We all know Maine is home to some of the best microbreweries in the country; pumping out double IPA’s and thick stouts like a liquid art form. While we all love a good local beer, most of us can’t afford to spend $7 to $10 on a pint of fancy beer when you are a poor college student or recent graduate. So on Friday evening, while an estimated 5,000 people gathered at Thompson’s Point for Beer Camp, a slightly smaller group gathered at Pat’s Pizza in the Old Port for the first annual “Fill The Steins Cheap Beer Challenge!”
The judging committee consisted of three of the founders of Fill The Steins (Adam Henckler, Brian MacLeod, and Matt Grondin) who all attended the University of Maine and are considered experts in cheap beer consumption. To ensure the results were not swayed based on a single college experience, we brought in a special guest from prestigious Bowdoin College, the multi-talented Bree Candland from the music website “What Bree Sees.”
The rules for the challenge were simple:
The beers had to be around $3 per pint at a restaurant/bar on a regular basis, no Friday Night specials
- The beers had to be bottled as most college students can’t afford kegs on a regular basis
- The beers would be scored from 1 (low) to 10 (high) in the categories of Appearance, Taste, and Drinkability which is defined as the ability to drink a lot of said beer
The wait staff at Pat’s was totally supportive of our highly scientific experiment and were happy to pour bottled beers into clear pint glasses numbered ‘1’ through ‘4’. We had planned on going with the big four of cheap beer (Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light, and Pabst Blue Ribbon) however due to a lack of availability, PBR had to be switched out for our first alternate which was Rolling Rock. The pints were poured, that answer key was secured on the bar, and the Cheap Beer Challenge began.
Techniques for judging varied greatly, some took time to smell the beers, others would sip an ounce at a time trying to catch each hoppy note. Between each beer we made sure to cleanse our pallets with water so as not to taint the results. When it was all said and done, we had a winner by total number of points, but a split decision on ranking.
1st Place – Bud Light (62 points): A bit of a shock as both Adam and Brian assumed Bud Light was really Miller Lite and scored it the highest with Adam noting that it tasted “cheapish like the rest but more developed in flavor” and Bree was quick to piece out it had the nicest head for appearance. But not all of the comments were positive as Matt asked, “is this water” and “let’s call it Aquafina”, clearly a shot across the bow to the younger stepbrother of the King of Beers.
2nd Place – Miller Lite (58 points): It was clear that Matt knew he had found Miller Lite with the comment “crisp, less filling, tastes great” and “my word this is heavenly” as he ranked it above and beyond all the other beers. Two of our judges were confused by the taste thinking it was almost the same as Coors Light which we tried first. Again the comments took a turn to the negative side again with Adam saying “if the carpet at a Motel 6 was a beer it would taste like this.” Overall Bree and Matt ranked Miller Lite first while Adam had it second and Brian had it tied for third.
3rd Place – Coors Light (42 points): This was the first beer we tried, with excitement running high, but in the end the cold brewed beer of the Rockies just didn’t cut it. Brian judged the appearance as “looking lighter than my urine after drinking it if that’s even possible” while Bree noted a slightly green tint leading her to believe it was Rolling Rock. On taste Adam said it was “tasteless, like kissing your cousin for the second time” while Matt noted a hint of raisins which ended up being because he had a raisin in the bottom of his glass. Everyone ranked Coors Light as either third or fourth overall.
4th Place – Rolling Rock (37 points): If there was one thing all the judges could agree on it was that Rolling Rock was really, really bad. Brian came right out and said “it tastes worse than it smells” and that “it was too bad ‘1’ was the lowest score possible.” Adam also commented on the smell stating that “it was like being trapped in a Honda Civic with someone who farts compulsively.” Both Matt and Bree questioned why we did this in the first place and that this beer made them sad and questioning life.
Thanks to everyone at Pat’s in the Old Port for helping us out with the first ever Fill The Steins Cheap Beer Challenge. We will be back next year to see which light domestic lager reigns supreme!