Hey. Remember that time when I said that I’d be doing this for science? Did you believe me?

Also, remember that time when I said I’d take your suggestions? Remember that? I do.
It is with great trepidation that I wrote that fateful line. I thought it couldn’t be bad. I’d drank some pretty strange stuff (like kombucha and wheatgrass juice).

But I was not prepared for some of the suggestions. The primary suggestion of this article is one made by my friend.

I find it rather ironic that we were in the malt liquor aisle of Beers of the World. Probably the last place I’d expect to be in Beers of the World. I like stouts.

And I like Scottish ales. But was I imagining I’d ever be in the malt liquor section of a store that contains something like 500 to 600 different craft beers? Nope.

It was with great horror that the first suggestion recommended to me was malt liquor. Ever since my induction here at UR, I swore that I would not drink cheaply.

My first beer was a Busch Light and, frankly, it made me feel horrible. It gave me the quickest headache onset I’d ever had and it tasted like bread dunked in seltzer. Not my bag, dear readers.

After that day, I swore that I wouldn’t drink cheaply and, up until about two weeks ago, I had done exceedingly well in my promise, always taking quality over quantity, except for on the rare occasion when I was drinking with friends and eating pizza.

But my streak ended last weekend. While picking up a few essentials (like a sampler of Woodchuck Cider), my friends decided to wander to the malt liquor aisle. I knew where it was inherently because I always wanted to stay as far away from it but fate intervened.
While standing there, watching them get a case of Colt 45 malt liquor, my friend uttered the most fateful line I’ve ever heard in my life: ‘You should try some of this.”

My whole body shuddered. Was this my first recommendation? Did it count if he didn’t e-mail it to me? He grinned at me in a distinctly Heath-Ledger-as-the-Joker-like manner. He was serious. He wanted it in the paper. And, damn him, I had to oblige.

Up on the chopping block this week are two beverages of the malt kind.

First up is a classic, the Old English 800. A huge bottle almost intimidating of golden, straw-colored malt beverage that, when opened, revealed a bouquet of corn and stale bread. The bottle was glisteningly cold, fresh from the freezer, and my hands desperately sought purchase on this gigantic, condensation-slick bottle. A quick quaff and… it wasn’t that bad. It tasted like corn and malt and not a whole lot of hops.

Honestly, I’d drink this with pizza. Thus, I went into the second helping of Steel Reserve 211 with a positive mindset.

This came crashing down on me like the Hindenburg. Popping the ice cold can resulted in a smell that I can barely describe. It smelled like a sun-baked hobo coated in sauerkraut. The taste was even worse. Sickeningly sweet and oddly sour/tart, it lacked any flavor of the so-called hops it listed on its pseudo-ingredients list on the front of the can. After taking four sips, my stomach felt like it was entering into trench warfare.

I put the can down as I started to sweat, hoping it would pass. What foul demon inhabited this can? I’m not exactly sure but, according to the packaging, said demon was proudly ‘union made.”

So, overall, it was an investigation into new territory for me. To be completely honest, if you’re looking for a cheap drink, I’d go with the Old English. It sits comfortably at 40 ounces of delicious 5.9 percent ABV pizza beverage, and it was honestly not that bad.

But steer clear of the Steel Reserve, readers. That hellish brew is only suitable for stripping paint and degreasing engines. Or, if you’re severely masochistic, your choice.

As an addendum, if you want an actual Microbrew malt liquor, I’d recommend trying to find a bottle of Rogue Brewery’s ‘Daddy’s Little Helper.” It’s supposed to be really good, if you can find it.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or recommendations, the e-mail’s at the bottom. Cheers.

Spolverino is a member of the class of 2010. E-mail him at scott.spolverino@rochester.edu.

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