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Archive for the ‘Grade: F regular’ Category

A Tale of Two Cherry Beers

August 3rd, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 7 Comments | Filed in Brewer: New Glarus, Brewer: Southern Tier, Country: America, Grade: A-, Grade: F regular, Style: Fruit Beer, Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Southern Tier Imperial Cherry Saison

8% ABV from a bomber

Let’s touch on a few seemingly unrelated points just to begin:

1.  Southern Tier is one of the finest breweries in America.

2.  I have been accused of being a beer grade inflater.

3.  I always finish beers.

4.  I detest beer snobs and their liberal claims of “drain pours.”

Now let’s tie all these points together, starting with the last.

Few things in the beer community anger me more than the snobbiest of beer snobs and their frequent claims of “drain pours.”  To the uninitiated, to those people wise enough to avoid the pedantic and utterly nerdy embarrassment of the Beer Advocate forums–sample thread subject:  “What is the correct hand to use when drinking a dopplebock?  Left or right?”–there are attention seeking beer geeks that I have seen claim to have drain poured, that is, walked to the sink with a barely touched beer and dumped it down the pipes, some of the most glorious brews on the planet.  Now sure, it’s fine to not love a great, highly-regarded beer, but to detest it so much you dump it?

I’ve thought that was ridiculous for countless reasons.  Being a Jewish cheapskate of course I don’t want to squander the $7 or whatever I paid for the bomber and being an alcoholic I don’t want to squander those ounces of ecstacy either.

On the second issue, I don’t consider myself a grade inflater, I consider myself a lover of beer.  My A through F grades are not a perfect bell curve because I intentionally try to avoid shitty beer–unless it’ll make for a good video–and accomplished craft beer is almost always gonna be above average.

So with that, I am remiss to reveal that I drain poured the Imperial Cherry Saison.  Only the third beer I’ve EVER done that for.  (Bud Light Chelada & Crazy Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer would be the other two.)  Also, that in a few paragraphs it is going to get the lowest grade I have ever given a craft beer (and I’m even including the vile Leinenkugel as “craft!”)

This is shocking news.  Southern Tier is one of my favorite breweries on the planet, a fringe top-ten brewery in America if you ask me.  Furthermore, I’d hail them as second to only Dogfish Head in the experimental “mad scientist” brewing category as they put out some of the more adventurous beers around.

Well, unfortunately, when you push the envelope, sometimes the envelope is going to end up tasting like absolute shit.  Such was the case here.  Oh, I had such high expectations for the Imperial Cherry Saison.  But it is truly vile.  The smell of a dank macro lager with a really unpleasant tartness and a horrendous aftertaste.  Tastes like, say, original Coors with some cheap cherry syrup poorly mixed into it, which is amazing considering the time and effort Southern Tier usually puts into beers.  And probably put into this very beer as they claim it to be infused with real cherries and aged with French oak staves.

My drinking companion likewise hated it and suggested perhaps we were drinking it too warm.  Fair enough, I am known to prefer most all beers at room temperature and a nice, refreshing saison should probably have a little chill to it.  We threw it into the freezer, took it out a few minutes later, still vile.  Threw it in for longer, took it out, colder but still vile.  Threw it in one final time, totally forgot about it, pulled it out an hour later to now find the worst tasting slushy in the history of the world.  Even absolute zero would not be cold enough to enjoy this beer.

It is an utter disaster and I’m baffled how it has a Beer Advocate average of a B.  Is that simply the “respected brewery” curve?!  I highly suggest you avoid this at all costs.  I hate to hammer the great Southern Tier from my home state, but this beer was a golden sombrero of awfulness in smell, taste, price, and drinkability.

Will absolutely make my year end bottom 10.

F

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red

5.1% ABV bottled

You know how when a little kid throws up, they are now unable, for a very, very long time, to both mentally and physically ingest that food or drink that intentionally or unintentionally caused said upchucking?  For me, two of my first ever youthful vomitings happened after eating watermelon and enchiladas and thus I had to avoid those delicious items well into my teens.  Such was the case with the Imperial Cherry Saison.  I think it has made me disgusted with cherries, a fruit and flavor I used to love.

Testing out this theory, I had on hand to drink next, in comparison, a brew made by the American fruit beer makers par excellence, New Glarus, their Wisconsin Belgian Red, a Montmorency cherry-infused beer, currently rated the best fruit beer on the planet.

The Captain has been quite kind in securing me these great treasures from out of the Badger State, and the previous fruit beer I’d had from New Glarus, their Raspberry Tart, was indeed a huge hit.  This beer was splendid too.  If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t even know I was drinking beer.  You could serve this at the Passover seder to the youngsters.  A gorgeous maroon color, truly one of the best looking beers I’ve ever examined.  Highly carbonated, I drank from the one champagne flute in the house as recommended on the label.  (That’s a recommendation of drinking the Belgian Red from a flute, not a recommendation of ONLY having one flute in the house.)  Very silky and I actually found this quite complex with the taste of Hallertau hops and barley melding nicely with the oak and fresh cherries.

Usually, when you compare a great beer to a terrible beer that is a similar style, you tend to overrate the greatness of the better beer.  But, in this case, a part of me thinks that the Imperial Cherry Saison so disgusted me–see my vomitous theory a few paragraphs above–that I actually didn’t unequivocally love this beer as much as I should have.  Whatever the case, find yourself some Belgian Red.  It delivers.  And may the only cherry I drink for the next six months be floating at the bottom of my Manhattans!

(One minor gripe to New Glarus:  your wax dippings are god-awful.  The wax is thin and runny and not attractive at all.  It’s even hard to crack open your bottles due to the wax which furthermore just makes the neck look dusty and dirty.  I would either get a thicker wax or ditch the gimmick.  A gimmick I love by the way.  But your rustic labels are swell looking.  Props to that!)

A-

Crazy Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer

February 16th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 39 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Chili Beer Co., Country: America, Grade: F regular, Style: Chile beer, Video Reviews

4.2% ABV bottled

My second career video review, yet again from my Ten Least Wanted List. And I don’t believe anything else needs to be written…

Introduction:

The Taste:

The Aftermath:

F

Finally, as mentioned, I got a fuck ton of this shitty beer. Who wants to try some? If you’re interested shoot me an e-mail at theviceblog [at] gmail.com and I’ll send you a bottle, on me. I only have one stipulation: you must record yourself drinking the brew and then put it online for us all to see!

Rising Moon Spring Ale

January 28th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 10 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Coors, Country: America, Grade: F regular, Style: Amber Ale

5.4% ABV

To whom it may concern:

I’ve had a pretty good life.  Stellar health, insane handsomeness, an academic accolade or two, two wildly successful blogs, I’ve kissed a few girls (heck, kissed a few guys after Syracuse won the 2003 title), and once I was even kinda hit on by a drunken Kyra Sedgwick before Kevin Bacon arrived and whisked her into a cab.  I don’t have much to complain about.  But the weather outside is miserable, I’m turning 30 in thirteen day, and I just can’t take this cruel world any more.

To off myself I pour a glass of the shitty faux-microbrewery Blue Moon’s spring offering Rising Sun.  My friend, the late Taco Town Dave tipped me off to the poison-like qualities of this beer before it caused his ultimate demise just last weekend.  RIP TTD.

The smell is pungent, like one of those plastic squeeze bottle of fake lemon and lime juice.  No, even worst than that.  It’s downright zesty, like if one were to drink that powdered lemon dish detergent.  I recall in first grade when, to try and get her students excited (!) about learning to read, my teacher told us a s’posed-to-be apocryphal story about the adult illiterate who bought dish detergent thinking it was lemonade powder due to the lemon picture on the box.  That woman died.  Lesson:  if only she’d learned how fun reading is.  Teachers have such dumb teaching strategies.

I’m started to think if that illiterate really existed she had actually just bought Rising Sun.  I’m sure the autopsy couldn’t tell a difference.  The findings would probably be inconclusive.  Did she drink lemon dish detergent or Rising Sun?  My motor senses are slowing down, the poison quickly coarsing through my veins, affecting my CNS.  I’m typing with just my pinkie, the only appendage still with a range of motion.

I have about half the beer down.  My breath is gonna reek when they find my body.  Smells of cheap malts and foil.  I feel like I have ate a tin can.  If my leg muscles hadn’t paralysised I would walk to the bathroom and do a Scope gargle.

This is not a pleasant way to die.  I should have jumped off the GW Bridge, leapt in front of the A train, insulted Al Sharpton, anything else.  Getting this whole beer down is worse than waterboarding.  It’s like my uvula is being waterboarded by citric acid.  President Obama, please send this beer to Gitmo.  I hear there is some space now.

Four sips left.  My vision’s getting blurry.  Three sips.  I can feel my liver is failing.  Two more.  My heart is slowing as if I’m in a waking coma.  One.  My brain function is Teri Schiavo-ing…

Goodbye cruel world.  Hit “publish.”

Yrs,

AMG (1979-2009)

F

Michelob Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale

January 18th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Anheuser-Busch, Country: America, Grade: F regular, Style: Winter Warmer

6% ABV on tap (not cask!)

I’d seen the interesting snowman tap popping up in a lot of bars in the city.  And “normal” bars too, bars whose “best” beer is shit like Stella, so I was kinda intrigued.  It was labeled simply “Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale,” no brewery mentioned, piquing my interest even more.  It seemed Wallace Shawn inconceivable to me that all these bars were now serving a jen-you-wine bourbon barrel-aged beer.  I did some further research.  It’s a Michelob product.  Ah…makes more sense.  Nevertheless, I had to admire their gumption in actually attempting such a seemingly interesting beer.

The other night I yet again saw this beer on tap and finally got a chance to try it.  The beer poured quite dark, could this be a legitimate boozy stout?  My friend took the first sip while I paid.

“Tastes like a Heath bar.”

He nailed it.  It tasted exactly like liquidized Heath bar.  The funny thing is, I love Heath bar.  It’s arguably the best candy bar around and it is certainly the best candy bar to be used in McFlurry/Blizzard-type candy ice cream treats.  But, as the most prominent taste of a beer, it was heinous.

This beer also had very medicinal, dental, flouride-type flavors in it.  Disgusting.  So artificial tasting, so terrible.  Absolutely zero tastes of bourbon, zero tastes of any sort of complex aging, and this is clearly not a “cask” beer no matter how you want to define cask, even by its most loose definitions.

The gall of Michelob to claim they are making something so ambitious when this is just more assembly line bullshit shrouded by a well-conceived marketing campaign.  Have some courage to actually make what you are claiming or don’t attempt to make it at all.  I really think beer companies should be fined for such blatant duplicity*.  I would really like Michelob to prove to me that this beer was casked for even a single fucking day.  I’m guessing the only bourbon involved in the creation of this beer was in the glass of the Anheuser-Busch CEO as he drank and laughed his ass off at yet another semi-successful attempt at duping the public.

If I wasn’t paying Manhattan pint prices I would have walked into the bathroom and dumped this down the urinal after just a few sips.  Oddly enough, my friend loved this beer and drank pints of it all night.  He did make a valid point in noting how one never sees a macro beer with such a high ABV.  Having said that, my friend also wasn’t able to go out Saturday night because he had one of the most wicked hangovers of his life.  Being that he didn’t even drink that heavily, all there is to blame is this terrible artificial brew and all the sugar in it which quite clearly infected his brain.

Avoid at all costs.  Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale will almost certainly make my worst beers of 2009 list.

F

*I’m as laissez-faire as they come when it comes to government intervention.  Nothing chaps my hide more than grandstanding, sanctimonious, hypocritical congressmen trying to nose their “voice” into all parts of American life (to wit:  steroids in baseball, the BCS, etc.)  But I would completely support them in bringing the major macro brewers in for a hearing to bust them for their egregious taste crimes against humanity.

Landshark Lager

November 19th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 27 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Margaritaville, Country: America, Grade: F regular, Style: Macro!

4.7% ABV from a urinal

“How’s that Landshark Lager?”

“Terrible.”

“T’is what I heard.  Get me a bottle.”

“Wait.  You want a bottle of it?”

“Yep.”

“Why?”

I have that conversation a lot with bartenders.  As much as I love great beers, I also have a perverse fascination with trying the worst of the worst.  Kinda like one of those guys that likes to go whaling, likes to play a little “stick a pig” at the bars.  Thus, I was insanely jealous when my friend was clever enough to try this beer before me.  Despite the clear bottle, despite the terrible name, the ugly packaging, and the Jimmy Buffett pedigree (I mean, seriously?!), I’d never once thought to try it.

But on a recent trip to the bar I saw it on the menu and had to seize on it.  I was too embarrassed to have other bar patrons, other potential-one-night-stands-for-the-evening, seeing me drinking such a piece of shit beer so I went into the little boy’s room for a private tasting.  Locking myself in a filthy public bathroom stall was a fitting place to drink Landshark.  This beer is so bad that we are all the worse for its existence.  My blog will never be the same now that this garbage has sullied my system and my generally regard for the world.  I can’t imagine what kind of person drinks this beer.  Those that find Corona too aggressive?!  The kinda asshole who is old, fat, and wears a Hawaiian shirt literally ever day but still thinks he has a “License to Chill“?  I pondered all these questions as I struggled to get the bottle down.  I never walk out of a terrible movie and I never don’t finish an entire beer.  However, this one I could handle only about half of.  A startling indictment of its quality.

I left the bathroom, returned to the bar, and ordered a Old Grand-Dad triple to cleanse my palate.

F

Natural Light

November 3rd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 5 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Anheuser-Busch, Country: America, Grade: F regular, Style: Macro!

4.2% ABV canned

“You know what today is the one-year anniversary of, right?”

Derek and I were shoe-horned into a packed bar on Second Avenue. It was 11:30 AM on Sunday. Outside, runners trotted by at mile 18 of the New York City Marathon. Inside, childish just-out-of-college Upper East Siders oozed into the empty space around us, stinking of B.O. and B-O-O-Z-E, most of them probably not having showered since Saturday night’s partying which may very well have ended just hours previous. We were quite possibly getting too old for this shit.

“Halloween? The Marathon? What?!” I had no idea what Derek was talking about.

“One year ago, Julie got hit by a car.”

I laughed heartily. Ah…yes. One of the craziest and ultimately most hilarious incidents I’ve ever been a part of. And Derek loved the story even more than me. He was there too.

That night one year ago had begun so innocuously. Two couples having a nice Saturday meal up at our beloved Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem. The men had drank beer, the women had gone for a bar specialty cocktail amusingly called the Donkey Punch. An ostensibly “girly” concoction made with three different types of rum, including 151, it packed quite a wallop but went down like a slutty Shirley Temple. After her second pint glass, I had warned Julie that she probably shouldn’t have another. But I’m no one’s mother so I didn’t bat an eyelash when she ordered a third. It wouldn’t be my hangover to deal with.

After dinner and drinks, the time nearing midnight, we headed back to 125th Street to snag a cab to get us back down the Upper West Side for some more partying. Derek, Shannon, and I walked west looking for a yellow ride, when a drunk-on-Donkey-Punches Julie called out that she thought she spotted one across the street. I paid no mind as she apparently darted across the four lanes of two-way traffic trying to make a tricky hail when…

*BOOM!!!!!!*

I turned seconds too late, my mind having to process an incredible amount of information all at once. The girl I loved lay in the middle of the street, not moving. Shit strewn on the pavement around her, like a pinata had just been exploded by a fat Mexican kid with a broom handle. Up the block some hundred feet, the car that had seemingly hit her screeched to a halt. And mere yards from running over my beloved girlfriend was the MTA’s M101 bus. I rushed into the middle of the street, wondering if I was about to retrieve a corpse, stopping the bus from progressing.

I got to Julie and she seemed fine.  Shook up but fine. I was stunned.  It made no sense.  I lifted her and Derek moved Julie to the sidewalk as I cleaned up the mess, grabbing her purse, the all-important Dinosaur doggy bags, and something else. I am a studied stoic and I rarely lose control of my mind and my senses despite adversity. No matter the pressure, I am usually able to think clearly. But for a minute or so my mind had betrayed me and my body was running on autopilot.

Finally, as I returned to Julie, Derek, and Shannon on the sidewalk, Julie crying, her nice coat tattered, but seemingly alright, I realized what the foreign object was in my hand–it was the sideview mirror of the car that had hit Julie. The mirror being fortunately the only part of the car that had grazed her.

And now, up the street, that car was gunning it backward in reverse. I saw bad things happening in our immediate future so I tried to usher us all out of there. I put my arm around Julie to support her, to console her, and more importantly lead us away from the scene and the still-reversing car.

The vehicle finally got parallel to us and as we continued to walk forward he reversed at the same pace. The driver was an early-60s African American male, his passenger, a slightly younger white woman, seemingly his wife. We refused to acknowledge them and soon she burst from the car.

“What the fuck were you thinking?!” she immediately started yelling at Julie, who was a rag doll in my arms, still too dazed to even look up and process things.

We didn’t acknowledge the woman and kept walking.

“You just ran into the middle of the lane!” she harumphed. “You could have killed both of us!”

I knew Julie was technically in the wrong, but she had indeed nearly been killed, and she was indeed completely shook up. Now was not the time to be yelled at. And after a moment, the woman realized her yelling was futile. She finally softened. “Well, is your girlfriend at least OK?”

“Yeah, she’ll be fine. Have a good night.” I handed her the mirror which I still held in my hands, having forgotten to discard it.

The women returned to her car. I thought this odd episode was finally over. Nope. Upon his wife returning with no good news and a dislodged sideview, the black driver of the vehicle fat waddled his way to us.

“You will pay me!”

“For what?!” I started ushering us faster toward the busier Twelfth Avenue to hopefully a cab and our escape.

“My mirror!!! I just got it repaired this week. It cost me $300! That’s the third time this month it’s been broken off!”

I truly felt bad for the guy, but let’s be honest, even if it was Julie’s fault, we weren’t going to cut him a check or give him some cash right then and there. He refused to leave us alone as we kept walking, trying to ignore him. He was yelling at us, pushing us, trying to stop us, demanding that we pay him.

Picture the scene: a middle class, distinguished-looking black gentleman in the heart of Harlem yelling at four white twenty-somethings as the witching hour approached and the freaks were about to come out. Things were definitely in his favor, an escape was becoming more and more difficult. I knew I had no choice but to completely flip the tables on him, something I am a master of.

I turned to the man. “Sir, you got a lot of nerve. Drunk-driving. Nearly killing my girlfriend when you swerved onto the sidewalk. And now you have the gall to come and ask us to pay for your criminal idiocy?! That’s insane!”

I pulled my cell phone out.

“I am calling my lawyer. After that I am calling the police. I’ll have you arrested, put in jail.”

As we kept walking, Derek trying his damnedest to find us a taxi, I put the phone to my ear and feigned a phone call to my “lawyer.” “Scott, it’s Aaron. Yeah, sorry if I woke you. I got this drunk fool up in Harlem who nearly plowed over Julie. Yeah. Yeah. Right.  Sure.  OK, you’ll have your buddy in the 25th head over? Great. Sounds good.”

I hung up and gave the man a cocky look like “Now what?” He totally bought my phony phone call and I saw a slight fear in his eyes, despite the fact that he had almost certainly not been drinking that evening. He now knew he had to up the ante himself.

“PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE! Just pay me! I am a sick man! I have a pacemaker! I can’t handle the stress! Just pay MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!”

He put his hands to his heart, hammily acting out a case of angina headed toward a heart attack. He wailed.

“Just pay me the $300! If I die because of this it will be on you! My blood is on your hands!!!”

We finally reached the intersection of 125th and Twelfth, shrouded by the above-ground 1 train, where stood a small gaggle of cute college-aged black girls shooting the shit, enjoying the warm evening. They stopped their gabbing, taking in the current scene. Four white twentysomethings seemingly trying to flee from a older black man grabbing his heart and crying out. We just looked guilty of…something.

I turned toward the black girls to explain myself, using my smoothest politician rhetoric.

“That man is drunk and he just hit my girlfriend with his car!”

They looked at the man spasming around like a maniac, they looked at kind-faced me, they looked at the sobbing and disheveled Julie.

“You should be ashamed of yourself!!!” they all screamed at the black man. “I’m calling the police,” another one of the girls said. “I’m sick of misbehaving black folks!” yet another one lamented. They looked furious like they wanted to rip the old man to shreds. I assured them that it was alright, no harm, no foul.

Just then Derek luckily hailed a cab and we piled in. As we pulled away, the black man was forced to accelerate things to his coup de grace. He fell to the sidewalk, supine, grabbing his chest and rolling around as if he was having a heart attack, one of the most histrionic acting jobs I’d ever seen in my life. The young black girls gathered in a circle around him, continuing to castigate him for his “drunk” driving, for nearly killing a beautiful young girl. A few feet away, still parked in the intersection, the black man’s wife read the newspaper, not even paying attention to the scene. I had a feeling her husband pulled this shit all the time and it was nothing new to her.

Back in the bar, in the present, Derek and I laughed at the story, one of our favorites, one that we had literally begun retelling and laughing at the second we were in the cab that fateful night, and one that Derek assured me we would be recounting to each other for the rest of our lives. Neither of us still spoke to our dates that evening, but they’d always live on in the memories of the event. Julie had ultimately been completely fine, a bruise or two on her thigh and ass, her jacket just in need of a professional re-stitching. Quite frankly, the worst thing that happened was that the violent jostling of the doggy bag had gotten barbecue sauce everywhere, ruining some great leftovers.

As we laughed, and back-slapped, a fat college kid wearing a terrycloth headband put his arm around me. He told us that he was celebrating the marathon by doing his own marathon of drinking that afternoon: twenty-six bars and twenty-six drinks. I told him I admired his youth and ambition. But he was only at bar three and was already wobbling and slobbering. Kids today.  He bought me a can of Natty Light to go with his group’s order. I thanked him and tried to enjoy a brew I probably hadn’t drank since I was his age. It was horrendous. The taste of over-carbonated metallic pickle juice. Briny and watery.  Absolutely disgusting. I couldn’t even finish half of the tallboy. We were indeed too old for this shit. We left and headed toward Third Avenue and a quiet, classier place befitting our raconteurial skills, to have a Manhattan or ten and regale each other with further stories of funny times past.

F

Banks Shandy Sorrel

October 9th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 3 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Banks, Country: Barbados, Grade: F regular, Style: Spiced Beer

1.5% ABV bottled

Fairway Market is where the Upper West Side’s finest go to grocery shop. Based on that sentence alone, the place looks absolutely nothing like what you might think it would. It’s a fucking zoo. And it’s not full of “weird” gourmet shit, just a lot of incredibly fresh and varied produce, cheeses from every animal that can be milked, countless coffee beans, a stellar meat, fish, and deli section, and as many oddball jarred culinary items as can possibly exist, all at amazingly low prices. Hey, even the rich like to save a little loot. Especially the elderly rich.

I absolutely detest trying to negotiate the place and its madding crowd, with all the small moving pushcart people on the brink of death, but I do anyways because they have a borderline sublime beer selection. We’re talking the best of the best from Belgium, Germany, the UK, and California. I think the absolute “worst” beer they have is Samuel Smith’s entire solid line. So when I was visiting a friend uptown the other day, you know I had to pop in. And what I saw blew my mind.

Nestled between some Stone and Ommegang bombers was this weird clear-bottled grenadine-colored beer.  Sure didn’t look like a beer, but indeed it was called a lager on the bottle. It looked like something more befitting my Ten Least Wanted List. Yet I absolutely had to have it.

I gleefully sprinted to the register, the same place where just a few months prior a girl had rung up a single 12-ounce bottle of Orval I was buying, saw that it cost $6.99 and then lifted it above her head and under the fluorescents so she could study it better.  After a dramatic ten seconds she turned to me with the most perplexed look on her face.

“This beer?”

“Uh…yeah.”

“For 7 dolla?!  You know you can get a whole six-pack for that much.”

“Well, uh, it’s considered one of the best beers in the world.”

“I sure hope it gets you 7 dolla drunk,” she said as she swiped the beer on the bar code reader, shaking her head in disbelief.

Well this red cocotion didn’t ring up, in fact, if I recall, the cash register made a GOOOOOOOONG sound when the zebra code was swiped.

Time for a price check as the cashier sent an overaged bag boy to fetch the info. I usually do price checks myself as bag boys are incredibly slow and often monolingual (but obviously the wrong lingual for our purposes).  However, this time I decided to hold back.  Not a smart decision.  Fairway is also famous for incredibly long and slow-moving lines.  Lines that amass quickly, like nerds camping outside to meet Stan Lee at a ComiCon.

And indeed by now the queue behind me was building, a lot of pissed-off people staring at the douchebag holding things up, his red bottle of fluid still standing on the conveyer belt taunting them. Their eyes drove bullets through my head. Why do I put myself in these situations?  Oh right, because I am a maniac.

The woman behind me was a fetching late-twenties business women, sexy as hell in her skirted power suit, her hair down and slightly disheveled. She just wanted to get home to eat her pre-prepared dinner alone, watch “Gossip Girl,” and blow off losers on JDate. She had already slapped down the divisor stick, and her meager amount of groceries was already laid on the conveyor belt behind my single Stop-Sign-red brew.

With a cocked stance and anger in her contact-lensed eyes, she glared at the offending bottle. The bag boy was taking for-fucking-ever. The girl’s toe-tapping got more agitated, she was about to explode.  Finally, she spoke to me, in that jutting way the rich and over-educated but not too bright or tactful speak.

GIRL:  What. is that. thiiiiing?

Usually I’m pretty confident in my dealings with the fairer sex, but this time I couldn’t even make eye contact I was so ashamed by my purchase.

AARON: Not sure.

GIRL: (incredulous) Not. sure?!

AARON: Uhn-uh.

GIRL: Weeeeell, is it. a. soooooottta?

She grabbed the my beer and ogled it curiously like it was some ancient civilization’s artifact.

I paused for a second, skipped the formalities, and immediately went to my end game.

“Look, it’s a beer.  Just a beer.  And, I’m guessing, and hoping, it’s one teeeerrible beer.”

“Why. would. ya want. a teeeerrible bay-ear?”

“Because I write a very successful beer blog where I sometimes get a kick out of drinking terrible beers in order to write hilarious anecdotes and reviews about them.”  I grabbed my trusty pen from my pocket like the Sundance Kid whipping his guns from his belt, uncapped it, and wrote www.theviceblog.com on her box of Wheat Thins (Low Sodium).

“Visit it tomorrow.”

For a millisecond, a millimeter of a grin came across her face as the bag boy finally returned with the price. I did a quick, keep-the-change pay, grabbed my beer, ducked my head, and left the store.

Shandy Sorrel is a Caribbean lager made by Banks brewery in Barbados, a place that seems to actually produce some adequate stuff.  It is colored (obv.) and flavored with artificial ingredients.   Also, sorrel, which with a little googling I come to find is a wild herb that supposedly tastes like sour strawberry.  I tasted something completely different.  Just last week I was visiting a friend’s fancy office and swiped a fistful of hard candies from one of her coworkers’ desks.  Later, while sucking on a cinnamon disc as I similtaneously drank a Diet Mountain Dew, I noticed a great taste sensation.  A big soda fan, I wondered why there is no cinnamon soda, at least as far as I know.  Well, Banks Shandy Sorrel is that cinnamon soda.  And, it’s not half bad.  But it’s not beer.  I think I was more sober after drinking it than I was before I started.  And then I noticed the ABV, 1.5%.  Good lord.

So while I actually kinda enjoyed the taste of this one, when your alcohol content is less than half as much as the pathetic Amstel Light, well, ya got trouble, my friends.  And in River City that means you get an…

F

Michelob Golden Draft Light

September 15th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 7 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Anheuser-Busch, Country: America, Grade: F regular, Style: Macro!

4.1% ABV bottled

Friend of the Vice Blog and Minnesotan The Captain’s Chair sent me a nice package of local beer last week, wanting me try some of the finest brews his state has to offer. He sent me great stuff from Surly, Schell, and other Land of 10,000 Lakes breweries. Any Minnesota beer review you see in the next few weeks will be courtesy of him. But The Captain humorously also wanted to send me the worst his state has to offer, some pure “nastiness” as he calls it, telling me he’d like me to sample it “if (I’m) brave enough.”

It’s a “special” release that Anheuser-Busch apparently only inflicts on the great states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Captain described it thusly:

“It’s basically horse piss, but all the mullets around here drink it like it’s their job. I wouldn’t touch it with someone else’s lips. Might make for a funny review though.”

Sign me up. As much as I love great beer, I also love seeing if I’m man enough to drink liquid garbage. It’s a sickness I have.  And I should note that I was dumb enough to drink this stone-cold sober.

The clear bottle Golden Light comes in is an obvious sign of a piece of shit brew. It’s like they want the beer to be skunked to as high of level as possible before you drink it.  The label reads “…the exceptionally smooth taste you expect from Michelob.” Riiiiiiiight. Why are macrobreweries bigger stretchers of the truth than politicians? I actually expect nothing but pain, misery, and agony from Michelob.  And I would soon learn that I should sue Michelob for blatantly false advertising.  The Vice Blogger v. Michelob, the Vice Blogger contending that Golden Light is about as unsmooth as possible.  That would be the trial of the century.  But more on this in a sec.

I popped the top and I was hit with a pungent aroma. Terrible. A stench like flatulence. I had to clamp a clothespin on my nostrils like I was some cartoon character. The taste is even worse. Like a poisoned Sprite Remix. The beer injures my tongue. It was like pouring hydrogen peroxide on it. I’m not sure if Golden Light heals open cuts though. It singes and bubbles as it goes down your throat. Atrocious.  If Anheuser-Busch considers this “smooth,” good Lord!

Abominationally bad. The Captain was right. One of the worst beers I’ve ever had. It’s like the wretched Corona but far more painful going down. My mouth and gullet felt like a bum raped my pie hole.

This one should be advertised as beer for bulimics because it made me want to throw up. It’s like (marginally) alcoholic ipecac. “Beer for Bulimics.” Kinda catchy actually. Could be used in some trendy new modern-day vomitoriums.

Luckily, I only had to drink one of these and afterward I cleansed my palate with the Cuban from the UWS’s Cafe Con Leche, maybe the best sandwich in all of Manhattan island.

Never again.

F

Trader José Premium Lager

July 22nd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Trader Joe's, Country: America, Grade: F regular, Style: Macro!

ABV unlisted and unknown but I would guess that it lies somewhere slightly higher than Poland Springs and slightly lower than Dasani

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery but when you’re imitating (read: rippin’ off) the worst beer on planet earth then you’re just acting fucking stupid and your company’s shareholders should question whether you are intentionally trying to tank share prices. I kinda hate Trader Joe’s so I typically avoid it but I had been intrigued upon recently learning that they had their own line of “premium” beers. I was especially excited when my friend told me he had picked up a sixer of Trader José, Trader Joe’s is-it-racistly-named-or-not Mexican beer. (Have you had their Trader Joseph Goldberg Passover table wine? Delish!)

I needed some more F’s on my blog so I asked my buddy to save me a bottle. I had to see if Trader José was truly as offensive as Corona. I mean, surely it couldn’t be. Even if they tried to nail the recipe exactly, surely Trader Joe’s would fuck up ever so slightly and inadvertently create a better beer. I popped the bottle in a standard manner, with a wrist snap at waist level which put the bottle opening some two-and-a-half feet or so from my nose. Nevertheless, the second I took the cap off my face was hit with such a explosion of skunky and repellent stench that my neck snapped back like I was in a head-on collision. Oh, don’t worry, I have one of those foamy neckbraces on now and I’ve got a great personal injury lawyer filing a whiplash claim on my behalf.

I should probably hire another lawyer to file a claim that this swill is less safely potable than Tijuana tap water. The taste is despicable. The taste is actually more offensive than the beer’s name. Only marginally better than Corona because I can actually detect a flavor or two within this mess of a beer. I had to brush my teeth after finishing this one. Never again.

F

Bud Light Chelada

June 26th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 9 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Anheuser-Busch, Country: America, Grade: F regular, Style: Fruit Beer

4.2% ABV from a can

People always ask if I’ve altered my drinking habits in any way since starting my site. Succinctly and accurately stated–NO.

Until now.

First, let me state that I shudder to write this entry because it will be like revisiting a traumatic experience all over again. Is this how Alice Sebold felt?

A little history of how I came to this point in time…

One evening last summer I returned home late from a night out. I wanted a single nightcap to dust off while getting ready for bed and the only place open was my local bodega. Which doesn’t exactly have the best beer selection as I’ve previously stated. On these occasions I usually just buy a $1.50 tallboy can of Bud Light or maybe even a few bottles of Labatt, and that was indeed my plan this time. Until I spotted a new product next to the Bud Lights.

I had never seen the item before and I am a major sucker for new products. I’m the one idiot that buys the “wacky” flavored Doritos, and the “limited-time-only” Mountain Dew Code Aquamarine, and who goes to Taco Bell to get their new double-wrapped, triple-stuft, quadruple-shit-in-your-pants crunch supremes (only 79 cents!). Point is, I’ll give anything a try. Yes, even new products from crummy macrobreweries.

Something about the can’s label intrigued me. I don’t speak or read Spanish–for those outside of New York, a lot of products at your low-rent corner bodega/deli are written exclusively in Spanish–and this can was completely in the language. You might think living in Manhattan I should learn Spanish, but I simply can’t as I do not have the capacity to pick up foreign tongues (languages I’ve began to learn and not succeeeded in doing so: French, Spanish, German, Latin, Hebrew).

Thus, I had to judge this book by it’s cover.

The can was interesting, intriguing. It’s color scheme evoked freshness. Summer fun in the sun with vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds and a corona of brightness. The glassware depicted evoked thoughts of big ass 64 ounce lime margaritas rimmed in salt. Of lounging in the sand, or poolside, sipping refreshing drinks while the lazy day passed away. I had sold myself. I figured it would probably taste like a Bud Light with a hint of lime or something.

Heck, I even noted the one phrase of Spanish on the can that even a dunce like me could translate: “La combinacion perfecta!” Sounds delicious! Er, deliciouso.

But, something about the can sent off sensors in my head. It was a little too red for my liking. Red’s a color that universally means “warning” or “danger.” The words “chelada” and “clamato” on the label also scared me even though I couldn’t translate them. Creatures are evolved to know not to eat certain things. Amazing but true. So birds somehow know not to eat the poisoned berries, and Australian snakes know not to eat the poisonous cane toad, and the urbanite Jew knows to google Bud Light Chelado before he drinks it. So I did. And I immediately saw something more disgusting than “Two Girls, One Cup.”

I saw words such as tomato juice, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and worst of all, clam broth. Yeah, these were the ingredients of the beer I held in my hand. I’ve drank some incredibly vile things in my life, but this wasn’t going to be one of them. Apparently, Mexicans actually like this shit! Well of course they do. Why else would Anheuser-Busch try to cash in on something unless it wasn’t already a craze? Now you might think me a retard for not knowing what clamato is, but I would counter that you are a deviant for actually knowing. Suffice to say I was pissed I wouldn’t have my nightcap that evening as I put the beer into the back depths of my fridge, only to show off to my friends as if part of some Frigidaire freak show, like a shrunken head or the world’s tiniest pony.

Fast forward to this week, nearly a year after the previously described events. With my team of butlers and maids on summer vacation, I decided to act like a common man and do some cleaning myself. I wasn’t thrilled with my overflowing and beginning-to-reek fridge so I decided to clean it up. And lo and behold, what should I find at the back of the icebox but my can of Chelada. I could have tossed it into the industrial-sized Glad bag along with the moldy cheddar and a banana so rotten it was black and shriveled to the size of a poorly-rolled doobie, but I knew that would be irresponsible. I had a duty to my readers. I knew I had to drink this fucking beer.

Soooo…for those scoring at home, I was about to try an old-ass (or “aged” if you prefer to be a connesseur) beer that consists of tomato juice, salt, lime, Worcestershire sauce, and clam broth. UGH. I felt like Evil Knievel about to jump over the Grand Canyon.

There was no fucking chance I was drinking this thing in my bedroom, or my living room, or even around another human being. I waited til my roommate left and then headed to the bathroom with my supplies.

(If you look closely in the picture you can see I’m clearly in my bathroom with a sink, my toothbrush, and my Crew strong hold gel in the background which is what I use to make my hair look like Showtime Lakers-era Pat Riley’s.)

Remember that great scene in “Trainspotting” when the character of Renton “Rent-Boy,” played splendidly by a young Ewan McGregor, tries to get off heroin, quitting cold turkey? Here’s how he described his preparation:

“Relinquishing junk. Stage one, preparation. For this you will need one room which you will not leave. Soothing music. Tomato soup, ten tins of. Mushroom soup, eight tins of, for consumption cold. Ice cream, vanilla, one large tub of. Magnesia, milk of, one bottle. Paracetamol, mouthwash, vitamins. Mineral water, Lucozade, pornography. One mattress. One bucket for urine, one for feces and one for vomitus. One television and one bottle of Valium, which I’ve already procured from my mother, who is, in her own domestic and socially acceptable way also a drug addict. And now I’m ready. All I need is one final hit to soothe the pain while the Valium takes effect.”

I prepared myself just as thoroughly. As mentioned, I waited for my roommate to leave. I locked the bathroom door. Previously to entering the bathroom I had eaten a turkey sandwich on wheat bread. I wanted a base in my stomach of some pleasant, non-volatile food. I also drank two Bud Lights to steady my nerves. I was as anxioius as a virgin going to the prom, and needed some liquid courage if I was ever to have the balls to drink this beer. I also brought into the loo with me a bottle of Coke Zero, a large water, another can of clam-broth-free Bud Light and, of course, I also had nearby my Listerine, toothbrush, and toothpaste to assure that I could clean out my mouth quickly and efficiently if anything bad were to happen. And I was certain something bad would happen. But I didn’t want to taint my review with stinkin’ thinkin’.

Let me interrupt to note that I have a very strong stomach. A lifetime of drinking recklessly and prodigiously and I’ve probably yakked less than ten times. And, those times I’ve thrown up were less because I drank too much but rather because I drank too much of something stupid. Like Jager. Or free hotel strawberry daquiris in Cancun. Or several “fishbowls” whilst in a most unfortunate fishbowl drinking contest over Memorial Day. I thought Chelada would soon be added to the “something stupid” list.

I wanted to see the color of the Chelada but didn’t want to risk befouling any of my beloved pint glasses. Thus, I poured some of the brew out for my fallen homeys and down the sink. It looked like menstrual blood. That was an ominious sign.

I was nervous for the impending smell. I should note I made the beer as absolutely frigid as possibly because the colder a liquid, the less you can taste it. A quality barley wine or quadrupel should be served at, say, 60 degrees fahrenheit. I suspected this motherfucker should be served at absolute zero.

I closed my eyes, if I was a Catholic I would have done that cool thing where they cross their chest, and then I leaned my big Jew nose down toward the aluminum opening. And I didn’t wince. I didn’t dry heave. There was no vomitus. In fact, I was able to keep my schnoz there indefinitely if I felt like it. I’m not gonna act like the beer smelled good, but it didn’t smell heinous either. Like overcarbonated Budweiser with a hint of Tabasco. I’m actually a fan of spiciness in all cuisines, so this aroma was fine by me. This was promising.

I felt more confident now. We all know hubris is a bitch. I took a little sip. Just a nip. Again, it was not heinous. Tasted kinda like it was one part Bloody Mary mixed with three parts Budweiser. I don’t like Bloodies, but at this point I thought the beer might be drinkable. Like I might actually finish a whole can. At this point I would have called it a “C” quality beer or so. I even thought to myself, “Yeah, I get this. I understand why a person could like this.”

My bathroom has no AC or window, so it was getting sweltering in there at this point. Like a steamroom. I felt like I was about to take a shvitz. Thus, I decided to take one more big swig and if that was pleasant enough I would bring the can back to my room and finish it off.

HUGE MISTAKE.

I took my big swig and this time the clam broth hit me HARD. Like a tidal wave rushing toward the back of my throat. It tasted like a liquid rotted anchovy pizza. I was so fucking repulsed I immediately spat it back out, a frozen rope that hit my medicine cabinet mirror on the fly. I threw my head toward the toilet and began convulsing. I couldn’t throw it up but I was heaving, wanting to eject the vileness from my system. My eyes were watering, burning. I was brought to my knees as if I had been kicked in the nuts.

“La combinacion perfecta!” echoed in my spinning head as if being spoken by a cute-as-a-button Mexican girl. Uh, how do you say in Spanish, “The only combination I can think of that would be less fucking perfect is shit mixed with vomit.”

Finally able to upright myself from the floor, I immediately slammed the 20 ounces of water. Next, I gargled four fingers of mouthwash. Then, I brushed my teeth. Four more fingers of mouthwash. How did about an ounce of fluid so destroy my stomach, pollute my mouth, and soil my tongue?! And my lips now were incredibly salty. Even worse, I couldn’t quit burping, each eructation forcing me to taste the nauseous fluid yet again and again and again. I was in near tears.

Bud Light Chelada? Should be called Bud Light Chlamydia.

I went to my room where I popped a normal Bud Light to relax and write up what you have just read to this point. I was sweating and needed to lay prostrate for a half-hour or so as if I’d just had a tough workout. Eventually, I got my strength back and had to do one final and troubling task: eliminate the 9/10th full can of Chelada still remaining. If I was smart, I would have just opened my bedroom window and hurled the can into the open patio of the hipster bar five floors down below me, a payback toward the loud patrons who keep me up every night as they discuss Jim Jarmusch movies and “going green” late into the AM.

But, I didn’t do that. Instead, I began pouring it down my sink.

Big mistake. It was making a fucking bright red, stinky mess and I thought it best to not put any more of this fluid near where we put our faces several times a day every single day. Thus, I dumped the rest of the beer out near where we put our dirty assholes several times a day every single day, the toilet. A fitting burial.

The misery is now over. My sink looks like a murderer washed his hands there while my toilet smells like an unkempt woman has been sitting on it. I can’t imagine what my roommate will think I did while he was gone for the evening.

F