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I like cheap beer. Beer that drinks like water. Light, clean, crisp, cold.

In Minnesota I usually drink Hamm’s, Grain Belt or Leinie. old-fashioned beers. Small time brewers that could never find their way to the east coast.  The only “new age” or “craft” beer I’ve learned to like is Spotted Cow. But you can only buy Spotted Cow in Wisconsin.

So before moving to Maine I feared there would be a beer issue. What would I use to wash down all that delicious lobster?

In past trips east I learned Budweiser and Heineken have cornered the market in local bars and taverns. Work of the East Coast Beer Mafia no doubt. Heineken is dreadful and Budweiser is a pale imitation of the centuries old Czech beer Budvar.

The craft brew craze has made some inroads, especially at a nice downtown Bangor night spot called Nocturnum Draft Haus. 14 rotating taps. Yes there are beer geeks in Maine. Sadly, I’m not one of them.

The best local brew I’ve sampled is Shipyard. The Portland label puts out a tasty Pumpkinhead Ale during the Halloween season. But it’s like drinking your grandma’s pumpkin pie after a huge Thanksgiving dinner: Sure the first slice tastes great but do you really want another?

I’ve taken to buying the Canadian beers – LaBatt Blue and Molson. But waiters and bartenders look at you like you’re wearing a goalie mask when you order it, so I’ve taken to just buying my Labatt’s in the grocery store. A 30-pack is $20.99.

The other night we attended a house party with one of Jen’s colleagues. A middle-aged crowd. Most in their 40’s. Parents on a rare night away from the kids. Teachers celebrating the end of the semester. People crammed themselves into the kitchen around a square service island big enough to conduct four chemistry experiments simultaniously. They cleared furniture out of a living room and cranked a wornout mix tape of pop hits circa 1980. The Cars. Pat Benatar.

The host, a physics professor who used to live in Washington D.C., pointed to a cooler of beer out on the porch. I went out to investigate.  The red plastic cooler was filled with bottles of obscure ales and unknown wheats. The labels might as well have been in a foreign language. I dug down deeper hoping to find something familiar, something cheap, something refreshing.  Suddenly there it was: a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.


I cracked it open and walked back into the roaring party. The host was standing in the middle of the room under a low hanging chandelier. He was wearing a polo shirt and jeans and looked in no mood to discuss binomial distribution.

“Pabst Blue Ribbon?” he asked.

“Yeah. Good stuff,” I said.

“You like it?

“Yeah, I’m a little bit old-school I guess.”

“OK,” he said, pausing briefly. “I put that stuff in there as a joke. I didn’t think anyone would drink it.”

What do you say to that?

I like the cheap stuff.

  1. David Ferrara permalink

    LaBatt Blue has been a favorite of mine for a long time!

    Beer lovers (as opposed to beer snobs) know that old school beers have their place- I don’t always want a pork chop in a glass. Is McDonald’s QP with cheese gourmet? Hell no… but there’s no denying that it tastes good.

    Keep on keepin’ it old-school, Nick.

  2. Janell permalink

    Didn’t know you liked cheap beer!? Shiner Bock here is Texas is good stuff – done the old fashioned way. Had a birthday party in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago – introduced Michael’s cousins to Leininkugel from Wisconsin and they loved it!

  3. Mike permalink

    Ahhh…that old trick! Put the cheap beer in the cooler for “profiling purposes”. Very clever.

    Just like Ricky Bobby and the guys in “Talladega Nights” putting Jazz and the Pet Shop Boys on the jukebox in the bar.

    Sorry, big brother. They flushed you out.

  4. Stacy Kissam permalink

    I’m certainly a beer snob… (ask Lundy) but I loves me some PBR!

  5. MCWittmann permalink

    Mike Socolow pointed me here, years later, and I gotta add something to the story. The PBR was mine, after all, and I hadn’t expected anyone else in the crowd to drink it! I was raised on MGD but that’s too pricey now. PBR it is, especially in the summer. Winter time, I shift to cheap red wine…

    Hope to see you Saturday night!

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