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Real Gear Guide: Best surf beers!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Tired of milquetoast reviews? Get ready for the truth!

You have, through the course of your surfing life, read tens of gear guides. Maybe even hundreds. Wetsuits, trunks, fins, boards, leashes, wax, sunscreen, surf camp, surf charter, etc. And magically each wetsuit, trunk, fin, board, leash, wax sunscreen, surf camp, surf charter, etc. are exemplary.

Glowing reviews for all!

And it is very clearly bullshit.

Some wetsuits ain’t worth the $99 sale rack they’re hanging on. Some trunks are very lame. Some fins pop out when you are trying to win the Drug Aware Pro, some leashes snap, some wax freezes up + melts, some sunscreen leaves you looking whiteface, some surf camps have mosquitos, some surf charters sink with the captain fleeing by jetski. Etc.

It is well past time for an honest review of the things we use most. Which is best but more importantly which is worst.

And let’s start with beer! Michelob Ultra just signed on to the World Surf League so it seems a very appropriate place to begin don’t you think? I do and got to drankin. Here in all drunken honesty is the truth:

(Note. We will be using the WSL’s judging scale.)

St. Archer Blonde Ale: St. Archer began a full on movement of surfers investing in or starting beer companies. Just ask Mick, Joel and Mick and Bede and is Mick even invested in Balter? It don’t matter because it is a rip off of St. Archer that doesn’t get sent to the United States. But back to St. Archer. Many surfers are/were invested including Taylor Knox, Nate Yeomans and a shopping cart full of others. I selected the Blonde Ale because it is the closest the company makes to a “normal” beer. But it ain’t normal. It is heavy, thick, delicious, heavy, thick. I drank a sip and then drank another and then drank a whole big bottle, smacking my lips the entire time but then felt full and thick and heavy. St. Archer should stop pretending to be a fancy microbrew and start pretending to be easy. It should stop trying. 5.57

Michelob Ultra: I wanted to hate it. I wanted to taste and have to spit because of disgusting yuck in my mouth but the newest addition to the World Surf League’s stellar sponsorship roster actually tasted great if it was water. I’m serious! It tastes way better than San Diego’s tap water and pretty much the same as Dasani. Easy to drink, clean and tasteless. If you hate beer but like to drink lots of water and get slightly buzzed this is the beer for you! 8.94 (as water) 5.32 (as beer)

Corona: This Mexican beer has probably spent more time trying to associate itself with the “surf lifestyle” than almost any other. Luke Stedman might have been a pitch man at one point and for sure that handsome Jarrad Howse. It is, or at least used to be, a massive thing in Australia which always confused me greatly. Australia has James Boag! Why bother with the worst of the Mexican beers? But tasting it with an open mind for this guide I understood its appeal. It honestly tastes like sunshine. Cold, easy, sunshine. It is still the worst of the Mexican beers and the lime should be kept out. But a limeless Coronita is almost in the surf beer excellent range. 7.75

Heineken: Hawaii’s favorite beer! It should be Primo but it’s not. It’s Da Green Ones and how do Da Green Ones taste? Unfortunately like an Amsterdam youth hostel. Fun at first. A little off in the middle. Downright bummer at the end. But maybe that’s because I’ve actually been to an Amsterdam youth hostel (I was very youth). There’s a lot happening inside a Heineken. It wants you to know it is real but also wants you to sip easy. This dichotomy almost works. It is the Kolohe Andino of beer. 6.39

Bud Light Lime: Bud Light Lime sponsored a surf series or two back in the day. The powers in St. Louis, I’m assuming, thought it was the lime that gave Corona its kick and tasked their scientists with developing a carcinogenic “lime flavor” in order to snag the elusive surf market. They were wrong. There is no such thing as the surf market and lime actually ruins Corona and Bud Light Lime is gross. 2.45

Balter: I have no idea. It ain’t sold in America but since they copied St. Archer 5.56

James Boag: Why the hell isn’t the entire world drinking James Boag? Dion Agius? Are you? Both are from Tasmania! Flavorful yet crisp. Boozy yet non-filling. James Boag is a John John Florence air that puts the final nail in Joel Parkinson’s coffin. (Is Joel Parkinson an investor in Balter?) James Boag for the yellow jersey. 8.93

To recap, James Boag rings the bell. Corona gets its face painted by an Aborigine too and gets a mini bell.

Shhhhhhh it's a Hinano not a James Boag but Kelly Slater would never know the difference...

Shhhhhhh it’s a Hinano not a James Boag but Kelly Slater would never know the difference…