One of these days I'm going to write about 40s—it would be irresponsible to forever ignore one of the most iconic corners of American beer culture—but I keep putting it off, because I can't find a worthwhile angle beyond nostalgia. Most of your better brewers opt not to package their wares in 40-ounce bottles, and I'm not convinced there's any value in ranking a dozen different shitty malt liquors.
So today let us instead consider the quart (a mere 32 ounces). In fact, let's do it this way:
Beers Sold by the Quart, Ranked:
1. Lagunitas Sucks
I can't think of any others worth mentioning. I know those silly crowlers are starting to spread, and I've got a couple of 32-ounce growlers that I refill at local breweries, but I'm more concerned with things you can buy at a standard retail beer store. Near as I can tell, Lagunitas Sucks is the only readily available, high-quality beer sold in regular old glass quart bottles.
The big bottles of Sucks aren't resealable; they come with pry-off caps. But if you don't mangle the lid all to hell, you can pop it on and off a few times. You're not going to replicate the original seal, but you can safely keep your beer cold and carbonated for as long as it ought to take to finish two pints.
Sucks was first brewed in 2011 as an emergency replacement for Lagunitas's winter seasonal, Brown Shugga. The origin story explains the name: The label bore an apology for Brown Shugga's absence due to mismanagement of the brewing schedule. Lagunitas, based in Petaluma, Calif., has been growing rapidly in recent years, and a new facility in Chicago has helped ease production pressure, so this spring Sucks was brought back as a year-rounder, with the catch being that it's only sold by the quart. This is an odd gimmick for a double IPA, and I like it.
The bottle I drank last week claimed an ABV of 8 percent, though most online sources, including Lagunitas, list it as 7.85. So at least something has changed since the first edition, casting doubt on whether Sucks is still made with the same replacement parts as the original slapped-together version, which was a mishmash of barley, rye, wheat, oats, and hops.
If you resist the temptation to drink this one straight from the jug, you'll notice a nice tarnished gold color with very little head other than a halo of tiny bubbles around the edge of the glass. The malt complexity shows on the nose, which is plenty hoppy in the grand scheme of things, but demure for Lagunitas, given that most of their beers smell like weed. Pine and grapefruit are still prominent in the aroma, though, which evokes a fairly straightforward West Coast IPA.
The predominant opening flavors are citrus, pineapple, and pine resin, with some pepper from the rye (I think) coming on late. Sucks sits pretty thick on the tongue, and it stays fruity and balanced through the superlong finish—the hops are always there, but they're never overpowering, which may disappoint the farther fringes of the hop-weirdo underground, as Sucks lacks the pucker-punch some people look for in a DIPA. But I love it for $7.50 a quart.
This is Drunkspin Daily, the Concourse's adequate source for booze news, reviews, and bullshit. We'll be highlighting a beer a day in this space; please leave suggestions below.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and has visited all of the other New England states, including, come to think of it, Vermont. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain. Image by Jim Cooke.
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