On the hierarchy of things that interest the Cru Jones Society, beer is probably fourth right behind baseball, fretting over whether or not the movie Rad will ever be released on DVD, and dressing appropriately for the occasion (apparently – given how many posts we’ve dedicated to the subject. See here, here, here, and here for examples).
Two Fridays ago, we linked to a Sporcle quiz asking you to identify the top 15 selling beers in America with the cryptic promise “And we’re in no way done with this list. Stay tuned…” Well, I’m here to fulfill that promise as we journey through the top 15 sellers and I break down my experience with each one. Intrigued? You should be. So crack a cold one, and let’s count this list down, baby!
15. Yuengling Traditional Lager
America’s oldest brewery, and a beer I’ve had exactly once in my entire life. This is only available in the eastern United States, so it was at a wedding in North Carolina that I had my first and only one. It was delicious. Of course, I had already been drinking all day, and because the bride and groom paid a flat rate for liquor that was only served for a designated period, everyone went straight for the Yuengling leaving me only one. I did my best to get the new couple the most bang for their buck, so I went with the groom and his friends to the bar and double fisted in the closing minutes of the designated cocktail time bringing back two Coors Lights, a glass of red wine and a glass of white as well. Needless to say, I passed out an hour later.
Coincidentally, I also learned in western North Carolina that bluegrass music is available on three radio stations, and that no matter how fast you’re driving (even if it’s a measly 35 mph on a lonely back road), bluegrass music always makes it feel like someone’s chasing you. Car rides are impossibly more exciting with a bluegrass soundtrack.
14. Milwaukee’s Best
Ahhh, the Beast. If you ever party in college with someone from the Midwest, this is what you’re drinking. Whenever we drank its close cousin Pabst Blue Ribbon, we’d always joke that “it has a blue ribbon for a reason.” That started out as a way to subtly mock the crappy beer we were drinking, but Pabst has grown on me considerably. Hell, I was at the Bouncing Souls concert two nights ago and drank it happily all night. Pabst is awesome and over time and experience, has deservedly earned its blue ribbon.
Why am I telling you this? No one ever says Milwaukee’s Best is “Milwaukee’s best for a reason.” This IS crappy beer, and everyone knows it. But it’s got the stamp of the fine people of Milwaukee which makes it ultimately okay with E Dagger.
13. Keystone Light
Speaking of jokes, hailing from Golden, CO and smelling the Coors Brewery everywhere you went instills a nice, warm regard for all things Coors. When people would ask us what it was like to be from Golden, we’d always tell them that Keystone came out of the taps in our sinks. This is a nod to its inexpensive cost and watered down quality. Senor Limon actually worked at Coors for a time and told us that whatever stuff didn’t make it into Coors Light went into the Keystone products. This is the sloppy seconds of beer, and a beer that in terms of volume I’ve probably drank more of than any other on this list.
Keystone Light prides itself on being “America’s Least Bitter Beer” which is true. Of course, it’s tough to have any distinctive flavor qualities when you’re comprised entirely of rejected parts of other beer and shame. Perhaps coincidentally, Golden is also the only town I’ve ever been to where you can get this Rocky Mountain elk piss on tap. Is that a sad commentary on my hometown? I’ll leave that up to the reader.
12. Samuel Adams
Sam Adams Boston Lager tastes horrible at this altitude. When Senor Limon turned 21, we all went to Chili’s (or wherever) and I watched with bemused resignation as he said to the waitress, “I’ll have a Sam Adams please.” I knew he would regret that and sure enough, when she came back and asked, “Another Sam Adams?” Limon responded, “Um, no. Can I have a Coors Light please?” In all fairness, anytime you’re at sea level (or on the East Coast specifically), Boston Lager is the bomb diggity. People still say that, right?
On a semi-related note, I could listen to Jim Koch all day and all night. That’s a dude who loves beer, and someone I’d love to sit and chat with. Even though his beer don’t do so well in my home state. That’s okay. John Elway made some of the worst car commercials of all-time after he retired, but we still love him anyway. No one’s perfect.
About twice a year I get a bug up my ass to drink a bunch of Guinness. It’s smooth, creamy and delicious. It’s outstanding beer for a cold winter’s eve, and when poured correctly, even gives you a little show while it cascades down the inside of the glass.
The best place to drink Guinness in Denver is a bar called Nollin’s that uses the old-timey two step method for proper pouring. The chick who runs the place is a surly Irish lass who slapped me in the face for some reason the first time I visited her bar. Because she was Irish and because her Guinness tasted so fresh, I wore this as a badge of honor. I suspect slapping people is for the Irish what sniffing your asshole is to a dog. Just sayin’ hello.
Random fact I learned about Guinness: The #1 country in quantity of Guinness consumed? Canada. I know, right!
10. Miller High Life
They call this the champagne of beers, and I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because a lot of cheap ass champagne sucks, and so does this beer. On my 21st birthday, since I was the only one in my entire circle of friends who was 21, I had to buy the liquor for my own goddamned party. This wouldn’t be such a big deal except I had no idea what the hell I was doing and thus bought a 30 pack of High Life instead of Key Light. I figured High Life would be tons better, but if you’ve ever drank it out of a can, you know it’s akin to drinking the sweat off Satan’s balls. No wonder it was two bucks cheaper than Keystone.
I do like the jolly black delivery guy they have in their commercials though. He seems like a dandy fella.
9. Busch Light
Me (after taking my first drink from a keg at a random party freshman year): Jesus Christ, what the f*ck is in this keg?
My Friend (possibly Keithage, I can’t remember): I think it’s Busch Light.
Me: Who the hell buys Busch Light? What f*cking state is this?
Dude Whose Party It Was: Hey, you’re welcome for the free beer, asshole.
And that’s my experience with Busch Light.
8. Michelob Ultra Light
If you’re into the watered-down quality of Keystone Light without all that cumbersome taste of something like Beck’s Premium Light and want your terrible low calorie beer to associate you with yuppies who play beach volleyball and fruit booting, this is your beer. Senor Limon and I spent a random summer day before senior year of college driving to all the Fort Collins breweries and hit this one first. You get two samples and we both wasted a sample on this weak sauce. It seriously tastes like club soda.
We hit O’Dell’s and New Belgium after that, and then half in the bag drove home and passed out on the couches watching a Real World/Road Rules Challenge marathon. The Michelob Ultra was the only low point of the day. I spent my morning the other day filling out warranty and rebate cards for my new appliances. The point? I miss college.
My uncle drinks nothing but Heineken and he can be kind of a douche bag. Heineken is at least fourth on my Dutch beer depth chart behind Amstel Light, Grolsch, Heineken Light, and probably any other Dutch beer I’m forgetting. I don’t understand Heineken’s ridiculous mass appeal, but I suspect it has something to do with the hypnotic green glow of the bottle. It tastes skunky, costs more than beers from that region of the world that are superior in quality, and has only one good pop culture moment to its credit by my count. In Boiler Room, Scott Caan turns around from a dice game on the floor of a bar and says to some big ape, “Hey, he doesn’t have to say sh*t. Why don’t you go back to your Heineken and shut the f*ck up?” If you’re ever looking to summarily dismiss someone, that’s the line to do it with.
6. Natural Light
You know if you happen upon a fridge full of Natty Light, you’re in for a rigorous night of thoroughly destroying your liver. Again, after a random party freshman year, Keithage and I ended up back at my dorm room (it may have even been after that Busch Light party) where we still wanted to drink but were inhibited by my only having coconut rum and our lack of being 21. So we wandered into my suitemate’s room and found him drunk as a bastard on his recliner. We Jedi Mind Tricked him into letting us raid his stash of Natty Light, and proceeded back to my room to take shots of that effeminate rum, pound some lousy beer, and eat some Chef Boyardee ravioli while watching Office Space again.
Helpful tip from Uncle E: Nothing cuts the taste of coconut rum like string cheese. Trust me.
5. Corona Extra
Of all mainstream beers, this is the only one that I actively and passionately dislike. Corona tastes awful, and if there’s absolutely anything else to drink where I am, I will choose that 100 times out of 100. I also briefly banged a girl in college who called buying a 12 pack of Corona “getting some ‘Roners” which always annoyed the piss out of me. I cannot fathom how this is the #1 selling import in this country when it tastes so unequivocally horrible. On a parallel level of thought, I also wonder how “Two and a Half Men” is the nation’s #1 sitcom despite not being funny most of the time, so maybe there’s just no accounting for taste.
4. Coors Light
As a native of Golden, Colorado, I recognize and fully own my bias when it comes to Coors Light. I’m a total homer. If I’m buying a cheap domestic beer, I’m buying Coors Light. I think it tastes good, I love that it’s called The Silver Bullet, it reminds me of home, and I think comparing it to Bud Light or Miller Lite is like watching the Detroit Lions play the New England Patriots. It’s not even a fair fight. Coors Light is excellent in every way possible. I had one tonight. Encomium to Coors Light!
Despite this gushing praise, I have nothing on the beer’s proprietor himself, Mr. Pete Coors. I grew up with the Coors family, and my dad tells a story of sitting in their kitchen, watching Pete pour himself a tall, frosty pilsner glass of Coors Light, open his mouth, ease it down his throat, cap off the experience with a refreshing “Ahhh!” and gaze approvingly at what he just drank. He then turns to my dad and says, “Now THAT’S good beer.” This is either a man who whole-heartedly believes in his product, or has plunged to depths of self-delusion the likes of which most of us will never know. Having known Pete for the entirety of my childhood, it’s the former. And you can’t help but love that level of affection for his own product.
3. Miller Lite
Miller Lite is a beer I have absolutely no opinion of. I’ve never bought this from a liquor store. I’ve never said a bad word about it. And I never have any intention of buying it ever again except for when I’m at a bar, looking to drink cheap, and they don’t have either Coors Light or PBR readily available. I think I’ve drank Miller Lite approximately 14 times in my entire life. I know it exists and I just couldn’t give a rat’s ass. Although I saw my 83 year-old grandmother drink one 8 months ago. So that’s something.
I cannot associate Budweiser with anything besides rednecks. I think of NASCAR. I think of bass boats. I think of guys who go by the name “Gooch” or “Zeke.” I picture people with gun racks and Confederate flags. I see cutoff shirts. I envision people drinking this in truck beds that have decals reading “Lift it! ‘Cuz fat chicks can’t jump!” and other dull witted bon mots.
Budweiser represents all the things that annoy me about America. And to top it all off, it’s brewed with rice, which makes it taste like complete ass.
1. Bud Light
And we finally come to the #1 selling beer in America. I used to hate Bud Light with a passion, but have given up the fight. Like trying to struggle against the cultural tide of calling it “beer pong” instead of its proper name of “Beirut,” fighting with Bud Light drinkers is a losing battle. The only thing that annoys me about Bud Light anymore is the strident declaration of its superiority made by its most ardent fans. People will demonize Coors Light and Miller Lite to loudly and obnoxiously proclaim Bud Light’s supremacy in all relevant (and irrelevant) categories. Why is there a need to do this? Bud Light is already the best selling beer, why do you need to assert your moral authority over the issue too? It’s beer. If you like it, drink it. If not, don’t. I don’t drink Corona, would likely turn down a free one, but you won’t hear me at a party start bashing it unprovoked. You would have five years ago, but there comes a time to grow the hell up. To steal a line from one of Bill Simmons’ readers, championing Bud Light in that way is like rooting for the house in blackjack.
Bottom line: These beers all sell the gargantuan quantities they do because someone out there freaking loves them. Or in the case of at least four of these beers, because college kids need to get drunk in order to keep me entertained during work while I read Texts From Last Night. I’m curious to hear your experiences and opinions on the nation’s Top 15. Disagree with my assessment? Have a funny story about getting blitzed off Natty Light? Care to tell us what you’re drinking right now as you play hooky from work? Drop it in the comments below.
Because this Bud’s for you! Or whatever you’re drinking…
05 Nov 2009 E Dagger