IN DEFENSE OF MILLER HIGH LIFE

I don’t care, I really don’t.  You can mock me, you can ridicule me, you can call me a hypocrite and a fraud.  It really doesn’t matter.  I drink good beer, really good beer in fact, so I don’t need to defend myself when I’m chugging away on something less than savory.  I know better and know that I’m trolling the bottom of the barrel when I’m picking up a sixer of tallboys from an “evil” conglomerate of a brewing operation such as SAB Miller.  So what?  Sometimes I just want some shitty beer.

Miller High Life, the “Champagne of Beers”, is not a good beer.  No one will ever argue that point (At least no one that reads our site on a regular basis).  I’m not defending High Life in comparison to other beers on the market.  If you have a mediocre beer from one of over 1,700 independent brewers in this country, chances are you’re holding something that’s better than High Life.  As an adjunct lager, we’re talking about a beer that’s brewed with some derivative of corn sugars and other less desirable brewing ingredients.  Corn is a nice cheap and consistent ingredient, but not something I generally want in my beer.  Again, I want to be very clear that High Life is not a good beer.  Does that mean it’s bad?  Not exactly.

Beer doesn’t always have to be extraordinarily well made to be considered drinkable.  There’s other aspects at play.  Carbonation, mouthfeel, finish – All of these other aspects outside of actual “Taste” influence the overall character of a beer.  You may have a hatred for all things Bud/Miller/Coors, and I certainly share that sentiment to some extent, but most of their products aim at one direction.  Crisp, refreshing, approachable beers.  That’s all these brewers want (And your money of course).  Every once in a while, when I’m sitting outside painting my steps or pushing a mower around my yard, all I really want is something crisp, refreshing, and approachable.  I also want it to be cheap, so I can justify why I’m passing by the good beer aisles and reaching into the ulta-cold cooler door that holds all the macros.

I drink cheap macro lagers on occasion.  I hate most of them, as I’m sure most of you do too.  I refuse to drink light beer, just for the simple matter that it’s fucking disgusting.  I refuse to drink PBR due to the hipster, wanna-be cool aspects that surround the brand.  It’s shit beer, which I don’t have a problem with, but I feel like I’m caving in by buying it.  The reason I drink High Life is pretty simple.  As I said above, it’s crisp, refreshing, approachable, and cheap.  That doesn’t put it in a unique position though.  There’s a ton of beers on the market that fit that profile, but again most of them are shit.  Why I like High Life above all the other macros on the market is because of the carbonation and the bottle.  Check that, I like the shape of the bottle as it screams “Drink me!” straight from the top, but I’ll buy pounder cans for the golf course too.  It’s really the carbonation that brings me back for more.  I don’t drink soda, you know because it’s bad for you, but I drink beer on hot Summer days for much of the same reason.  That carbonation is freakin’ refreshing.  At the end of the day, Miller High Life really is just an alcoholic soda and that’s fine by me.

So, go ahead and mock me.  I know there’s plenty reading this that would never touch a macro lager.  That’s okay, I don’t blame you.  If you’re not drinking macro lagers on a hot day you’re probably drinking Pale Ales and Hefes and enjoying yourself just as much.  99% of what I drink falls into the good beer category and anyone who has ever read my stuff knows that I have an unhealthy obsession with Imperial IPA’s and West Coast hops.  Sometimes though, I just need cheap beer and as much as I’d love a pint of Lagunita’s Maximus when I’m walking 18 it just doesn’t seem appropriate to have an IPA in one hand and a putter in the other.  A bag full of High Life on the other hand seems to do the trick.

Craft beer still only represents 5% of the overall beer market in the US.  Drink more craft and drink it often, I’m not telling anyone to change their ways.  If Victory or Stone or Great Divide would come up with a cheap, refreshing bubbly lager that I could drink out in the yard I would grab that over High Life in a heat beat.  Last time I checked though, there aren’t too many craft brewers offering up sixers for under $5.  Until that day, High Life it is (In moderation, as long as it still only represents a fraction of your overall beer consumption and doesn’t cut into your overall love of delicious, hoppy IPA’s and bourbon-barrel aged Imperial Stouts.  We clear on that?  Drink good beer, but don’t be ashamed to whore yourself out a little between the hours of 9AM and 3PM on Saturdays between the months of April and September when the temperature is above 60 degrees and you’re outside).

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34 comments

  1. I won’t mock you, but I do find it kind of ironic that if the Miller High Life guy came to your house and saw you blogging about saisons and witbiers, he’d take away the High Life. Only the true snob fails to appreciate the contempt that the unwashed masses have for him.

  2. Best…compliment…ever.

  3. My favorite shitty beers? Stroh’s (Detroit City). Piels (the Tavern). Kalik (Camp in the Bahamas). Labatt Blue (Nostalgia). Also intrigued by Kid Rock’s Badass American Lager but haven’t had the pleasure yet.

  4. It’s OK, Doc. It’s not your fault. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks Slouch. Yuengling is still my favorite shitty beer out there, but I can’t get it in New England and I feel bad calling the oldest brewery in America shitty (I grab a case every time I travel to the NY/NJ area). It is what it is though.

    I really liked the Full Sail Session Lager but unfortunately that has disappeared from the markets around here. I need more beer like that.

  6. Honestly though I find it surprising you still buy High Life. Why not just drink Victory Prima Pils or something like that?

  7. Dude, this is on the money I wish I had written it myself. I too am a self-proclaimed beer snob. And I have, on many occasions, mounted my “high horse” and preached my displeasure with macro beers and the cheap swill found on the far edges of the beer coolers at liquor stores.

    But truth be told, there are times that call for a cheap, shitty American lager. Those times are (but not limited to) camping, fishing, mowing the lawn, working on your car, and playing beer league softball in the dead heat of Summer.

    I can, and will, drink that shit. And I won’t apologize for it. It has its place. And while that place is not at my dinner table (reserved for finer beers), I do think there is room for everyone. And I’m doing all I can to help craft beer continue to grow as well.

  8. I’ve sworn off macros for 2011. Not because of elitist motives or so much snobbery my ass puckers; I’m curious to see how many situations I’m in where I don’t have an option or if I do get a coke over a beer what the reaction is.

    When I’m off the wagon though its Beast Ice for me. 30pk 5.9% of fuck me up cheap.

  9. I also have 2 kids (2yr & 3mo) so some nights daddy just needs to forget about your whining ass and get blitzed while playing Xbox

  10. Great post! I’ll admit to Yuengling lager and Rolling Rock for the same reasons. Sometimes, its all the body needs.

  11. Wow, I couldn’t have said it better! As a Texan, my “crappy” beer of choice is Lone Star… Been drinking it since before I could legally drink! It’s one of those beers that’s just plain refreshing to me, and easy to drink on just about any occasion, and at $5 a sixer, it’s tough to pass up. Do I get razzed about it from time to time? Sure do. Do I give a shit? Nope.

    @Ripped VD – Session Lager/Black from Full Sail, is another fav of mine. It’s very drinkable, has a fun “rock paper scissors” game under the cap, and at $11 a 12-pack it’s a darn good deal (when I can find it – usually at Randall’s grocery stores).

    Cheers!

  12. Sudsy von Brue · ·

    Spot on, Doc. I’m a Schlitz man when the chips fall that way (though they haven’t for years). If you still can’t stand to go macro when the mercury hits 100, Pretty Things’ American Darling is as good as the genre gets… and micro to boot.

  13. God damn I’m glad I’m in good company here. You never know with a topic like this and I’d never combat anyone that said I should be sticking to my guns and throwing back the macros for something better. Last weekend I tossed back quite a few High Life’s during the day but put out the guilty fire with a nice 22 of Troegs Flying Mouflan. Outside = High Life. Couch = Anything else.

    @SaveOnBrew – I’m with you on the Lone Star. I’ve been travelling to Texas pretty regularly the past few years and while I prefer Shiner with my brisket, you can’t beat a frosty Lone Star when the temps are pushing 90.

    Slouch/Sudsy – Prima Pils and American Darling are both fine brews. Me needs some cheap suds though. I’ve been known to overindulge from time to time and the wallet gets a little thin when I’m drinking “quality” beers. Good beer should be pricey, for a damn good reason, which is why I slum it with the lesser evils when I can.

  14. Your from Milwaukee, arn’t you!!!!!!!

  15. Your from Milwaukee aren’t you! Tasty only for lack of a better choice… and I am from Milwaukee.

  16. What about just using Boston Lager as the cheap drinkin’ beer? That’s what I do, anyway.

  17. My beer snobbery has escalated to the point that if there are no marginally decent options available, I won’t drink. Needless to say, even Wifey McHops finds such behavior insufferable (which is odd when you think about it because sober Barley is MUCH more pleasant than drunk Barley).

    That said, I consider Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, S.A.B.L., Guinness, Anchor Steam, and Newcastle (on draft only) in the “perfectly acceptable” camp so it’s rare that I’m at a complete loss. I won’t drink an adjunct lager anymore unless there are ping-pong balls involved.

    As for which beer to drink when mowing my lawn in the 184-degree Alabama summer heat…I don’t mow my own lawn. What am I, a peasant?

  18. You’re just a broke kid from Massachusetts, like me! WTF is up with this landed gentry shit??

  19. Broke kids from Massachusetts are considered nobility in Alabama.

  20. Captain · ·

    When I want a lawn mower beer I go to Pacifico….although I still hold a secret warm place in my heart for coors light.

  21. I applaud your position (there is a place for clean drinkable large-scale lagers), but I really don’t understand your application (drinking beers you don’t like and deride at every turn).

    Some people don’t understand why I enjoy Heineken (canned or draught only). It’s a perfect beer when you want a drinkable session beer. Clean flavor, defect free when fresh.

    But to choose High Life when you clearly don’t like it? Why not find something else that fits that niche?

    http://beersensoryscience.wordpress.com/

  22. UFO John E · ·

    PBR. Call me a hipster if you must. But at least my shitty beer is made the in the US of Goddamn A!! Or I just drink my own delicious-beer-infused piss. It’s pretty much the same thing.

  23. Whoah there BeerSensor, who said anything about not liking High Life? Sure, this may not be a glowing review of this nearly translucent lager, but that’s not to say I don’t like the beer. I like High Life for the same reason you like Heineken, because it fits the exact flavor and body profile that I’m looking for on very specific occasions. Calling the beer and style “Cheap” was to reflect the cost, not a knock on the actual beer. Calling it “Shitty” was just for comparison’s sake. Quality-wise, I think a High Life is utter shit when standing next to most of the beers I drink. The Kraft Mac & Cheese I ate the other night is also utter shit compared to most of the food I eat on a regular basis. I still like High Life and Mac & Cheese though, even though I know there’s better product out there.

    Love your site by the way. I saw your IPA flavor profiles post on Reddit and was quite intrigued. Thanks for the comment.

  24. beer-miester. · ·

    OK, here it is..the final solution. Bitberger! Cheap and tasty…and classy.

  25. I usually keep some Henry Weinhard’s private reserve around for cheap beer occasions. Olympia works fine in a pinch too.

  26. Mike HG · ·

    I can remember back in my college days at Illinois State U, the ultra-cheap ass beer of choice was keystone light. You could pick up a 30 rack for 11.99. For whatever reason, kegs in Normal, IL are way cheaper than most college towns, so we usually got a keg for $39.95 plus tax and deposit of course. Although I will say that Keystone Light has the absoulute worst consistency of any beer I have ever drank. Somedays it was a watery, but cheap beer. But sometimes it was the worst shit I have ever put down. It’s as if they put old, expired Coors Light in the can and said, “Screw you, you’re buying the cheap shit anyways”.

  27. [...] Defense of Miller High Life By jbpowell78 While I am not going to agree with his defense Miller High Life, there are those times when you just want a crap beer. Read, laugh, and [...]

  28. [...] It’s a wheat beer brewed with hibiscus! Who wouldn’t be? Now, you won’t find me on the golf course drinking this beer, but I have to say that I was surprised by the well-balanced taste. The flowers were present, but [...]

  29. fondrenR6 · ·

    A friend came over and left his beer in the fridge when he left – it was none other than Miller High Life. He too enjoys a variety of craft beers, but he insist of grabbing a 12-pack, always bottles, if he is on the run. I let the remainders sit quietly in the back of the fridge for a few days, wondering if he would come back to retrieve his prized possessions, if some other guest would drink some, or if they would magically disappear. One day, I ran out of my personal beer supply, so I popped a bottle of the piss colored Miller “Champagne”, and not to my surprise, it still tasted just as awful as I had remembered… and coincidentally just as it looked. I then proceeded to water my outdoor plants with the remainding 8 bottles of yellow foaming water. This is not to say that I won’t drink cheap beer, because sometimes the mood calls for it – like at a Mexican restaurant, you need a 22 oz of Dos Equis to go with your $1.89 taco and free chips & salsa. I will take that pairing any day, but as for champagne… I’ll leave that to the toast of the evening.

  30. [...] I wrote a post defending the merits of Miller High Life, I think it’s safe to say that I’m not ashamed to swim in the bottom of the beer world barrel. [...]

  31. Well said! I prefer & Love Arrogant Bastard Ale. With that being said, I work hard everyday… Blue Collar Guy … I can’t afford the Bastard every time I partake in an adult beverage . The High Life does the trick every time. And is easy on the wallet.

    The Champagne Of Beers

  32. [...] the only one on this site that will ever defend MillerCoors or their ilk.  I slam down many a High Life throughout the Summer and make no excuses about buying other macro lagers when the time is right. [...]

  33. I really feel for you all. There is nothing better than the High Life!! Sorry you all spend so much money to drink junk. Oh that swallow sure was good!!

  34. The best beer out there right now is Chatoe Rogue ‘the good chit’ pilsner, and, their single malt ale.
    Oh my God.

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