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Beer Blog: Summer Time Cheap Beer Blues

June 25, 2008

I have a confession to make: every time summer rolls around on the calender, I have this odd desire for cheap, watered down beer. The other seasons of the year, my liver typically prefers fine ales, local brews (of which there are at least 2 within 15 minutes of home (one, Four Peaks is less than a 5 minute drive and sells beer by the growler) and, of course, Guinness.

But when the outside temperature climbs into the triple digits (here in Arizona), my liver lowers its standard and desires what many consider less than desirable beer. I suspect that this seemingly bi-polar nature of my palette is tied to habit; I drink better beer when I can afford it, and usually, in the summer, I have to watch my dollars and cents. I also suspect that if money weren’t an issue, this year exercise in frugality would become as outdated as the old typewriters that I have such an affection for.

When I start on my gradual decline, I start with the beer that got me started: Miller High Life. This isn’t really cheap in terms of its cost; but it is the top rung of large brewery lager. The taste is clean, and (if poured) maintains a nice head. It’s not heavy, and is free of the distinct after taste which is the calling card of all Budweiser products. Also, I appreciate High Life for the irony: there is no better beer to reflect the summer depression that I inevitably slip into, or the utter dissatisfaction and inferiority I inevitably feel when the summer money crunch hits. This is a beer that says to me: “Drink to the high life; it’s as close as you’ll ever get, you over-educated wage slave!”

Eventually, though, my tastes crave the flavor of aluminum — which, as any beer drinker knows, is likely when drinking beer from a can. That’s when I start trolling the beer section of the store for the confused and forgotten beer brands. When I can find it, I buy Pabst Blue Ribbon. Then, on my next trip, I managed to find cheap six packs of Schlitz. On a subsequent trip, I was really excited when my grocery store stocked Wiedemann… a brand that I hadn’t seen in years and that I thought wasn’t even in production anymore. I’ve also recently discovered D.B. Hobbs. All of these brands can be bought for very little coinage — though, of them, PBR is the most expensive — believe it or not.

The good news is that since the weather is so hot, the beer passes through a lot faster; there’s nothing to while away desert summers quite like a cold can (or bottle) of beer. Equally as important, however, is the knowledge that, eventually, this mood will pass and I will once again be searching for a quality brew that my taste buds and my liver can savor.

Until then, it’s summer. Find a shady place and drink some cold beer.

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