Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anheuser Busch - Shadow's Wild Black

                                                           Wild Black in the glass...

                                                ...and in a more natural setting.   

Nearly two years ago, I tried a beer that changed my ideas on how bad beer can really be. If memory serves me right, it was the night of the national championship game for college football and the beer was called Wild Blue. I thought I had tried the worst of the worst with beers like Pizza Beer and Kennebunkport IPA. Wild Blue laughs in the face of beers like that. With the first sip, I could feel years taken off my life and my esophagus. It was sweeter than a Nicholas Sparks novel (and more syrupy). It would be hours before my taste buds would regain consciousness and start to work again.

Since then, I've had two beers that were somehow worse: A beer called Zorg and the infamous Sam Adams Triple Bock. The Sam Adams is never going to be topped. It's the bad beer equivalent of Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Muhammad Ali all wrapped into one cobalt blue bottle with a disintegrating cork. That beer remains (and most likely, forever will remain) the worst thing I have ever put in my mouth. But Wild Blue will always hold a special place in my heart as my first truly bad beer.

A few months after the Wild Blue fiasco, I was perusing the shelves when I found another version of Wild Blue called Shadow's Wild Black. It looked identical: Same dark and menacing liquid behind the bottle, same pissed off looking dog kicking fruit. I honestly don't know what I was thinking, but for some reason, I thought to myself, "I have GOT to try that!" I walked out of the store a few minutes later with it, only then remembering the torturous experience Wild Blue had been. But it was too late. I was the proud owner of a beer I never wanted to drink. And so it sat in solitary confinement in the back of my fridge for over a year and a half.

We're moving in a few weeks, so it's time to cut down on things we don't want to move. One of these things is the large inventory of beer I've acquired in our time here. So I've been trying to drink the beers that I have no intention of aging. Unfortunately, it was Wild Black's turn yesterday. For science!

Wild Black pours a deep purple color, almost more like a Welch's Grape Juice, with just a faint purple tinge to the head. The color was strange, but I've had some oddly colored beers in the past that ended up just fine. Who knew, maybe it would even be good. I took a whiff... Nope, it was going to suck. A sickeningly sweet artificial blackberry monster latches onto your nostrils the second they're in range and will not let go. If you can get past that, there are enticing notes of chlorine, concord grape concentrate, artificial blueberry, wet cardboard, and what I can only imagine what dog vomit would smell like if that dog had just scarfed a TON of Starbursts.

The taste opens with a faint dash of faded hop sourness, but it's quickly turned into Alderaan by the Death Star of huge sticky and sweet notes of grape jelly, pureed raisin and blackberry Robitussin (if that's a thing). There's a strange and brief wine-like note that reminds me of those fruity Arbor Mist things that they used to have those commercials for when I was a kid with dudes jumping on trampolines. There's a lingering note on the finish that reminds me of what the result of a Will It Blend? would taste like if the experiment was blackberries and tar.

Someway, somehow, this beer is better than Wild Blue. Now that's not saying much, but it's the truth. If this and Wild Blue were the only two beers in existence, would I choose this? No, I would choose life. Stay thirsty, my friends. For better beer than this.

Final Grade: F+

Top 250 Beers Tasted: 132

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