In Defense of Shitty Beers

Sometimes it’s Necessary to Sacrifice Taste for Street Cred…

By Kevin Sterne


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I’ve talked about craft beer ad nauseam on this forum. Here. And here. Also, here. We’ve given a lot of attention to craft brewing, especially Chicago craft brewing, but I feel this publicity has come at the expense of non-craft beers, the un-crafters. Beers that, despite the bad reputation and unfiltered water, can pack just as much flavor—minus the prestige and sticker shock. Take Hamm’s for example, it’s an unassuming beer that has never indulged in the bells and whistles of its high-brow, new age brethren. Hamm’s doesn’t try to be something that it’s not (looking at you, barrel-aged IPA)— and that is admirable in a time when Donald Trump is still trying to be president and Kellyanne Conway is trying to be a human rather than an alien.

So even if you are a reptilian masquerading as a human, a baller on a budget, or a trust-fund hipster kid looking to augment your street cred in Wicker Park or Logan Square, I have the retro aluminum that won’t leave your wallet or palate dry.

  

Busch’s Light

Smells like your gym bag and tastes like your friend’s gym bag. Busch Light has been bringing friends together since 8th grade. The more cans you drink, the more it tastes like your friend drank it and then spit it back in the can. It pours a pale yellow, like drunk-after-sex urine and drinks as smooth as your pec flies. But not as smooth as Hamm’s.

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Natural Ice

In a glass it’s nearly translucent, like you filled an empty yellow Gatorade bottle with water. But, don’t be fooled, this beer packs a lot of flavor. It tastes how your bathroom floor smells after a party. There’s plenty for your palate to sample here: the goopy bottoms of Converse sneakers, stale urine, residual puke stain, condom residue, and more spilled Natty Ice. A cocktail of flavor that will have your taste buds YOLOing for more. This beer is good, even great if you get it fresh, but still a slight notch below Hamm’s.

PBR

I’ve learned that this beer is drinkable at nearly any temperature. Throw it in the snow on the porch until it’s near freezing; this will mitigate any potential taste profile. Or let it simmer in your shed or garage during the dog days of summer. This helps bring out the flavors of dead field grass and skunky gym socks. You can even age a 24-pack in the trunk of your car; just let bang around for a few months until the case is sun beaten and the cardboard smashed. Remember to drink it as fast as you can, the less that touches your tongue the better.

Bud’s Light

This beer pours a faded parking-line yellow and smells like cafeteria creamed corn; both are excellent conversation starters at the next house hop. Bud’s Light is best enjoyed when found in a red cup with no name on it. You can also imbibe sips off a beer pong table. This one pairs excellently with dirty ping pong balls, cigarette ash, and 7-11 Taquitos. Overall, this is a beer worth arm wrestling over, but if you win the drunk push-up contest, you better down a victory Hamm’s.

MGD-64

Beer or cleaning agent? This dual-purpose adult beverage gives whiffs of Pine Sol and sun-dried lawn bags, making it ideal for scrubbing the hard woods or scrubbing your palate. This is my favorite chaser for any combination of the following: Malort, Jim Beam, Jose Cuervo Especial, Bacardi 151, Chivas Regal, and Canadian Mist. If you’re on a diet or if it’s cutting season at the gym (it’s always cutting season for me), then this and Hamm’s is the beer for you, bro.

Guinness

Literally, like the heaviest beer in the world. It smells like grandpa’s cigars and tastes like his garage. It’s sludge. But I drink it because he was Irish and I’m like 1/29th Irish, so it’s family tradition. I’ve had an Irish car bomb once because my older brother made me on my 21st. I like blacked out.

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Bud’s Light Limes-A-Rita

Pitbul is to John Lennon as Bud’s Light Lime-Ritas is to ___________.

  1. A) Holy Water
  2. B) Holly Water
  3. C) Holie Water
  4. D) Not as good as Hamm’s.

Milwaukee’s Beast

Tastes great with my protein. I get mad gains mixing it in my shaker after getting in a pump at the gym in Gold Coast. My Pi Kapp Alpha brothers and I killed off two 30-racks of Milwaukee’s Beast last Friday after I closed a sale with a major client. Who’s the man? Me. Now who wants to take shots of Hamm’s off my stomach.



Kevin Sterne is a writer and journalist based in Chicago, the editor of LeFawn Magazine. Apart from Shuga Records, he’s written about beer and music for Mash Tun Journal, The Tangential and Substream Magazine. His creative fiction has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Potluck Mag, Defenestration, Praxis Magazine, Down in the Dirt Magazine, and Word Eater, among many others.

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I listened to Dad Rock for one week straight and stared death in the face

by Kevin Sterne

People love Dad Rock. They love Dad Rock—not be confused with the rock band, Dads—so much that listening to Dad Rock has become some sort of subculture ritual for older generations and snake people alike. But I always thought Dad Rock to be very, well, plain. Like going for ice cream and getting a vanilla cone (Throw some sprinkles on that shit!). Still, I have some friends who swear by Dad Rock, i.e. how it’s changed them for the better. Since I am perpetually on a quest for noble enlightenment, I decided to give this Dad Rock thing a go.

But, as I told my editor, if I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to fucking do it. A week straight. No podcasts. No talk radio. If I go in a room and music other than Dad Rock is playing, I have to leave. I can’t listen to anything other than Clapton, Neil Young, Tom Petty and the like. My editor said to toss in Dave Mathews and The National for good measure. And that I need to pick between either Ryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen. I said, “what’s the difference?” My editor didn’t respond to the question, but she did fax me a waiver that I had to sign.

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Day 1, Weight: 170lbs

I spent the first night listening to Dave Mathews band and drinking Dave Mathews wine, Crush. I drank the whole bottle in one sitting and passed out in my bed. This would be a breeze.

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Day 2, Weight 168lbs

I woke up feeling like hell. So I thought I’d put on some music to wake me up as I showered, brushed my teeth, etc. John Denver did not help. “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” made my ear bleed. Literally. I was using a que tip and found blood in my left ear.

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Day 3, Weight 167lbs

My day job is installing irrigation and watering systems so I have to do a lot of driving between jobs. Normally I listen to podcasts. Today I gave the Eagles a try. “Hotel California” is a decent song, I think I used to jam it on guitar sometimes. But for every “Hotel California” and “One of These Nights,” there’s a shrieking banshee number like “New Kid in Town.” I accidently ran a red light trying to skip to a new track, and came inches from T-boning a Geo Tracker.

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I feel on edge most of the day, even after switching to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young when I get off at 5. I hardly eat my dinner tonight, even though my roommates cooked chicken and waffles—one of my favorite meals ever. I’m starting to regret committing to this.

Day 4, Weight 165lbs.

I barely slept last night. You ever have those nightmares where you try to run but you can’t? I kept having one where Barry Manilow was chasing me through my high school cafeteria. Needless to say, I wake up in bad shape. I decided to treat myself to a big iced mocha from Dark Matter’s Osmium and a blue berry muffin. Something to lift my spirits, because God knows The National aren’t doing it. This didn’t help, because I had to get my order and immediately leave since they were playing Rx Bandits on the house speakers. In my car, I put on Bruce Springsteen. Eating the muffin and drinking the coffee felt like my taste buds had fallen off. The food just sat in my mouth while Springsteen spat his gaudy New Jersey accent from my Prius speakers. If there’s a radio station in Hell, it definitely plays Springsteen.

Day 5, Weight 163lbs.

As you can see, I’m losing weight fast. I wake up to an urgent email from my editor saying the waiver I signed doesn’t cover the company legally if I die. They want to offer me a kill fee, meaning I’d get about half the totally money for the article and get to quite this electroshock lab-rat experiment immediately.

I decide to call her. She asks me like 10 different times if I’m okay or if I’ve had thoughts of hurting myself. I’m a man on a ledge and my editor is trying to talk me down. “There’s so much to live for,” she yells through the bull horn, “Fugazi is getting back together!” I ask if they will reimburse me for the Dave Mathews wine. Silence. I tell her I’m not quitting and slam my phone, cracking my screen more than it already was.

That night I comb my hair and huge tufts come out. I pull one of my teeth out with no effort. Only two days left, I tell myself.

Day 6, Weight 155lbs.

I call in sick to work. My roommate offers to drive me in my car to the hospital. “Mr. Jones” is playing from my stereo, but it feels like Adam Duritz and Adam Duritz’s hair are inside me, projecting sound through all my holes. My roommate asks if I want him to turn off the Counting Crows. I give a weak, pathetic “no” from under my sweaty blankets.

Sometime in the afternoon I crawl on all fours to the bathroom.

Day 7, Weight 138lbs.

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The only thing getting me through today is the idea of listening to the new At The Drive-in album tomorrow. I spend the majority of these hours in an expressionless stupor, deep inside the dark reaches of my mental space. Where Peter Gabriel plays.

Over the course of these 7 days I’ve experienced all-time mental lows, punctuated by brief manic highs. There were moments of Counting Crows-induced euphoria and long lapses of fear and paranoia, specifically when it felt like Jon Bon Jovi was dredging my cranial sediment.

At midnight I walked to a bar listening to Botch in my headphones. It was like hearing music for the first time. At the bar, the women tending asked how I was doing, which to anyone else would be a normal question. But me, given all I had just been through, I shook my head at her and told her I wasn’t ready to get into all that yet. Please just give me a Hamms. I sat near the window, outside it was raining. A giant potted fern leaned over me. I could hear the sound of rushing water and I felt the spirit of the Lord fill me like a balloon. Later I drifted off to some ridiculous well-lit place.

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