4.2% ABV from a can
People always ask if I’ve altered my drinking habits in any way since starting my site. Succinctly and accurately stated–NO.
First, let me state that I shudder to write this entry because it will be like revisiting a traumatic experience all over again. Is this how Alice Sebold felt?
A little history of how I came to this point in time…
One evening last summer I returned home late from a night out. I wanted a single nightcap to dust off while getting ready for bed and the only place open was my local bodega. Which doesn’t exactly have the best beer selection as I’ve previously stated. On these occasions I usually just buy a $1.50 tallboy can of Bud Light or maybe even a few bottles of Labatt, and that was indeed my plan this time. Until I spotted a new product next to the Bud Lights.
I had never seen the item before and I am a major sucker for new products. I’m the one idiot that buys the “wacky” flavored Doritos, and the “limited-time-only” Mountain Dew Code Aquamarine, and who goes to Taco Bell to get their new double-wrapped, triple-stuft, quadruple-shit-in-your-pants crunch supremes (only 79 cents!). Point is, I’ll give anything a try. Yes, even new products from crummy macrobreweries.
Something about the can’s label intrigued me. I don’t speak or read Spanish–for those outside of New York, a lot of products at your low-rent corner bodega/deli are written exclusively in Spanish–and this can was completely in the language. You might think living in Manhattan I should learn Spanish, but I simply can’t as I do not have the capacity to pick up foreign tongues (languages I’ve began to learn and not succeeeded in doing so: French, Spanish, German, Latin, Hebrew).
Thus, I had to judge this book by it’s cover.
The can was interesting, intriguing. It’s color scheme evoked freshness. Summer fun in the sun with vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds and a corona of brightness. The glassware depicted evoked thoughts of big ass 64 ounce lime margaritas rimmed in salt. Of lounging in the sand, or poolside, sipping refreshing drinks while the lazy day passed away. I had sold myself. I figured it would probably taste like a Bud Light with a hint of lime or something.
Heck, I even noted the one phrase of Spanish on the can that even a dunce like me could translate: “La combinacion perfecta!” Sounds delicious! Er, deliciouso.
But, something about the can sent off sensors in my head. It was a little too red for my liking. Red’s a color that universally means “warning” or “danger.” The words “chelada” and “clamato” on the label also scared me even though I couldn’t translate them. Creatures are evolved to know not to eat certain things. Amazing but true. So birds somehow know not to eat the poisoned berries, and Australian snakes know not to eat the poisonous cane toad, and the urbanite Jew knows to google Bud Light Chelado before he drinks it. So I did. And I immediately saw something more disgusting than “Two Girls, One Cup.”
I saw words such as tomato juice, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and worst of all, clam broth. Yeah, these were the ingredients of the beer I held in my hand. I’ve drank some incredibly vile things in my life, but this wasn’t going to be one of them. Apparently, Mexicans actually like this shit! Well of course they do. Why else would Anheuser-Busch try to cash in on something unless it wasn’t already a craze? Now you might think me a retard for not knowing what clamato is, but I would counter that you are a deviant for actually knowing. Suffice to say I was pissed I wouldn’t have my nightcap that evening as I put the beer into the back depths of my fridge, only to show off to my friends as if part of some Frigidaire freak show, like a shrunken head or the world’s tiniest pony.
Fast forward to this week, nearly a year after the previously described events. With my team of butlers and maids on summer vacation, I decided to act like a common man and do some cleaning myself. I wasn’t thrilled with my overflowing and beginning-to-reek fridge so I decided to clean it up. And lo and behold, what should I find at the back of the icebox but my can of Chelada. I could have tossed it into the industrial-sized Glad bag along with the moldy cheddar and a banana so rotten it was black and shriveled to the size of a poorly-rolled doobie, but I knew that would be irresponsible. I had a duty to my readers. I knew I had to drink this fucking beer.
Soooo…for those scoring at home, I was about to try an old-ass (or “aged” if you prefer to be a connesseur) beer that consists of tomato juice, salt, lime, Worcestershire sauce, and clam broth. UGH. I felt like Evil Knievel about to jump over the Grand Canyon.
There was no fucking chance I was drinking this thing in my bedroom, or my living room, or even around another human being. I waited til my roommate left and then headed to the bathroom with my supplies.
(If you look closely in the picture you can see I’m clearly in my bathroom with a sink, my toothbrush, and my Crew strong hold gel in the background which is what I use to make my hair look like Showtime Lakers-era Pat Riley’s.)
Remember that great scene in “Trainspotting” when the character of Renton “Rent-Boy,” played splendidly by a young Ewan McGregor, tries to get off heroin, quitting cold turkey? Here’s how he described his preparation:
“Relinquishing junk. Stage one, preparation. For this you will need one room which you will not leave. Soothing music. Tomato soup, ten tins of. Mushroom soup, eight tins of, for consumption cold. Ice cream, vanilla, one large tub of. Magnesia, milk of, one bottle. Paracetamol, mouthwash, vitamins. Mineral water, Lucozade, pornography. One mattress. One bucket for urine, one for feces and one for vomitus. One television and one bottle of Valium, which I’ve already procured from my mother, who is, in her own domestic and socially acceptable way also a drug addict. And now I’m ready. All I need is one final hit to soothe the pain while the Valium takes effect.”
I prepared myself just as thoroughly. As mentioned, I waited for my roommate to leave. I locked the bathroom door. Previously to entering the bathroom I had eaten a turkey sandwich on wheat bread. I wanted a base in my stomach of some pleasant, non-volatile food. I also drank two Bud Lights to steady my nerves. I was as anxioius as a virgin going to the prom, and needed some liquid courage if I was ever to have the balls to drink this beer. I also brought into the loo with me a bottle of Coke Zero, a large water, another can of clam-broth-free Bud Light and, of course, I also had nearby my Listerine, toothbrush, and toothpaste to assure that I could clean out my mouth quickly and efficiently if anything bad were to happen. And I was certain something bad would happen. But I didn’t want to taint my review with stinkin’ thinkin’.
Let me interrupt to note that I have a very strong stomach. A lifetime of drinking recklessly and prodigiously and I’ve probably yakked less than ten times. And, those times I’ve thrown up were less because I drank too much but rather because I drank too much of something stupid. Like Jager. Or free hotel strawberry daquiris in Cancun. Or several “fishbowls” whilst in a most unfortunate fishbowl drinking contest over Memorial Day. I thought Chelada would soon be added to the “something stupid” list.
I wanted to see the color of the Chelada but didn’t want to risk befouling any of my beloved pint glasses. Thus, I poured some of the brew out for my fallen homeys and down the sink. It looked like menstrual blood. That was an ominious sign.
I was nervous for the impending smell. I should note I made the beer as absolutely frigid as possibly because the colder a liquid, the less you can taste it. A quality barley wine or quadrupel should be served at, say, 60 degrees fahrenheit. I suspected this motherfucker should be served at absolute zero.
I closed my eyes, if I was a Catholic I would have done that cool thing where they cross their chest, and then I leaned my big Jew nose down toward the aluminum opening. And I didn’t wince. I didn’t dry heave. There was no vomitus. In fact, I was able to keep my schnoz there indefinitely if I felt like it. I’m not gonna act like the beer smelled good, but it didn’t smell heinous either. Like overcarbonated Budweiser with a hint of Tabasco. I’m actually a fan of spiciness in all cuisines, so this aroma was fine by me. This was promising.
I felt more confident now. We all know hubris is a bitch. I took a little sip. Just a nip. Again, it was not heinous. Tasted kinda like it was one part Bloody Mary mixed with three parts Budweiser. I don’t like Bloodies, but at this point I thought the beer might be drinkable. Like I might actually finish a whole can. At this point I would have called it a “C” quality beer or so. I even thought to myself, “Yeah, I get this. I understand why a person could like this.”
My bathroom has no AC or window, so it was getting sweltering in there at this point. Like a steamroom. I felt like I was about to take a shvitz. Thus, I decided to take one more big swig and if that was pleasant enough I would bring the can back to my room and finish it off.
I took my big swig and this time the clam broth hit me HARD. Like a tidal wave rushing toward the back of my throat. It tasted like a liquid rotted anchovy pizza. I was so fucking repulsed I immediately spat it back out, a frozen rope that hit my medicine cabinet mirror on the fly. I threw my head toward the toilet and began convulsing. I couldn’t throw it up but I was heaving, wanting to eject the vileness from my system. My eyes were watering, burning. I was brought to my knees as if I had been kicked in the nuts.
“La combinacion perfecta!” echoed in my spinning head as if being spoken by a cute-as-a-button Mexican girl. Uh, how do you say in Spanish, “The only combination I can think of that would be less fucking perfect is shit mixed with vomit.”
Finally able to upright myself from the floor, I immediately slammed the 20 ounces of water. Next, I gargled four fingers of mouthwash. Then, I brushed my teeth. Four more fingers of mouthwash. How did about an ounce of fluid so destroy my stomach, pollute my mouth, and soil my tongue?! And my lips now were incredibly salty. Even worse, I couldn’t quit burping, each eructation forcing me to taste the nauseous fluid yet again and again and again. I was in near tears.
Bud Light Chelada? Should be called Bud Light Chlamydia.
I went to my room where I popped a normal Bud Light to relax and write up what you have just read to this point. I was sweating and needed to lay prostrate for a half-hour or so as if I’d just had a tough workout. Eventually, I got my strength back and had to do one final and troubling task: eliminate the 9/10th full can of Chelada still remaining. If I was smart, I would have just opened my bedroom window and hurled the can into the open patio of the hipster bar five floors down below me, a payback toward the loud patrons who keep me up every night as they discuss Jim Jarmusch movies and “going green” late into the AM.
But, I didn’t do that. Instead, I began pouring it down my sink.
Big mistake. It was making a fucking bright red, stinky mess and I thought it best to not put any more of this fluid near where we put our faces several times a day every single day. Thus, I dumped the rest of the beer out near where we put our dirty assholes several times a day every single day, the toilet. A fitting burial.
The misery is now over. My sink looks like a murderer washed his hands there while my toilet smells like an unkempt woman has been sitting on it. I can’t imagine what my roommate will think I did while he was gone for the evening.