Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.
Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout staffers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week’s draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.
The winner of last week’s Takeout Draft: Best Food Mascot, as voted by readers: Kevin Pang!
This week, the topic is supermarket beer. Our criteria is that these are mass-market beers you can find at a 7-Eleven or a general supermarket. Our special guest drafter this week is... Takeout contributor John Carruthers!
The randomizer has selected a draft order:
1. John Carruthers
2. Kate Bernot
3. Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
John Carruthers: Good. I’ve had #1 since two seconds after you sent this topic to me.
The very first pick, and my face of the franchise, is Negra Modelo.
Kate Bernot: That would have been in my top 3. Damn.
JC: I’m not real hot on regular Modelo, but man if the dark version isn’t almost perfect 7-Eleven beer
It’s light enough to be refreshing, but has a little more character than a lot of macro beers to keep you interested
It’s a sort of Vienna Lager, owing to the German brewing influence on Mexico’s beer culture
KB: Also a great food beer.
JC: It’s great with the free chips and salsa at a sit-down Mexican or Tex-Mex place
Honestly my idea of “I just want to sit down and order a beer and have it get here fast” perfection
KB: Alright, I’ve long championed this beer, which a lot of people mistakenly assume is bad, just because it’s ubiquitous: Guinness Extra Stout
JC: AWESOME pick
KB: It’s lighter, drier, and easier-drinking than some people assume, plus it’s a textbook definition of an Irish stout.
Dominick Suzanne-Mayer: Thank you, thank you, thank you, Kate.
KB: There is a world-class beer sitting in every grocery store in America! That beer is Guinness!
JC: It is honestly Guinness with the power-up mushroom from Mario. Better in every way.
KB: It deserves to be consumed year-round. I rest my case.
DSM: The summer Guinness is a really unfairly maligned pleasure of life.
JC: I like that we’re starting with dark beers
I will shout “DARK ≠ HEAVY” into the void for the rest of my days
DSM: I love it, and I’m sorry to break the chain with my first rounder, but it’s time to go way macro with my and many other people’s most consumed beer, by a wide margin: Pabst Blue Ribbon.
KB: Ooooo, this will be contentious.
DSM: Oh, I’m aware.
JC: I honestly can’t separate “I hate PBR” takes for “I hate hipsters” takes anymore. They’ve melted together like cheese and nacho chip.
KB: I’d like some PBR and cheese/nacho dip, please.
JC: I think PBR is a perfectly tasty, drinkable macro beer. It’s dry enough to keep you coming back, and it has more flavor than a lot of the other options.
But I own a lot of flannel, so I guess consider the source
DSM: I have long referred to it as the Rolls Royce of $5-or-less six-packs, and I’ll maintain that here. It’s endlessly drinkable (which is either great or not, depending on perspective), and it has just a tiny, tiny bit of sour that I’ve always liked underneath the sugars.
And I feel like it’s almost transcended hipster-dom at this point. The cool kids have all moved on to White Claw. It’s just become one of those beers that people expect in bars. Also: really solid near-beer version, which is a transition few macrobrews pull off well.
JC: I remember I was in Seattle in 2006 and saw PBR in bottles for the first time and it blew my mind.
KB: It’s not my favorite of the macro lagers, but I won’t slap PBR out of anyone’s hands.
JC: “I swear, bro, I was just sitting here drinking a Bud Light and she walked up and slapped it out of my hands!”
DSM: Anyway, now that I’ve either secured my draft or shot it in the foot right off the bat, I’ll kick off round two with the Samuel Adams Boston Lager, a terrific beer for when you want beer and can’t decide on exactly what kind.
KB: AHHH that was my second-round pick, Dom.
JC: Another beer that’s so easy to find that people forget how tasty it is
Also a Vienna Lager-ish beer, right?
KB: It is the Swiss Army knife of beers.
DSM: Whether you like a breadier beer, or something with a bit more heft to it than your average macrobrew, or a bit of caramel and spice in any season, it has it all.
Also, this was giving people a taste of craft beer well before it truly came into fashion.
KB: Glad this beer is still on the table for my next pick: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
I knew it
KB: A craft pioneer, a paragon of style, the cool-without-trying choice.
Also damn delicious, available nearly everywhere. We live in beautiful beer times.
This has turned into a beer poetry slam, FYI.
JC: The best part about craft beer getting big is being able to grab a Sierra Nevada almost anywhere
JC: It’s crazy to think they were brewing that Pale Ale in 1979
KB: With a wacky little hop called Cascade. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
JC: Okay, I’ll do a reactionary shake-up of my rankings like I’m the Raiders front office and go with another craft classic—Bell’s Two Hearted
Another thing I’m glad I can find in every convenience store around my house, and a very tasty craft beer that’s been around long enough that I think it officially qualifies as a classic
One bit I found earlier about Bell’s: “These first batches of beer were brewed in a 15-US-gallon (57 L) soup kettle and fermented in open fermenters covered with plastic wrap.”
KB: Again, what a time to be alive when you can find Two Hearted most anywhere.
DSM: It’s always at or near the top of major craft rankings.
JC: Bell’s had stopped distribution to Illinois some years ago, and when it came back people lost their damn minds
I do like that people are giving it the due it deserves, even though that always leads to a round of “overrated!” chants from the Untappd neckbeards
Centennial hops in that one, Kate
KB: Make non-Citra C hops cool again.
JC: Seriously - Chinook/Centennial/Cascade/etc.
JC: For my next pick, I have to pick the easy-drinking Miller Lite
It defined the conversation around beer for decades
And it’s a mighty tasty yard beer
KB: Not my light beer of choice, but respectable.
JC: And it’s bizarre to me that Bud Light outsells it pretty much everywhere that isn’t the Milwaukee/Chicago metro area
Sorry—I keep invoking Bud Light in not-great comparisons. Enjoy what you enjoy is my overall message.
KB: For my light beer money, it’s Coors Light, but that won’t be my next pick. Just saying it’s my favorite of the light beers.
It’s the... lightest tasting?
I swear it tastes colder than other light beers.
JC: It’s because the mountains are blue
KB: Always check the mountains for blueness.
Coors Light is basically La Croix and it’s great.
JC: I do enjoy that Miller Lite has a little flavor to it, to Kate’s point
And I’d agree that Coors is definitely the lightest of the big 3
KB: Alright, but for my actual next pick: Miller High Life
Some people might like it ironically, but I think it’s the most refreshing beer out there (besides Coors Light).
DSM: Like champagne, you might say.
JC: Aw, beat me to it
KB: I’ll always take it in a bottle, if possible.
It’s bright, it’s fizzy, it’s a little sweet.
JC: High Life was my very first pilfered beer, back when I was COUGHCOUGHCOUGH years old
Also the beer of choice of my terrible softball team (RIP Village Idiots)
DSM: Situational versatility is always a plus with a good supermarket beer, and with that, I’ll go with Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat next.
Goose Island has a bunch of great stuff that everybody now gets to enjoy thanks to Anheuser-Busch, but arguably their most omnipresent beer is still top-shelf.
KB: A gateway craft beer for many, at least back in my day.
JC: They’ve got a fancied-up dry hopped version around here that is really nice as well
DSM: It’s good for the outdoors, with brunch or lunch or dinner, and has a real depth of flavor that it’s retained despite continuously getting bigger.
And to boomerang us back around to where we began for a second, I want to go with another eminently drinkable dark lager: Shiner Bock.
JC: The dark lager lovefest continues
DSM: It’s a lot less regional now than it used to be, and that’s to the benefit of everyone, because it’s deceptively sweet and light enough on the palate to stay really drinkable, but still gives you the proper richness.
KB: I’d buy Shiner Bock if it was near me. Thanks for reminding me it’s been a while since I’ve had one.
JC: That was my brisket-smoking beer for many years
DSM: Great summer beer, great winter beer.
They also make a terrific black lager, but that’s a different story and a different Draft.
KB: Alright, also in the amber-colored part of the beer spectrum: New Belgium Fat Tire
I bought a 15-pack of this for a camping trip recently and realized how much I continue to love this beer.
It’s creamy but light, flavorful but not too intense, even-keeled in all the right ways.
JC: That is another one that got a lot of people into craft beer for the first time
JC: New Belgium makes great stuff
DSM: It’s really funny to go through these, and recall how as recently as 8-9 years ago, these were not things the vast majority of people could find.
JC: Getting Shiner used to require driving around store to store
So I’ve got two picks and three beers that I am having a hard time choosing between
But for my next pick, I can’t help but go with Blue Moon
Another beer that opens a lot of doors for people
Born in a ballpark
Really kind of saved the style
KB: This beer was the “craft beer” I drank in college, when I felt fancy.
JC: Not necessarily the sixty candy-colored variants next to it on the shelf, but the OG that put me onto Allagash and whatnot
Wit is a very tasty style, and appealing to people who really don’t want hops no matter how much a craft beer bar is trying to sell you on them
KB: Blue Moon did a ton to pave the way for other craft, for sure.
For my last pick, I have to go with my longtime favorite Guinness Stout, the friendly younger sibling of Kate’s first round pick
First of all, nitrogenated beer in cans is almost too easy drinking
DSM: There are few drinking joys more uniquely pleasing than that cascade after the pour.
KB: Copy cat.
JC: I could never live with myself if I left Guinness on the board
Plus there’s whole a fascinating story about the kind of socially conscious entrepreneur Arthur Guinness was
But that’s a totally different topic
I am happy with my lineup written out
KB: Alright, for my final pick, a beer for these hot-as-two-rats-in-a-sock days: Stiegl Radler
I was so pumped when this beer made it to Chicago years ago because it’s basically half juice and contains roughly 2% alcohol.
It’s the perfect “maintain” beer for hot days, outdoor activities, brunch, etc. And I’m pretty sure because it has juice in it, it’s basically a vitamin C-packed smoothie.
JC: It’s basically a health tonic
JC: When I have people coming over for backyard summer hangs, the amount of Radlers that I buy is always not enough
I feel like I could get a pallet delivery and it would disappear
DSM: Speaking of summer, and with respect to yet another Fast & Furious movie’s imminent release, I’ll bring us home with a different kind of Mexican lager: Corona.
One of the most recognizable beers anywhere is also one of the more refreshing mass-produced lagers. No amount of corny “turn off your phone, man” commercials can sway that.
KB: Lime or no lime?
JC: The people demand to know
DSM: Lime, of course. Although the whole idea that it’s incomplete without is a fiction.
Who won this week? Vote now!