Finals Edition: Picking the right beer to make Finals Week a bit more bearable

By Jackson Crowder/ Staff Writer

If I’ve learned anything during my tenure in college, it’s that everything is better when accompanied by a beer. This time of year, everything is made up, largely, of studying. 

Now, it’s undeniable that a glass of beer on the desk makes the studying process infinitely more bearable, but caution is required. No one wants to be in the midst of a paper or flurry of flashcards only to realize that the alcohol has taken effect, rendering studying impossible. Fortunately for everyone, there are quality low-alcohol beers to be had that will improve finals week (barely).

The ubiquitous, classic Boston Lager from Samuel Adams is a perfect choice for such situations. It weighs in at only 4.9 percent ABV but still packs a robust flavor with a picture-perfect hop-malt balance. It is refreshing, delicious, easy to find and, most importantly for finals week, can be drunk in quantity. 

Should you be looking west for your beer selection, avoid the higher-ABV pale ales and pick up a six pack of Anchor Steam. Also boasting a gentle 4.9 percent ABV, this California common lager has a similar, though less hop-forward balance, as the aforementioned Sam Adams, with a soothing citrus note to finish it off. Routinely mentioned among the best beers produced in America, it is a failsafe choice for a casual study beer. 

If you’re in the mood for something hoppy, look to Founders’ All Day IPA. Appropriately named for its 4.7 percent ABV, it is a beer that can be consumed en masse without too much of an adverse effect. It is aggressively hoppy with flavors of citrus and pine, able to satisfy hop-heads everywhere while still being forgiving enough to study with.

Finals are terrible, but the post-finals elation makes it all worthwhile. As is done in most parts of the world, celebrations are usually accompanied by drink — the best of which, of course, is beer. Seeing as personal responsibility is at a distinct low as finals end, consuming some harsher, higher-ABV beers is not only merited, but encouraged. 

With Christmas close on the horizon, an excellent choice for a burly beer is Troegs’ Mad Elf, their winter seasonal. Flavored with honey and cherries and flexing its muscles at 11 percent ABV, Mad Elf is a wonderful and surprisingly easygoing beer that needs to be treated with a bit of caution. Its sweetness hides the alcohol well, but be assured, it’s there. Don’t let Mad Elf sneak up on you — or do, if you want. That’s fine, too.

If Belgian ales are more your style, try Delirium Tremens from the Huyghe Brewery in East Flanders, Belgium. Delirium can be expensive but is well worth the price. It tastes of aromatic peppercorns and sweet fruit with a boozy finish that reveals its 8.2 percent ABV punch. It is one of the most celebrated Belgian brews around, as well as a personal favorite, for a reason. 

Finally, if you’re a bit more adventurous and want to try something truly crazy, go for Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA. Its rotating limited-release season makes it difficult to find, but should you be able to get your hands on the 18 percent ABV ale, you’ll be in for a truly rewarding experience. It’s abusive, to be sure, but not as much as you might expect. Some of the sugars that help the beer achieve such a high level of alcohol content during the fermentation process get left behind in the bottle, adding a level of sweetness that cuts 120 Minute’s massive bite. It’s a punch in the face, but a good one that will have you coming back for more.

Enjoy these beers with the responsibility and understanding that every level of beer has its place in the world and an appropriate setting for consumption. Good luck, everyone.

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