Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hiland Light

‘Land, no.

How cheap is Hiland Light? It’s so cheap that even I think it’s nasty.

And seriously, at $4.99 for a 20 pack, Hiland Light may be the cheapest beer I’ve ever had. I’m pretty sure the last time I bought Meister Brau it was at least $2.89 for a sixer, and that was in the ‘90s.

I found Hiland Light at the Missouri Lukas Liquor. They had a few small sample glasses out, and it tasted fine enough to bring home for a trial run as the cheap beer of the house -- after all, at 25 cents per can compared to 48 cents for a Natural Light (case of 24 for $11.49), that’s a savings of $4.60. Or in other terms, about three Taco Bell Beefy 5-Layer Burritos.

The can makes a point of declaring that Hiland Light is “Midwestern Beer made by a Midwestern Brewery.” So as both a proud Midwesterner and yard beer connoisseur, I was excited to load it into my beer fridge.

Upon closer inspection of the box, however, I was dismayed to learn a key piece of information that gave me reason to pause -- Hiland Light is distributed by Kum & Go, easily the skeeziest of all convenience stores. (Runner-up: Loaf ‘N Jug.) I won’t set foot in a Kum & Go, but now I’d willingly brought their beer into my house and put it in my beer fridge with all my other beers and who knows what kind of seedy influence it was going to have on them? Because when the door of a beer fridge is closed, you just know they’re in there having a party.

I cracked open a Hiland Light and while my sample earlier was okay, it must take a couple of full-on swigs for the foulness to really come through -- or, if you’re my wife, just one. Kelly took a sip, gave me a scowl, told me she couldn’t even stand to look at the beer and left the room.

When you drink Hiland Light, you can really taste every penny, which is to say, it tastes like pennies. Also, a little like soap. It’s as if Hiland Light is preemptively washing your mouth out before you can drop an f-bomb and say, “That is some truly awful beer.”

Now I’m curious to know what they mean by “Midwestern Beer.” Is that supposed to be a style of beer? Like hypothetically could there be “Midwestern Beer made by a Canadian Brewery?” Because if so, we need to get some beer wizards to create a Midwestern beer that’s drinkable before Hiland Light forever gives the style a bad name.

And why stop there? Let’s go ahead and chase the makers of Hiland Light, Minhas Brewery of Wisconsin, out of the Midwest altogether. Angry mob, anyone? Midwesterners, at last a chance to use our standard issue pitchforks!

Thankfully for Kansas City, Lukas Liquor has sold out of Hiland Light and it doesn’t sound like they’ll be getting more.* This shipment must’ve fallen off the back of a truck or something, because normally, Hiland Light is available at Kum & Go exclusively. Never before has the word “exclusively” held less prestige. I’m so happy to live in a QuikTrip town. (Speaking of, did anybody ever get to try the QT Beer -- Quittin’ Time?)

Still, it does feel good to know that there’s a beer somewhere out there that’s so cheap even I won’t drink it. I’ve got my standards. Yet maybe it’s the college student in me, but I’ve got a tough time letting beer go to waste, and even after choking down a few, I’ve got quite a few Hiland Lights left.

Somebody will be drinking these.

Word to the wise -- if you are at the Bishop house and there’s an abrupt change of topic in conversation at the exact same time a mug of unspecified beer is being pushed into your hands, you should absolutely be suspicious.

*Further Internet sleuthing indicates Lukas Liquor must’ve been having some kind of fire sale, as Kum & Go regularly sells 20 packs for $9.99.

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