October 22, 2009

Sect. 29, Pt. B: Bottoms Up, Hey?

I had just finished sending my son a virtual brew for his birthday (Happy 32nd, Keedo. We love ya!) when I stumbled across some beer-rating sites.

Out of curiousity, I looked up Cerveza India, an island-brewed "refreshment" I encountered when I was in the Navy in Puerto Rico, lo, those many years ago. The ratings for that beer were surprisingly positive. Either the brewers had improved the brand in the 40 years since I first tasted it, or they hadn't experienced the same drink I had.

When I was stationed on the Diamond of the Caribbean, I made a serious and committed effort to drink the island dry. (Thank the Lord my metabolism doesn't seem inclined toward alcohol addiction.) In two years there, I gulped down massive amounts of brews ranging from Pabst to Heineken to Busch to Schaefers to Lowenbrau, and so on. Plus, I drank about any kind of wine and hard liquor I could get my hands on, and enough cold duck to keep those little suckers wearing webbed booties for life. You name it. If it was available, I sucked it down. I was an amateur drunk trying to break into the pros.

During that whole time, I managed to get down only a can and a half of India. It was that bad.

Of the dozen or so comments I read tonight re the brand, only one approached the reality I experienced. The rater noted it was "hard to get down." To me, that was an understatement. It was nigh impossible!

Having said all that, I was a young kid trying to kill as many brain cells as I could in record time when I was hitting the bottle...or can...or glass...or bota bag...or stein, or etc. Plus, it's only fair to note that the tropical heat can quickly turn otherwise good libation into the most rot-gut stuff anyone ever guzzled -- and I'm certain the base package store and Enlisted Men's Club had their fair share of storage and acquisition problems back then. After all, it was the era of the $250 toilet seat (or whatever the gouge was). In other words, what we got on base in the form of liquid entertainment might not have been the most well-stored, -transported or -cared-for after it left the brewery.

And please note -- this is important:

This piece is not an effort to savage anyone's product. My experience with the brew was 40 years ago. Things change. A good characteristic of free enterprise is that there's a product for every taste, and a taste for almost every product. And, if a manufacturer survives, it's because it caters to the whims and demands of its clientele. Apparently, Cerveza India has done that over the years. Otherwise, it wouldn't be in business today.

I think the differences in the poles-apart perceptions I have, in this case of what a good brew is, and those of others is very interesting. Maybe someday, I'll be smart enough to find some deeper meaning there.

Or, maybe I'll just dance....

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