Sometimes, retirement is a good thing. Take, for example, when a person or thing becomes so outmoded, unpopular, or useless that our reserves of goodwill and patience are utterly spent. Case in point: As of this week, and I can’t stress enough that this is not a political gag, the circus is on its way out, for good. Similarly, AT&T has announced that its 2G data network, a somewhat less abusive institution than the circus, will be shutting down without much fanfare at the end of the year. Mourning for these institutions should be minimal.
But we don’t always get the timing right, as any of Jerry Seinfeld’s royalty statements can attest to. Sometimes, even good people and popular things are tossed by the wayside, forgotten, or cancelled. While us beer drinkers may have it better than ever with regard to quality and choice, we’re still a sentimental folk. Any one of us will tell you that there’s more than one beer that got away.
With that in mind, here are a few dearly departed suds we wouldn’t mind digging up again, if only for a goodbye swig.
Whether or not you hold deep within your heart an abiding love for the ubiquitous Budweiser flagships, it’s fair to question if we’ve reached a total saturation point with Anheuser-Busch’s forays into other varieties.
Maybe you think we saw more than enough years ago, when the hyphenated international conglomerate rolled out Shock Top, Landshark, or the controversial Goose Island partnership. On the other hand, you might believe we’d have to add a few dozen more Lime-A-Rita flavors to even start thinking about slowing down the innovation train; if that’s the case, well, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Either way, it’s hard to imagine Diät Pils being the style you’d want Bud to take another crack at, if you’ve ever even heard of it.
But Bud Dry is an interesting case. Aside from sounding kooky as hell (beer? dry?) and being more or less dethroned by the decidedly unworthy Bud Ice as the off-beat experiment du jour in the mid-’90s, a beer that combines the bland finish of light lagers with the alcohol content of their full-flavor counterparts is almost certainly quirky enough to stand out in a sea of tepid domestic water-lagers like Busch and Milwaukee’s Best Light. Why not axe one of them, and give us back the beer that sounds suspiciously like weed?
Michelob Ultra Dragon Fruit Peach
While we’re on the topic of limp spin-offs that probably only I and four weird grandpas would like, how about bringing back this Michelob Ultra from its extremely fruity resting place?
I know there are some people I’m not going to convince that Michelob Ultra is an acceptable draft order at Buffalo Wild Wings, or even a decent pull from a BBQ’s mystery cooler, and that’s fine. If you want to be the person who scrutinizes the laminated 10-page menu for something local and brings a six-pack to the neighborhood potluck with no intention of sharing, then nothing I say is going to stop you.
I’m an admitted fan of the lighter-than-light-beer skinnycan, but mixing it up with Mich Ultra flavors has been a mixed bag. The current Lime Cactus Ultra variant is feeble and forgettable (sorry, cactusheads), but peach seems like the perfect match for this summer afternoon sipper. Family Guy writers may think it sounds like a ridiculous concept, but they also thought we’d be electing celebrities as presidents back in 2004, so what the hell do they know?!
Dogfish Head Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew
If the strange intro video on this beer’s page doesn’t grab you, maybe the copy will:
“In honor of the 40th anniversary of the original release of Bitches Brew, Miles Davis’ 1970 paradigm-shifting landmark fusion breakthrough, we’ve created our own Bitches Brew — a dark beer that’s a fusion of three threads of imperial stout and one thread of honey beer with gesho root. It’s a gustatory analog to Miles’ masterpiece.”
Bitches Brew is a great name, album, and inspiration, and if this formulation goes as well with spicy food and chili as it’s supposed to, I know I’d love it. (But seriously, watch that video — it’s so strange. Dogfish founder Sam Calagione, completely straight-faced, gives his wife’s name as his own, struggles for what seems like an eternity to open the bottle, and pretty obviously misinterprets Miles Davis’ infamous jazz theory in just under two minutes. Really weird! But I bet the beer is good anyway).
Forgive the wordplay, but it’d be way too tough to discuss the “retired beer” we’d like to see brought back without noting the way former employees of Labatt got the rug snatched out from under them late last year. Granted, it’s unclear why the free beer perk got started in the first place (besides being badass), and seeing it get phased out in the same way as real cash pensions is ultimately not too surprising. But it’s not like they were giving out first edition Hemingways and Krugerrands! It was, by all accounts, something like eight cases a year per person… of Labatt Blue. Hell, they should’ve been getting paid to haul ‘em off!
Sam Adams Rustic Saison
In terms of novelty styles that dally in fruit flavors, it seems like the popular discourse blew right past saison and into the arms of gose. And, to be frank, I think it was premature. There’s still a lot I want to explore within the saison genre, and having America’s signature craft brewer bring back its take on it could reopen the floodgates. Maybe they’d even produce it outside of the variety pack this time, if we asked nicely.
New Belgium Lips Of Faith – Coconut Curry Hefeweizen
Such a wild idea. From a tantalizing Beer Advocate user review dated August 2014: “Body medium yellow, hazy – much bottom sediment and one large surface floater; Flavor of coconut and Thai curry – not too spicy, just very flavorful; no hops, no malt, no alcohol, no diacetyl.” Phew. I freaking hate diacetyl!!
Brewers of the world, hear our plea: Bring these bad boys out of the old beers’ home and stick ‘em back on the shelf. Me and the four grandpas would like to try ‘em. As long as there’s no diacetyl in there!!!