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Having a normal one: a Steel Reserve on campus

September 14, 2018

Welcome sweet readers,

For guys like us, the explosion of craft beer has been great. Instead of developing fully formed personalities, we can learn a simple vocabulary, e.g. “citra,” “dry-hopped,” “milk stout,” “double IPA,” “notes,” “you’ve had too much,” “I’m cutting you off” and then be semi-functioning members of society, mindlessly quoting “Good Will Hunting” back and forth while drinking overpriced beer to distract from the fact that we have not a shred of individuality. This we call friendship.

In this column, we plan on continuing this tradition. We’re going to review beers—but with a twist. We’ll be focusing on those beers that have been left behind. Longreads will never profile Coors Lite—so we will. Ever wanted the flavor profile of a Miller High Life—the “champagne of beers”—broken down in painstaking detail? Neither did we, until now. Folks, it’s time to strap in and join us in this sudsy semester-long adventure. This is going to be fun.

Our first beer is the Steel Reserve 211. Before even cracking it, it’s important to set the scene. We sat on the lighthouse porch this past Saturday as a darty raged below—heads up, jean jackets are in.

Midway through the reviewing process, some parents showed up. We thought that was “pretty cool;” however, the dad did not respond well to our attempts to get him to “do beers” with us. We settled for some polite chit-chat. “Crazy storm, but boy did we need that rain.”

Now let’s move into the optics—the experience of drinking beer is, after all, mostly about the can art. The optics, however, are bad. This colossus of a can is plastered with phrases we don’t understand like “EXTRA MALTED,” “SLOW BREWED” and “HIGH GRAVITY.” Very cool.  It looks like a word cloud generated from a distressed, well-read copy of Ted Kaczynski’s manifesto. Which we definitely don’t own. Clearly, the proud folks at Steel Brewing Company put a stout effort into the can art––unfortunately, this was the only thing they put any effort into.

Now technically this is a “malt liquor”—we don’t know what this means; we’re calling it “beer.” Weighing in at 24 oz. with an alcohol content of 8.1 percent, this bad boy packs a cost effective—and punishing—alcoholic punch. The Steel Reserve is equivalent to four standard drinks, and at a cost of $1.60 per can, each drink costs only 40 cents—and it tastes like it. If you are unwavering in your insistence that alcohol enter your system via the mouth, it is by far the most economical way to get drunk. This is the Steel Reserve’s only redeeming feature. It smells like a full rack of Bud Light was boiled over a stove and reduced until it was 24 oz. of “HIGH-GRAVITY,” high-test rocket sauce. It’s a disaster. This is the Challenger explosion of beer. Sure, you’re gonna get off the ground, but you may be rethinking your choice of beverage 73 seconds later.

When that first sip hits your ganglia, you’re practically guaranteed a gag reaction—the biggest workout we got that Saturday was muscling through the immediate urge to vomit on our contemporaries, ruining rompers and jerseys alike. As the beer warmed and flattened out, we noticed a damp nuttiness—imagine if you managed to stub your tongue. Had Bernard Sanders won in 2016 and nationalized the beer industry, we’d all be sipping this Steely-Can for nine straight nights. If this is the only beer we’ll get under socialism, we’re out.

An unknown man wearing the afternoon’s fourth Larry Bird jersey lent us some wisdom. “The Steel Reserve is intended to be paired with your favorite variety of long-cut chaw. You know you’re having a normal one when you finish the whole can, then fill it back up with cloudy discharge of your lower lip. Extra points go to anyone who could actually taste the difference between the Steel Reserve and a cancerous soup of mouth juice.” Our source requested to remain anonymous. Our best guess is Larry Bird.

We decided that none of us could shotgun it—Jack offered that whoever did would be a “real one.”

The Steel Reserve is the post-modernist’s answer to malt liquor. You, dear readers, can trust our authority on this matter, as all three of us have read “Infinite Jest” and none of us have any idea what it’s about. Which, if you think about it, is pretty post-modernist. The sleek, matte-aluminum can lures in hipsters, drifters and fans of Andrew Carnegie’s industrial empire alike, then disappoints with a genuinely repulsive experience and ultimately reduces you to an infantile state—Ethan had to go lie down.

We finished and did the only logical thing: bought three more.

Sheesh.

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