Today, a social experiment. With baseball season behind us and football season still more than a biblical flood away, we turn to our second love in this humid offseason; alcohol.
In the interest of generating conversation and enhancing tailgates in Vandyville and beyond, we're introducing a new feature here at Anchor of Gold; the BoozeFight.
Here's the premise; two AoG writers, hardened in the game of drink thanks to years of Vanderbilt fanaticism, go to battle over which beer, whiskey, mixed drink, or fortified wine is best. We'll run off past experience or create new memories with new beverages that we'll quickly sully by drinking them. The objective? To crown the best pairings for this season's gridiron matchups.
This week's category: Domestic(-ish) macro beers you can buy at a gas station (for under $7)
We make the arguments, you vote. The final question is simple. After reading our cases and taking your own experiences into account, what would you drink?
The author: Christian D'Andrea
The choice: Hamm's Beer.
I have never complained about a beer being *too* cheap before, but it was a wino's price tag that kept me from discovering Hamm's beer until entirely too much of my life had passed by. Hamm's costs $11 for a 30-rack at Wisconsin's most upscale liquor stores, putting it in a class with beers like Boxer and something called "Beer Thirty" (either a time or the most basic description of the contents of its packaging) and well out of the eyesight of young professionals who are not living out of their car. It wasn't until I pulled six quarters out of my pocket at a local bar for a "beer bomb" - a Hamm's poured into a goblet over a spicy pickled egg, which somehow ISN'T called a "Hamm's and egg" - that my predilection for this wonderful, unassuming beer began.
Hamm's pours a crisp golden color when freed from its aluminum prison, but you'll rarely see it in the wild. This is a beer meant to be gulped from a can, preferably with a foam coozie wrapped around the cylinder the simultaneously keeps the beverage cool and advertises a local landscaping startup. This is the beverage of swapping out car batteries and mowing lawns. It belongs paired with a grape flavored Swisher Sweet, only this time with all the original tobacco intact. It tastes like the first time your father let you take a swig of his beer, and you sparkled with confusion after the first sip.
This beer is cheap, but it carries an inherently American kick that refreshes and goes down smoothly. It's got a sweet malt taste and a crisp finish with little aftertaste. It's light and has a bubbly presence from the tip of the can all the way to your throat. There's nothing complex about it - no subtle hints of citrus or notes of cedar - it's just beer all the way through. At $4 for a six-pack of tall boys, that's exactly what I'm looking for.
The author: VandyImport
The choice: Modelo Especial
Look, I'm not going to lie. I had the very devil of a time finding sufficiently cheap beer. Gentrification in Silly Con Valley is such that $9 at the local 7-Eleven will get you a choice of different local IPAs or four different Sierra Nevada variants. However, by stretching the limits of price ($8 for a sixer) and domesticity (this USED to be the sovereign territory of the Empire of Mexico plus this is apparently the second-biggest import in the United States), I was able to come up with Modelo Especial. You can also go to the nearby "liquor store" around the corner and get an 18-pack for $18, so I'm going to call this qualified.
It's also a common sight. Modelo tall-boy cans are among the most reliable detritus of any Silicon Valley tailgate. Largely because it was formulated as a "model lager" and is therefore the Platonic ideal of weak-ass American breasts-and-NFL beer. The taste? Aggressively bland. There's nothing hoppy or nutty or redolent of coffee or vanilla here. This is exactly what it says on the tin: beer. You'll drink it and like it because it was cheap and available. Had this been around instead of Red Dog in the days of the Herd at Calhoun Hall, I have no doubt we would have been socking them away and happy to have had it at a buck a can.
I'm not going to lie: if I hadn't been put up to it, I never would have bought this six-pack, and five of them will almost certainly be sitting in the fridge until somebody comes over and we're out of everything else. I would say this is a piss-poor excuse for beer if I didn't want to sully the good name of piss. And yet, in an almost Proustian fashion, this insipid yellow swill has the key to unlock those memories. You know the ones. The woods behind the school. The rec room in your friend's stepdad's basement. The fraternity house where you don't dare look down at the floor lest you be plunged into Lovecraftian nightmare horror. This is a beer for that age when you desperately want to prove that you don't have to prove anything, when thirty is a distant speck on the horizon under the Grim Reaper's blade, when a hefty splash of NAFTA-induced cerveza is a ticket to adventure and excitement and really wild things unfolding.
Go ahead. Kid yourself. Make it a Modelo.