Underrated: Your Dad's Beer

August 13, 2007 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

The most popular beers in America are without question light beers. Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light dominate bars, stadiums and TV ads, and you know what? They all suck. You people have duped yourselves into enjoying bland, watered down beer due to slick marketing and a natural inclination to follow the herd.

So how did you come to this? For most people, their first encounter with beer came on a late night raid of dad's stash in the fridge*. The full-flavored taste of his Old Style was incredibly foreign to you and not all that enjoyable. As you get older and "wiser" in your teenage years you become more astute in the methods of obtaining alcohol. Sure the old man wasn't going to notice a can or two missing from his 30-pack now and then, but what's just two beers gonna do for you and your buddies? So you find better means. An older brother or friend, a fake ID, or asking an old homeless guy to buy for you. All were acceptable methods. You also now had a say in which beer you could get, and with the memories of choking down dad's brew still crisp in your mind, you opt for something easier to drink, something "lighter".

And so it begins. You become accustomed to the light beers. Eventually you go on to college and realize the benefit of stretching your dollar a bit. Instead of blowing your money on a 12 pack of Bud Light, you can get a case of Natural Light or Milwaukee's Best Light. $75 for a keg of Miller Lite, or $35 for a keg of Keystone Light? Suddenly the cheap light beers become a staple in your weekend routine. It just seems natural to reach for a case of Busch Light on a Friday night. Once you leave college and join the workforce, you realize you've got a little extra change in your pocket, so you start splurging for Bud Light and Miller Lite. The so-called "good stuff".

But for me, things began to change at the end of my college career. I opted to try something different. I began drinking Miller High Life. It mainly started as a means to stop others from sniping my beer supply. Most would scoff at the thought of drinking a "heavy" beer so they would leave my stash alone and raid someone else's. But after a while of drinking the "Champagne of Beers", I came to a realization. This is pretty damn good stuff. Way better than that pee water in a can calling itself light beer. Upon this realization I began checking out the other "heavy's". PBR, Schlitz, and even the old man's beer again, Old Style, and they were all great. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good microbrew or import now and then, but on a hot summer day, there's nothing better than an ice cold bottle of High Life or Old Style.

These days I pretty much never touch a light beer, with the exception of occasions where that is the only choice, namely wedding receptions. I still get odd looks from friends who say stuff like "How can you drink that crap?" I usually ask them if they've tried it, which is generally followed with a "no". If you haven't tried it, how can you honestly sit there and rip on me for drinking it? I'll admit, it'll be a shock to your system at first. It actually tastes like something (these light beers crack me up when the advertise that they're the "best-tasting". Best tasting light beer? That's like being the coolest kid in the Chess Club.), and your taste buds may not be used to such distinct refreshing flavor. Just give it time. Rome wasn't built overnight, and neither will your taste for far superior beer when you've spent years training yourself to like that watered-down swill you've been guzzling.

So maybe it's time to put down that Bud Light and go buy a 12 pack of your dad's old beer. It was good enough for him wasn't it? Hell it's probably what kept him sane through all those years you acted like a complete dipshit. To help you out on your new found journey, here's a quick guide** to get you started.

Top of the Line - So good, you'd think it was brewed by the gods .... you know .... if the gods lived in Milwaukee.

How can we legitimately call ourselves a Cubs blog and not pay tribute to this Wrigley Field classic. By far the best summer beer. An ice cold bottle of Old Style will cure all of life's ills.

MILLER HIGH LIFE - The 'Champagne of Beers'. By far the best beer made by Miller and probably the easiest to find at your local bar. In fact if your favorite establishment doesn't carry either Old Style or the High Life, it's probably time to find a new favorite bar anyway.

PABST BLUE RIBBON - PBR has seen a mild renaissance that's left me slightly ambivalent. The fact that it became a popular beer for hipsters in big cities due to it's affordability has given rise to the popped-collared posers that are drinking it because it's "ironic". On the other hand, it's growing popularity has led to more places carrying it, which makes it easier for me to find. Either way, it's a damn good beer. As with most these beers, it's best when drank from a bottle.

Pretty Darn Good - Not the greatest, but they're reliable and good to drink.

SCHLITZ - Most are probably making a puzzled face upon seeing this beer listed here, but honestly when was the last time you had a Schlitz, if ever? At one point this was one of the most popular beers in America. While it's been a long while since its heyday at the top, the beer is still just as good as it has ever been. Unfortunately it can only be found in cans nowadays. The best beer if you're on a tight budget.

GRAIN BELT - Good luck actually finding Grain Belt anywhere, but if you do, strap yourself in and enjoy the ride. Once in a blue moon I'll find this beer at a bar or store, and I've never had a bad time when I have.

Pretty Decent - Still better than that light beer you're drinking.

OLD MILWAUKEE - Let me put it this way, I'm not going to turn down an Old Milwaukee.

MICHELOB - The heavy beer of the golf club. Pretty much the only Anheuser-Busch beer I don't mind other than Budweiser.

Eh, I'll Pass - Even I have to draw the line somewhere folks.

Not for the faint of heart or the faint of colon.

SCHMIDT - Sure the wildlife on the can is kind of cool in a retro outdoorsman sort of way, but that's pretty much where the charm ends. Inside is pure, unadulterated, liquid evil.

HAMM'S - There must be a small but loyal contingency of old men drinking this beer, as I still find it in quite a few stores. This seems like the beer you start drinking after your third divorce leaves you a cold, bitter shell of your former self.

*Although sometimes your futile attempt to sneak alcohol left you with nothing but a couple 5 month old bottles of Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers from your parents New Year's party.

**Note that I chose to leave off Budweiser and MGD. While both are heavy beers, they're popular enough that to call them underrated would be a misnomer. Had I included them, I would put both in the same group as Old Mil and Michelob.