This past weekend marked the one-year anniversary of my attaining legal drinking age, and thus a celebration that involved indulging in a plethora of different alcoholic beverages was in order.
Friday night found us in our usual headquarters (if you have to ask, you’ll never know), starting the night off with a case of Rolling Rock, which is a great beer to talk about. I have a good number of friends from my hometown (if you have to ask …) who truly swear by the beer, and I recently was told by my grandfather, who considers himself an alien shaman among other things, that it is his own personal favorite as well. It might be hard to believe that so many people can feel so strongly about a beer whose predominant advantage, as far as I can tell, lies in not really standing out at all, and perhaps that is precisely why I consider it such a perfectly acceptable topic of conversation. Although my usual co-writer told me that a keg of the Rock here in Williamstown now goes for $75 instead of $70, this price is still surprisingly low for a beer so clearly superior to the watery slops one typically finds in a keg of either price. I believe it also goes for about $12 for 18 bottles on Cole Ave – highway robbery! This all makes for a beer that I would gladly drink any day of the week. Keep it in your back pocket, if nothing else, to fill up the silence of a less-than-exhilarating dinner party.
We all know how quickly an intense string of beer pong games will obliterate a case of any quality brew, and so it should come as no surprise that we were soon left with no Rolling Rock and an excitedly whetted appetite for further trivial competition. Really, what else could possibly justify gin-and-tonic pong? Yes, that’s right, after my teammate and I racked up a number of earth-shattering victories and had all but destroyed the possibility of a further challenge, we began playing one-on-one with Gordon’s Gin and lime-flavored tonic water. Gin and tonic, I surely need not explain, is a wonderful drink in most contexts – hence its being selected to appear at my own birthday celebration – though the manner of intake under discussion may not have been the best idea. I don’t really want to keep talking about the 2010 One-on-One G&T Pong World Championship or its repercussions; what’s done is done, and may its memory be laid to rest. For those of you who scoff at the shame and pathos implicit to my narrative reservations, I say to you: You aren’t enjoying your birthdays nearly enough.
Needless to say I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of heavy drinking on Saturday night, so a pretty low-key (“chill,” as Carson Daly might call it) WCFM party in the ballroom of my very own residence dorm pretty much hit the spot. It was dark, the music was pretty good, and a good number of people were actually dancing by midnight. The party’s secret weapon however, was not the heavily advertised Subway six-footer, but the keg of Pabst Blue Ribbon hidden away in some dark corner and for the most part neglected by the underaged. In general, I don’t feel I need to say much about PBR, at least in terms of its reputation. I’ve been told that some group of people called “hipsters” are known to keep a heavy supply right next to their vinyl collections, and its status as something of an American icon has been enforced over the years by a number of appearances in popular culture, not the least of which is Frank Booth’s quintessential disavowal of pretty boy imports in Blue Velvet.
One of the more knowledgeable beer drinkers with whom I am acquainted has a mantra concerning PBR that goes as such: “In a can, undrinkable; in a bottle, unstoppable.” And although the tendency of presentation to affect the taste of a beer is no real mystery, it is astonishing the extent to which such a simple difference in Pabst’s packaging can translate to a hugely noticeable influence over its drinkability. I’d say that the cups of PBR I was served from the WCFM keg fell somewhere in the middle; while it wasn’t quite so crisp and balanced as it would have been coming from a bottle, it fortunately lacked those inexorable under-, over- and after-tastes which have sadly become associated with the beer for the simple fact that one finds it almost exclusively in cans. Sure, it might have not been as good as everyone wants Pabst to be, but I wasn’t looking to have my mind blown. Maybe next year …