Wednesday, July 19, 2006

By Doc

A Really Good Fifty-Cent Beer
What Is The Worst Beer You Ever Had?
A Fond Farewell

A Really Good Fifty-Cent Beer

I spoke with my life-long friend Matt recently and he was full of excitement for this really good Beer that he had found. My buddy Matt introduced me to Beer and has always steered me right in that direction, so I always prick up ears when he has something that he indorses that strongly.

“You have got to try this Beer. I dare you to set it up against the biggies of domestic beer. It has to be a blind taste test, but I swear, you will pick this Beer every time!”

With this kind of recommendation how can I resist? Matt is not the kind of person that would give his blessing to any product that was not “up to snuff”. He once went on a campaign to indorse the cola Pepsi (maybe you have heard of it?) and renounced anything that Coke produced for four years and wouldn’t drink it and encouraged his friends to do like-wise. He will not wear a T-shirt for a product that does not meet his exacting standards. His stamp of approval is hard won.

“It has a full, rich flavor that most imports can’t deliver, and it has a subtle sweet finish that you will fall in love with. I tell ya, I’ve found a new favorite and you know how I am. If it ain’t good, I wouldn’t give it the time of day.”

After this glowing intro how could I not at least look into it?

He went on to say, “You can’t beat the price!”

This was enough to set my spidey senses tingling. What in the world could be this good, and inexpensive, and have passed under my radar for so long? I have been looking for the best Beer, for the best price for a long time. I have never been “flush” with money and even when I made good money I spent my Beer drinking money wisely, but I refuse to drink bad Beer. I will not buy Beer by price alone. Make no mistake about this, I am frugal, a penny pincher, a cheapskate, a cheap bastard, but I will not drink crappy Beer. I WILL NOT. Life is too short to drink crappy beer.

As always, Matt was right. Pabst Blue Ribbon is a great Beer. Matt said that he always bought it in the 18 packs and the price was cheap, cheap, cheap. I could only find it in 12’s for $6, and mind you, I am not a math professor, but 12 into 6 is still1/2, or .50 a Beer. Can you name a good fifty-cent Beer? I couldn’t. (I found a thirty pack for $12)

Yes, I know, I can here your gasps of horror from here, but take a minute and unclasp your pearls and listen.

In the year 1844 Pabst began. In 1893 it was selected as the “Best Beer In America”. They must be doing something right.

We are Americans and the world recognizes our Beer as swill. To my knowledge, the rest of the world treats our Beer like making love in a canoe; f**king close to water. But I dare you to find the most backwater local in the world and not be able to by a pack of Marlboro’s and a Budweiser to wash them down with. We, as Americans, brew good Beer. You might even be able to name a few, but we aren’t known for it. And do you know why? We keep the good Beer for ourselves! We don’t tell anyone!

I offer an open challenge to all who care to hear: find me a really good fifty-cent Beer. Name names people! Don’t let your fellow Beer drinkers suffer under the oppressive price of their favorite beverage. Get out there and get cheap. Sample whatever you can find. Linger a moment at the cheap end of the cooler, don’t treat it like the green room of your favorite video store, see what’s out there and give it a go. Find a better Beer than Pabst Blue Ribbon for the price.

As a rule, I wouldn’t start by springing your experiment on your friends. They may not be ready. So many, for so long, have dismissed the cheap Beer with the idea that if it is that cheap it must be bad. And make no mistake, a lot of it is, but brace yourself for the challenge. You may find a lot of disgusting Beers. If you find a bad one, you don’t have to drink it all. Use it in bread making, wash your hair with it (your hair will thank you. The shine must be seen to be believed.), on this blog you can find a recipe for some of the worlds greatest Beer cheese dip. By no means waste it. Just explore. We need your help.

All of that being said there are a few rules that should be covered.
No malt liquors will be considered.
No “light” Beer will be considered.
These are my rules. I make ‘em up.

All of that brings me to this:

What Is The Worst Beer You Ever Had?

My own personal worst was called Cook’s Beer. I grew up in rural, central Ohio and I had four neighbors. One was an eighty-year old farmer and his wife that lived a quarter of a mile down the road. The other, in this story, was a kid who lived across the crick from me, who was a thief. Plain and simple, a thief.

The thief’s name was Carl and he stole for no other reason than the glory of the prize. Carl came from a poor family and did not enjoy the comforts of home that most of us take for granted. His father was in bad health and had never made much money and his mother was one of the kindest people I have ever had the privilege to meet.

Now, just to set the record straight, I do not now, nor have I ever, condoned the crime of theft. It is WRONG. I can understand how it happens, but this does not, in any way, change the fact this is wrong.

In my own defense, I tried to be a good influence on Carl. I have not tried this on anyone else since then. (Well, one, but the jury is still out.)

The story goes as such: Carl told me that our eighty-year old farmer neighbor was in poor health. His doctor had advised him that he should stop drinking Beer, but he still bought it, and drank it, and hid it along the crick, away from the house and the prying eyes of his concerned wife. What Carl proposed was, that on this excruciating hot summer day, we walk down the crick to cool off and if we found the farmers stash along the way, perhaps we could purloin a few, to relieve the summer heat.

The thought of theft was in no way palatable to me, but the long walk in the cool waters did have its appeal. We meandered along through the waters (an activity that I truly miss from my youth) that varied from ankle deep to chest deep and enjoyed a good soak.

After twenty minutes of wading, we approached the farmers back forty, and there, low and behold, we saw a six of Cook’s Beer, peeking through the weeds of the crick bank. Carl was elated.

One was missing, but no matter. There were five for our trouble. Carl was for taking the whole thing and blaming it on the rising waters of the crick. I could not, in good conscience, take the last Beer from an elderly man. After much wrangling, we decided to take four and tip the sixer over to make it look as if his Beer had washed away, but leave him one, so as not to cheat him out of his last Beer.

We climbed a nearby hillside to enjoy the view and consume our swiped Beer. As we reclined in the summer sun that dried out our shorts and shoes (you always wore shoes to walk the crick, the broken glass, pop-tops, and car parts could be murder on your feet) we looked out over the valley and enjoyed the fruits of our raid. I tried to salve my conscience with the thought that we were saving the old man from an early grave and protecting his weakening health from his own foul vices, but the thought of stealing his Beer made me uncomfortable.

Carl, however, had no such compunctions.

“All Right!” He exclaimed as he knocked loose the bottle cap on the electric line tower.

I have never tasted anything more bitter and sickening in my life as my purloined Beer.

Bar none.

I couldn’t finish my first one and Carl drank the rest.

In my travels, I never came across Cook’s Beer again. And I hope to never see it.
Beer is a topic near and dear to my heart and one that continues to fascinate me to this day. I am a beer drinker. Plain and simple. When Big Orange told me that he was streamlining his blogs and cutting them to a select few, and this one didn’t make the cut, I was hurt. I have given the best writing I have ever done to this humble web site and to see it close up shop was, to say the least, a bit of a disappointment. Much like seeing a favorite restaurant from your childhood close forever, like attending the funeral of a favorite uncle. Dear and Gentle Reader, for this, I mourn.

But let us not part on such a sad note. This is no way to bid fare-thee-well to an old and trusted friend. Let us instead examine what brought us here. Beer. Just that and nothing more. Or maybe, just maybe, something a little more.

Some Came With Questions

What Beer goes with Capt. Crunch? Why would anyone drink Corona when it tastes like cat piss? What is the best Beer ever? What brought you to drink Beer in the first place? Do you know a good joke about Beer? What is the best lighting that Beer should be drank by? Do you have a good recipe that uses Beer? Do you know anything about the history of Beer? Does Beer and sex have any connection?

Here we have found our answers.

All Came With Answers

We have learned and grown together. The knowledge we have imparted has been a wonderful gift to one another. Bless You.

What I Have Learned

That whatever Beer you have is good for breakfast.

That Corona Beer tastes like cat piss, a fact that I was wholly unaware of.

The best Beer ever is the one enjoyed with friends and family.

That I drink Beer because it tastes good, God wants me to be happy, and I deserve the very best.

I know a lot of jokes about Beer.

That Beer should be drunk in cool, dark places to minimize the shame.

That Beer is good in cheese-dip and makes my hair have that healthy shine.

That it was Beer that conquered the savagery of early man and laid the foundations for modern society.

That Beer has been getting ugly people laid for quite some time now.

A Fond Farewell

Let us not send this dear friend off with a heart filled with remorse but with a traditional Irish wake. I am told by a trusted friend that the Irish are a people who are fond of their Beer and have a great celebration at the event of the death of a loved one. So with this in mind, please join me, with a cold one gracing your hand, in bidding a very fond farewell to our departing dear uncle, Social Zymurgy: the culture of Beer.

Please share your worst Beer story in the comments section provided below, as well as your new finds in the fifty-cent Beer challenge.

As always, your friend,


  1. I'm sorry for the length of this blog but I do this so rarely that I felt compeled to throw everything I had. Thanks for reading.


  2. I say we turn the management of this blog over to you. You're obviously passionate about it and aren't overwhelmed by a multitude of other needy blogs.

    What say you, fellow social zymurgists?

    Great post, by the way!

  3. Here here! Raise up a glass o' beer!

    Doc, if the favorite restaurant of childhood is doomed to close, then there are 2 possible ways to go: A) let it collapse and then tear down the building (remove the blog from the 'net) or B) change management.

    A number of restaurants/stores have found themselves in similar, dire straights and been wholly saved by the mere changing of directorial hands. Indeed, there is a western wear store down here that has "gone out of business" no less than 3 times in the 2 years we've lived here, but each time someone who has beloved this store has stepped up to the plate, tooken over management and NOT CHANGED A THING, and all parties are happier.

    Flannery and I both like beer, and I like writing about beer. I, however, don't feel that i can keep up with this thing, though I'm happy to go in there and tweak the template to something less grim that doesn't leave white after-image streaks on your retina (really, WHITE text on a BLACK background?!)

    Bugger that we don't have hundreds of people posting comments! We shall not let SZ die! We shall merely change figurheads.

    Therefore, I pass the Golden Tap Spigot of SZ over to you, Doc. Make us proud!!

  4. THERE! a cleaner, easier to read template complete with 'UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT!' banner! You and Flann can decide what you want to do with it from there.

    MEANWHILE... PABST?! REALLY? that is weird-- they don't SELL that stuff in bottles or on tap, DO they? Huh. I'm really surprised. I'm gonna have to check that out...

  5. OH, and Doc, NEVER, EVER apologize for your length!! (take that as y'all like). just keep writin, dood!!

  6. I dunno about that "sweet finish" that was bespoke of-- I bought some PBR yesterdiddy (paying about $.58 a can) and tho' it would be better drunk while standing 'round a hot grill, I noticed a BITTER finish.... Hmmmm....


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