Beers I Have Known: Hamm’s

This series of posts is dedicated to the many, many six packs, pony kegs and pints that have sauntered into my life at one point or another.

When I was in college, Hamm’s was the punishment beer. I mean that literally. The legend goes a little something like this: as we headed towards the end of the school year, there were two major bashes–entirely unofficial, mind you–held for the college radio station staff. One was an exhausted blowout that took place after the successful completion of our major annual fundraiser, the World’s Largest Trivia Contest. The second was at the very end of the year, and we called it Case-A-Thon, about which perhaps the less shared the better. One spring, the post-Trivia party went on a little later than might be expected from a group of students weary from the sleep-compromising task of running an event that lasts fifty-four hours. We needed to replenish our supplies, so a collection was taken up and a couple intrepid souls (with one sober driver) were dispatched to make a purchase at one of the tavern that opened early in the morning to serve third-shift workers. After an extended mission, the tasked drunkards returns with a wholly inadequate case of Hamm’s, the rest of the kitty apparently used for the vig of a couple drinks at the bar. They were gone long enough that the rest of us had sobered up, meaning that we couldn’t stomach this beer from the lowest of the low shelves. We collectively called it a night (or morning), leaving behind several partially consumed drinks and a even more sizable number of untouched cans.

When we returned to the same house for Case-A-Thon several weeks later, the Hamm’s still sat in the fridge, the unwillingness of a household of broke college kids to drink it undoubtedly providing a crystal clear picture about the quality of the brew. It was determined that the leftover Hamm’s would be used that day as “penalty beers,” foisted upon anyone foolhardy enough to adhere to our event’s ragged but serious rules. This successfully added to the integrity of our event, and the next year a case of Hamm’s was purchased specifically for Case-A-Thon, the punishment heightened by moving their storage space from the cool confines of a refrigeration unit to the hard concrete outside the back door, where it was made toasty warm by the beating-down sun. It’s my understanding that the following year, things escalated and the penalty beers were actually heated on the stove after each infraction, but I was thankfully not a witness to or perpetrator of that inhumanity.

Point Special
21st Amendment Bitter American
Abita Restoration Pale Ale
Rolling Rock
Skull Splitter
Highland Thunderstruck Coffee Porter
Red Stripe
Rhinelander Bock
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
New Glarus Brewing Company Wisconsin Belgian Red
ABA Hoppy Saison

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