40-oz. Extravaganza

THE NIGHT OF WATER AND PISS, February 12, 2010

Who hasn’t stood, dumbfounded, in front of a seemingly endless selection of low-grade malt liquor? And standing there, who hasn’t wondered what differences may be found among these mega-low-end placeholders in the hierarchy of beer quality?  We set out to learn from those garishly decorated bottles once and for all, in the method of the inquisitive beer tradition: the Blind Tasting.

Assembled before the sorrowful bounty were 15, maybe 20 people. We laid out 21 forty-ounce bottles, covered with paper bags. The taste test was double blind. Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Lite, Miller High Life, St. Ides Malt Liquor, Labatt Blue, Sol, Olde English High Gravity, Olde English 800, Budweiser, Bud Ice, Bud Light, Colt 45, Baltika #9 Extra Lager, Molson Ice, Crazy Stallion, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Camo Silver Ice XX, Steele Reserve, Mickey’s, King Cobra, Schlitz.

One gung-ho taster took it upon herself to taste, rate, and reflect on every last one. Some of her descriptors were accurate but unhelpful–”watery”, “liquidy”–but some were astoundingly accurate for a double blind test of 21 beers– “MGD” read one remark. And she was right.

Jacob, RIP

What could be more interesting than a double blind tasting of 21 forty-ounce beers?  Many things, as it turns out. On his Bud Light tasting notes, one reviewer wrote: “while I was drinking this beer the discussion in the room turned to LOST. This was far more interesting than any of the 40s that I’ve tasted tonight (except for #10 honey raisin). I think there’s going to be a white smoke monster now that Jacob’s dead.”

The “#10 honey raisin” he refers to is the Baltika #9 Extra Lager, the most divisive beer of the night. Strangely, this beer was in a 51 oz. plastic bottle. Internet research indicates that some people pay $2 for 16 oz. of this beer in glass, while others have paid $2.19 for 51 oz. of it in plastic. Perry only pays for Baltika in rubles, so he wasn’t much help in figuring out this discrepancy. While some tasters that night described this beer as “vomit,” others detected strong raisin aromas and honey tastes in this beer. It was sweet, flavorful, and strong–not a beer I’d normally go for. But on this night of water and piss, this beer stood out as a winner. There were heated arguments at the table about the merits of this beer. Nearly everyone tried it because of the controversy, and the tasting notes turned out the juiciest descriptors: “raisin piss,” “soy,” “rotten raisins,” “sweet and terrible,” “I get the vomit taste, but I still kind of like it.”

I tried to encourage my friends to use creative descriptors for all of the beers, and I got a few: lugubrious (Schlitz), lemon custard (Colt 45). But most descriptors were some modification of “watery” or “piss”: burnt piss, soda water, liquidy, stale piss, wheat piss…

Besides descriptors, tasters also gave each beer a ranking from 1-10. I was hoping that some macrobrew lite beer or gallantly malty 40-oz would be a clear winner in the rankings, surprise us all, steal our hearts and our palates, and save me from spending so much money on much pricier microbrews. The rankings were all over the place; the same beers that received 1’s also received 6’s and 7’s. The averages meant nothing, all falling somewhere between 2 and 4. The only exception was Bud Ice, with a whopping 5.25 average rating. This alone should show that the AVERAGES MEANT NOTHING about the actual quality of the beers.

This epic evening clarified one reason that I buy (relatively) expensive microbrews: if they occasionally taste like pee-pee, at least it is not watery pee-pee.

~ by nininja on May 9, 2010.

5 Responses to “40-oz. Extravaganza”

  1. I’ve been waiting for this day! but you didn’t tell me which 40 is best!

  2. Great! but SO…mouthfeel? texture? What about the sugar rush that accompanies these 44 ounces of freedom?

  3. Jesus. Haven’t had a 40 in so long I added 4 ounces to them.

  4. We should have had d12 on during the tasting:

    • The scenes in this video really remind me of our own 40’s party. We didn’t have eminem, but maybe next time we’ll invite him.

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