In most circles I am not a person of consequence. My highest achievement to date is the VIP card I carry that’s valid at participating Quiznos, redeemable for a free sandwich after only purchasing 11 others. However, as the sole possessor of a child among my brothers, I presently hold Most Favored Offspring status for introducing a grandchild to my parents.
With this great power over my parents comes great responsibility. If they don’t get regular access to their delightful little ball of grandparent-nip on a regular basis, my top seed to inherit their estate begins to fade. For that reason, I find myself writing a beer review from their home while they play with my kid (which is to say they nap while she rifles through their shit).
I was going to make this review like any other. I was going to hit the local beer boutique, make a thoughtful consideration of the available brands and styles and then see how many of them I can cram into my trenchcoat. But I was struck with an unusual idea. Instead of planning a review, what if I was to just open dad’s refrigerator and review whatever was there?
At first it seemed a weird theme to get caught up on, but the more I thought about it I liked it. I’d be giving the reader an intimate view into the man that raised me, probably explaining a lot of what was wrong with me in the process. It would be pure gonzo beer journalism. More importantly, it would satisfy the endless satisfaction that I still get to this day when raiding the old man’s stash. Let’s do this.
Before we dive in, let me frame things a bit for you. If I was going to use one word to describe my dad, it would not be “fastidious”. It’s not that he’s a slob so much as his idea of organization operates on a plane that defies logic, reason and most health codes. You don’t necessarily need a tetanus booster to go rooting around in his fridge, but you won’t escape it without feeling vaguely soiled:
It may not seem all that objectionable, but remember that even Sarah Jesscia Parker looks attractive at sufficient elevation. The devil’s in the details, and by details I mean the palpable Legionnaire’s disease circulating through this death-trap.
My eye immediately caught something promising on the top shelf:
…which, upon closer inspection, revealed a less promising and more nightmarish item behind it:
My father, apparently fed up with the outrageous price gouging in the pickled egg market, saw fit to start his own specimen jar. Fearing something in that jar might lunge at me any moment, I averted my gaze to the next shelf:
It’s moments like this I curse my eagle-eye vision. Sandwiched between two different onion patches is a Michelob Ultra, macrobrew’s answer to people who feel Michelob Light is just too robust and flavorful. Bruised, but not beaten, I continued my journey downward:
This is a first. My father uncovered a way to make water spoil. At this point I honestly considered cutting out the beer middleman and shotgunning a tall glass of botulism, but then I sighted a potential diamond in the rough/produce drawer:
I honestly don’t know if I should be more dumbfounded by the co-mingling of beer and produce or the apparent hard-on my dad has for onions. They must go great with pickled eggs. In any case, I had my three test subjects.
I gotta say this is a pretty sorry showing from the man who once sold me on buying “the good stuff”, but maybe I caught him on a bad week. One thing is for sure – I finally understand the profound sense of loss others have experienced when faced with that infernal Whammy.
“Big Bucks…Big Bucks….No Michelob Ultra…..Stop!”
Negro Modelo (5.4% ABV)
As a beer journalist, it is my duty to overlook marketing and other affectations to speak to the true essence of the drink. However, I’m officially going on record as saying this beer is getting bonus points for the gold foil. It’s just so fancy!
This light cola-brown cerveza has a thin, beady head and a nose of musty, wet grain. It has a mellow roasty flavor with a malty milk chocolate sweetness. The mouthfeel is very light so this would be a nice way to sample roasted flavors without feeling weighed down. However, that mustiness is in the finish as well and it’s not pleasant.
Given the general state of hygiene in the fridge, I can’t be sure this didn’t skunk under my father’s care. So I can either blame Mexico or my father. It’s times like this that being a racist really simplifies things. Shame on you, Mexico.
Michelob Ultra (4.2% ABV)
In case it wasn’t clear above this beer doesn’t stand much of a chance with me. When I see a carb-based beverage touting its lack of carbs, something is profoundly wrong. However, I want readers to know that I did everything in my power to counter this prejudice by working up a strong thirst before drinking it. I even parched myself doing decidedly American things so my inner-patriot would better embrace a domestic light lager. I mowed my lawn. I stood over a hot grill and cooked animals. I opened the hood of my domestic car and pointed at engine components as if I knew how they worked. I was as ready as I was going to be.
The Michelob Ultra is a pale straw brew that could almost pass for a chardonnay were it not for the ample carbonation. Overall it resembles a beer, which is about the highest praise you’re going to get out of me on this one.
The only thing Ultra about this beer is my disappointment (ZING!). Its smell reminds me of American manufacturing jobs, which is to say non-existent (POLITICAL COMMENTARY ZING!). Imagine drinking a corn-flavored alka seltzer, but rob it of all its character and depth and you’re pretty close to this (HEADFAKE ZING!). This beer sucks (SELF-EVIDENT ZING!).
It’s not that this beer is disgusting, there’s just nothing good about it.
Stone Pale Ale (5.4% ABV)
Help me, Stone Pale Ale. You’re my only hope.
This is a dusky amber brew with a full, dimpled head. The head erodes pretty quickly, but leaves a nice curtain of lacing behind. The nose is a mix of floral and grapefruit notes, but not as assertive as you’d expect for a beer whose gargoyle is throwing a Come At Me Bro glare your way. It’s so unabrasive that you might think this is from a kinder, gentler Stone. Well you know what happens when you make an assumption. You make an “ass” out of “u” and “mption”. Or something like that.
Drinking this beer is like nibbling on a refreshing hop salad. Leafy and piney notes get tied together by a biscuity malt presence, resolving with a tart, lemony flavor. The mouthfeel has a manageable oily resilience, giving you echoes of the previous taste rather than outright repeating on you.
Unlike some pale ales desperate to overwhelm and possibly scar your palate, this is one I could sip on all day. It’s a refined example of the west coast style Pale Ale.