We are proud today to introduce a new feature – Fancy Beer of The Week – in which The Gentlemen will consume and review the world’s Fancy and not so Fancy Beers. Beers will be judged on inconsistent criteria of our choosing.
This Week’s Beer!
Trader Joe’s Brand Name Tag Classic Lager
Retail Price: $0.49 per 12 oz can!
Why we chose this beer: There are some, perhaps many amongst you who are no doubt shaking your head in silent objection. This is no fancy beer, you say. You have lost me, Gentlemen, as a blog reader and a music fan. Forever. Please allow us to explain.
A cursory glance at The Two Man Gentlemen Band’s touring history over the last few years reveals that these winter months are slow months for us. Not because of a dearth of concert opportunities. Far from it! Rather, after a few attempts at deep winter music making – and the snowy drives, freezing winds, and general dangers contained therein – we gentlemen, and The Councilman especially, became deeply concerned about the overall health of our hands and fingers.
The Councilman frequently summarized his concerns thusly: “My hands are my living, Andy Bean. Frostbite and finger chapping are real. I can’t feel my fingers, Andy Bean. Why are you doing this to me? My hands are my living.”
And so, rather than subject ourselves to such career-threatening peril, we’ve decided these past few winters to stay, for the most part, off the icy highways and close to home. And hey! Guess what? Staying in the same place for 2 or 3 months can be kind of pleasant. Who knew?
There is just one problem. Those of you who have ever seen a Two Man Gentlemen Band concert have probably noticed that we lack the self-control necessary to pace ourselves. At a typical recital, we come out of the gate quite hot. The first few songs are barn burners. But, by song four or five, we’ve begun to sweat profusely. Another few tunes and we’re well out of breath. A few more, our throats are raw, are fingers are bleeding, we’ve probably broken some strings, and we struggle to get to the end of our set before the crowd begins booing, departing, or both.
One could argue (though no one has yet) that there is a certain charm in this approach: raw bursts of youthful energy followed by a sweaty, heaving decline. But no reasonable person would suggest that this is a wise method for managing one’s off-season finances. And yet, this is how we manage our off-season finances.
Our slow-season begins just before Thanksgiving, and both The Councilman and I head to our respective family Thanksgiving celebrations “flush” with cash from the year’s concert winnings. (We put “flush” in quotations here as a reminder that we are still, in fact, an obscure two-man band playing an unpopular style of music. “Flush” for us means something quite substantially less than the common understanding of the term.) Feeling quite fond of ourselves and unreasonably generous, we splurge on nice wines and liquors for Turkey dinner. Any beverages presented to the family are, of course, voraciously and completely consumed. So, not wanting to ignore our own supplies, we employ the “a bottle for them, a bottle for me” approach at the liquor store.
That one booze run typically eats through a good quarter of each man’s winter dollar reserves. A repeat trip before Christmas dinner burns through another quarter, a lavish New Year’s eve celebration makes its dent, and our annual MLK Jr. day “I Have a Dream (About Having a Wicked Awesome Party on a Monday!)” Party eats up most of the rest. So, you can see how we Gentlemen, by February, might be in the throes of our own respective personal financial crises. The private stores of booze we so wisely and squirrelishy squirreled away when our pockets were full help a little. But they, too, are soon depleted.
So it is around this time of year, friends, when our bank accounts are overdrawn and our first tour of the year is still a few weeks away, that a gamble on $2.49 six pack seems a gamble worth taking. Note: If you are thinking “Why don’t you just give up beer for a few weeks until you have money again?” it is safe to say that you are not the target audience of this missive.
Your preamble notwithstanding, you may say, this is no Fancy Beer, Gentlemen! To which we respond: Fanciness is, of course, relative. And when the alternative is no beer, we are happy to give even the stalest macrobrew a temporary field promotion to “Fancy Beer.”
With this lengthy explanation in mind, we now present our brief review of Trader Joe’s Brand Name Tag Lager.
Our Review: Pretty good if you’re a little short on cash and like beer in a can. Most definitely tastier than Stroh’s, though we didn’t have a Stroh’s handy for a head to head comparison. We hear that Stroh’s also comes in a can, which is nice, though a sixer of it can run as much as $3. Come to think of it, I don’t think we’ve ever had Stroh’s. Perhaps we’ll review it next time our wallets go thin.
Added bonus for the fashion conscious: Since Name Tag is sold exclusively by Trader Joe’s, you’re bound to buy it from a man or woman wearing a Hawaiian shirt. For those of you, like The Councilman, who like to have a Hawaiian shirt be a part of most of your commercial transactions, this is a definite plus. Were we working with some sort of 10 point flavor, quality, and intangibles scale, this alone would add 1 or 2 points.
What does it taste like? To be honest, I don’t really remember. Not because we had too many. Rather, we focused most of our mouth efforts on such exclamations as “Holy crap! Pretty good for $2.49! Eh, buddy?” I don’t know that in the excitement we tasted it at all. Councilman, do you remember the flavor at all? (The Councilman, via e-mail, says “No”) But I don’t recall either of us feeling particularly like death the next morning, which is a plus. Councilman, do your recall feeling like death the next morning? (The Councilman, again via e-mail, says “No, I don’t.”)
All in all, I suppose this is neither a very helpful or comprehensive review of Name Tag. But we’ve had some fun, haven’t we? Let’s summarize.
Summary: On the 0 gentlemen to 2 gentlemen scale, we award Trader Joe’s brand Name Tag Lager TWO GENTLEMEN! Highly recommended for those in dire financial straits for whom waiting a few days to get some cash together before buying beer is not an option.
Your comments are welcome.
Yours very truly,
Andy Bean, Gentleman