Serious Eats: Drinks
Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Colt 45 Blast
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A couple Fridays ago I got up dim but early to strap on my cleanest jeans and my longest-sleeved shirt for Bottom Shelf research coordinator Emily's graduate school commencement ceremony. I was very proud of Emily and also of myself: The night before I'd committed the selfless act of slinking off to get drunk alone while she attended some other sort of graduation ceremony. This gave her the perfect opportunity to complain about me; people like to complain sometimes, so it would be cruel to consistently deny her the opportunity.
So I think I can be forgiven if I zoned out through large swaths of the proceedings, for I was busy preparing my remarks in case I should be summoned to the stage to receive a Special Doctorate in Being a Supportive Boyfriend with a Dual Concentrations in Produce Shopping and Spider Killing. That call never came, but I don't think I missed much. I managed to enjoy the band and a quick nap while still leafing through enough of the program to learn that if you want your kid to get a master's degree, you should forget all about vitamins and tutors and just name him Caitlin.
Names are important. If you call your kid Caitlin, she's going to get an advanced degree. If you call your kid Jeff, he's going to tool around town in a mufflerless Firebird full of Rush tapes and bad intentions. And if you call your "premium malt beverage with natural fruit flavors and FD&C Red #40" Grape Blast by Colt 45, it's going to be an appalling vehicle for getting get way too many teenagers way too drunk, and I'm going to join my natural enemies—nervous moms and grandstanding attorneys general—in calling for its banishment.
If you name it Raspberry Watermelon Blast by Colt 45, however, it's going to be my new favorite way to get ripped when I've only got $5 and 20 minutes to dedicate to the task. Most "premium malt beverages with natural flavors" taste kinda the same, with the chief distinction being in the color they turn your pee. The variation in quality among Blast flavors is startling.
Colt 45 is now owned by Pabst. I don't know what this means, but figured I'd mention it. Blast is its new entrant into the increasingly crowded field of 12% ABV fruity beer-alternatives that come in bubble gum flavors and oversized cans. Blast is available in Raspberry Watermelon, Grape, Blueberry Pomegranate, and Strawberry Lemonade. I really like the Raspberry Watermelon and could make peace with the Blueberry Pomegranate if I had to. America's favorite gangster, Snoop Dogg, heartily endorses all four flavors, though it should be noted he gets paid to do so, whereas getting Blasted sets a civilian back $2.50 per 23.5 ounce can.
The most notable thing Blast has going for it is that it actually retains some beery character. Unlike 4 Loko and Tilt and others of its seedy kind, Blast foams in the glass, and you can even trick yourself into thinking there was a stray hop involved in the brewing process. The Grape is an unmitigated disaster—Emily said it tasted like creamy medicine, and even though everyone likes cream and Emily likes medicine, she didn't mean it in a nice way. But with the other three flavors, I could detect clear beer elements underneath the very whelming but not quite overwhelming fake-fruitiness.
Halfway through Sunday night's tasting, I was convinced I'd found a new favorite cheap buzz for what threatens to be a long, hot, broke summer, but my enthusiasm cooled as the night wore on. Blast doesn't taste nearly as bad as you think, but it is still awfully sugary, and the foaminess tricks you into drinking it faster than any non-Dre doctor would order. So yes, it is still my favorite new way to get drunk fast and cheap, but I just don't have as much call for that kind of thing as I used to. I've reached that sad age where my toes break when I stub them: I simply don't bounce back fast enough to get Blasted in this cruel world where people expect me to be places and pay bills.
It's not for me to say whether Colt 45 is pushing this on minors or other vulnerables. But I can't imagine too many people old enough to buy their own ramen would be able to fit this into their lifestyle. Blast, if used as intended, gets you wasted. Nothing wrong with getting wasted if you've got a whole kennel full of assistants and enablers, but if you find yourself having to work or tolerate solid food the next day, you might be better off leaving Blast to the celebrities and undergrads.