No matter how stuck-up and pretentious you are about alcohol, there are some occasions when you just want to get hammered on crap lagers and questionable malt liquors. The 4th of July is one of those holidays, an all-out celebration of freedom punctuated by how many born-and-bred American light beers you can chug before you light yourself on fire with some illegal fireworks. Who wants to think about IBUs and mouthfeel when you’re trying your hardest to survive the night without losing a limb?
There is no better embodiment of “America, fuck yeah!” than Bud Light’s “Rita” series, and there’s no more appropriate way to illustrate this than with their audaciously tropically branded “Fiesta Pack.” Why does this 18-can pack of four different Bud Light-a-Rita flavors even exist, and why are they in piddly 8-oz. cans reminiscent of Treetop apple juice? Because fuck you, these colors don’t run – no matter how vibrant and disgustingly artificial they may be.
But patriotic qualities don’t mean jack if the product is crappy to begin with. So here I am, with a case of beer flavored malt beverage right out of Willy Wonka’s twisted psyche, and an opportunity to take one for the team.
The Bud Light Lime-a-Rita Fiesta pack comes in four flavors: Lime-a-rita (the classic), Straw-ber-rita (the rebel), Mang-o-rita (the exotic), and Lemon-ade-rita (the “we ran out of ideas”).
If I were to judge them purely based on my affinity for fruits, I’d put mango on top with strawberry not too far behind, and lemon and lime way down in some pauper’s ditch of boring fruits.
Upon opening, I can definitely taste the rainbow through smell alone – the aroma of artificial fruit is so strong it singes my nostrils and makes me want to cry tears of Skittles. Mango is by far the strongest when it comes to aroma – it’s like they took an entire summer collection’s worth of Bath and Body Works paraphernalia and condensed it into a drinkable liquid format. (Which I don’t mind – the only thing better than the smell of a ripe mango is the smell of a fake ripe mango.)
Strawberry continues the olfactory onslaught with an intoxicating scent reminiscent of a Hello Kitty store. Lime smells like Sprite mixed with a pinch of what smells like a fake Chinese knock-off of agave (bgave?), and the lemon smells like, well, lemonade.
Like I said, fucking boring.
Lime-a-Rita: The original Bud-Lighted fake-juice that sparked outrage and drunk 15 year olds across the nation. This tastes less like a margarita and more like a high-octane Mountain Dew, like the special-grade variety they serve to X-Games athletes and professional eSports players. I could see myself drinking this if I want to cut through something incredibly salty – like a glass of ocean water. Rating: C-
Lemon-ade-Rita: This piss-poor excuse for a shandy disguised as some margarita-adjacent beverage is pure Country Time. There’s no hint of alcohol, nor any natural lemon flavor. Don’t waste your money; buy a Mike’s Hard Lemonade instead – or a fifth of cheap vodka and a thing of Minute Maid. Rating: D+
Straw-ber-Rita: The most vibrant of the lineup, this tastes like somebody tried to make a cocktail out of powdered strawberry Jell-O and pre-ban 4Loko. The most saccharine of them all, this is the perfect beverage for lightweight college kids aspiring to chug stupid shit and gain pre-diabetic status by the end of sophomore year. Rating: F+
Mang-o-Rita: By far the most disappointing of the bunch, this mess is cloyingly sweet, accented by a fusel bitterness that would make prison moonshine taste like Pappy Van Winkle. It’s gut-wrenchingly similar to the low-end raspberry vodka that always did me wrong during college. Rating: Mang-o-Rita can’t melt steel beams.
Unless you’re looking to coerce high schoolers into partying with you this Independence Day, steer far away from these. They mostly taste like Japanese cosmetics, and at $18.99 for an 18-pack, it’s not even worth it to purchase a pack ironically (don’t be that guy). Yeah, the Lime-a-Rita tasted like an awesome Mountain Dew liqueur, but you can easily concoct your own GamerFuel potion at home.
If you’re over the age of 25 and looking to get hammered off sugary sweet drinks, spend $6 on a bottle of Ballast Point’s Mai Tai mix and some cheap rum. It’s the best off-the-shelf cocktail mix I’ve ever had, and results in a Tiki cocktail that is strong and delicious.
Now to figure out what to do with the 14 other cans.