Monday, June 15, 2009

I Should Have Seen This Coming

One of my all time favorite places to buy beer is Trader Joe's. They have a pretty decent selection of micros with many labels you cannot easily find elsewhere, it is one of maybe three grocers in Massachusetts where you can actually buy beer (we have some really bogus alcohol laws in this state, but that is for another post), and just like their wine and food, it is cheap, cheap, cheap. So imagine my delight when I discovered their "mystery 6-pack" for $6 last week when I was doing the usual evening food shopping. Here is the deal: they have a build your own six pack deal, so they end up with a bunch of one-off's that they need to get rid of. They stick six of them in a brown bag, staple it shut, and throw on an eye-catching sign with a seducingly low price. Being the thrifty and distinguishing consumer that I am, I say, "Six bones for six brews? I would be a sucker not to take advantage of this fine libation liquidation of sorts." I can barely contain my curiosity and excitement on the drive home. Fortunately, I resist long enough to avoid an open container violation, and tear through the paper like a kid on Christmas morning before I even put away the rest of the groceries.

Here is what I see:
  • Kennebunkport Brewing Co. India Pale Ale
  • Kennebunkport Brewing Co. Blueberry Hefeweizen
  • Simpler Times Lager
  • Trader Joe's Bohemian Lager
  • Heineken Light
  • Amstel Light
And just like that it is the day after Christmas and I didn't get that new big wheel I was expecting. Are you kidding me, (Trader) Joe?! I have never been let down by you before, but this time you took advantage of me...and it hurts. First off, never mind that I could have purchased willingly a 6-pack of four out of six of these for $6 anyway, but there are numerous others that I LIKE that I also could have gotten for the same price. To add insult to injury, you throw in two LIGHT beers...and a froo froo beer...ouch. In form, though, I will provide a brief run-down (collectively they were bitter and tasted like regret) even though I haven't choked them all down yet.
  • KBC IPA- This is a micro out of (you guessed it) Kennebunkport, Maine, and I have found their stuff to be decent in the past. Not so with their IPA...overall it was pretty bland and lacked the complexity sought and normally found in a good IPA. It didn't taste bad, per se, but I would never buy it again. Weak sauce.
  • KBC Blueberry Hefe- Probably good it you are a girly man, but terribly emasculating to be received not of my own accord. The fruit beers (lambics or otherwise) have never done it for me; the only exception to this so far is the Harpoon Raspberry UFO, where I could enjoy ONE on a hot summer day. Other than that, fruit belongs in fruit salad...not beer.
  • Simpler Times Lager- This is a budget beer marketed as such. The label is tan paper with kind of old timey writing on it. I guess it is supposed to invoke some sort of misplaced nostalgia. (All I grew nostalgic for was the last good beer I drank.) It's fine, and I would drink it again if I were in a cheapskate mood looking for an appropriate bottle o' suds to match or if I were magically swept back to the 1800's in a time machine with a refrigerator and the only alternative was the swill of the times.
  • TJ's Bohemian Lager- Their private label beer could be roughly equated to their private label wine, Charles Shaw (or "3-buck Chuck" to the regulars). It is an option if you are short on scratch and have a bunch of close friends coming over, but I would not serve it to new acquaintances if you would like to have them as return houseguests.
  • Heineken Light & Amstel Light- While these beers are not the same, they unequivocally fall into the same category: wedding beers. You know what I am talking about. You don't want to exclude anyone at the reception (including the portly family friend whose wife's enforced diet only allows him to drink if it is light beer), but you also don't want to look tacky by throwing an iced bucket of Silver Bullets next to the dance floor. For light beers, these two are OK and probably at the top of the relative heap, but let's call a spade a spade here. Any light beer tastes exactly like what it is...a watered down version of its non-light counterpart.
So let this be a lesson to you at my expense. With the exception of a couple ambiguous Magic Hat varieties (#9, for example), do not commit to any beer when there is a mystery involved. So they didn't throw a sack of frat house can beers at me, yet somehow this was almost worse. A sixer of PBR doesn't front and makes no excuses, but this wolf in sheep's clothing was mired in disappointment. I will return to TJ's for their variety of visible beers, but the "mystery 6-pack", never again. Joe, you have been warned.


BK said...

Well said, sir. Good beer should not be left to chance!

Swords said...

Although sad, this was a hillarious post. Keep up the good work, Tom!


Brian in VA said...

IDK, I had the chance to try a TJ's Bohemian Lager at my last poker game and found it acceptable. Of course, I was smoking a cigar that cost more than the 6 pack so perhaps my tongue was confused.

I feel you on the girly man beer.