For many people, this author included, music is an integral part of the human experience. Music raises spirits in moments of happiness and, at the risk of being melodramatic, provides comfort at our lowest moments. Its therapeutic effects have shown, among other examples, to boost self-confidence and mood in dementia patients. There’s no denying, in both cinema and real life, the attractiveness and timelessness of a good soundtrack to a top-down cruise down an empty road or a raucous party.
The same could be said for beer, I suppose, though the polarity of its effects is spread across warning labels issued by the Food and Drug Administration. In reality, those of us who know how to partake legally and safely, and within the parameters of societal norms, know there’s nothing better than a combination of a cold beer on a warm day while great music is playing. With a beer in your hand and the right soundtrack, the music just thumps a little harder, makes the hips swing a little more rhythmically (or so we think). Somehow we know all the words, or make them up along the way.
I was in high school when I first heard Sublime, a prototypical California band who did a little reggae, some funk, some hip hop, and threw a little Spanish rapping in there for good measure. I spent my summer on the golf course, not as a player, but one of the grunts mowing lawns and weed-wacking while rich, white men in dumb pants took illegal drops and miscounted strokes. At lunch time, a friend and I would go to a friend’s house to swim. She had the 40 Oz. to Freedom album. It was, in fact, the soundtrack to our summer in 1997 or 1998.
As I headed off to college, Sublime only became more prevalent, as around this time the band took on a life – after the death of Bradley Nowell – on college stations around the country. We listened to “What I Got" as we drank cheap beer outside on picnic tables; We blasted “Santeria” as we played beer die (a much more enjoyable, skilled, and better game than beer pong); We rapped along to the crude lyrics as the night got longer.
AleSmith, one of the great beer producers of our time, absolutely crushes this style, as one would expect.”
And so when I saw that AleSmith Brewing in San Diego crafted a lager and named it Sublime Mexican Lager, it seemed almost like by drinking this beer, I could travel back in time to those years of carefree life in the sun with friends and a beer in my hand. It checked all the boxes: Light, comes in a 12 oz. can (12 Oz. to Freedom?), and pays tribute to one of the bands that would assist in altering my mood, typically for the better.
The beer’s creation, according to the initial press release by AleSmith, was “To create a beer that the band and its fans would love without compromise. When you think musical pioneers Sublime, you think sun, surf, good vibes and mash-up of styles. We channeled all that and put summertime in a sixer.”
I drank the beer alongside a fresh-from-the-ocean-that-morning sheepshead fish taco, which is a mood altering substance in it’s own right. Straight from the can, the 5.2% Vienna Lager was crisp, clean, and cold on a sunlit San Diego porch and washed aside the slight heat from the taco. It’s got a malty, bready bite that gives it a little fuller of a feel than your typical Mexican lager. Even at 5.2%, it’s a easy sipper that hides the relatively-moderate alcohol well; It is a beer you’d want by the pool or out on the ocean or just in the backyard crushing burgers at a BBQ.
Mexican lagers can get a bad reputation because of the tendency to come served in a frosty mug with a lime. AleSmith, one of the great beer producers of our time, absolutely crushes this style, as one would expect. There’s a long clean finish that just makes you yearn for another, and I did just that. And, if 40 Oz. to Freedom began playing, I’d certainly have sung along.