Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Days of Beer: The Early Years.

And now for something completely different:

The first beer I remember drinking was Country Club Malt Liquor in the half sized cans. That was the beer my dad drank when he drank, which wasn’t often. I remember a rare party we had at the house when I was 8 or 9, and how Dad filled some big silver tubs with ice and nestled the “Clubs” down in it. I wasn’t supposed to drink, of course, but I managed to sneak a few when no one was looking. They just looked so damn good all rimed with ice.


My first beer crush was on Schlitz. When I was a teenager of 15 or so, my friend Steve and I would pay this guy to pick us up a case of beer when he went to Fort Smith for work. (We lived in a dry county and you had to drive 25 miles or so for beer.) He always bought Schlitz, most likely because it was cheap and he got to keep the rest of our money. But man, I kinda liked Schlitz. I got some good buzzes off that stuff.

I eventually moved on to Schlitz’s big brother, Schlitz Malt Liquor in the 16 ounce cans with the Bull logo. You could have a “party” good night with a couple of sixers of that. But before the Bull I went through a Blatz phase. Steve and I drank so much Blatz, which was both cheap and pretty decent tasting, that we stopped talking about getting drunk and told folks we were gonna get “Blatzed” instead. Sadly, Blatz disappeared from the stores at some point though, so we made the move to the Bull and never looked back.




When I wasn’t interested in getting drunk but just wanted a beer I’d drink Miller, which was smooth and didn’t give me headaches like Budweiser did. I drank a helluva lot of Miller Ponies in my time. They were just right on a hot day, because even if you were just sorta sipping you’d finish those 8 golden ounces before they started to warm up. My brother Raymond and I used to fish a lot and we’d always take Pony Millers along. We’d get out in the boat and get all set up, crack the first Pony, and say: “Now if the fish just don’t bite we’ll have a good day.”

There was a tradition in my part of the south concerning bringing beer to parties. Most people brought beer because it was expected, but they didn’t want the moochers to drink all their refreshments. So, many folks brought beers they didn’t think anyone else would have the intestinal fortitude to imbibe. One of my brothers brought Pabst Blue Ribbon, for example, because everyone else said it tasted like crap. I came to like Crapst Blue Ribbon myself, so my brother started bringing Red, White, and Blue, which was a cheaper Pabst. (Made from rotted hops, I believe.) I must admit I never worked up the courage to get drunk on RWB.


My brother-in-law always won at these kinds of parties though because he drank things like Stag, and Lone Star, and Falstaff. About the only thing these “brews” had in common with beer was that they were mostly liquid. I called them Gag, Lone Puke, and Falshitt.

I was a beer trooper, though. In an emergency, meaning nothing better was available, I could even drink Sterling or Coors. I always regretted it the next day, but hey, you gotta have some regrets in your life. Next post, though, I’ll tell you about the one beer I actually, kid you not, poured out. I wouldn’t even inflict that swill on my brother-in-law.
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42 comments:

Wil said...

Blatz! LOL. I really enjoyed this post Charles, you need to do more personal stuff. I know the main focus is on your writing but it is nice to get a man behind the myth insight once in awhile.

Wil Harrison.com

Randy Johnson said...

I drank my first beer at age twenty-seven. Before that, for some reason, just the smell of a beer caused my stomach to roil. Suddenly, that stopped and Genuine Draft was my beer of choice. I remember Making the Budweiser drinkers mad by telling them I'd rather drink a Blue Ribbon that a Bud.

Of course before that , I did consume liquor and had my first(cough,cough) at the then legal age of eighteen.

laughingwolf said...

mmmmmm tried some of those on visits across the border... one of my faves was Utica Club... almost every time i went to new york state

on the canuck side: molson export, a two-fer [24] case, consumed with a buddy during a hockey game on tv...

Chris said...

Wow, that Schlitz Malt Liquor looks intense. Ah, malt liquor...brings back memories of when I didn't know any better. That stuff messes you up!

Enjoyed this post.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I could guess at the swill you're referring to, but there are so many choices.

I remember visiting friends in college who didn't drink. They asked me to drink a Ballantine Beer and tell them if it really was as crappy beer as they thought it was!

It tasted like wheat and water in a can, to me.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wil, or the "beer gut" behind the myth maybe! ;)

Randy, 27? Wow man. I went through my Natural Light Crush around 19-20.

Laughingwolf, I like me some Molson. I especially loved Special export. Wish I could get it down here. Didn't care as much for the Labats.

Chris, I had a couple of weak days after drinking from the Bull.

Paul, all will be revealed next post..

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have never been able to acquire a taste for beer. Wine and tequilla yes but not until 48.

Heff said...

I enjoyed this post as well, but what the Hell do I know ? I LIKE PBR, Schlitz, AND Lone Star, lol !

Steve Malley said...

I gotta say, these Kiwis do brilliant beer: nothing like 'making love in a canoe'.

But, oh, what I wouldn't give for a Grain Belt!

Stewart Sternberg said...

In our part of the country...we drink Strohs. That's it. Just Strohs. Sometimes Miller, but seriously. Okay, maybe Miller, Killians, or Heineken...but besides those..JUST STROHS. DAMMIT. STROHS...and sometimes a bit of Guinness. But Strohs. Never Coors. Never.

Charles Gramlich said...

pattinase, I actually lost most of my taste for hard liquor when I was young, from drinking it with beer and the resulting...

Heff, PBR and Schlitz are fine brews in my opinion, but Lone Star is gut wrenchingly bad my friend.

Steve Malley, the Canadians make pretty good beer as well, but I don't know a lot about other countries. My favorite beers are Mexican these days.

Stewart Sternberg, I've always wanted to try a Strohs but I've never had one. Sigh. I can understand the resistance to coors.

Cloudia said...

Ah, the Rolling Rock pony bottles of my Pennsylvania childhood ;-]

It was made in the "glass lined tanks of old Latrobe" then and featured "little Nip" the pony.

Tasted green - not like it's current corporate iteration...

Aloha! Nice post today-

Comfort Spiral

jodi said...

Charles, I agree with Wil(dang it all!), cuz I like some personal info, too. I am a newbie at beer drinking, and prefer the weaker, "juicier" ones. "64", ice cold is now my preference!!

Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, I have drank Rolling rock. Reminded me quite a bit of Coors.

Jodi, 64 I can handle.

sage said...

growing up in the South, I really didn't drink much beer (it was mostly bourbon and scotch), then I moved to Pgh for grad school and beer was cheap and I didn't have a lot of money for good quality beer--since then, I have decided that life is too short for cheap beer--when it's hot, I drink IPAs, the rest of the year its Porter's and Stouts

steve on the slow train said...

I never liked the taste of beer, though I could probably learn to like German Weissbier. But my wife, who never liked beer either, suddenly acquired a taste for it. And not just any beer, but Leinenkugel.

James Reasoner said...

In my younger days I hung around a lot at a place that had Dark Schlitz on tap. I've never seen it anywhere else. But it was really good, the only beer that I ever really liked.

ivan said...

Was it Old Eglish, made by Strohs, that you poured out?
I shed a tear. We old alkies swear by it.
It's not like like Schlitz, but it sometimes gives you the schlitz.

the walking man said...

I know I have drank beer but I drank WAY more bourbon than beer. never really liked beer myself. yeah I know I'm weird, I don't particularly care for sports either.

Vesper said...

I like the names, Goetz, Schlitz, Blatz... :-)
Very enjoyable post, Charles!

Charles Gramlich said...

sage,I really haven't drunk much of what they call Porters or Stouts. I should work my way through them for my next beer drinking era.

steve on the slow train, I like the tastes of wheat beers but they don't like me. They really interfere with my intestines. I did like dark Lowenbrau back in the day.

James Reasoner, I'm sure I would have loved it if we'd had it but I never heard of it until much later in life.

ivan, all will be revealed on that beer next post. But I have tried Old English and didn't care for it.

the walking man, most people I knew drank bourbon in coke and I never liked the sweetness.

Vesper, Yeah, lots of "Zs"

Middle Ditch said...

I was 13 and pretended to be sixteen and it worked until I was asked my birth year and me being really slow at maths in any way gave the game away. Pilsner it was I liked most and, what we called in my home country, cola tic. I like all those names though.

laughingwolf said...

is there no store that carries molson products near you?

we have beers from all over the world and they're always willing to consider others...

Charles Gramlich said...

Middle ditch, cola tic? Never heard that phrase.

Laughingwolf, there probably is. I hardly ever buy beer at large grocery stores anymore though where they carry a selection. I get most of mine locally since I drink mostly Abita these days.

BernardL said...

Yep, I remember liking Schlitz and Pabst. My favorites growing up in Ohio were Schmidt's, Stroh's, and Schaefer's - all owned by Pabst now.

Mary Witzl said...

“Now if the fish just don’t bite we’ll have a good day.” I always suspected this was the case!

I went off beer after my second daughter was born, but all through my labor with her, all I could think of was Dos Equis beer and Tops Chocolate cake (very popular in Tokyo). I thought I'd perish if I didn't get a Dos Equis beer, then the next day when my husband smuggled one into the hospital, I couldn't drink it. Sad, isn't it?

I'll be tuning back to find out what you think is swill, though. If you're okay with Pabst and Coors, that ought to be something!

jennifer said...

The first beer that I ever tried was Heineken. And now you know why I'm not a big beer drinker.

Our teams play each other Saturday!! Maybe we should have a bet that the loser has to drink a Heineken? :)

Avery DeBow said...

I have never heard of Blatz before.

My impoverished youth brought me to the Beast (Milwaukee's Best). It's been at least fifteen years since I've had any and I can still taste it.

Natasha Fondren said...

When I was little, I loved the foam of Budweiser. I think Fosters is the most adventurous I've ever been.

After I went to Germany, only microbrews and Guiness would do. I'll take Sam Adams in a pinch. I love Belgian beer that has a hint of berry in it. :-)

Miladysa said...

From the age of 7 upwards I grew up in 'proper English pubs' with hand pumped beer or cider served from wooden barrels. A lot of people envied me LOL

Cinnamon said...

Glad your book signing went well :)

Beer..mmm..I'll pass on that as connoisseur I am not. Always been a Southern Comfort gal...

Charles Gramlich said...

BernardL, Schaefer's. I was trying to think of that one. WE used to drink that too because it was cheap.

Mary Witzl, Dos Equus. mymmmmm. I will have a section on Mexican beers.

jennifer, that would be a cruel thing but I'll take that bet.

Avery DeBow, yes, I have drunk quite a bit of Milwaukee's Best. More than my share perhaps.

Natasha Fondren, there's a Belgian brew called Chimay ale that I love but I don't think it has any berry in it.

Miladysa, I never drank a lot of cider. I don't like the citrus taste really.

cinammon, Unfortunately, I have some bad memories of Southern Comfort.

Shauna Roberts said...

We had many beers in SW Ohio when I was growing up because so many Germans settled there. I drank Scheinling [sp??] "Little Kings," which were tasty and came in small sizes, so they were popular with ladies. [g] I can't drink any more, but when I last could, my favorites were some of the Abita beers, Weissbier in general, Fisher's, Molson's, fruit-flavored beer . . . actually, there were a lot of beers I liked. I shouldn't try to name a favorite.

Erik Donald France said...

Excellent! Warning! Rolling Rock today is not the same as before taken over by AB. It's been taken away from Pennsylvania to places like New Jersey!

Man, I never saw one of those half sized cans, but sure remember, ca. 9th grade on in the 70s, that Southern tradition (also in Tar Heel Land) of bringing sixpack cans, also enjoying Schlitz and Schlitz Malt and Blatz. Those who sipped light beer were mocked heartily in the 80s.

Today, your Abita beer is terrific, and Yuengling, while Shinerbock is good sometimes, too.

Charles Gramlich said...

Shauna Roberts, I never had Scheinling but would like to try it. I really do enjoy the Abita beers.

Erik Donald France, Abita is my favorite drinking beer these days. I like the taste of Shiner but it is wheat based and seems to upset my system somewhat. I haven't seen Rolling rock in ages.

Mariana Soffer said...

Great post, I love beer, I got used to it while living in the states, before I used to drink whine mainly. My favourite one is the real guiness, the one served in english pubs, I also like slightly crappy ones like corona or stella artoise. But I have a lot more to try after reading your post. Thanks a lot for opening the spectrum of beer possibilities
Mariana

Charles Gramlich said...

Mariana, I've never had the real Guinness. I don't care much for the bottled Guiness we get over here. I have much more to say about beers.

Scott said...

Charles,

My roomates and I in college drank a lot of Blatz, Busch, and the occasional Bud...I'm glad I can afford good beer these days.

Charles Gramlich said...

Scott, me too.

Travis said...

My first beer was Budweiser. Then I went to Michelob, and then Coors Light. Then there was MGD. I've also enjoyed Sam Adams and Corona.

I don't drink beer much anymore.

Rachel said...

Yeah, these were the beers that made me hate beer and keep stone cold sober past the age of 21. I just couldn't stand the pee water people had at most parties and I never had the money or gumption to get it on my own. But I love beer. Just none of these.

Rachel said...

Yeah, these were the beers that made me hate beer and keep stone cold sober past the age of 21. I just couldn't stand the pee water people had at most parties and I never had the money or gumption to get it on my own. But I love beer. Just none of these.