5 Tips for Pairing Cheap Beers with Personal Failures
So you let yourself down! That's OK, it happens to everyone, though probably not to the same degree or with the same consistency as it happens to you. Your compromises are many, your inadequacies abundant. The good news is that failure no longer stings as badly as it once did. For instance, it probably doesn't even bother you to know that your desensitization to failure is, in itself, a new kind of failure to throw on the pile. Yes, things are looking up already.
I'll give you a second to collect yourself.
When faced with your own bad decisions and shortcomings, sometimes you need a drink, and while most wines, beers and spirits are created with celebration in mind, the 99 Cent Store carries an array of alcoholic beverages for the opposite of that. You won't find them in the refrigerated racks with the sodas because these drinks aren't meant to be enjoyed, they are meant to be consumed, and lukewarm. They are sold individually or by the pallet from a conspicuous pile in the dankest corner of the store, and most of the cans or bottles are significantly cheaper than a dollar, which means that just by recycling them when you're done, you can still break even. That's because the 99 Cent Store knows that right about now, you could use a win.
Now, the beer selection is as diverse as your own personal failures, which is why I bought every beer I could find and created this guide to help you pair each mistake with the best draft. This should also save you the humiliation of asking one of the clerks at 10 a.m. on a weekday. So join me as we uncover how each beer complements your unique brands of misery, or you can just skim this list if you have something more pressing you need to do. No, I'm kidding, let's get started.
Seven Kings Lager Beer
Fit for a king with its premium brew and regal character, Seven Kings Lager is a beer of victory and intrigue.
Upon opening this beer, I was immediately impressed with how much regal character I got for only 59 cents. It has a golden, clear color, and it wears its frothy head like a crown for upwards of three seconds before turning into fizzy apple juice. Given the name, I'm frankly a little surprised that HBO hasn't tried some kind of Seven Kingdoms tie-in. The beer even smells almost exactly how I would expect every person from the Middle Ages to smell.
The flavor is also bold; I don't brew beer, but I imagine it takes a lot of courage to make one that tastes like nothing but corn and metal. Fortunately, that's exactly what you want from a beer designed as punishment. If you choose to drink it with dinner, I think you'll find that Seven Kings is completely competent at washing down a hamburger bun dipped in ketchup.
I recommend pairing Seven Kings with the personal disappointment you feel after bailing on a charity cancer bike ride you promised you'd attend and instead spending the weekend watching your BitTorrent version of Game of Thrones for the third time. I refuse to believe this beer wasn't brewed specifically to complement regret. Even the Seven Kings website is depressing. It's a single, sparse page that tells me I can buy their beer at Big Lots. It also maintains a section for all their awards and accolades, which, if I counted correctly, is zero. I'm honestly baffled why they included this on their website; it's the equivalent of someone tattooing their unaccomplished dreams and ambitions on their chest. Seven Kings is a reminder that no one will ever consider you the king of anything, except maybe unreliability.
Beer 30 Light
None. There isn't even a product description from the brewer anywhere online.
Judging by the color, smell and taste, I'm pretty confident I could pass a urine test with a cup of this beer. Everything about it, from the can to the contents, feels like a prank designed to make me drink pee. The beer is watery even for light beer but makes up for blandness with the brutal and unmistakable taste of iron.
Individual beers were 59 cents at the store, but there was a spectacular deal where I could buy a 12-pack for three dollars. The logo features a clock where all the numbers are replaced with "Beer 30," suggesting that you have to get up pretty early in the morning to fit in all the mistakes you're going to make in a day. This beer also, perhaps wisely, steers away from the "Drink Responsibly" campaign. Beer 30 knows that responsibility has no authority over the kind of people who would buy a pallet of off-brand beer from the 99 Cent Store.
This beer really complements the sense of failure that comes from the sudden awareness that you've established artificial hurdles in your life for fear of ever being truly successful. Without your sense of dissatisfaction with the world, you wouldn't recognize yourself, and the barriers you've created give you reason to consistently fail without it ever being entirely your fault. In that tradition, now you can build much more tangible obstacles out of Beer 30 cans, preferably the night before you have a job interview or a meeting that could help define the rest of your life. Beer 30 isn't just an arbitrary time on a clock; it's marking the middle point in your life, reminding you how many times you've abandoned the hard work necessary to achieve your dreams, and instead opted for the immediate gratification of a beer. It also goes really nicely with a Bratwurst!
Legend has it the fishermen of Central America sought the great loggerhead turtle in warm tropical waters. It was tribal belief that this powerful turtle, also known as the "Caguama," symbolized good fortune for the fisherman's village. It is our hope that you too will experience the good fortune of the Caguama when you experience this award-winning Latin beer.
If you've ever accidentally opened a Heineken and then left it in the sun for a week before drinking it again, then you already know the flavor of Cerveza Caguama. Bottled in El Salvador, the rough translation of the name is "turtle beer," but just to clarify, there's nothing about this drink that isn't rough. I'm not sure if I chipped the lip of the bottle before drinking it, but there was something sandy and granular in each mouthful, but ultimately the taste was tolerable. I imagine that if the beer was served cold (and strained), it might actually be OK, but you and I both know you don't deserve that. This beer is labeled as a "Special Export," which makes me worry what gets labeled as an "Average to Mediocre Export" from the same area.
Much like El Salvador's relentless passion for creating a special beer to export, the Cerveza Caguama nicely complements your own realization that you aren't any good at doing what you love most, and you probably never were very good at it from the start. Whether that be painting, modern dance or those steampunk goggles you were hoping to have ready by the next Burning Man. This drink is a nice reminder on long summer afternoons that sometimes it's important to just let a dream go, to free it in the tide of beer like a tiny sea turtle, or like so many granules of sand that also may or may not be shards of glass. I can't really tell.
Strike gold in just one sip with the delicious taste of Goldmine Premium Lager Beer.
If this is what it feels like to strike gold, then California had no business becoming a state. In general, I distrust any canned good with an adjective like "premium" on the label, but in the spirit of self-flagellation with which everyone else must be consuming this beer, I made an exception. Just for context, I've also seen Goldmine Lager at Whole Foods before, but never as cheap as 59 cents a can, which makes me wonder how it fell so low. Maybe the upper crust has run out of reasons to punish itself.
The beer is thin, light yellow and watery. It tastes a lot like if Coors Light tried to remind you with every sip that it spent the last six months in an aluminum can. While there isn't an immediate aftertaste, there's a lingering flavor of salty metal, like your mouth just lost a tooth, or like you just discovered a vein of ore in the creases of your tongue.
This beer goes best with an ended relationship that could have easily been saved if you were just willing to put in the proper effort. Like an excitable prospector setting out West to strike it rich, you were ill-prepared for the real work necessary for a relationship, and once winter came, you killed and consumed the energy of your significant other, metaphorically. Goldmine Lager pairs well with the regrets of love and it will distract you from the thoughts of what your ex is up to now, which is undoubtedly something more constructive than drinking beer from the 99 Cent Store.
Night Time (Cherry Flavor)
Failure to follow these warnings could result in liver failure or death.
Full disclosure, the next beer I was going to pair with sadness was Walker Brown Pale Ale, but it ended up being infuriatingly good, particularly for 59 cents. If you are interested in torturing yourself with alcohol, Walker Brown really isn't a good option unless you plan to pour it into open wounds or something. I'm sorry I wasted everyone's time. On to the cough medicine!
Night Time smells suspiciously like candy. I thought that maybe I had been duped by the 99 Cent Store into buying a flavored sugary placebo. Fortunately, it tastes like nail polish remover and corn syrup, with the added bonus of staining your teeth pink after a few glasses. It has more than double the amount of alcohol of some of the other beverages on this list, plus acetaminophen, which in tandem are notoriously terrible for your insides. Far and away the best aspect of Night Time is that you can drink it in bed and no one will judge you for having six empty bottles on your nightstand. But let's be honest, no one is coming over anyway.
Cough medicine, it turns out, is surprisingly versatile when it comes to personal failures. It goes well with all flavors of incompetence, from being fired to never getting invited back by that softball team you played with one night. But it goes particularly well with the guilt of pushing your family out of your life in an effort to reinvent yourself. The burn in the back of your throat has notes of nostalgia from a time when your family would take care of you when you were sick. The taste is reminiscent of staying home from school and watching General Hospital with your mother, while simultaneously reminding you that you can never have those moments again and that home means something completely different now. Night Time is perfect for divorcing your favorite memories from love, using cough medicine now to make yourself sick instead of the other way around because oh my God what have you become?
That's just one idea, but really experiment with finding new pairings! There are a lot to be had. Once you understand how each beverage works best to bring out the notes of your self-inflicted grief, you can throw your own pity parties and share your knowledge. Enjoy!*
*No one should attempt to find any real enjoyment in of any of these beverages. You still have a lot of introspection to get to.
For more from Soren, check out 4 Tips for Fixing Up Your New Home (That's Clearly Haunted) and 4 Ways To Shirk Responsibility And Deceive Your Way to Trust.