I'm hardly going out on a limb when I say that Americans are passionate about their beer. History underlines that greater than I need to - Prohibition failed in part because the average person wasn't willing to swallow the temperance line, either because they knew that a drinking populace did not equal a lawless, amoral populace, or because they just liked drinking too much. Either way, it worked out for the best in the end.
I recently spent a few days in Chicago, and while I was there I took the opportunity to strike out and find an example of United States beer to sample and review here. The difference in liquor laws between Illinois and Ontario frustrated me a little. Here, the only places you can find beer for sale are the Beer Store or the LCBO, but they're easy to find and have a good selection, even the bare-bones ones barely larger than my apartment. If you're looking to buy a beer in Chicago, you have a lot more options - CVS/pharmacy, roughly the American equivalent of Shoppers Drug Mart, and 7-Eleven stock beer, wine and spirits - but, in my experience, considerably thinner selection. Where I did find more locally-oriented beer, it was sold in six-packs only, and personally I couldn't get behind the prospect of buying and downing six bottles of beer on my last full day in the United States.
So, this time, I couldn't find the kind of small, off-the-beaten-track microbrew or craft brew of the sort I prefer. Instead, I turned to Hurricane High Gravity Lager, brewed and canned by Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, Missouri.
The first thing you need to understand is that this beer is massive, a true realization of the way the world stereotypes Americans. The picture really doesn't do it justice. It comes in a tallboy can, like plenty of Canadian beers, but the difference between Imperial and metric liquid measurement obfuscated its enormity until long after I'd drunk it. The average Canadian tallboy is, in my experience, around 500 millilitres. The can of Hurricane I picked up was twenty-four fluid ounces - this works out to nearly 710 millilitres.
And it doesn't pull its punches, either. Hurricane High Gravity Lager is 8.1% alc./vol. After just the one can I was thoroughly soused, and another may well have put me under. To put it in perspective, this one can has more beer and alcohol in it than both of the empty bottles of L'Indépendante I have decorating the bookshelf. I had never been hit so hard by a single beer in all my years of drinking.
As for the taste? Not bad, really. There was no aftertaste, thankfully, and it tasted somewhat of iron, but I could easily tell that it's the sort of beer that would taste horrible if you let it warm up. It was CHEAP, too; I think somewhere around $2 USD, though I can't find the receipt for corroboration.
There are probably plenty of better beers out there, of the same class that I tend to go to. Nevertheless, Hurricane High Gravity Lager may be just what you need if 1) you have an absolute pressing need to get drunk fast, and 2) you're in Illinois. To the best of my knowledge, it's not sold in Ontario, and I really have no idea how widely it's distributed in the United States.
Just be sure to limit yourself. More than one or two of these, and the dawn's early light will hit you like bombs bursting in air.
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