Put ten beer geeks into a room, and at least one of them will be wearing a t-shirt with a Ben Franklin quote: Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.* Ten seconds of googling leads to the conclusion that Ben Franklin said that about wine, not beer, but in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Let’s not let historical accuracy get in the way of a good t-shirt slogan, Bro.”
Even though Ben Franklin did not say it, I have certainly had some beers that were divine experiences, beers that if not establishing the existence of God, at least show some evidence of intelligent design. On the other side of the spectrum, in my 45 years, a solid 2/3rds of which I have spent drinking beer, sometimes quite heavily, I have had some truly shitty beers. I present to you the beers that are proof that if God exists, he loathes us and wants us to be miserable.
Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer: I had this about nineteen years ago at Cooter Browns in New Orleans. It was July. It was so fucking bad that I remember where and when I had it. There was a chili pepper in the bottle to give it a dose of heat. It also gave this beer a heaping tablespoon of shittiness. Ed’s Cave Creek Chili Beer remains to this day one of a small handful of beers that I was unable to finish due to the sheer awfulness. I was a student at the time, and extremely broke. If I could not choke down a beer, it had to be awful. I am still pissed off at that bartender because after I told him I was not going to finish it, he said “Yeah, nobody ever finishes that one.” Granted, I should have known better, there was chili pepper in the bottle for fuck’s sake, but all the same, thanks for the warning, Asshole. I thought, and had fervently hoped, that Ed had stopped brewing this crap, but I came across a case of it recently so somebody is drinking this shit. I weep for my country.
Sam Adams Hazelnut Brown Ale: Sam Adams used to have a homebrew contest, and the winning beers would be brewed and distributed by Sam Adams for a short time. I don’t know if they still do that, but after drinking this, I fucking hope not. This smelled worse than hazelnut coffee, which smells worse than day old cat piss, and managed to taste like burnt hazelnuts while being cloyingly sweet. It was so rancid tasting that I gagged trying to drink it. If this was the contest winner, I don’t want to imagine what the losers tasted like.
Shiner Ruby Redbird: Shiner brews this with fresh Texas grapefruit and fresh ginger. There was a 1% chance this would be decent and a 99% chance it would be lousy. Guess what? It was fucking awful. The only part of grapefruit that I could taste was the bitter pith of the peel, which is not the good kind of bitterness you want in a beer, and the ginger just added a nasty burning sensation. Just a vile liquid. Shiner beers are very much hit and miss, and this is the biggest miss of all.
*Yes, I had one of those shirts. Once I discovered that the quote was fraudulent, I burnt it in a ritual cleansing fire.**
**This is a lie. I wore it until it was threadbare.