Vote For Beer: The Most Arbitrary Election Guide You`ll Read This Fall
I have some news for everyone, I know this is going to come as a shock since I`ve barely seen any coverage of it myself, but did you know that the presidential election is only one week away? Seriously, I didn`t realize it either, but that`s what happens when you live in a craft beer fueled haze and only stop to watch Lost. So naturally, the first move I made when I learned that we were choosing our next commander and chief was to learn everything I could about how the candidates matched up in the most important qualification there is. Beer.
As I was about to begin my journey I realized I needed a beer before I could sort through this. So my first step was to grab the most non-partisan presidential beer available. Avery Brewing Co`s Ale to the Chief. And I have to say, this was a great way to start. Avery took a classic American Pale ale, and dry hopped the ever loving crap out of it to make a brew reminiscent of the Dogfish Head IPAs. The beer is a little too malty for it`s own good though, and while it was faint I think I tasted a little bit of Old English at the bottom of the glass when the beer had warmed up significantly. Still, the beer was, for the most part, very good. The best feature of the brew is how well it hides it`s significant alcohol content. Occasionally, 8.75% ABV will make a beer taste too much like alcohol (just look at Molson XXX, it`s 7.3% alcohol and tastes like stale old hard liquor.) Of course, the high alcohol content also made me look forward to drinking even more.
Senator McCain would appear to have a decent chance to win this, why? His wife. Yes, seriously, McCain`s beer credentials come from his wife. Cindy McCain, born Cindy Hensley, is the chair of Hensley & Co, the massive AZ Beer Wholesaler. A quick trip to the Hensley Website`s product line started to dissuade some of my confidence in McCain as a beer man. Hensley is a distributor of the beer equivalent to the Evil Empire, Anheuser Busch. They boast such fantastic products as Bud Light, Natural Ice and the foul agave beer mismatch Tequiza, which essentially tastes like someone puked a bunch of tequila into a bucket of beer and then decided to drink it. Due to an error in judgement on the part of my sister during a visit, I have one of the more repulsive beers in their product line in my fridge at this moment. Pray for me as I drink:
Michelob Ultra Tuscan Orange Grapefruit: Before I even sip this I`d like to make it clear that I am fundamentally opposed to this beer. It smells like a box of clementines, which actually isn`t bad, it`s just not want I want in a beer. To be clear, there are EXCELLENT fruit beers. There is a Belgian style of beer known as Fruit Lambics that involve spontaneous fermentation of yeast and the addition of fresh fruit syrups that just make for a fantastic drink. However, there are NO citrus Lambics and when I sip this I think I`m going to find out why. This is not beer. Beer involves hops and malts and grains and this has none of that. It`s the color of an American style macro lager, and it has bubbles, but that`s it. It tastes like drinking rotton orange seltzer. I had a can of orange seltzer with my lunch the other day, and it tasted a lot like this, except this has the grapefruit flavor too. I don`t know what the hell to make of this, it`s not a beer, it`s an alcopop, I refuse to believe this has the stated 4.2% alcohol. Moving on.
McCain really takes a hit with this one just because it`s so bad. It only deals with him on the periphery, but Iâ`d have to see his opponent drinking this and enjoying it to take the stain off of it`s existence and his wife`s willingness to sell this to unsuspecting 14 year old girls looking to get drunk without having to taste anything.
To be fair to the McCains, as well as Anheuser-Busch, if forced to choose between any of the big Macro beers Budweiser is going to my choice everytime. So they`re better off distributing A-B than the disreputable and despicable Coors brand.
But what about beers that bear the name of the candidates themselves? All are limited edition, obviously, but two stand in the election debate:
Half Moon Bay`s Mavericks â€œAlection 08. Obama Ale vs McCain Ale.
The California based brewery saw an opportunity to make themselves known throughout the West Coast and the relied on the Alection to do it. Part marketing gimmick and part beer innovation, Half Moon Bay is offering a contest and asking drinkers to chime in and choose which beer they would rather drink. According to the website, each purchase of either Obama Ale or McCain Ale counts as one vote for that candidate and the brewery was taking it as an artificial pole. So what then does it mean that the Obama Ale is winning 6170 to 1729? It either means the Obama Ale is a lot better, or the ale buying public have spoken their desire to see Obama as their next president.
The answer is not about the beer, and that`s not a political statement. Both brews are exactly the same. Not living in California has made me unable to sample the brews myself, but the brewery isn`t hiding the fact that the beer is not the issue. Undeniable considering the fact that the beer is apparently bad. All online reviews have the beer being boring, nearly tasteless and altogether unimpressive. So what could be the reason that the Obama ale is trouncing the McCain ale? Most likely the fact that California hasn`t voted republican in 20 years, and that was only because of the confusion left over from the Reagan era.
With Senator McCain`s beer credentials being more Wal-Mart than Mom N Pop store, how do the beer credentials of Senator Obama hold up? Obama has claimed that he prefers beer over wine in the past, and has also been known to sip a beer with the locals of Pennsylvania (In March while locked in a primary battle with Hilary Clinton, Obama remarked You know I got a beer down there, what do they call it? A Yuengling? Trying a Pennsylvania beer, that`s what I`m talking about. Is it expensive, though? … Wanna make sure it`s not some designer beer or something. This, sadly for the democratic senator, sounded pretty disingenuous. Though, it`s possible that Yeungling, the very good, very reliable amber lager from the brewery that boasts itself as the oldest in the US, isn`t actually available in Illinois. Though, it has to count for something that in another pole taken during the election, 29% of American`s said they candidate they`d most like to share a beer with is Obama, besting both Clinton and McCain.
The Clear Winner is: Sixpoint Craft Ale`s Hop Obama
Sixpoint Craft Ales, a small innovative brewer located in Brooklyn decided to put out a beer in honor of the Senator`s campaign. According to Sixpoint although we do not intend this beer to be a direct Sixpoint endorsement of Obama, we believe the delicious and refreshing quality it represents reminds us of the Senator`s successful grassroots campaign that positively blossoms each and every day.It`s hard to justify a brewery tooting their own horn like that, but it ends up that they actually underestimated how good this beer is. Sixpoint combined an American Red Ale (think Killians) with a high quality West Coast India Pale Ale (think Stone IPA). Both are really good well respected styles, and Sixpoint has mashed them up, added a ton of hops and kept the alcohol content to a respectable 5.2%, resisting the urge to go overboard with this the way Avery did with Ale to the Chief. The hops Sixpoint used give it a subtle grapefruit flavor (are you listening Michelob Ultra?) that really comes through in the nose. The taste is undeniably crisp and clean, very easy to drink and very delicious, a brew that would make an awesome session beer, and goes great with food. Sixpoint put out a fantastic beer that, even if it`s namesake loses the election this year, we have to sincerely hope they find a way to keep this in production, whether it requires a name change or not.
So, we`ve determined that Obama has a great beer named after him, but his lack of craft beer knowledge coupled with Senator McCain`s wife may make the GOP candidate the more knowledgeable beer buff. In this case the win is going to have to go to Senator Obama for no reason other than the fact that if he wins, there is a chance that Hop Obama will stick around, something tells me that whether McCain wins or loses, Budweiser will still be available at Arizona State.
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About Neil Neil lives in New Jersey and works in New York City. His entire life centers around working, playing hockey and drinking good beer. His love of good beer is not quite world renowned, though he is known among his friends as a good resource to ask if you need to know what goes well with chinese food (that would be an IPA.)