When in the mood to relive your golden years, there's a pretty good chance you'll reach for an equally golden beverage: a 40oz.
Maybe you used to drink 'em in your friend Brad's basement, or maybe you used to drink 'em at your friend Brad's friend Todd's lake house, either way,
what was your deal with Brad?!? we know you've slugged one of these. Most likely with Brad. But which was your 40 of choice? And were you really picking the best-tasting elixir? We wondered (like how we wondered about all that seriously cheap wine), and decided to bring in Anne Becerra, a certified cicerone and bartender at the NYC-based Ginger Man.
We presented her with four classic, kind of warm 40s: Olde English, Colt 45, St. Ides, and Crazy Stallion. Then we had her blindly taste 'em from cups and straight outta the bottle (carbonation is greater in bottles, which can mask flavor, while pouring into a cup brings out flavors and aromas), throw down some serious tasting notes, and rank 'em from worst to best. This is her story.
Opening statement: "40s are a good time. We’ve all been broke. It's communal, you share and pass it around."
First place prediction: "I'm guessing I'll like Olde English best because it's the original. It's gonna nail it."
4. Crazy Stallion
Out of cup: "This smells like weed. I can smell it, almost like tropical fruit. [Takes sip] Oh, this tastes like when you leave an open beer on the windowsill, and you wake up still [slightly hazy!] and need a little help and take a sip. It just tastes like cheap fruity water."
Out of bottle ranking: 4
"Just no, f*ck no."
3. Colt 45
Out of cup: "This smells like cafeteria creamed corn, which is nice, like candy corn. Very good head retention. I taste the hops the most in this. You wanna keep foam -- cheap beer goes flat really fast. This you pour in a plastic cup, and it still has a thin white head around it. It still keeps. Definitely a lot of corn, sweet corn chowder, hoppy corn. Most drying of all so far, this tastes the most like a beer."
Out of bottle ranking: 3
"Again, not the most offensive thing."
2. Olde English
Out of cup: "A lot more of an aroma: a bright almost stale grass, very pungent -- green cooked vegetables, cooked green beans. A little stale in the middle, not as sweet as the other one, but the color is a bright, carbonated apple cider. It's very carbonated, but the smell is rough. Again, I get why people drink these. It's not super offensive."
Out of bottle ranking: 1
"This is the best in bottle. It tastes most like beer and is most drying."
1. St. Ides
Out of cup: "Very nice, crystal clear, golden white head. Good head retention. Wow, it’s like sweet green apples, very sweet like candy, like a carbonated Now & Later. It's not so bad actually, deceptively easy to drink -- no finish, no bitterness, hardly any aftertaste except a little bit of dirt on the finish. Hops are there, my mouth is being dried out a little bit. If it was cold, I could see that going down pretty easy. It's not difficult to drink... 40oz to freedom."
Out of bottle ranking: 2
"This sh*t is 8%?! I feel like i should be listening to Redman right now... not bad."
If you're going to even feign classiness, then by all means pour that St. Ides into a fancy-ass glass
and drink up. OE and Colt 45 are both decent enough out-of-glass options, too.
For chugging out of the bottle
(the way God intended), grab that OE
and get down. St. Ides and Colt 45 won't be too tough to swill either, though. But STAY AWAY FROM THAT CRAZY STALLION
"When I’m teaching about beer, one of my main points is drink out of a glass -- you wanna see the head retention, color, the clarity -- it’s all a part of it when drinking nice beer
. When I’m talking about this, it’s really important to do the opposite
-- what you don't know can’t hurt you, you don’t wanna be smelling creamed corn from the cafeteria. But if they're ice cold in a bag and you’re hanging out with friends outside listening to music, drink out of the bottle and share it and make sure everyone taps it for good luck. In this, you really get to taste all the defects
, and they clearly pair better with [LEGALLY PURCHASED DRUGS!]."
Rachel Freeman is a food/drink editorial assistant at Thrillist. She is an avid 40 enthusiast, until she gets to those last few very sad, very warm sips. Follow her into the abyss at @rachelifreeman.