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Cheap Beer Review: Keystone Ice is terrible

Keystone Ice

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SCENE runs valuable coverage of beer and the beer industry in the form of beer industry insider Malissa Gatton’s column, Beer from Here. This is not that. This is Cheap Beer Review, an occasional feature in which I extol the virtues (or bemoan the failings) of various cans of pale yellow swill. It is a dumb feature, and I love it.

The beer: Keystone Ice, a dorm-room staple introduced in 1994 (in the midst of the ice-beer boom from which our great nation has not yet fully recovered). Beer Advocate rates Keystone Ice the world’s fourth worst beer ( I didn’t know this when I bought a six-pack of 16-ounce cans for $5.49 at the 7-Eleven. But by the time I’d had, oh, about 4 ounces, I could have guessed.

The stats: 5.9 percent alcohol by volume, 145 calories, 10 mg sodium, 6.9 grams carbs, 2 grams sugar, 1 gram protein per 12-ounce serving. That’s a good alcohol-to-calorie ratio, for all you health-conscious drunkards out there.

Official description: “Keystone Ice is a crisp, medium-bodied beer that is lightly hopped with a slightly sweet flavor and medium-to-dry finish with a light gold color.”

My description: The summer before I turned 21, I worked as a grill cook at The Brown Jug in Ann Arbor, Mich. As an underage employee of one of the beeriest bars in a Midwestern college town, I frequently lamented my inability to actually drink there. What hurt most was watching my co-workers clear tables where people had abandoned half-full pitchers. “I’ll never do that,” I thought to myself. “I’ll finish MY beer.”

I mention this because I poured out most of my Keystone Ice. And if anyone would like the other five cans, they’re welcome to them. (Valid ID required, of course.) I drink and enjoy all kinds of terrible, cheap beer. But this is a beer that actually loses in a beer-versus-no-beer comparison.

But what about Keystone Light? Sure, yeah. I’ll drink those. I’ll drink those all day long.

Overall rating: 2 out of 10, which (adjusted for scale) is actually lower than the 1.73 out of 5 it got from Beer Advocate’s reviewers. I guess that means I have a more discriminating palate than they do.

Reach Pat Muir at

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