Poor Pours: Simpler Times beer

Simpler Times beer

The deal: $4.99 for a six pack of bottles, $3.99 for a six pack of cans. That’s 66.5 cents per can.

the answer to complication

the answer to complication

What is: Lager and pilsner beer, available at Trader Joe’s. It’s a new offering at the TJ’s in NY, but apparently has been available in the stores elsewhere in the country for some time.

In simple terms, it’s the recession beer.

Ah, yes, remember those simpler times before your pension disappeared in an updraft into golden parachutes or your retirement went over the falls in a bailout. Let’s think back to the black-and-white days of the Great Depression, and remind ourselves that people get through hard times with friends, and people make friends during hard times with beer, and that beer is the simple cause of — and solution to — most of life’s problems.

Why?:Because it’s the new PBR.

Such sacrilege! But it’s true. Because at that price, and with a 6 percent alcohol content (that’s 1.8 percentage points higher than Bud Lite), it doesn’t have to be very good. But I would place the taste a step and a half above the taste of the Pabst, despite the latter’s insistence that a 116-year-old fair win is the only validation its ever needed for taste approval. Plus, it’s ludicrous speeds ahead of other discount contenders such as South Paw, Genny Lite or,yikes, Schaefer.

Plus, Simpler Times doesn’t have any pretensions pretenses attached to it yet: no sneering glances from bartenders who wonder what size girl jeans you’re wearing or how long you spent cultivating the child molester mustache like when you order a PBR; no conversations about the best methods to get the stains out of your wife beater like when you order a High Life.

Coworkers at TJ’s have been snatching it up with ravenous appetite since it first appeared a few weeks ago. This conversation about sums it up:

Me: Curtis, what did you think of that Simpler Times beer?

Curtis: It’s good enough!

It’s made by Wisconsin company Minhas Craft Brewery, which doesn’t even list Simpler Times on its web site. Minhas, you’ll surely know, is the brewer of other such wildly popular brews as Rhinelander, Mountain Creek, and — a favorite at trendy Upper West Side lounges and loft parties, Extreme Rockhead Malt Liquor.

As our country faces these rough days ahead, I think we can all agree a little dose of the Simpler Times will make everything just a bit easier to handle

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24 responses to “Poor Pours: Simpler Times beer

  1. Why go through all that trouble when you can get a 40 oz of Hurricane Malt Liquor for $2 that actually tastes better than shitty beer and gets you drunk even if you need to stand over a sink to finish it. Brace for the Smooth Taste!

  2. how dare you malign a fine biere champagnois such as high life. a true fan would know we don’t bother getting the stains out.

  3. High Life is a solid beer, and I think you meant “preconceived notions” not “pretensions.”

    However you’re spot on about Genny. It’s truly atrocious. Worst beer I’ve ever tasted.

    The best cheap beer out there is Old Style. Sadly it’s only available for purchase in a part of the country no one would ever want to go to: the Mid West.

  4. High Life is soapy. Genny is atrocious. You forgot another contender for Worst Beer Available: Black Label. Vomit.

    Old Style? Nothing is good about it, aside from the fact that it’s available at Wrigley Field, and it’s Chicago’s version of trendy New York’s love affair with PBR.

    Minhas’s Huber Bock and Rhinelander can be found in the Twin Cities, and I’ve partaken, mistakenly, several times — mostly when it was cheap in college.

    I’d be willing to bet that the TJ’s Simpler Times beer is a Huber knock-off.

    Speaking of throwbacks, did you see that Shlitz is making a push to become the new, new PBR? They’re now selling sixers in VA for $6. That swill was common in rural Minnesota when I was growing up, along with Stroh’s, and it could be found in pull-tab sixers for like $2.50.

  5. I still stand by Natty Boh as the best bottom rung beer. And only $3.99 for a 6-pack of bottles in the greater Baltimore area!

    Was also a fan of Grain Belt, though I didn’t spend enough time in Minneapolis to learn if it was a legitimate beer or a super-cheap beer.

  6. I dare to say few people have ever ventured to taste the Southpaw beer, the official beer of Beer Dodgeball for the NES. Old roommate John and I would crack a few open and pound representative ethnic stereotypes such as Big Head Asian and Dark Skinned Kenyan with an 8-bit ball until they were dead and they’re tiny elementary school souls floated up to heaven. It was an enlightened game, for sure, and we were masters at it, rollicking through a case of Southpaws along the way. Then our stomachs would realize that what we were drinking tasted like liquefied rocks from the side of a slum river and would hit the reverse button. Also, you couldn’t play beer pong with Southpaw because I think it oxidized or something when it hit the open air, turning it into a gaseous, acrid substance. Now that’s drinkability.

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  8. I love this beer. This beer is yummy!

  9. I’ve had at least 3 of these today, and I agree…they’re yummy.

    In Oakland, they’re only $3 per sixer…I guess because they’re competing with Steel Reserve 211. Now that I’ve moved from Ghost Town to Temescal, I try to keep away from the malt liquor, and this stuff is a lot tastier–if less cost-effective.

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  11. I love these guys with all of their opinions: “this beer sucks, it’s the worst ever” etc. The fact is, there is VERY little difference between beer at certain levels, and all of the “experts” telling us what sucks and what doesnt would be able to tell one from the other in a blind test. Guaranteed. They respond to the name and the label and that is all.

    Man up and drink it. When did this country become so damned picky? Our fathers would say “Beer? sure, gimme one” and not scrutizne what was on the label. Btw, Genny cream ale happens to be a very good beer, btw. Maybe a little too much flavor for those “miller lite” beer drinkers who are trying to be like everyone else.

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  13. Captain Blatz

    “Very little difference” huh? As one who joined the recession last year, I’ve re-discovered inexpensive American lagers….there certainly is a hell of a difference between them. Some are just drinkable, some are very enjoyable, some are to be avoided at all costs. Also, cheap lagers are much better for the waistline than most microbrews.

  14. I was checking out imported pilsner beers at TJ when a worker suggested Simpler Times. I looked at the bottom of the can to see that it is brewed in Monroe, WI. I knew immediately that I would probably like the formula as my favorite beer…Berghoff is also brewed at the former Joseph Huber Brewery.

    Minhas has no mention of either of these beers on the website whicj is a shame for them. Both are much better beers than the advertised brews including Rhinelander.

    I like Simpler Times. It’s not a premium import but has an identifying taste that some lagers lack.

    “Good Job!” to the brewmaster and the panel that approved it for production.

  15. R.Mageddon

    I nearly cried croc tears when I found the Simpler Times slot at T.J’s empty of my favorite barley pop. I manned up, however and grabbed a sixer of Jumping Cow ($5.99) and I’m sloshing back between attempts at typing this..

    Am I a cheapskate? Yeah…unequivocally. While not a career beeraholic, I require my two adult beverages a night and the Pilsner at 5.5 gets me lubed up perfectly until I can tolerate the berations and rude excuses for cooking of my better half.

    I was a PBR man since I could pull my chin up onto the bar, but no more. PBR is hard to find in dark and I can suss out my garage fridge with little trouble, where I know the Simpler Times Pilsner awaits (normally). I plan to camp next to the loading dock at the back door of T.J’s tomorrow and sling a few cases into the family truckster before some other schmucks get to it. Wish me luck.

  16. Trader Joe’s…home of the Two Buck Chuck…I like TJ…and as we speak I am drinking a Simpler Times Pisner…not bad for the price…but what do I know Jim…I’m from the Midwest, Chicago to be precise…considering how many microbreweries we have around here…trust me…I wouldn’t go anywhere near Cubs park, where the suburban lawyers drink their wine coolers out of straws…we drink beer in Chi-town, and a hell of a lot of it….I think I’ll have another TJ Pilsner…

  17. It’s weird that PBR and Old Style became hipster beers. I grew up in rural northern illinois and those were the old man workaday beers – the ones my grandfather and my uncles would crack open after getting home from work, as opposed to the nicer stuff for family picnics and holidays.

    Anyways I just tried Simpler Times, I didn’t like it at the first 2-3 sips but it grew on me, by the bottom of the can I decided to have a second. And you can’t beat the price.

  18. Well, back in the day I decided to train myself to like/tolerate the cheapest beer possible, so I drank a lot of BEER brand beer (Ralph’s house brand, as I recall). It was not, however, anywhere near as drinkable as Simpler Times, which I can quite contentedly drink whenever I feel like a mild lager. BEER left the marketplace after a while though, but I found a new favorite, Wiedemann, which, at the time, was $2.99 a 12 pack at Safeway. Best deal ever. Occasionally had to settle for Blatz or Blitz-Weinhard 12ers, for a bit more money. It’s funny how there’s almost none of that el-cheapo small brewery swill available in California anymore.

  19. I’m in Cleveland Come to my house you will be served 90% chance of a Genny regular flavor. On the 10% days PBR. Special day Canadians Labattes and Molsons is being edged out by Yuengling. I’ve always loved cheap beer. Never tolerated the Bud,Miller Coors prices I’m Scottish. Always happy to have my lousy Old SmugglerandLauders being a back
    with a Genny,Blatz or Weideman Weep.I only met a few untouchables Utica Club and Iron City were those. Haven’t seen those in many years.
    cheers,
    Sam

  20. If you don’t like Czech, Bohemian Pilsners, then you WON’T LIKE Simpler Times Pilsner (I haven’t tried the lager) but as an example of the style, their pilsner is a pretty good beer and compares well with pilsners i’ve had that cost as much for a bottle as this does for a 6er. It’s crisp, clean, with a nice spicy hop bitterness and some malt sweetness to ablance it. It’s actually a really decent Czech Style beer.

  21. I am broke to the bone and in college making Simpler Times the beer for me
    Get tipsy for only 2.99 and not have to drink an AB Cobra 40oz just to get a cheap buzz while supporting a smaller ish brewery is a dream come true :) and it taste decent ass hell!

  22. Yeah, I got turned on to this when I moved to Oakland, Ca.. It’s more like a Miller High Life than a Budwiper. The Pilsner is hoppy and the lager is nutty.
    I’ve tried quite a few craft beers since moving here. Laguinitas IPA, Racer 5,
    Boonts, Prohibition, even a Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA. Im getting drunker on less up here! At $4.50 a pint for a 5/6 % beer ya only need two!

  23. BS, Simpler Times, is as good as it gets. I like the price but would pay more to get the great finish taste. It’s a winner. I’ve been drinking beer since 1953, lived in Germany fro 2 years in the 60’s and went to every volksfest, but I tell you, it doesn’t get much better than ST. I buy the 48 can case at Trader Joe’s.
    Real beer drinkers drink beer for taste, not to get drunk, that’s why they made scotch and bourbon . Do yourself a favor and buy a 48 can pkg.

  24. Most of the variation of opinions on Simpler Times is likely due to temperature. Off the ice, Simpler Times is “pretty darn tasty”, cool it’s not so hot, and warm – well, don’t do that. As long as it’s “fresh off the ice” Simpler Times is fine and dandy for fun with the guys. For mixed company, kick it up a notch and serve some Sierra Nevada or Terrapin Imperial Pilsner, but for your cheap friends – ST is a-OK.

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