Bottoms Up

Last weekend, my friend got his dream job. In celebration, I hosted a small get-together for all of our (of age) friends. My mission was simple: to provide beer of all types and qualities, so that drinkers with all different types of palates could have a spectacular time – at least as far as imbibing goes, because, frankly, I am not a great entertainer. This is a survey of most of the beers provided – many of which I didn’t consume that night, but all of which I have had at one point or another in my life.

I begin at the figurative bottom of the heap. Without a doubt, the worst beer available was Keystone Light. Some have compared this beverage to a particular sort of bodily byproduct; while I have never consumed said byproduct, I feel comfortable in agreeing with that assessment. I literally have nothing to add about this vile beer, except that it was barely consumed, and we sold our rather substantial number of remaining cans to some (of age) friends looking for a good time later that weekend.

The rest of the beer provided was of substantially higher quality. On the lighter side, I offered people the one, the only, Corona Extra with lime. Although a substantial step up from Keystone, I would not exactly call this the ultimate beer. It is light and excellent with lime but boring, practically flavorless and hardly has any carbonation. If you are looking exclusively to be refreshed – as many of my guests were, given the rate at which the Coronas disappeared – Corona might be your guy, depending on the day. However, if you are looking to taste, well, real beer, I would advise steering clear.

I did make sure to provide more full-bodied flavors, though, in the form of Magic Hat’s seasonal sampler. The sampler includes the classic No. 9 “not quite pale ale;” Vinyl, the company’s seasonal Amber Lager; Demo, a black IPA; and +/–, a dark mild. I’ll spare you the gritty details for each of them. All you need to know is that No. 9 is always delicious, the Vinyl is stunningly average, the Demo had a surprising coffee flavor that I was not personally a fan of but that might suit others and the +/- was not memorable enough for me to tell you what it even tasted like.

I provided a few other beers as well – a Hoegaarden here (truly delicious if you like wheat beer) and a Shock Top Wheat IPA there (I would not recommend it; not surprisingly, it tries to split the difference between its two namesakes and while it is more than drinkable, it was neither as satisfyingly rich nor as intriguingly hoppy as I wanted it to be). But now I feel compelled to stop telling you about the various other beverages and to wax poetically about the beer that I did not provide for my guests. Instead, I spent the early part of my evening sipping my last bottle of it.

Indeed, I have spent much of my time since I first tried it sipping on this beer. It is the one, the only, Lagunitas Maximus IPA. There is no way around it – this beer is delicious. Weighing in at 8.2 percent alcohol by volume, it smells of citrus, grapefruit, hops and alcohol. It pours beautifully into a glass, turning up a rich orange-amber color that reminds me of something that I currently can’t remember but was surely beautiful at the time. The citrus flavoring weaves nicely with the hops to mask the high alcohol content, and there are other flavors as well – including notes of malt that provide a light touch of caramel. This is a beer that is, simply put, worth drinking, and perfect for any time or place on a weekend night. Not too light, not too heavy; not lacking in kick, but not going to lead to a hangover. This is the beer that I recommend should gain a foothold across the College. I promise, if you like beer, it will be worth your while. The only downside is that a six-pack costs $11 at the Spirit Shoppe – so make sure you like the people you are sharing it with.

In the end, I finished the weekend with no more beer than I started it with – a sign that my guests (and the friends to whom I sold the Keystone) approved of my choices. Let me sum up, then, with this: Always provide a wide variety of beer; drink more Lagunitas Maximus IPA.

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