Pick Your Poison: Creating Your Own Six-Pack
Many grocery and liquor stores now allow you to buy individual bottles of beer, giving you the freedom to create a personalized sampler pack. Pick your favorites, try something new, or both. I tried this at my local Meijer. I have documented my results below.
First off, I understand why the holders would be collapsible. It saves space and looks classier, allowing the store to hang multiple boxes without taking up a ton of space. However, I'm not very happy with just how collapsible they are. I'm buying beer. I shouldn't have to strategically place bottles in the right spots to make sure the box will stand up. Its natural instinct is to fold back down, so you need to put a beer in each corner to keep it upright and sturdy. Even then, it feels like you should handle it with care when going to the checkout. The video on the right shows just how springy it is. Now imagine not paying a lot of attention, grabbing a beer, and messing with that thing in a cart. If you have a cart or basket. You could go cartless and end up trying to keep that open while picking a beer and holding it because you don't want to put it on the floor, because that would look ridiculous. Perhaps it is a plan to hope people will drop beers and end up paying for more than they had planned.
For those not from the Midwest, Meijer has quite a significant liquor section. Compared to any similar big box superstore/grocery, it stands alone in terms of the kinds of hooch you can buy. Most stores have three liquor aisles, including a wine selection that nearly triples most liquor stores in the area. Unrelated, but they also have a tremendous produce section. I don't work for Meijer.
Anyway, as I'm not much of a beer connoisseur, I decided to take advantage of the mix-and-match offer. The only way you'll know what you do or don't like is to try, right? I made my selections, perhaps not with the greatest of thought put into them. I can't pretend that I didn't pick most of the beers based on their alcohol content first.
1. Corona Light
Grupo Modelo S.A. de C.V.
Style | ABV
Light Lager | 4.10% ABV
What a mistake. I thought right from the start that this seemed like a cheap choice, but I have never had Corona. My grandpa used to drink Corona Light, and he seemed fairly well off and intelligent. It wasn't until later that I learned he was a giant whore, and now he has dementia. I'm not saying they're connected to his predilection for garbage Mexican beers, but you never know. The term "Mexican dirt weed" immediately came to mind. This beer tastes like a mixture of dirt and piss. It has zero redeeming qualities. It's horrible. At only 4.10 ABV and 99 calories, you're much better served getting a more traditional brand, like Coors or Miller. At least you won't get a taste that is a cross between a dead skunk and wet diaper. All those commercials of people drinking it on the beach must leave out the part where its either Corona or salt water. I'd take my bets on the sea. If Donald Trump really wants to get serious about immigration, he should run on the platform of making it a crime to import Corona.
2. Dragon's Milk Double Barrel Stout
New Holland Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout | 10.00% ABV
I picked this based on the alcohol content. My bottle actually said 11% ABV, and research tells me that it fluctuates a bit based on the year it was bottled. Mine was 2015 vintage, which makes me think I don't understand what the word vintage actually means. I enjoy beer enough, and I enjoy bourbon, so I figured this would be pretty solid. The back of the bottle claimed what I was about to drink had a "Roasty malt character intermingled with deep vanilla tones, all dancing in an oak bottle", along with pairing recommendations. I didn't taste anything remotely vanilla. In fact, I tasted what seemed to be bitter dark chocolate with perhaps a hint of black licorice. I'm not very sure of beer terminology, but this seemed "full", in the sense that it felt like I was eating instead of drinking. It was heavy. Not particularly tasty. It didn't at all taste like beer, bourbon, or oak. While not as abjectly disgusting as Corona, I can't imagine myself revisiting this beer down the line. The high alcohol content pushes it ahead of Corona regardless of taste.
3. Dragonfly IPA
Upland Brewing Company
Indiana, United States
Style | ABV
American IPA | 6.00% ABV
My first "local" beer. Despite the company being named "Upland", a small town about 80 miles Northeast of Indianapolis, the beer is actually from Bloomington, 50 miles south of Indy. I made the mistake of not realizing IPA stands for India Pale Ale. I don't know how I didn't make the connection. I've had my share of IPAs and thought they all tasted like pine cones. Especially the New Belgium Ranger brand, which actually has pine cones on the label. This was no different. While not quite as pungent as Ranger, it reminds me of being a toddler and seeing those weird cone things next to grandma's fireplace. Being a dumb toddler, you put it in your mouth and are immediately disgusted. Because you're eating a pine cone. Well, now you're drinking a pine cone. I have no idea how IPAs have caught on. The alcohol content isn't enough to make up for the taste of a dead Christmas tree three weeks after Christmas when your mom finally let you take the tree down.
4. Curious Traveler Lemon Shandy
The Traveler Beer Co.
Vermont, United States
Style | ABV
Fruit / Vegetable Beer | 4.40% ABV
I only recently heard about shandies. I am but a sheltered Midwestern boy. I graduated straight to liquor, so beer in general is still new to me. I'm not sure how popular shandies are in Indiana. The selection was very limited. This is great. So crisp and refreshing. It tastes like Mike's Hard Lemonade, but for adults. It's really delightful. It tastes like the best lemonade you've ever had, with just a slight bite. I imagine having this ice cold on summer day would be just wonderful. I have to think it probably has quite a bit of sugar in it, but come on, if you're drinking during the day, are you really that worried about your health? It took me four beers, but I finally got to one I liked. I will definitely revisit this. I'll probably try some of the other flavors. I thought I saw a strawberry, but the website is telling me it was probably grapefruit. I don't know about that. I'll stick to the lemon. Pumpkin doesn't sound too appealing, either, although it is coming time for that to be in season, so I might try one bottle sometime. I'm willing to go out on a limb for Traveler Beer Co. based on how good this was.
5. Dark Horse Crooked Tree India Pale Ale
Another poor choice. I should have looked closer at the label. I would consider this another blight on Michigan's national record, like the Michigan Left and bears roaming around Detroit. On the other hand, Detroit gave us Motown. Daptone Records, while based in Brooklyn, is only around because of Motown, and it's awesome. Highly recommend seeking out Charles Bradley if you are into 60s/70s style soul music.
I guess I'm confused at how an IPA can be both Indian and American. Or an American India Pale Ale. I don't believe the beers are American-Indians, or Indian-Americans. I'm not even sure if it is referring to India the country or Native Americans. It's all confusing to me. All I know is that this tastes like those green wrapped hard candies with no labels that get mushy sitting in a bowl by the phone for nine years at your grandparents' house.
6. Rogue's Run Porter Robust Dark Ale
This is an Indy original, so it's about as close to homegrown for me as I'm likely to get. It has a wacky, homemade looking label, so I guess I'm getting a "quirky" beer. Instead, it tastes pretty much the same as Dragon's Milk. As in, disgustingly bitter chocolate that makes it feel like trying to finish the last few gulps of a Frosty instead of drinking something. These aren't chocolate beers, though. I don't know where the chocolate taste is coming from. Dragon's Milk specifically said vanilla, yet I tasted chocolate. Maybe my taste buds are on the fritz. This kind of had a coffee taste to it as well. The kind of coffee you'd have on a family vacation that got room temperature and had grounds in it.
Well, one out of six is not a very successful experiment. I don't know what it makes me to beer snobs, but I think I'll stick to Miller Lite and Michelob Ultra, with a shandy from time to time as a treat. Still, most grocery stores allow you to do this, and with most bottles being in the $1.50 range, you're spending about the same as you would on a package six pack of specialty beer. What's the worst that can happen? You might find your new favorite beer.
Thanks to beeradvocate.com for all the information on each beer. A great help.