Booze You Can Use

How to be the best consumer you can be.
Aug. 31 1999 2:00 AM

Booze You Can Use

Getting the best beer for your money.

(Continued from Page 2)

Milwaukee's Best. $.55 per pint. (Sale. List price $.62 per pint.) A k a "Beast."

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Schmidt's. $.54 per pint. (Sale. List $.62 per pint.) Box decorated with a nice painting of a trout.

Busch. $.50 per pint. (Sale. List $.69 per pint.) Painting of mountains.

The Safeway that supplied the beers didn't carry any true bargain-basement products, such as "Red, White, and Blue," "Old German," or the one with generic printing that just says "Beer." The experiment was incomplete in that regard, but no tester complained about a shortage of bad beer. Also, with heavy heart, the test administrator decided to leave malt liquors, such as Mickey's (with its trademark wide-mouth bottles), off the list. They have the air of cheapness but actually cost more than Bud, probably because they offer more alcohol per pint.

3.Experimentalprocedure: Each taster sat down before an array of 10 plastic cups labeled A through J. The A-to-J coding scheme was the same for all tasters. Each cup held 3 ounces of one of the sample beers. (Total intake, for a taster who drank all of every sample: 30 ounces, or two and a half normal beers. Not lethal; also, they were just going back to software coding when they were done.) Saltines were available to cleanse the palate. The cups were red opaque plastic, so tasters could judge the beer's color only from above. There was no time limit for the tasting, apart from the two-hour limit in which we had reserved the conference room. One experimenter (the boss of most of the others there) rushed through his rankings in 10 minutes and gave the lowest overall scores. The taster who took the longest, nearly the full two hours, had the ratings that came closest to the relative price of the beers. (This man grew up in Russia.) The experimenters were asked not to compare impressions until the test was over.

After tasting the beers, each taster rated beers A through J on the following standards:

Overall quality points: Zero to 100, zero as undrinkable and 100 as dream beer. Purely subjective measure of how well each taster liked each beer.

Price category: The tasters knew that each beer came from the expensive, medium, or cheap category--and they had to guess where A through J belonged. A rating of 3 was most expensive, 2 for average, 1 for cheap.

Description: "Amusing presumption," "fresh on the palate," "crap," etc.

Best and Worst: Tasters chose one Best and one Worst from the "flight" (as they would call it if this were a wine test).

When the session was over, results for each beer were collected in a grid like this:

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