In honor of Charlotte Craft Beer Week, I feel compelled to say this: a year and a half ago, I had three sips of Trappist Westvleteren 12. At the time, fewer than 100 people in North Carolina had ever had it. Monks in Belgium brew it only when they run short on cash. You can only buy it directly from the abbey, a case or two at a time. You have to call ahead with the license place number of the car you'll use to pick it up.
Somebody got a bottle. Seven of us split it. My three sips represented the pinnacle of my beer drinking career.
I hit bottom during the summer of 2001. I rented an apartment in the attic of a house a few blocks away from Ohio State University. The only air conditioner was a window unit that spit out a 70 degree breeze. My roommate Matt and I were short on cash. To stay cool in the Columbus heat, we bought beer. Terrible, cheap, skunky beer. Here, then, is a user's guide to the worst swill we could get our grubby hands on:
- Schaefer - Back when alcoholism was cute, Schaefer called itself "The one beer to have when you're having more than one." At $4.29 for a 12-pack, this was the cheapest beer we could find, probably because it had no taste. This used to be the world's best-selling beer. REALLY.
- Old Milwaukee - I had a friend who grew up in Milwaukee. His school bus drove him past the Miller brewery every weekday morning. He knew which beer was brewed on which street. Through osmosis, he had acquired a comprehensive knowledge of American brewing. He saw me drinking an Old Milwaukee once. He'd never heard of it.
- King Cobra - You might think Olde English and St. Ides are priced to move. Wrong. This wonder of an American malt liquor is light years ahead of its brethren, and the price point, a paltry 99 cents, makes you feel better about poisoning your body at a quality value. Once, on a beer run, somebody shattered a 40 oz. bottle in my backpack, and the vomit-inducing smell haunted my dreams for the rest of my college career.
- Blatz - We bought a 15-pack (!). It tasted like malted dishwater.
- Carling Black Label - They sold this stuff at a Kroger on High Street, where you could also find a transvestite who passed the time by screaming into traffic. We bought a 12-pack. We each had one. We wondered how it was that a liquid could taste like it'd been burned on a stove. The ten remaining beers spent the rest of the summer in the back of the fridge.
- Milwaukee's Best Ice - One of my friend's dads used to drink Molson Ice because it was an ice beer and Canadian, thusly making it double exotic. We drank Milwaukee's Best Ice because we thought it would have more alcohol in it for a much lower price, making us, well, stupid, because it really doesn't. BONUS: Look at all these guys on Beer Advocate doing fancy stuff like pouring it into pilsner glasses, looking at the frothy white head and trying to determine hop content. Here's the only review you need to know: "It tastes like it smells."
- Hudy Delight - The guys who were in the worst fraternity I knew insisted on drinking this stuff, probably because it was $35 a keg. In college, every sacred drop of beer is a precious commodity. Hudepohl was so terrible, we used to fling it at each other to mark our territory.
- Busch - If you had taken a big gulp of good beer, swished it around in your mouth for a bit, then expelled it back into a glass, it would probably end up tasting like Busch. BONUS: Somebody bought this stuff and said it was Busch Light. Then they said, no, my bad, it's Busch. By that time, somebody had already ralphed.
- Natural Light - Like a shining beacon in the night, this stuff was like the Sam Adams of shitty beers. After an entire summer of terrible tastebud-numbing nastiness, Natty was like liquid gold. We admired its strong body and sharp nose. And then we had some Bud Light. MINDS BLOWN.
I encourage you to add your own beers to this list, if only to make my life sound less sad.