More than any drink I know, beer is the most fascinating: All the different styles, from light in color to dark, light-bodied to full, and how different countries and regions within those countries can have subtle or major variations within those styles. I love how in one beer you can taste flowers or fruit, heavy on the hops, and the next it’s malted barley and coffee or chocolate. I can never tire of the complex nature of beer and the people who make it.
Which is why I find it startling when I say this: Enough with all this craft beer nonsense, all these ales and whathaveyous with their packed-in flavor and fancy fermentation, charging $2 a bottle retail and making me feel bad if the glass I pour it into is the wrong shape. Sometimes, I want a beer that is heavy on the water and light on everything else, one that is as cheap and mass-produced as it is flavorless.
I found myself in one of these moods last weekend when gearing up to watch the Broncos game. With a color spectrum of beers filling the fridge, I wanted something else, something unsophisticated, something that actually might be advertised on TV. I wanted a swillin’ beer. Which is how I found myself actually putting my shoes on and leaving the house to retrieve a 12-er of – wait for it – Coors Light. The horror, I know.
I’ve been known to do similar things with other food items. Nine times out of 10 I get adult bread, made with whole wheat grains, the color and density of bark, seeds and grains on the crust. But every once in a while, give me some straight-up white bread, will you? And sometimes, a macro-brew American-style lager (or in this case, its “light” counterpart, as if the original wasn’t light enough) is all that I want. With a 4.2 percent ABV and a body as clear as day, the fact that Coors Light is more or less beer-flavored carbonated water was a plus. After a 4.5-hour game of steady light beer drinking, I felt better equipped to operate a forklift than before kickoff.
While craft beer dominates in a town like Durango, we’d find our fancy selves in the minority in much of this country. Many people – even when they’re at a craft brewery – don’t know, and don’t want to know, anything beyond your Budweisers, Coors and Millers (the web address of one of my favorite beer bars back East is nocoorslight.com). And if you’re one of those who sees a big difference in these macro-beer choices: Please. The reason they come out with cans shaped like bullets or emblazon them with the logos of your favorite NFL team is because it’s the only way to distinguish their product from the next thing that tastes and looks the same.
Sometimes, I want to be a part of this Joe-average crowd. One time while visiting the small Nebraska town of Nebraska City (its middle name is “not much of a”), I went from bar to bar until I found the one rumored to have Natural Light on tap. I had two, ironically of course.
I suppose I also have a bit of nostalgia for light lagers. Coors Light was the first beer I ever had. It was on a golf course at the age of 21 (yeah, I was straight-laced). In my previous, pre-craft beer, domestic, married, suburban life, I recall unironically going to TGI Fridays (on Friday no less!) and unironically ordering a tall Coors Light. That was beer to me. Maybe it was because of my youth and maybe it was the beer, but it all seemed so simple back then.
That’s what light, macro beer is to me now: a paradoxical, occasionally-needed respite from flavor, a simple beer reminiscent of a simpler time. Sometimes when I buy these beers, I ashamedly buy a six-pack of some hoppy microbrew, because, you know, I gotta maintain my rep, bro. But there are times when all I need is a little unsophistication.