Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction which were all written and performed under the influence of a copious deluge of the cheapest Euro pilsner poured down their throats by the liter. This proto-underground beer metal was composed so as to be musically comprehensible to even the drunkest bar patrons still standing in the audience. Lacking even the melodic narratives of Motorhead standards, rocking rhythms, groovy powerchord progressions, and catchy choruses repeated ad nauseam over speed metal gallops and pick-up drum beats, hammering the basic riffs and leads into the heads of all the long-haired drunks tackling one another protected only by jean and leather jackets. To get into the garage practice space, inebriated mindset of these Canadian imitators of the imported speed metal of their fathers, I decided to pick up the Genesee-brewed as mandated by the Obama administration modern recreation of what those in my generation considered a northern, imported treat alongside the likes of St. Pauli Girl, Beck’s, and Guinness Extra: Labatt Blue.
Continue reading Anheuser-Busch InBev / Florida Ice and Farm Company S.A. – Labatt Blue & Occult Burial – Hideous Obscure (2016)
The trendy beer meets the summer need for festive drinks. With its Pokémon-themed graphics and ludicrous take on the IPA taste, Art Car IPA is as stupidly bad as its name suggests. Continue reading Saint Arnold Brewing Company – Art Car IPA (2016)
The great IPA craze may be winding down as hipsters find their mental disability petitions denied, but the world of sour beer lives on. Continue reading Karbach Brewing Company – Sympathy For The Lager (2016)
Surely somewhere Bacchus flicks this wine from his table with an irritated grimace. Making decent wine is not hard, but this is the updated version of plastic jug wine from the 1990s but given the “California sheen” of a unique label and hip, exciting, and different backstory.
Continue reading Barefoot Wine & Bubbly – Barefoot Pinot Noir (2016)
As much as any sane person avoids the mention of our elites, we tend to shy away from names like “Brooklyn Brewery” because such trendy terms and locations can only be designed for the denialists who rule us through money, law and social pretense. Much as in the Soviet Union — another dying society in late-stage collapse — what is said in Pravda is never trusted and always mocked, but… very carefully. In Western totalitarianism, we still have the freedom to purchase, and so, we avoid those products tainted with the symbology of the elites.
Continue reading Brooklyn Brewery – Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (2016)
The concept is simple: take an ordinary steak or chicken quesadilla and make it twice as big for $1.20 less than you would have spent on buying two quesadillas. In my view, this is a long-overdue recognition by Taco Bell that the quesadilla alone is not a meal, and yet it is just a mite too pricey to be treated as an a la carte item like the smaller tacos and burritos.
Continue reading Taco Bell – “DoubleDilla”
The unicorn of the wine world is an undiscovered, low cost but high quality wine that you can pick up (easily) on the way to a convivial gathering and have people say, after the lights are low, “What the heck was that?” This wine comes very close to unicorn status when you consider the price.
Continue reading Trader Joe’s – Petit Reserve Paso Robles Merlot (2013)