Last year it was books at the Ellsworth Dump but it seems that this summer I am drinking, not book scouting, in the gutter. My brother-in-law sent me a link to a list ranking 36 cheap beers, which is just about all I drink nowadays. In this economy!! Although interest rates are going up so I guess I will have to invest in something better than Icehouse (a tenement of a beer if there ever was one). Here is a link to the list http://deadspin.com/36-cheap-american-beers-ranked-638820035. Let the debate begin, I guess. The best part about the article is the comments. Way too many people treat Yuengling like holy water. The lager is complete shit. I would drink the porter, the black and tan, the premium and, best of all, the Lord Chesterfield Ale way before I would choke down a Yuengling Lager. Back in the day you would head over to the Northeast Taproom in Reading PA and order a Classic: a goblet of Porter and a bottle of the good Lord. The original Yuengling black and tan. It was about a buck and a bit. When Pete owned it, the Taproom was one of the best beer bars in the country before every shit burg in the country had a beer bar. Let’s all make way for the Captain, the tall ships are coming to harbor. The Captain was a barroom Maximus before I turned a page of Olson. I learned of the Captain from The Bars of Reading book by Suds and Dregs, who happened to be two teachers at my high school. They were minor celebrities, who appeared on the Johnny Carson show and were written up in the New Yorker by Calvin Trillin. To me, they were gods. Before there was Kerouac or Hemingway or Bukowski or Rimbaud, there was Suds and Dregs. They were the epitome of literature and drinking.
Along those lines, it was with some dismay that the Deadspin list of beers did not include Ballantine Ale. I was at Tradewinds in Blue Hill today and saw a six pack of the half quarts. Not a pint, not 16 ounces, not a pounder but a half quart. A can of Ballantine just seems massive. It is like you are hanging out with Franz Kline and Pollock at the Cedar. Ballantine Ale is a work of art. Every time I see a can of Ballantine I think of the Jasper Johns sculpture. A Johns Ballantine is at the National Gallery in DC and I check it out everytime I go there. Just before I do, I spend about 30 minutes with Pollock’s Lavender Mist. Intoxicating to be sure. If the Johns sculpture was not enough, Ballantine Ale has the Hemingway ad going for it. I have touched on Ballantine Ale, Johns and Hemingway on RealityStudio: http://realitystudio.org/bibliographic-bunker/minutes-to-go-and-mad-men/.
I literally cannot pass a six pack of Ballantine Ale without buying one and toasting 1950s New York City. I may be here in Maine on my deck with a Ballantine in hand I feel like I am at 24 University Place not 82 University Place, where I suspect I would be drinking something more refined.