By Aaron Ramson
I used to have this friend Chris who ordered a Snakebite every time we went out to a bar. He’d drink pint after pint until he was inevitably throwing up nachos and beer foam in the back alley of the pub, and not a once did I ever ask him what a Snakebite was. I always imagined it was this venomous concoction worthy of a southwestern motif; a deadly combining of mezcal and Modelo, or tequila and Tecate.
When I found out my buddy Chris was getting hammer kablammered on a mix of cider and lager beer, I A) kinda thought that was a wimpy thing for a macho dude to be quaffing without shame, and B) I kinda wanted some (it was years later that I realized my pal Chris was putting shots of Yukon Jack in his cider/lager drinks. So, sorry for thinking you weren’t hardcore, Chris). So, cut to me at 21, ordering these beautiful looking half-and half drinks, pints of bronze and straw-gold liquid split by a clean, horizontal plane mid-glass. The bartender asks me if I’d ever had a Black and Tan, and when I said I hadn’t, he slid in front of me a half-and-half drink that was even more starkly contrasted than the Snakebite. The pale yellow of lager cut cleanly by the obsidian blackness of stout, the Black and Tan is truly a gorgeous pint of beer. There’s an aesthetic to these drinks that draws the eye and beckons a taste, and an appeal in that it must be mixed fresh, because you can’t put a Black and Tan in a bottle.
Someone forgot to tell the Mississippi Brewing Company that.
Growing up on a steady diet of Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry cartoons, I was able to put two and two together and deduce that a brown jug with XXX on it must have been filled with something amazing for hillbilly cartoon characters to always be tipping them back the way they did. Ceramic jugs with small thumb loops have fascinated me ever since, so you can imagine my delight the first time I saw the uniquely designed glass bottle that Mississippi Mud came in. Perfectly mimicking an earthenware, two-tone moonshine jug, Mississippi Mud has hands-down the most idiosyncratic bottle of any beer on the market. Illustrated with the image of a fierce looking alligator, the label is shrink wrapped around the glass bottle, and makes a statement as unique as the beer inside. In big, bold letters, the phrase “FAMOUS SLOW BREWED BLACK & TAN PORTER AND PILSNER BEER” is emblazoned across the entire front of the bottle in a bold and gaudy font. I have no idea what the marketing team at Mississippi brewing thought “slow brewed” meant (that’s like saying a bread is slow baked or a chicken is slow fried), but it’s no cheesier of a phrase than “taste the Rockies” is.
MISSISSIPPI MUD – 5% ABV, Mississippi brewing company (contract brewed by the Matt Brewing Company)
APPEARANCE: Not exactly the black and tan that you get at a bar, but a light, caramel brown that borders on amber. Crystal clear clarity, and a nicely capped head of foam that disappears quickly. 3.75/5
NOSE: Sweet with the smell of corn, there are some toffee and chocolate notes from the porter. Light hops come through eventually, woody and herbal. 3/5
TASTE: Mild coffee and chocolate with the slightest roasted notes on the finish; the taste really follows the nose on this one. After several swallows, the impression of a beer with both pilsner and porter flavors is evident. Soft, herbal hoppiness finishes each sip, but there’s also a cheap, sweet twang at the backend of the palate, marring an otherwise enjoyable flavor. 3.25/5
MOUTHFEEL: A high level of carbonation and a medium-thin body combine to give a crisp finish that is definitely pilsner. 3.5/5
OVERALL: It’s been years since I purchased one of these jug-shaped bottles of Mississippi Mud, and I was surprised at how unique this beer still is. While sources online debate who actually brews it (one source claims that “Matt Brewing Company” is actually the Arizona brewing company), it’s a beer that serves as a gateway for those looking to venture outside the realms of their favorite mass market lagers. Inexpensive and not too difficult to find, I’d recommend this for fans of Newcastle brown ale, another lightly flavored dark ale. 3.4/5