Steel Reserve

Today’s Mistake: Steel Reserve, the angry man’s malt liquor.

shteel reserve

8.1% alcohol by volume

24 ounce can

Price: $2.99

ABQ: 65.01

In my younger, more foolish days, I’d rarely stray from malt liquor. These beverages offered a nice package: strong, cheap, plentiful, endorsed by rappers. In fact, I’d say 75% of my daily life is directly impacted by what I hear in rap music. As a youth, I was captivated by the concept of a “forty-ounce,” a drinking vessel both comically large and mostly impractical. My heroes in those days, gentlemen like Ice Cube, the Notorious B.I.G., and King Tee, were always quick to enlighten others, to educate and inform. All three of those cats eventually signed endorsement deals with St. Ides, a formerly popular malt liquor that has lost much of its luster since the nineties (I am the first person in recorded history to use the words “luster” and “malt liquor” in the same sentence). My malt of choice has nearly always been Steel Reserve, for one simple reason: shit is strong. Most malt liquors clock in lower, in the fives and sixes, but not Steel. Forty ounces of 8.1% is enough to get any night started. Sadly, what we’ve got here is a can, so it’s not quite as cool. The stuff inside is the same, and I’m excited, as I’ve not had Steel Reserve in nearly three years.


Oooh, I could describe this one from memory. And I will, because I’m too lazy to get a glass. A deep, dark amber, with a slight froth and some good carbonation.


Wow, was I a moron as a youngster. This stuff tastes a lot stronger than 8.1%. I remember once, in college, we lost power for a few hours, and I drank a warm Steel Reserve to hold me over until the Super Nintendo would turn back on. Today, the thought of warm Steel Reserve chills me to the core.


Thick and sassy.


I’ll always love the Steel Reserve design, including that apparently nonsensical “211” they’ve always got on the label. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?


I swear I used to buy forties of Steel for $2.99, but my memory is pretty abysmal. Not a bad deal for 24 ounces.

Final Verdict

Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Not really. But it’s still got a special place in my mind. 4 out of a possible 5.