A few months ago, I began recording my tasting adventures in the lowest of the low-brow alcoholic beverages: dirt cheap gas station malt liquor… basically any of those weird concoctions you find on the bottom shelf of the beer cooler at your local Sunoco. What can I say? I have an affinity for the unrefined. One of my most recent endeavours led me back to to an old favorite- something that any native of Albany County has most certainly sipped on at one point or another (drum roll please): Mountain Brew Beer Ice!
Yes, you read that correctly. “Mountain Brew Beer Ice.” Not much flow in that name. This peculiar stuff is Stewart’s Shops’ very own brand of beer, brewed for them by Genesee Brewing Co. and only available at Stewart’s locations. What’s that you say? You didn’t know the dinky convenient store chain based out of Saratoga Springs, NY, had their own beer? Well now you do!
There are several reasons why Mountain Brew Beer Ice is just plain incredible, the first being that a six pack costs a mere $2.99. It’s true! The economy doesn’t seem so terrible once you discover you can get a sixer for under three dollars, does it?
Personally, my favorite aspect of the M.B.B.I. experience is the packaging. It comes in a plain silver can with “Mountain Brew Beer Ice” written on it in simple black script, followed by a little blurb proclaiming, “A Very Cool Brew!”… that’s it. Joyfully minimalistic. If the word “beer” was removed from the label, it would look more like a demented can of soda than an adult beverage. The bottom of the can is adorned with several of those cartoon figures that are normally found on “Caution, Wet Floor” signs, and they are all partaking in various types of athletic activities; what could this possibly imply? Will drinking this beer make me more athletic? Is this a hybrid beer/sports drink of some kind? Was this beer meant for the professional athletes of the world, and somehow fell into the hands of a common, unathletic fool like myself? The possibilities are endless. But one fact remains clear: it definitely looks more like something you would find in the cooler at a family barbeque in 1973 than on a convenient store shelf in 2012.
Lastly (and least importantly?): Taste. I like to take the “it could be worse” approach when analyzing the flavor of this legendarily thrifty brew. I mean, come on… you probably paid for it with the loose change you found in your glove compartment. What were you expecting? Sure it tastes a little metallic, but it’s not undrinkable. The taste is no more offensive than that of more “well known” cheap-ass beers (Milwaukee’s Best, I’m lookin’ at you). So just look on the positive side- it could be wayyyyyyyy worse. Like…. Way. Worse.
Mountain Brew Beer Ice wins me over every time, probably due to the unbeatable combination of a quirky appearance, ridiculous name, cheesy slogan, and absurdly cheap price. Definitely worth a try, if not just to say that you’ve tried it.