Quick Beer: “Come in for a quick beer?” “Come by for a beer, quick.” “Stay for one more.” Statements I love hearing and commands I might actually comply with (I don’t like being told what to do). But, I have a theory about what a ‘quick beer’ is. A ‘quick beer’ is not a Belgian Quad or an Arrogant Bastard or a Brown’s Taconic Double IPA poured from a cask into an imperial glass, a ‘quick beer’ usually means just that: a beer you can drink quickly, something with a low ABV that is easy to drink. In my experience a ‘quick beer’ also implies a social contract where one must drink whatever is offered by the host, this is murky territory, as one could be forced to drink the feared ‘guest beer’ a brew so horrible that it’s only given with the intention (or hope) that the guest is not going to be sticking around for another, unless they’re a real asshole, and in that case they probably invited themselves over….Shandys are suitable guest beers, as are anything like Aspen Edge, Green Light, Michelob Ultra, or a dusty warm can of Ice House.
The pride of Chippewa Falls: Miller High Life is for me the pinnacle, though not the best, of what a ‘quick beer’ is. Dropping off at a respectable and slammable 4.7% ABV, this charming mass produced corn-syrup brew was a go-to of mine for a long, long time. Despite the shopping aisle appeal of the seasonal camo can, or the red, white, and blue dressed up tall boys, it’s been a while since I’ve had a high life and I miss saying “I’m living the high-life” but really it doesn’t go much deeper than that.
Hailing from the neat and quirky metropolis of Baltimore is a white and red can colloquially referred to as “Natty Boh” from “The Land of the Pleasant.” This beer’s real name, National Bohemian, a very easy to drink Pilsner first brewed in Baltimore in the 1860’s, however like a lot of the ‘quick beer’ it’s now brewed by the Pabst Brewing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I enjoy a “Natty Boh” and drink them whenever I’m in Baltimore. If I’m lucky to get my lips on a longneck, the underside of the bottle cap features a clever yet infuriatingly difficult picture puzzle. In my adopted city of Baltimore, where all of my worldly possessions sit in a climate controlled storage space, it’s a lot of fun to get a couple of Boh’s in my head and be called ‘hon’ by every adult stranger I meet.
I’ll do a Rolling Rock if offered, I’m not afraid.
Canadian beer. Well, I must say that I often savor Labatt and Molson (Golden, Canadian, and Export). And I won’t turn down an OV split (Old Vienna) now and again. Growing up in Central New York, a mere few hours drive from the land of Maple Syrup; Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles; Neil Young; Survivorman; and Captain Kirk, these Canadian brews were always around at family gatherings. It was from those green Molson bottles that I first developed my affection for a bold skunk flavor. Cheers to John Molson for brewing beer in Montreal, 80 years or so before Canada was Canada.
Labatt is also a fast drinker. Sure it’s sweet, like all mass produced beer is now, but still a lot of fun to drink. On Thanksgiving Day, after I’ve run five miles through the frigid streets of downtown Buffalo, I drink three or four cups of Labatt’s with 15,000 other Buffalonians in the downtown Civic Center for the annual Turkey Trot. It’s awesome! If you offered me a ‘quick beer’ of Canadian (Molson) or a Blue (Labatt Blue) I’d most likely stay for another.
Speaking of Labatt, I once had a Labatt Blue Light Lime. Once. Let me ask, “What is the point of “lightening” a beer only to add a caloric chemical lime flavored sucrose to it?”
Genesee Cream Ale. I don’t want to hear any bull shit about a cream ale hangover, everyone who enjoys “Beer” has a bottle or two of cream ale tucked in the back of their fridge behind a row of today’s hot IPA. I also don’t care that your asshole college roommates made you funnel a 12 pack of ‘Genny Screamers’ once (or every night for four years) and you had a ‘Genny Screamer’ of a headache hangover for your entire college career. You’re an idiot for drinking anything like that, worse for denying yourself a style of beer that’s as much a part of American history as the delta blues and cheating in elections. During the mid 1800’s when German immigrants flooded the midwest they grew thirsty for the Bavarian brews of their motherland, tired of the English Ales and using the unique powerful (diastic power) malts (grain) that grow in America, they developed a hybrid beer, smooth and delicious that harkened back to the lagers of Deutschland in the middle of Missouri. I like Genesee Cream Ale, it’s certainly a ‘quick beer’ like most cream ales and I’ve rarely had a cream ale I don’t like, they’re all very easy to drink. Please note, that while writing this paragraph I am badly hung-over from drinking more than my share of Brown’s Cream Ale, which is by far one of the best I have ever had.
Schaffer is good and if it’s cold enough it tastes like Heineken. Seriously, try it, it has ”just a kiss of the hops!”
Pabst. During my many years as a musician in the underbelly of America’s popular cities, PBR was most often offered as the ‘band beer’, the free beer our drink tickets got us. In lieu of actual pay, struggling, starving musicians are given drink tickets for sweating out their songs in front of the five, or on a good night 10, patrons standing in the back of a jive-ass juke joint come supper club. Many a night I was given drink tickets entitling me to one free beer per ticket, that free beer inevitably was a PBR, which I drank ASAP after the set. As the venues got better, so did the beer; drink tickets entitled me to a Six Point or a Brooklyn Lager, but PBR will always remind me of those many nights, playing music and having fun. PBR is a good beer, it’s hipster wine and fun to drink, whether given to me in lieu of cash money or when sitting down with a friend, I’ll gladly drink it. I even ordered a PBR Long Neck the other night at dinner, thank you Captain Fredrick Pabst.
Stroh’s, Piels, Black Label, Extra-Gold, Coors Banquet….all fall in this ‘quick beer’ idiom, but sailing alone on the wind swept sky blue crystal waters of thin ‘quick beers’ is my beloved Hamm’s. God, I do love a can of Hamm’s now and again, there’s even a fan club of paraphernalia and Julie bought me a vintage church key…..
Big Flats. I have no idea the origin of this beer, I bought it at a Walgreens in Yucca, California for three bucks a six pack. Turns out it’s brewed in Rochester, NY. It was fun to drink warm or cold while I cycled the desert floor of the Mojave.
Now a ‘quick beer’ doesn’t always have to be a ‘cheap beer’ – Becks and Dos Exquis have also fallen into the category for me, as have, Heineken, Grolsch, Spaten, Carlsberg, Bitburger, and Brooklyn Lager. I suppose anything could be a ‘quick beer’ depending on whom you spend your time with. ‘Quick beers’ imply company. It could mean going to the bar and spending an hour of your day with someone you’ve lost touch, or just catching up with your cousin for a minute in the kitchen. So again, it really doesn’t matter what’s in your glass, I’ll gladly drink any of the aforementioned beers with you any day as, long as we do it together……although I have drunk all of these beers by myself too.