Titled thusly because during the early ‘70s these truly blue-collar brews were all that were available (for the most part) to American consumers. To make sure we correctly reviewed these weak ‘classics,’ we re-imbibed nearly all these entries during the Detroit Pistons series upset over the favored Los Angeles Lakers for June ‘04s basketball championship. None are recommended and none receive more than two-an-one-half stars.
BALLANTINE ALE – Cheese State cheapskate preferable to Bud, Miller, and Coors. Thin breaded crusting, wispy malt fruiting, and mild corn sweetness boggled by astringent sugared water indifference. Its three rings supposedly stand for “purity, body, flavor,” yet these qualities lack. Buy the fine, more expensive Ballantine India Pale Ale instead.
BLACK LABEL LAGER – Watery Wisconsin whish wash with unassuming, faded malt snippet closer to a boring pilsener than a lackluster lager.
BUDWEISER LAGER – While Bud remains cheap and I salute Anheuser-Busch for giving me a small buzz in the pinch as a poor youngster, this cloy macrobrew has an ever-receding rice and barley flow, feint green apple sourness, and off-dry crispness. Yes, the undying “King of Beers” outsells nearly everything worldwide. But the real “Budweiser” originates in the Czech Republic and gets sold under the name Czechvar in America. After tasting thousands of American Buds over 30 years, our conclusion is the Newark factory uses better water and makes the best Bud, while the St. Louis and Florida breweries just make ‘em too tinny in the can and way thinner in the bottle. Since 2000, a nasty aspertame gumming has surged in canned versions and the hop IBU’s have shrunk.
BUSCH LAGER – Arguably better than Bud, if that’s progress. Rumors about this St. Louis slush being bottom of the barrel scum leftover from Bud and Michelob notwithstanding, this inoffensive alternative has a succinct hop-grain mesh and refreshingly clean, crisp water flow.
COLT 45 MALT LIQUOR – The first advertised ‘malt liquor’ I’d come across in the ‘70s, this stanky, puffy white-headed cheapster has a soured malt stickiness and swanky oiliness you’d soon hope to forget. Will give and cure hangovers – take your chance.
COORS PILSENER – Now a no-frills alternative to Bud or Miller, Coors made better, crispier pilseners in the late-‘70s as an overpriced Colorado ‘export.’ The slogan “It’s the water” may have rang true for this billowy-headed summer thirst quencher, but the current ‘product’ relies on cheap fizz, fallacious doughy yeast, slim barley, and fresh-cut maize, becoming redundantly cloy if warmed. Now, it’s an under-priced rip-off. Warning: Do not dare attempt flaccid spin-offs Coors Extra Gold, Coors Red Light, etc.
FALSTAFF LAGER – Sugar water boredom from deep in the fart of Texas. Indistinct, ineffectual, and insignificant from its predictably puffy, foam-filled hop opening to its weakened grain aftertaste.
GENESEE CREAM ALE – I drank a quarter keg of this filling fluff with my brother Mike and friend Jim within a hundred mile range of its Rochester brewery in upper New York one stony night in ‘80. When we returned the keg the next morning, we were still finishing the cold remains in the supermarket (not that the clerks cared). Its dismissive ether scent, doughy fizz, apricot-orange tang, and overly foamy creaminess had bloated our guts as we passed out on or near the couch the night before.
HAMM’S PILSENER – Lotsa indistinct adjuncts – all of ‘em bad – clog the moldy citrus backdrop.
HEILEMAN’S OLD STYLE PREMIUM LAGER – Cleanly brewed suds with bland grain strand and lack of hop follow-through.
HUBER PREMIUM LAGER – Midwest muck so despicable you’d be better off drinking turpentine and carving holes in your arms with razors. Metallic mouthfeel, moldy fruit dirge, and scrawny grain-hop murk plaque wretched trash.
IRON CITY BEER – Pitiful Pittsburgh puke tastes like metallic (as per name) dreck from hell with its shrill hop flatulence, astringent corn languish, and displaced tartness. Nevertheless, the sports-related cans from the ‘60s and ‘70s ought to be worth more than the pearly-headed pale-bodied beer inside.
MILLER GENUINE DRAFT – Puffy cumulus-headed, cold filtered, canned lager conveys fresh corn waft, nascent unleavened bread dryness, and sour dough frolic, limping to an arid finish underscored by cloy phenol fizz.
MILLER HIGH LIFE PILSENER – If you need to have a beer race, see if you could finish six of these sudsy Milwaukee-brewed sugar water suckers in less than two minutes. My brother, Mike, and I achieved this feat way back in high school, no problem. Pathetic ‘70s trend: Miller was sold in mini 8-ounce 8-packs for poorer dorks.
OLD MILWAUKEE LAGER – Neutral shit from the friendly Midwest city it’s named after. Tinny, unbearably cloy and annoyingly metallic at room temperature, but only inefficiently bland when chilled.
OLYMPIA PILSENER – Complacent Texas pale pils lacks grain character and decent hop fizz to its indiscernible finish.
PABST BLUE RIBBON DRAFT LAGER – Creamy fizzed water-based Texan remains mild and moderate-bodied as diminished textural grain presence gets absorbed by tepid malt splurge, metallic acidity, and insulting sourdough scour.
PIELS DRAFT PILSENER – Unctuous clear pale Detroit drool with fatigued corn-dried sour malt insignificance and phenol hop bittering unappealing unless you’re dead broke collecting welfare.
RHEINGOLD PREMIUM PILSENER – Flatulently frothy New York-Philadelphia fodder for fixed-income shut-ins and street corner drunks undeterred by swash-y swill water.
ROLLING ROCK PALE LAGER – Bob Pollard of famed underground rock band Guided By Voices was supposedly going to promote these pedestrian Pennsylvanian pale-bodies via TV commercials. But a brewery rep at one of his fabulous drunken shows misunderstood the band and it gave Bob the ‘shits’ so he went back to plowing Bud. Unless chilled properly, the skunky dough bread palate and stale hop sourness become cloy by the finish.
SCHAEFER PILSENER – Bet the slums near its Detroit brewery are bubbling over with this friendly neighborhood scum. Ineffectually sour, sweet-corned, pale-bodied fizz fodder better known as “the one beer to have when you’re having less than one.”
SCHLITZ LAGER – Or, as we call it, Schitz. Vapid pale-bodied corn-husked Motor City dishwater detergent gets flat and cloy way before its dank astringent finish annoys. If this is “the beer that made Milwaukee famous,” the city’s better off in obscurity.
SCHLITZ MALT LIQUOR – (Stroh Brewery, Milwaukee, WI.) Bull-donned label misleads roughnecks into presuming corn-scented malt pungency of dour 6% alcohol flow will satisfy hearty thirsts. But astringent grain mustiness settles to impishly mild sourness and casual bitterness by tame finish, lacking expected sharpness.
SCHMIDT’S LAGER – Wisconsin wizz retains fair sour malt pleasantry, sticky corn sugar swank, and salty yeast bottom to hoppy cardboard finish.
STROH’S LAGER – Tawdry tawny Milwaukee-Detroit drivel limps down the throat with fair roasted barleymalt consistency, finishing weak. Canned version lacks fire-brewed thrust, retaining rancid sourness.
BLUE COLLAR AMERICAN SUDS FROM THE PAST
These are bad cheap beers I was aware of and refused buying during the ‘70s prior to the Import Craze and late ‘80s microbrew revolution. Listed alphabetically for recognition’s sake: Bieckert Pilsener, Big Cat Malt Liquor, Blatz, Brown Derby Lager, Buckhorn Pilsener, Burgie Beer, Country Club Malt Liquor, Drewry’s, Grain Belt, Huber Lager, Hudepohl, Jax, Kingsbury, Koehler, Old Crown, Old Tankard Ale, Otto’s Bock, Ortlieb’s, Pearl, Pheiffer, Rainier Lager, Red White & Blue Lager, Storz Triumph, Whitbread Pale Ale, and Wiedemann.
THE TRUTH ABOUT ‘LITE’ BEER
In the late ‘70s, wretched Miller Lite sold millions because Yankee manager Billy Martin and some well-known football legend (maybe Bubba Smith) appeared on the hilarious, but overdone, “tastes great, less filling” debate, securing a market for rednecks and couch potatoes looking to lose weight by plowing more. Yeah, right. Yet to this date, people continue to purchase this flaccidly flatulent fluid by the truckload.
Macrobrewed light beers are processed and contain chemical preservatives that ruin the taste, so Bud Lite, Miller Lite, etc. do not appear in review since we have no desire to promote the brewing of such worthless scum to be avoided like the plague and thrown straight into the trash compactor (or recycled after the bottle or can have been shot with a gun). Simply put, “lite” beers are indiscernible and halfway decent on tap, at best, but otherwise poor to horrid versions of a true ‘low calorie’ beverage such as Amstel Light (an unprocessed, watery Holland brew misfortunately labeled as “Light”).