Day 11: The day Cheap Beer stopped tasting Good

I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember the pure joy and satisfaction I felt with every sip (and chug) I took. There was no flavor; the only thing I could taste was the simple, unadulterated pleasure of getting drunk. I am, of course, talking about the preferred beverage of all high schoolers, frat boys, homeless people, and Champions: Natty Ice.

Oh how I remember! It was such awful, awful beer. Each sip felt like tiny razor blades sliding down your throat, but at an alcohol content of 5.9% and for the affordable price of $16.99 per 30 rack, it quickly became everyone’s beer of choice. And boy did that 5.9% alcohol content get ya! During my freshman year of college, my friends and I used to call it “blackout beer.” All it took was about six to ten blackout beers, and suddenly your shitty freshman dorm room transformed into a vibrant night club full of aggressively drunk 18 year olds. Those were the days.

our beloved blackout beer

Unfortunately, good things can’t last forever. And this was ultimately the fate for our beloved blackout beer. As time went on, we branched out and began to experiment with other beers. We worked our way up the proverbial beer ladder, if you will. Going from Natty Ice to Busch, and from Busch to Keystone, and from Keystone to Coors, then Coors to Miller, and we finally found ourselves at the pinnacle of inexpensive, light beer: Bud Light.

Bud Light or “BL Smoothies” as we liked to call them, was a warning signal. It was our taste buds telling us that we were about to reach the point of no return. We were about to start enjoying craft beer. Whether we did it purposely or not, we rode the BL Smoothie wave for as long as possible. For all of last Summer and for most of this past school year, we championed BL as the beer of gentleman. The beer of high class, semi-educated college sophomores. Life was good. We may have lost the pleasure of Natty Ice, but we’d never get tired of BL Smoothies. Or so we thought.

There are a handful of days that I’ll remember vividly for the rest of my life. The first time I ever saw porn, the first time I ever got drunk, the first time I ever had sex, and the first time light beer started tasting like piss water. Most of those days are memorable for good reasons, but the day light beer stopped tasting good was hands down the worst day of my life.

I remember it all so vividly; it seemed like any normal Saturday afternoon. I was with my fraternity brothers, playing Beer Die in the backyard on an unusually warm March day. Bud Light in hand, I struck up a conversation with Miles, one of my favorite seniors in the chapter. The conversation began with normal chit-chat, “how’s the girlfriend doing?”, “how are your classes going?”, usual small talk stuff. Until out of no where, the conversation took a turn for the worse. Miles noticed that I had been slugging BL’s all day, while he had been sipping on a nice triple IPA.

“Ahh,” he said, “I remember when I used to pound Bud Lights. Enjoy it while you can kid, because soon enough it’ll magically stop tasting so smooth and delicious. Here, take a taste of my beer. I picked it up from a brewery in Vermont last weekend. See how you like it.”

Taking a sip of that beer was the biggest mistake of my fucking life.

It was fantastic. It was probably the best tasting beer I had ever had in my entire life. Just one single sip of that IPA opened up my eyes to an entire new universe of flavors that my palate had never experienced before. I was in love.

I asked Miles if I could nab one of those delicious IPA’s off him, to which he replied, “Slow down there buddy. I’d love to share with you but these cost me about $25 for a four pack. Stick with your Bud Light for now.” And stick with my Bud Light I did. But it wasn’t the same. My once cherished BL Smoothie suddenly didn’t taste so good. In fact, it tasted bad; I couldn’t believe what was happening. In an act of denial, I shotgunned as many of my BL’s as I could, hoping that they’d regain their smooth deliciousness.

Sure enough, I blacked out that day. Everything after that was a blur, and I was hoping that my experience with Miles’ IPA was some sort of sick hallucination. But of course, it wasn’t. The next weekend I tried another one of my friends’ IPAs and it was wonderful. So wonderful, that I went out and bought my own six pack of expensive, craft beer that day.

My life hasn’t been the same since I’ve started enjoying fine beer. It’s like I lost the innocence of my childhood all over again, but this time with beer. I still drink a BL Smoothie, or even a blackout beer, once in a while. But it hasn’t been the same. For a few months now, craft beer has been my beverage of choice. My quality of life may have marginally improved with the introduction of fine, flavorful beer to my life, but my wallet has certainly gotten lighter since then. A problem I never had when I was purchasing 17 dollar 30 racks.

And to think, I’m not even 21 yet. I’m hoping my next guilty pleasure in life is a little less expensive. Is crystal meth cheap? Maybe I’ll give that a try. As long as the kids are still doin it, it’s still cool. Am I right?!

Until tomorrow.