Malt liquor — otherwise known as malt beer, which feels somehow dishonest but also closer to what this swill really is — occupies the sub-basement of American fermented inventions. It stings with too much metal and its taste is too farty to be at all drinkable, and drinkability is the true measure of American beer.
Malt liquor is perhaps the worst thing sitting above something in the Truly Spiked & Sparkling family of adult beverages, a truly unremarkable and clear drink that no one should even think about ordering from a bartender, because that bartender will look at you and think to him or herself “well, so much for a decent tip tonight.” I drank something like Truly at concerts in high school in the 90s, and, well, that should tell you enough to know about it.
Malt liquor in the classical sense — Olde English 800, Colt 45 — is probably first met by many Americans in college, in the context of an ill-advised “Edward 40-Hands” party, wherein participants, um, duct-tape a 40-ounce bottle to their hands — or, for the very daring, one to each hand — and drink until the whole thing(s) are done. Thinking about it induces my gag reflex here and now. God what a horrible night. “Bad Edward 40-hands memories,” according to Zach Berry, and yeah that pretty sums it up.
I haven’t had a drop of this shit since that night, and probably most of you who’ve undergone the same ordeal haven’t either. That’s good. But let me say something here. My intrigue in this downright bad brew was re-piqued a few ago years when Alkaline Trio released Damnesia, nominally an all-acoustic album comprising some of their favorite songs from over the years. The almost exact middle cut on this album is the new and original ditty, “Olde English 800.” It’s up there at top, and it’s only a minute and 38 seconds long.
Thing is, this song bangs. Its pacing is relentless, and it won’t let you off the hook. Just look at this thing.
Now I feel a whole lot better about myself
Now I feel a whole lot better about myself
Yes, Matt Skiba just straight up spells the name of this trash dump twice in the opening stanza. He does so four full times over the course of this number, because this song is so simple and obnoxious that it necessarily must follow its subject down into a repetitive, screaming drain of nothing. “I can’t even remember what it tastes like,” Ghost tells me. This is the Olde E of Alk3 songs.
It’s difficult to fully believe Skiba, here. Do you really feel a whole lot better about yourself? I mean, you wrote a one-minute and 38 second song about Olde English 800, and honestly it feels like it was written in the space of five minutes after puking up your shoes due to Olde English 800. Let’s move on, because this song is two choruses of spelling O-L-D-E E-N-G-L-I-S-H EIGHT HUNDRED punctuated by two occurrences of this:
You're charcoal filtered,
Sun yellow malt liquor,
You make my grey skies blue
I drink it daily
As my liver's failing,
But I don't give a fuck,
Olde English I'm in love with you [bottle cap pops, takes swig]
That last interpolation is literally in the song.
Alright, we know it’s charcoal filtered, which is one of the many errors in brewing that bring this thing down to U-571 levels of taste and satisfaction. Sun yellow malt liquor is perhaps a touch over the top of a metaphor — or, at any rate, too literary — to heap on this awful mess, but we’re dealing with a song that was written and performed over the course of five minutes in probably one of the most hilarious recording sessions ever conducted. Hopefully gallons of Olde E were involved.
[shudders] We here at RCR, the premier booze blog on the web, cannot in good faith recommend this shit. A writer friend of mine did a blind taste test of a number of different malt liquors over at VICE’s gustatory arm, and his results were rather significantly different. If you’re absolutely forced to go down this path — that is, the strict 40 ouncer of shitty malt liquor — I’d recommend OE 800 with Colt 45 a close second, then far, far behind them Steel Reserve, which “tastes like drinking nails,” according to a former college teammate, who’s now an amazing marathoner.
Please don’t drink this. Listen to Alkaline Trio always, but please don’t drink this shit.