If you were in college between 2003 and 2012 or so, you probably attended many parties where the drink of choice was one of the following: Milwaukee’s Best Premium (aka the Beast), Keystone Ice, Steel Reserve, Old English (aka OE), Mickey’s Fine Malt Liquor, or Magnum. I went to college from 2007 to 2011 and I drank hundreds of ounces of Old English, Keystone Ice, and Mickey’s, especially, but I also drank my fair share of the others. But each of those brands, which are all ultimately owned by Molson Coors, are being sunset, which is a fancy way of saying they’re being commercially euthanized. Because these were such an integral part of the college experience, I wanted to take a moment to say goodbye.
I have pictures of the apartment I lived in back then and almost every one has a bottle of OE or Keystone Ice in it somewhere. We lived like the too-young-to-have-that-much-autonomy “adults” that we were, and we had a lot of fun doing it. I can’t tell you the number of beer pong, flip cup, f*** the dealer, king’s cup, up river/down river, and moose games we played with Keystone Ice. Part of that is because there were so many, and part of that is because I wasn’t in the proper mental state to even form a memory of some of them.
If you don’t remember Keystone Ice, it was like Keystone Light except it came in a black can and was about twice as potent as it’s blue-canned little brother. It was (counterintuitively) cheaper than it’s less alcoholic brethren, but that just meant it was more perfect for our parties when we were trying to stretch a dollar as far as we could. It was even fun to watch grown ass people who would come down to see us (parents and family mainly) try and stomach it. If you’ve never seen someone with a great job, a family, a mortgage, and many corporate responsibilities grimace because their Keystone Ice hits a little different than the craft beer they’re used to, you haven’t truly lived.
I’m a lawyer with a wife and dogs and bills and stuff and I still grab an OE from the gas station for old time’s sake sometimes. It’s a little depressing because they don’t come in 40 oz. bottles anymore and they’re $3.19 instead of the 99¢ they used to me, but it still goes down smooth after a Texas July afternoon mowing the lawn. The point is this: those drinks made up for in memories what they lacked in quality.
I’m sure the next generation will make due. There will always be cheap, crappy beer to sustain college students in the United States. I only hope that they haven’t completely gone away from tradition. I hope they still play Edward 40-hands and beer pong. I hope they still have to wait until someone over 21 gets off work so they can pay them to go to the liquor store and buy everything that’s on the bottom shelf. But most importantly, I hope the memories being formed are just as blurry yet delightful as the ones I have. College is a great time, and those drinks are witnesses to that.
So goodbye, noble beers. It has been an honor and a privilege to exist concurrently with you, and you will not be soon forgotten.