Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Natural Ice

If you know me, you know that try them all when it comes to beers, sometimes "taking one for the team." This is one of those cases, where I'm going to tackle a beer outside my preferred styles, for the sake of treading that ground. Because it's there. To say, yup, I had that…and lived through it.

So, without further ado, from the Anheuser Busch Brewing Company, that quaint little concern based in St. Louis, Missouri, owned by the largest beer conglomerate in the world, InBev, headquartered in Belgium….Natural Ice, "Ice Brewed for a Naturally Smooth Taste", 5.9 % Alc./Vol. 16 fl. oz. Brewed and Canned by Anheuser Busch Brewing Company, St. Louis, Missouri. Ale. ("Ale"? I guess, …"ale.") Government gobbledygook, and nothing else.

And, yes, you can tell by the photo I poured it into a Surly imperial pint glass, blasphemer that I am.

Clear yellow, no head, but active bubbles rising to the top.

Aroma: distinctly absent, but a whiff of corn and grain. Not terrible, but not much.

Taste: cold is the first flavor that comes to mind. Real, honest to Auggie cold. Boy, they put that ice to work! The cold covers the palate and keep all other tastes at bay. After the liquid leaves the mouth, you hardly remember it happened. Another sip, and I have to take issue with the notion of "smooth" mentioned on the can. Or maybe my palate is in shock over the absence of flavor?

I'm going to take this whole pint down, I promise, but I'm not going to like it. But I see the appeal, to people with low budgets and lower tastes. There are beerish elements to this beverage, there's some semblance of body, and then comes a wince, a shudder, and moment of terrible revulsion. Even though this isn't a high octane brew, I'm feeling some bad business going down in my noggin. It's not a malt liquor, but it almost tastes like one, feels like one.

More sips, more winces, more deadening of spirit and soul, more mush in the mindset. I feel myself turning into one of Those Who Just Stopped Caring. Half of an imperial pint glass remains, and I'm anxious to rinse this out once I've finished it, and pour in a real beer. But finish I must, for I said I would, and it will be done. As Glob is my witness, I swear …here we go, into the fray once more.

Ah! I can't take it! The winces worsen. There is some flavor going on, a splash of candy-ish sweetness, a squeeze of lemon, …nothing good, though, and the effects of the wincing has fashioned a frown on my face, the opposite result from my usual beer-y countenance. About six ounces to go, I can do it, I can do it, I can….I …can…

I rose to change a record, and put on a happy, bubbly Brazilian compilation, something fun to lift my spirits as I slog through this terrible task. Every time I pull up the glass, I put it down feeling defeated. But this will not be the how the game is finished, for I will be the victor, not the Natural Ice! It will not defeat me!(
Although, in a sense, the beer has already defeated Jorge Ben, for no matter how bright and uplifting the music, the beer still holds me down. A samba needs a happy beer to keep time with it, not a soul-crusher like this.

Boom, boom, boom, the bouncing on the braincase commences, and it shouldn't, for this is only 6% or so, but it's a beast that knows no constraint. Four ounces to go. I can do it, I know I can!

I rise again to raise to volume, giving the music defense another try. Gilberto Gil's lilting melodies may keep my spirit up for the final three ounces. Ah, accordions! So charming, so unlike this swill I keep tossing down my throat.

One ounce to go1 I can do it, the end is in sight! One gulp and I'm done, my promise met, my heights scaled, the mountain conquered!

Like I said, I need a quick rescue from this damage to my senses and my soul, I'll rinse the glass, and make up for it's despoiling by pouring a nice can of Surly Over-rated, and hum along to Caetano Veloso, and all will be right with the world. The evil is done, the world is calm. Birds are chirping (wait, no, they're flying south for the winter)…okay, the crows are cawing, …that's not quite right, you get the point, and I'm late for a date with an IPA,…

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