Friday, December 19, 2008
Beverage Review: BALTIKA EXTRA 9 (2008, Russia)
Stars: 1 of 5.
Maker: Baltika (the second-largest brewery in Europe, after Heineken).
Home Country: Russia.
Where procured: Bodega, corner of Manhattan and Nassau in Brooklyn.
Well, right off the bat we got problems. I don't even know where to begin. It's meant to be a 40 (Alcohol Volume 8.0%), but it's actually 75 fluid ounces (2 Quarts, 11 oz. is what it says on the bottle). This thing is a behemoth. And it doesn't even come in glass. It comes in thin plastic with a strange, dimpled texture. It looks like the odd cousin of a two-liter soda. And I can see already the wheels in your head are turning- if it's not in the extra insulated glass, how are 75 ounces of this tripe gonna stay cold for more than six minutes? And the answer is, they're not. More on that later. There's other fundamental problems too, even beyond the fact that the "Best Before Date" box is empty. Now, it seems to be entitled "Extra 9 Lager." And everyone schooled in how these things work knows that there are two types of beers, lagers and ales. Well, okay, this one is a lager, then. But then, up in the right hand corner of the label, it says "Ale." Well, which is it? 'Alright,' you say, 'just crack it open and find out for yourself.' Alright, I shall. You crack it open, and you get kind of this sweet smell. It's a smell that seems to contradict the fact that you just paid 2.3 cents per ounce for this stuff. If you later examine the ingredients list, you'll find that the smell is probably just the "High Maltose Corn Syrup." I'm not sure what that is, and after I tried this, I'm not sure I care to find out. Anyway, by the time you've finished taking in the oddly sweet smell it produces, the liquid within has probably jumped a good ten degrees in temperature. So it's time for that first, fateful sip. Even cold, even ICE cold, this stuff tastes exactly like sweaty gym shorts. 'Have you even actually tasted sweaty gym shorts?,' you ask. Well, try a sip of Extra 9 and come tell me where you stand on that issue. It tastes EXACTLY like sweaty gym shorts. And that is not a good thing, even when you're trying to imbue your life with extra kitsch value. And remember by the time you're 6 minutes into this gargantuan endeavor, it's gonna be room temperature. You thought it tasted like gym shorts when it was ice cold? You are in for some hard, unfortunate truths at room temperature. And then, of course, there's the question- do I put it back in the freezer and get it cold again at the risk of losing carbonation, or do I stick it out here at a rapidly rising room temperature? Do I jeopardize throwing away my $1.75 investment with the additional risk of appearing to be less of a man? These are actually some pretty weighty questions for malt liquor to be asking. In any event, I continued on, if only for the sake of this fine beverage review. And let me tell you, by the time I got to the foam at the bottom, lukewarm gym shorts were sounding pretty good. Words truly have no dominion over the shapeless, slavering, gangrenous Lovecraftian monsters that lie in the foam abyss at the bottom of this dimpled bottle. I must say I don't think it's worth finding out for yourself. One star.