Bottoms Up

This is a big week for America. Sunday was the Daytona 500. Monday was President’s Day. And last week featured the biggest annual American patriotic event of all: the publication of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. With these occasions in mind, this week we have decided to drink crappy beer. Yes, this is America, and we love us some crappy beer. Leave the Stella in the cooler – we’re reviewing: Pabst Blue Ribbon (Heavy), Genesee (Heavy), Busch (Heavy) and Budweiser (Heavy).

Faithful “Bottoms Up” readers know that each column features a rating system based on a theme. In past weeks we have compared alcohol to NFL quarterbacks, the autumn harvest and other even crazier stuff. But in America, we go big or go home, so this week we will compare each beer to not one, not two, but three aspects of American popular culture. Each beer will be assigned a Patriotic Holiday, a NASCAR driver and a beautiful lady from the Swimsuit Issue!

Now before your imaginations start running – “hey bro will you beer me a Michael Waltrip/Kiara on page 76/Labor Day?” – we must inform you that we are straight-up lying. Hey, what’s more American than over-zealous advertisement? Instead of the promised trifecta, we will simply compare each beer to the patriotic holiday that we see fit. This is a lot easier. Also, we avoid alienating a) half our readership with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit references; b) our entire readership with NASCAR references. So here it goes . . .

We started with Pabst Blue Ribbon, more affectionately known as “PBR”. Many of us have a love-hate relationship with PBR; one of your tasters quickly declared that the brew “smells like Beirut;” the other suggested that it smelled more like “the floor of the B on Sunday morning.” And yet there’s that Blue Ribbon. Sure enough, we ended up being pleasantly surprised by Pabst. It is a steady beer that sits rather well in the stomach. It lacks a powerful flavor to hold on to, but at this price that’s probably for the better. One of us found this “heavy” beer to be more similar to a light beer. The other was unable to find a flavor in the brew worthy of description, saying, “It’s there.” With its simple stability, one could imagine drinking one, two or even three of these beers in a single night! We feel that PBR, though not the most complex beer, is taken for granted. For this reason, we would like to compare it to Veterans’ Day. We all know it’s got a blue ribbon, but how often do we take the time to thank it for its true value? If you’re feeling American today, I can think of a least a few veterans who would love to be treated to a 30-rack of PBR.

Next we examined Genesee. Genesee has a great, vintage design – it looks like something from the 50s. Unfortunately, the beer tastes like it has been sitting around for about this long. Stopping only briefly to wonder as to the actual “birth date” of the beer we were drinking, we forced it down anyway. How can something so devoid of taste still manage to be so offensive to the palate? This is a question we cannot answer, although we can report that the beer is from Rochester, N.Y. Genesee has even less taste than PBR, but does not sit nearly as well. It tastes like 95 percent crappy beer and 5 percent cheap vodka. If this beer were a NASCAR car, it would cause a 30-car pileup; if this beer were a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model . . . let’s not talk about it. As far as a patriotic holiday: Arbor Day?

Our third beer was Busch. Busch is much more flavorful than either PBR or Jenny. It is hoppy, smooth and consistent. Since it is a little less watery, it is not quite as good as PBR in terms of sustained “chug-ability.” But, under normal circumstances, this excess of flavor is certainly not a bad thing. Our problem with Busch is that it is just too similar to Bud. Both beers come from Baron and Baroness Anheuser. While Busch isn’t quite the redheaded stepchild, it is the slightly less attractive sister. Staying away from potentially questionable Sports Illustrated Swimsuit references and obvious NASCAR references (Kurt and Kyle? Anyone? Bueller?), we will compare Busch to Memorial Day. Busch is always a nice time, but cannot escape the shadow of the fourth of July, a.k.a. Budweiser.

Yes, Budweiser is the fourth of July of beers. The first thing we noticed was that it smells like a beer! It is a smooth ride and actually has a nice rhythm to it. More importantly, Budweiser goes pleasantly with two American pastimes: eating hot dogs and blowing crap up. What more can we say? Budweiser is Roger Penske, the winner of the Daytona 500! Budweiser is the girl next door who you never appreciated when she was right under your nose . . . and now she’s on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

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