Sunday, 19 June, 2005

Steel Reserve Malt Liquor

When I visit the grocery store I often make a detour by the beer cooler to see if there's anything new.  I don't drink a whole lot of beer these days, so I can afford to splurge on the high-priced imports or botique beers from time to time.  The local supermarket has an impressive selection--a far cry from the Miller/Coors/Budweiser fare of most places.

The other day I ran across Steel Reserve (warning, Shockwave required), a product of the Steel Brewing Company.  What caught my eye was the promise of 8.1% alcohol.  I've always liked high gravity beers because they're usually more flavorful than most styles that you find.  Although you have to be careful.  Barley wines, Russian Imperial stouts, and dopplebocks can get to be so strong that the taste isn't enjoyable.

I don't know what style Steel Reserve is supposed to be.  I've seen some commentary on the Web refer to it as a "malt liquor," but that's like calling a Chevy Suburban an SUV.  "Malt liquor" seems to be the generic term for any high gravity lager.

Whatever it's supposed to be, it's not very good.  I poured two glasses for Debra and me.  The color is good--darker than a normal beer.  No appreciable head on the brew, and I wasn't especially careful in the pour.  The first taste is somewhat sweet.  The aftertaste is a little sour.  There is nothing in between.  No complex or subtle flavors and an indifferent mouth feel.  My comment after finishing the glass was, "Well, that was interesting."  Debra was less impressed than I was.

Steel Reserve tastes better than your average American beer, but there are plenty of other brews that I prefer.  It has two redeeming qualities:  price and alcohol content.  If you're looking to get hammered quickly and inexpensively, I'd recommend Steel Reserve.  One glass of that stuff and I was buzzing pleasantly.  It's hard to imagine that people buy it in 40 oz bottles and drink the whole thing themselves.  I doubt I could stand the taste for that long, and I'm certain that 40 ounces at 8.1% alcohol would lay me out cold.

I don't think I need to try that one again.