Great Genesee Cream Ale Challenge
staffers are hearty creatures. They spend the majority of
their lives in the most unhealthy conditions imaginable in the first world,
yet somehow manage to keep going. Most of them have spent significant portions
of their lives subsisting on ramen noodles and cheap beer, dwelling in dingy
apartments with poor lighting and ventilation. They may be intellectuals but
they’re working class, baby.
appropriate, then, that the BEAST should have a feature on the working class
beer of Rochester, Genesee Cream Ale. The idea: pit Genny Cream against a
selection of the cheapest available domestic beers. Remember those? The metallic
tasting swill our fathers and uncles used to guzzle on Sundays during football
games? Yeah we hated them then, and after last night we remember why.
The Local Heroes:
Miller High Life
The evening began
with BEAST staffers combing the supermarkets and convenience stores of Rochester
searching for a variety of cheap six packs. At Beers of the World, one staffer
explained to a mildly amused clerk that he wanted shitty beer. “Don’t
you have something cheap and nasty in anything smaller than a case?” The answer,
sadly, was no. The clerk’s one recommendation: Prime Time Beer. We purchased
it, suspecting it would likely be the best tasting thing we’d have access
to over the course of the night. Visits to Tops, Wegman’s and a 7-11 completed
our beer run and we returned to the official secret BEAST hideout to make
preparations for the experiment.
The rules of
the competition were fairly straightforward: Three BEAST staffers, supported
by a revolving cast of friends and associates, would drink as much of the
beer as possible. No one was allowed to drink the same beer twice until making
a complete round of the contenders. Beers were evaluated based on the facial
expression immediately following one’s first taste, along with initial comments
regarding flavor. Vomiting would also factor negatively if a specific beer
could be blamed for it.
The Bar Is Open
The entire evening
was recorded (and the tapes saved for future blackmail). Pictures were taken
of various beer-reactions. Hockey played on the television as official “beer
drinking music” pumped out of the stereo. The beer began to flow, regrettably,
at around 10 PM. General reactions began to emerge:
“My taste buds
appear to have gone numb, because I can no longer taste this piss.”
“Why the hell
are we doing this to ourselves again?”
materialized to assist us in our mission, but they quickly disappeared once
they realized what we were drinking and how truly awful it was. We only managed
to lure one visitor into sticking around long enough to actually drink
more than one sip of our beer. This was accomplished with a phone call assuring
him that we had beer and women at our place. Well, we were only half lying
about the beer part. After he calmed down about the choice of beer and lack
of available females, the sick bastard actually claimed to enjoy the malt
liquor. He was forcibly ejected. More phone calls were made in an attempt
to entice more test subjects to our lair. We haven’t been hung up on this
often since we stopped stalking our ex’s.
beers, staffers began to feel the sickly grip of inebriation. We got louder.
We got meaner. We got sicker. Verbal barbs circulated like doobies at a drum
circle, but none was more scathing than our appraisals of the sewage we drank.
Both of our local beers were repeatedly compared to Kodak’s chemical discharges.
This led us to wonder openly about the dubious origins of Genesee and Golden
Anniversary. We made plans to contact a photographer to investigate the possibility
of developing film in them.
the evening wore on, the pace of our intake slowed. One can of vile fluid
blended into another. Protestations grew louder as one panelist shouted “DRINK!
DRINK!” in response to another’s avowed desire to give up and go to a bar.
Belligerence rose. Sing-alongs ensued. BEAST panelists have terrible singing
Two beers consistently
scored low marks throughout the evening: Golden Anniversary and Natural Ice.
A typical response to G.A. was, “Shit, I have to finish this?” A typical
response to Natural Ice was an unprintable guttural sound. Eventually an agreement
was reached that despite its putrid flavor, rancid bouquet and general lack
of redeeming qualities, Genesee Cream Ale was actually the most palatable
beer of the night. Our love affair with Prime Time had worn off at this point.
Most of the beers were compared unfavorably to scrotal sweat.
trying to lay blame at one another’s feet for this story idea. Only two were
able to make it through an entire round of the selected beers. Moods worsened.
Enthusiasm waned. Laughter became more subdued. Staffers began expressing
a desire for violence. The joke wasn’t funny anymore. When the hell would
it end? Panelists left. One dropped out and observed. Finally, mercifully,
the experiment was declared complete. The survivors repaired to Lux in a vain
attempt to wash the taste of piss from their mouths with good beer.
The visit to
Lux was short-lived. Staffers muddled their way through their drinks and then
called it a night. Bad sentiments continued to surface. One staffer expressed
a desire to start a fistfight and then urinated in the middle of the street.
He later returned home and spent the remainder of the evening in a foul mood,
only to pass out in his clothes. The next morning he awoke contorted and hung
over. He would later report, “I feel like my head is a large, empty metal
container being repeatedly beaten by a grinning five-year-old with a hammer.”
antisocial moods were troubling. One editor pondered a connection between
the regular consumption of cheap swill and domestic violence. Remarkably,
though, nobody vomited. Our only explanation for this being that the beer
was so utterly unpalatable that no one could actually stand to drink enough
of it to get sick. Our refrigerator is still filled with beer that nobody
will drink. Guess we’re not the alcoholics we thought we were.
welcomed the BEAST. It welcomed us with shitty beer that we could barely stand
to drink. Some were slightly better and some were significantly worse. To
say that any one of these beers was “better” than another is a study in negative
relativism, like the way getting kicked in the balls is preferable to being
anally raped. We have rated the beers from best to worst. Really though, they
all suck. The experience has damaged us permanently.
The High Falls
Brewing Company, makers of Genesee and other slightly more palatable beers,
is one of the few business success stories in Rochester. As the Genesee Brewing
Company, it almost died. Drinking their trademark beer, we understand why.
It remains a mystery to us how, as High Falls they’ve managed to turn it around.
The beer hasn’t changed. It’s as bad now as it ever was. It may have won the
competition, but dear God at what cost?
the beers follow, from ‘best’ to ‘worst’:
Genesee Cream Ale: The first recorded reaction to this beer was “Balls!”
Not in a good way, either. Goes down about as smooth as a can of razor blades.
Unanimously agreed to be the best.
Prime Time Beer: The dark horse in the running. Nearly disqualified
for tasting too good. Elicited statements of praise, including “It
does not make me want to gag and die,” and “Almost an enjoyable beer.” These
opinions were qualified by one panelist, who declared it worse than drinking
from his own toilet.
Miller High Life: One staffer complained that it tasted like liquid
bread. All things considered, we suppose that’s all it really is.
Old Milwaukee: “It sucks.”
Busch: Someone claimed that this tasted like cherries. Another panelist
declared, “One taste of this shit would make me want to head for the
mountains, to hide from this shitty beer.” Best comment: “It’s like drinking
water, except I like drinking water.”
Hurricane Malt Liquor: Despite one participant’s glowing praise for
this wretched bile, it was deemed unfit for consumption and dumped down the
nearest drain. Described as a “crucible of hurt.” This spurious piss was labeled
with a “Born On” date. Our sample’s birthday? September 11th.
Koch’s Golden Anniversary: Rochester’s OTHER beer and Genesee’s bastard
cousin. Favorite of high school kids everywhere, because it’s the only beer
one can afford to buy with milk money. Tastes like the can it came in. Winner
of the “Great American Beer Festival,” which is to be studiously avoided,
since it must be populated exclusively by tongueless chromosomal aberrations.
Natural Ice: Universally loathed. One panelist commented “from first
to last, this may be the worst shit I’ve ever drank.” Another spit it out
in horror on his first sip. Upon tasting it, the staffer who purchased it
declared, “I knew it would taste like your grandfather’s balls the moment
I bought it.”