The recent Coors marketing ploy has been bugging me for months now. Since when did Coors become the "Banquet Beer". Marketing goofiness aside, this is no banquet beer with current plethora of wonderful micros out there, over 1,500 US makers at last count. Coors is a regular C- rated American Adjunct Lager, according to Beer Advocate. I remember it as a near-mythical beast, nearly impossible to acquire in the Midwest, it was supposed to be well worth it for the lucky few who were able to lay their hands on some. And I did, at least the 3.2% abv version allowed for under 18 folks on a near mythical trip to the mountains.
It was the summer of 1975, prior to senior year in high school, my close friends and I made a June trip out to Colorado to climb the mountains. We had a drive-away (one way) car, which you could get as a 17yr old in those days (not anymore I believe). The four of us shared driving, made it from suburban Chicagoland to Denver in just over 20 hours. We had heard of the legendary Coors, but had never seen it.
We went straight for the town of Estes Park, not stopping for anything as we had precise reservations for camp sites. We hiked the dusty, barren Rocky Mountain National Park for 7 days, drinking only water from the streams. Over the week we came to appreciate the value of water, and possible beer filled our dreams at 10,000 feet. Once we came down dusty and worn out, we found a store that had the 3.2 Coors. I still question why we didn't seek it out before the hike, maybe we thought we'd never actually go up. Anyway, after surviving on tasty but plain water for 7 days, this 3.25 stuff tasted like the proverbial mothers milk, absolutely fabulous!! And it didn't seem to have the graininess or mouth puckering bitterness, and maybe it was a bit sweeter and smoother than the Schlitz or Old Milwaukee or Blatz we were used to. Sucking down 2-3 in the first half hour off the mountains seemed very normal.
Now at normal elevation, I can't bring myself to purchase Coors, certainly not a six pack, maybe a tall boy if I sought it out. I know it would be a disappointment, after close to 35 years how could it be otherwise.
I recently had the Schlitz 60's recipe on draft, it wasn't bad. Maybe the Coors back then was better, I suppose we'll never know. In any event I can't go back, and I don't want to, nor do I feel I have time enough to test every old favorite out there, there are too many full flavored ales and lagers to write home about now, but maybe the Banquet Beer deserves another shot. I will always think of it as the mountain beer, and a refreshing one at that.