“Mer mer mer I like Budweiser you’re just a hater a nice cold Bud mer mer nothing beats it I don’t like IPAs because mer mer mer I own an above ground pool and I spent more money on my lawn mower than my car shut up COORS RULESSSSS.”
~Angry commentators at the bottom of this page
As 2015 looms over us sinisterly, waiting for the right time to murder 2014 forever, our news feeds and Google streams become flooded with year-end lists. The year’s best movie, best album, best TV show, best whatever, we have hundreds of opinion-stated-as-fact year-end lists published each year, and while we don’t tend to indulge in that kind of nostalgia here in the affotd offices, we are at least aware of the phenomenon.
Now, while we question the authenticity of a “best of 2014” or “worst of 2014” list, because year end opinions are like assholes- we only listen to the first half of similes. However, one type of list that has come into increasing popularity in the internet age does have some merit. Year end lists that tell you “the most searched items of the year” are great for lazy writers, but they also manage to express something tangible about the previous year.
These aren’t the random musings of some asshole bloggers (hi there, glad you made it to our site, by the way), they are hard facts, data points that let us know what everyone in the nation is thinking about. When you see a “the ten most searched celebrity names” you invariably say to yourself, “Yes, we get it, Kim Kardashian broke the internet, we honestly don’t give a shit” while also admitting that it helps inform what’s most popular over a given period of time. There has to be some scientific value in that.
So when we saw the list of the most searched beers in America, we had a moment where we lost our composure. Now granted, the only searching for a beer that we do is blindly fumbling in our fridge for something that’s cold so we can make the shakes go away, and the only Google we use for that is the name of the hook we have to replace our left hand after the doctors took it on account of the diabetes. But it was disheartening to see how…well, bad the vast majority of these beers were.
America. We need to talk. Let’s go over this list, and have a frank discussion about where you disappointed us.
America’s Most Searched Beers of 2014 (A Guide On Doing Better Next Time, Goddamn It)
There are a lot of people who get passionately defensive about macrobrewery beer like Budweiser, Miller, or Coors (for brevity’s sake, from here on out we’ll be referring to these as “shitty beer”). If you happen to be one of them then, and we say this with all due respect, but you’re wrong, and the way you have been drinking beer your whole life has actively ensured that you’ve lived a worse life than if you had made better choices at a younger age. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that you’ll never get those years back and you have no one to blame but yourself.
These poor souls like to hone in on two more or less unrelated and wrongheaded talking points. The first one, which is a very succinct way to let us know that you have at some point in your life suffered a massive permanent brain injury and that we should go easy on you as a result, is, “I hate IPAs! They’re gross! Miller rules!”
This is a stupid thing that stupid people say. This is what you say when, in your motorcycle-accident-ravaged remaining shards of humanoid intelligence, you operate under the assumption that the only kind of beer that people drink that’s not either Budweiser or a punch in the face for looking at another man’s woman the wrong way in a bar has to be IPAs. That’s obviously wrong, and an odd thing to focus on. Hell, as much as we love IPA, we get that a lot of people don’t like them. They tend to be bitter, and for many it’s an acquired taste, like cigars, spicy foods, or girls with naval piercings. A lot of people who really like “good” beer and especially “craft” beer actually don’t like IPAs. They drink stouts, they sip scotch ales, they buy one of the literally dozens of other kinds of beers that exist in this crazy blue marble we call Planet Earth.
To that end, the other most common exclamation is that craft beer is “too damn expensive.” “For the cost of a six pack of your fancy pants mustache-twirling, top hat monocle wearing hipster beer,” people say, understandably confusing hipsters for Snidely Whiplash, “I could buy myself a whole twelve pack of good old fashioned Budweiser!” Great. Good for you.
Like all good hipsters, he’s pretty heavily into the Canada scene.
Let’s break it down. Say you can get a 12 pack of Budweiser bottles for somewhere around 10 bucks, slightly higher or lower depending on your liquor taxes. While we’re admittedly fearful of giving you IPA haters an aneurism, we’ll compare that to a six pack of Two Hearted Ale from the Kalamazoo brewery, Bells. That’ll set you back about $11, assuming you’re dealing with the same amount of taxes as our Budweiser estimate. So, Budweiser, which objectively tastes like you poured a half a shot of vodka in your mouth and proceeded to spend the next twenty minutes chewing hay, is technically half the price of Two Hearted Ale, which this year was named the best India Pale Ale in the world by ratebeer.com.
Now, let’s get into some math, as much as we hate the very existence of that field. Budweiser is roughly 5% alcohol per volume, though they’ve been sued three times for watering down their product. Two Hearted Ale is about 7%, meaning that with all that extra beer you get with Budweiser, you’re only really getting 3 more beers worth of drunk from that case, and that also is if you’re chugging 12 Buds, which your stomach is going to get pissed off about long before your liver starts to ask what’s up. It’s even worse with the light beers. Bud Light is 4.1%, for example, and also tastes like someone put corn syrup in a mostly finished 40 ounce of Colt 45.
When any beer has “You can drink it so fast you won’t have to taste it” as their main selling point, you should take pause.
We’ll get more into browbeating you into drinking better beer shortly. But for now, let’s start this list.
10: Sierra Nevada
“Oh look, you smart asses, it’s a Pale Ale! MY LEAST FAVORITE BEER!” the one reader amongst you who got really offended by our motorcycle accident joke but still decided to keep hate reading this article is probably shouting at his computer, getting frustrated shushes from all the rest of the free users at the library. And yes, we actually like this beer. Are we pleasantly surprised to see it on the top searched list? Absolutely. But not that excited.
Here’s the thing. We no longer live in a society where bars can get away with only having two shitty beers on tap. Beer bars have become a thing, so pretty much every bar that’s not in the dive-bar-with-a-rustic-past category has to at least put something that the beer snobs will drink. Now, as much as we harp on you macrobrewery sycophants, we should take a moment to point out that true beer snobs can almost be worse. If you’re at a BBQ and someone hands you a Miller Lite, say thank you and drink the fucking beer. No, it’s not a good beer, but it’s still beer, it’ll still get you drunk, and you should not be an asshole about it.
There’s a time and a place for shitty beers, and that’s called “College and outdoor sporting events where you don’t want to pay $39 for a damn beer.” But back to the point.
Many bars, when beer snobbery started becoming a thing, went with Sierra Nevada as their one “good” beer. And it is a good beer! It’s also a boring choice. If you don’t like IPAs, you won’t drink it, and if you like IPAs it is firmly middle-of-the-road as far as your favorite or least favorites of the style go. It’s a white bread option, like casting Chris Pine in your romantic comedy because you’re hoping people liked the Star Trek reboot.
Plus, we’re wagering a guess that a large reason this made it so high was a large contingency of smart phone users typing out hasty searches in dimly lit bars mumbling to themselves, “What in tarnation is a Sierra Nevada?”
Modelo is one of the most popular beers brewed in Mexico, with a 63% share of the Mexican beer market (admittedly, that’s because this company also brews Corona). Naturally, this Mexico City based beer, founded in 1922, upholds the proud local traditions of a company owned by Belgian-Brazilian-owned Anheuser-Busch InBev. You recognize it as that beer with the foil that goes around the bottle cap that always flakes off in your beer at least a little, and makes it kind of a pain in the ass to drink it straight out of the bottle. The most common styles are Modelo Especial and Negra Modelo, which we think translates to “Special Model” and “Ha Ha Nice Try We’re Not Touching That Joke.” By most accounts, Modelo Especial is…not that good, while Negra Modelo is serviceable.
We’re going to take a moment to let our editor-in-chief, Johnny Roosevelt, tell you his thoughts on Modelo.
“Listen, the only reason Modelo made this list, or is this popular, is because most Americans, and I like to include myself in this list, are stupidly uncultured. Like, just embarrassingly clueless about shit outside of America. So, we see a beer that’s in another language, and we shit ourselves like we’re fucking Marco Polo discovering that one swimming pool game, or whatever the fuck he’s famous for. But, make no mistake, Modelo is not good. Negra Modelo? Eh, it’s fine. I drink it, but I’d never buy a case of it.
But before I let these guys get to the next point, I want to tell a story about why I’m sullied on Modelo Especial forever. Now, I’m in a bar, and I ask for whatever beer they have on draft. They said, I should get a bottle, since the draft is so rarely used it’s probably really dirty and gross. These are the kinds of bars I go to because I am a grown ass man and I’m allowed to make my own mistakes in life.
I got a Modelo. And it was skunked as hell. If you don’t know what a skunked beer tastes like, or you drink it regularly but you drink shit beer and can’t tell the difference, it tastes like the name. It tastes like a skunk. Like, a skunk’s asshole. It’s the worst thing. I get the bartender, apologize and say, ‘I think this is skunked?” So the bartender cracks open a different Modelo and hands it to me.
That one was skunked too. Fuck you, Modelo Especial. Stop putting your shit in clear bottles, you assholes. Next beer, guys.”
Oh, PBR. Pabst Blue Ribbon by this point is less of a beer that people drink and more of a lazy punchline for someone who wants to complain about how much they hate hipsters without having much of a firm grasp as to what a hipster really is, like, you know that they have beards or something, or like they wear flannel, like, they drive taxis or something? No, not taxis. But, you definitely know that those damn hipsters drink PBR, right! Yes! Nailed it! You’re the best at making assumptions about people based on arbitrary decisions they make! Go you!
The fact of the matter is, some people actively enjoy PBR for the same reason that some people actively enjoy Budweiser—it’s cheap, and if you pray hard enough it’ll let you get drunk. But here’s the dirty little secret about PBR…it’s at least cheap enough to warrant the shitty. You get PBR at the bar because it costs two bucks when a bottle of Miller Lite sets you back three. You get a case of PBR for your party because if your friends wanted to drink good beer they would have read the “there’ll be booze, but feel free to bring something if you want” part of the invite and taken a fucking hint, but also because a thirty pack of PBR costs about as much as a 24 pack of Budweiser.
Is PBR shitty? Yes! Should you drink it? Only when you’re too drunk to care what your beer tastes like! Are we going to make another joke about hipsters here? Psh, whatever man, we were making jokes about hipsters before it was cool to make jokes about hipsters, enjoy your Old Navy jeans and your Supercuts haircut, poseur.
7: Bud Light
Ugh. Fucking Bud Light. Pictured above in its natural habitat, floating on an impressively massive and powerful stream of urine, it’s the most popular beer in America. The fact that more Bud Lights are sold in America than any other beer is propped up as an example that “it’s got to be good!” by people who would really like making straw man arguments if they knew what a straw man argument was. To these people, we point out that Nickelback has sold over 50 million records. Bud Light is basically the beer equivalent of Nickelback—it wasn’t made here, it tries really hard to pass itself off as American by presenting itself as kinda Southern, and if you’re dating someone who sincerely is passionate about it, you need to break up with them immediately.
Bud Light is best purchased because you’re lazy and hosting a barbeque, or you’re at a baseball game and feel like complaining about that one time you paid seven dollars for a Bud Light (“Seven! For fucking Bud Light!” you’ll exclaim). But Light is worst just about any other time. It’s almost never the cheapest option at the bar, and it is never even close to the best option. It ranks somewhere higher than “some shot involving making Baileys curdle so you can drink it on a dare” and below “literally anything else that bar has to offer” in terms of taste.
We have to stop this America. Put down your Bud Lights. It’s time.
We have to imagine that slot consisted largely of people wanting to Google for Coors Light and just writing Coors as shorthand because for whatever reason the Banquet beer is almost never available, while Coors Light is fucking everywhere. If you ask for a Coors at a bar, you’re almost certainly going to get a Coors Light without even a follow up of “you mean Coors Light, right?” which we’d take more of an aggressive stance against except that our feelings on Coors pretty much mirrors its taste—completely inoffensively unremarkable. Coors Light talks about how its water is from the Rockies so much probably because it mainly is nothing but water from the Rockies. It’s decently refreshing, it’s decently cheap, it’s a much better option than Bud Light (*glares at America*), it’s whatever. It’s Coors.
Coors is only interesting because it signifies how far we’ve come as a nation of beer drinkers, and how y’all need to keep on getting your ass in gear because we’ve still got a long way to go. Back in the 1970’s, if you didn’t live in the Rocky Mountain region, Coors was a damn treat. Which is depressing to think about, but that’s the kind of world you’re stuck in when you’re forever stuck choosing only between Budweiser and Miller with the handful of regional exceptions. Honestly, it was embarrassing. We feel bad for people who had to wait for good beer to become a thing. They can take whatever solace they want in the knowledge that they grew up drinking shitty beer, but at least it wasn’t their fault.
5: Blue Moon
Introduced in 1995, Blue Moon is a relative newcomer to the macrobrew scene. It’s a part of the “craft and import” division of MillerCoors, which is a Chicago headquartered joint venture between SABMiller (owned by South Africa) and the Molson Coors Brewing Company (owned by Coloradoans and Canadians), because almost every beer you drink is owned by some giant brewing conglomerate which is in turn owned by an even larger brewing conglomerate, and so on and so forth and the circle of life. Blue Moon is extremely popular, so we aren’t surprised to see it on this list, and it’s not actively awful, which is somewhat encouraging.
Blue Moon tries to present itself as a “craft” beer option, and in the sense that it’s better than anything Miller or Coors has to offer on their own, they have a point. It’s even an ale instead of a lager, and a style of beer that ensures it has a unique flavor that makes it taste like something other than shit beer. That’s all very commendable! But really, Blue Moon is just a gateway beer. Blue Moon is your favorite beer because you just turned 21, you like that it’s kind of sweet, and tee-hee they put an orange slice on the edge of the glass! Whaaaaat? That’s crazy! Who wants to do Jager shots?
Blue Moon is a Witbeer, or a Belgium White ale, which is a style of beer that manages to both have a unique and established flavor, while also being light and sweet enough to gentle coax people into liking beer. People might say they dislike beer, and then have a Blue Moon and say, “Oh, hey, this is pretty good.” Hopefully, from there, you start to go into better versions of the style, or try other styles, and branch into drinking beers that are better than “it’s fine, but it’s not like it blasted my dick off or anything.” And then there are people who drink Blue Moon, decide that’s where their beer exploration will end, and eventually switch to drinking only wine for the rest of their life. Well, at least they’re not drinking Miller.
Like Coors, this result has to involve people searching for Miller because that’s what they call Miller Lite. For every bar that has Miller Genuine Draft, there are roughly 5,000 bars that have changed their taps more recently than 1975. That said, Miller is at least better than Bud Light, which actively tries to taste like it was left under a radiator for too long after someone sprinkled some sugar into it. We also understand that some people might find that previous statement contentious, which is where you need to sit down and ask yourself if your short time on this planet is best spent arguing about which shitty beer is less shitty than the other.
The one question we have when it comes to beers like Miller, Coors, or Budweiser is…why is everyone searching for this stuff? Like, what kind of conversation are you having where you have to Google “Miller” to settle a bet? We all know what Miller is, right?
Anyway, we’ve reached the point where all of you lot are searching for shitty beers, and you need to do better. All of these beers are garbage, and should only be consumed when they’re actively the cheapest option (this excludes the following beer, which usually is the cheapest option, but also tastes like something you’d have to chug after losing a bet).
The results say people are searching for Keystone, but we call bullshit, because Keystone only exists as Keystone Light. That’s not technically true, but if someone showed up at your party with a regular Keystone, as opposed to a Keystone Light, you’d say, “Get the fuck out of my house and don’t come back until you bring some halfway decent beer like a goddamn adult” but you’d probably follow that up by saying, “And how the hell did you get regular Keystone? Did you travel back in time to a 1989 convenience store in Wyoming or something? This is more offensive than bringing Keystone Light because it means you had to actively set aside the time and exert the effort required to chase down and purchase this swill. You’re a monster, and we can’t be friends anymore.”
Keystone is an impressively shitty beer to drink primarily because you’re not going to be guaranteed to find it at your local grocery store. You can at least expect to see Coors just about anywhere, but Keystone is one of those beers that, if you walked into a liquor store to see that they didn’t have any cases of it, you’d not be that surprised. And if you were surprised, or upset, about this fact, you should really reevaluate your priorities.
“I’ll have a Keystone, please” is basically shorthand for, “Hello, bartender, the guy you’ve got working the door today is really bad at spotting fake IDs, I just thought I should give you a heads up about that.” We’re surprised to see so many people searching for it simply because the kind of person who would Google about Keystone is the kind of person who would take the “you have to be at least 21 years old to enter this site” warning seriously, so instead of going through to the Keystone website they’d just anxiously close their browser and spend the next hour nervously staring out their window hoping that the Beer Police don’t show up and arrest them for underage beer web access. If you’ve drunk a Keystone Light within the last year, and you aren’t a college student, we hate to break this to you but everyone knows you don’t go to their school, and it’s just creeping everyone out. Don’t be the townie drinking Keystone at a college party. Get some friends your age and start drinking good beer. Goddamn it.
You have at least one acquaintance who would get offended by our insistence that Corona is arguably one of the worst beers you can buy. Almost to a T, they will say, “I mean, it’s not the best beer, sure, but, you know, it’s refreshing, especially with a lime wedge in there.” These are the kind of responses that lead to Corona being the top selling imported beer in all of America, which makes America look like a nation full of stupid chumps. These are the same people that think the whole “clear bottle” thing makes it “stand out against the competition” when it really just “ensures your beer will have an exponentially larger chance of skunking.”
This is the part of the article where we have to point out that if your beer requires you to jam some fruit into it to make it palatable, then that beer is not good. We cannot stress this enough—if your defense of Corona is “it tastes pretty good when the flavor of the beer is instead replaced by the hunk of lime you strugglingly jammed and corkscrewed into your bottle of beer” then you’re just saying that you like the flavor of lime when it gets you drunk, which is a totally acceptable viewpoint to have, but at that point taking shots of tequila is probably much more efficient for what you’re looking for.
Corona is bad. Corona is not only bad, but it’s almost as expensive as actually good beer. The more you let the Corona marketing campaign trick you into thinking it’s “premium” or “refreshing” or “find your beach blah blah bullshit” the more you’re going to look like a sucker who doesn’t have fully formed taste buds.
Budweiser uses the slogan “The King of Beers.” We imagine that they interpret this to say they’re the best beer out there, but we like to think of it like them admitting to being a horribly inbred, bloated, archaic and powerless figurehead that has long since outlived its usefulness. Budweiser is a beer that people are fanatically devoted to in the same way people in Jonestown were fanatically devoted to Kool Aid—the real tragedy lies in the fact that no one who claims to love Budweiser ever takes a step back and thinks, “What am I about to put in my body?” before chugging.
Budweiser and Bud Light are the third and first most drank beers in America, which means that over half of the beers purchased in America is basically funky tasting water that might accidentally get you drunk if you try really hard. That’s the saddest thing we’ve thought about all week, and we spent this week planning a New Year’s Eve party that consisted of our staff getting drunk on whiskey while watching youtube supercuts of every movie scene where someone’s dog dies. The fact that there’s a very real chance that someone will take to the comments section here and spend actual time trying to defend Budweiser under the argument that “not putting shitty tasting beer in your stomach makes you elitist” legitimately makes us concerned about the future awesomeness of America.
And that’s what it comes down to, America. We’re better at drinking beer now than we have ever been at any point in our history, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Stop Googling Budweiser, and start spending your time learning about beers you haven’t tried yet that you might like instead. Don’t fall into the same boring narrative of “I like my beer like I like my women, unlovable” that the Bud fanatics and Miller fiends of America have bought into for so long. Be daring, be different, goddamn it, be drunk. But most importantly, be better.
We’re counting on you America. We believe in you.
With 2014 leaving us, let’s strive to make 2015 the best year yet. And let’s start that quest by drinking good beer and leaving shitty beer alone in your grocer’s fridge section where it belongs. Bottoms up, America. Happy New Year.