'Tis the season when lazy bloggers start thinking about how to recycle a year's worth of crap into the awful-yet-beloved "Best Of" lists that allow us to expend as little energy as possible while keeping the internet fed over the holidays. I'll surely do my part with a Best Beers I Drank In 2014 item, and probably another one along the lines of Best Reasons To Pretend To Hate Yuengling When In Reality No Sane Person Gives A Shit About It Either Way.
The Yuengling one will be easy, but I might have to actually put some effort into the Best Beers list, because I've had a ton of great stuff this year, and I want to make sure I don't forget anything important. But even though 2014 has been the best-drinking year of my life, I know many of my peers in the beer-bloggers' guild are going to think my list is lame and limited, because I generally don't travel out of my way for beer.
My state borders Vermont (I think?), yet I've never been on a pilgrimage to Hill Farmstead, Lawson's Finest Liquids, Alchemist, or any of the other cult breweries over (up?) there. I've lucked into plenty of their fantastic beers, because I have friends who are suckers enough to spend an entire day commuting 100 (50? 200?) miles for the privilege of waiting in line to buy some, but I've never been myself.
I'm not constitutionally opposed to beer travel, just disinclined. There always seems to be something better to do with a weekend—I have a library card and a really fun cat—and there's so much great beer at the store down the street. I'm not claiming that Green Flash's West Coast IPA, for example, is as good as Alchemist's Heady Topper or Hill Farmstead's Abner, but it's close enough to keep me off the road.
But even though I rarely jump through enough hoops to acquire the most famous trophy beers, I admit that the ones I've tried have been almost uniformly excellent. (You chumps ever have Toppling Goliath PseudoSue? I stumbled into a pint a couple months ago, and I swear I got better looking after just one sip.) So while I don't think it's worth my own time to hunt them down, it's not a de facto ridiculous mission for someone else to undertake.
But what the fuck was wrong with all those people who used to move heaven and earth for a case of Coors? Yellow-canned Coors—aka Banquet Beer—was the original white whale beer, as a combination of regulatory bullshit and trucking logistics kept it sequestered out west until the late '70s (Coors wasn't truly nationwide until it finally hit Indiana in 1991). The second-highest grossing film of 1977 starred Burt Reynolds, a Trans-Am, and a truck full of Coors!
Yes, people east of Texas once fetishized the fizzy yellow stuff from Colorado, which was unpasteurized and therefore couldn't be shipped warm. I have no idea if it was truly superior to other domestic beers of the era, but just typing this sad sentence is another reminder of how far we've come: It's entirely possible that for several decades, Coors was the finest beer produced on American soil.
A lot of beer geeks still consider Banquet Beer to be the cream of the modern macro crop. This could be due to its bygone cult status, but in the back of my mind, I've always agreed that it was a bit better than Budweiser and Miller High Life and the rest. And for whatever reason, Coors sales have increased in each of the last seven years, in defiance of the overall downward trend in macro-brew popularity. Can it be that Coors is actually good? I picked up a bottle yesterday to see what I could see.
I poured it into a glass to confirm that it looks exactly the way we all know it looks. But it has an uncommonly (for its genre) complex aroma, which is to say it smells like more than sweet, cheap grain. It's mostly that, sure, but there's also a faint floral-orange smell. It also has a more pronounced malt taste than its peers, though not by much; maybe it uses a slightly higher barley-to-other-junk ratio than the competition, and maybe I'm imagining things. The best part is the finish—it just meekly fades away, without any of the sweet-and-sour bitterness you get from a lot of Bud-Miller-Coors products.
No, Coors isn't a high-quality beer by modern standards, but it might be a tick better than its direct competitors. If you're ever stranded somewhere with the choice between Coors Banquet and one of the others, go with the Coors. Cry for help, though, too.
This is Drunkspin Daily, the Concourse's adequate source for booze news, reviews, and bullshit. We'll be highlighting a beer a day in this space; please leave suggestions below.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain. Image by Jim Cooke.
The Concourse is Deadspin's home for culture/food/whatever coverage. Follow us on Twitter.