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Drinking the World’s Worst Beer: Olde English 800

It’s not easy being the worst at something.

Spectacular failure doesn’t just happen –  it requires profoundly “not getting it” but still putting in a full effort. It takes an unflinching lack of talent and deeply misguided motives.

Being the best at being bad means creating something so uniquely unpleasant that people take notice.  The films of Ed Wood come to mind.  Or the Yugo.  Or the music of GG Allin (and don’t give me that performance artist crap).

In the world of beer, this honor goes to Olde English 800, which was recently crowned the “Worst Beer in the World” by the folks over at Rate Beer.

But how bad can it really be?  Well, I recently received a 40 of Olde English as a gag gift and decided to see just how much “gag” the gift could elicit.  As it turns out, there’s a lot wrong here, so let’s break it down in a linear fashion, starting with the packaging.

As beer nerds know, daylight is the natural enemy of beer. Its rays penetrate the brew and create a reaction in the oil of the hops to create the “skunk” flavor associated with beer gone bad.  To protect against this, brewers put their beers in dark bottles (or even better, cans) to block out these harmful rays.  But not the folks who bottle Olde English 800.  True to its malt liquor roots, they package it in a clear bottle, Colt .45 style, light damage be damned.  Maybe there aren’t any hops to skunk.  I dunno.

Next is the sensation of actually twisting off the tall metal screw top. The popping sound it makes as you start to twist.  The way the metal cap scrapes the glass threads as it is unwound from the bottle. The way the cap feels oddly light in the hand.  I can’t remember the last time I unscrewed the top of a beer, but it felt foreign and a little wrong.

Even before the pour, my kitchen began to fill with the unmistakable smell of “daytime drunk.”  It reminded me of Ralph, a guy who hung around the gas station I worked at in high school.  Ralph lived in an old police cruiser out back with his friend Lenny, who he may or may not have killed in his sleep.  It’s amazing the memories a smell can whip up, especially that of cheap beer breath.

When I poured it, the Olde English 800 had a perfectly clear light straw color – It looked nice, if not a little “thin” in the glass.  I poured it hard, conjuring a large and fluffy white head that quickly disappeared.  In the bottle, large bubbles clung to the sides, as if it contained fresh dishwater.  That’s never a good sign.

The nose failed to make me any more confident that I’d enjoy this beer, as it smelled of alcohol, corn, some veggies and a bit like an uncle who tickles too hard.

The taste was sour, with more corn, some sweet malt, some metallic notes and the hint of rancid vegetables, which hung on my palate long after the sip was over.  Overall, this is not a good beer.

But was it the “worst” beer in the world?  I really can’t say because I don’t usually drink these kinds of brews.  It tasted like a very bad example of a typical macro-brewed lager, but it didn’t make me gag or anything.

Actually, it lead me to a surprising comparison.  It made me think of Pliny the Elder, considered by many to be the best beer in the world.  As beers, they couldn’t be more different, but as “ultimates” (best and worst) they share something in common – too much hype.

For the Homies. And my palate.

Just like I was disappointed that Pliny the Elder didn’t live up to its billing, I was equally underwhelmed by Olde English 800’s awfulness.  I was ready for paint thinner served in a dirty soup can, but all that I got was a generally bad beer.  It wasn’t brilliantly or willfully bad like Cop Rock, it was just not very good.  But I guess when you’re making lists, someone has to be on top, or bottom, or whatever.

After my sample, I started to pour a bit out (in honor of my fallen homies) and decided to honor them as much as possible, letting the contents of the 40 drain out completely.

But just like my departed homeboys, the Olde English 800 continued to be with me in spirit, as its rancid veggie aftertaste clung to my palate.  It was strong enough to spoil the Troegs Mad Elf I used as a chaser, pulling out the worst in that otherwise magnificent brew.

I should have chased it with whiskey instead.

Or Listerine.

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Categories: Beer, review

Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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58 Comments on “Drinking the World’s Worst Beer: Olde English 800”

  1. Evan
    November 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

    Steel Reserve is much, much worse. Do a write up on a review of that 🙂

    • November 8, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

      I’ve done my part for science!! Now where is that Stone Imperial Russian Stout I had…

    • returned4good
      March 6, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

      I agree. 211 is a lot worse. Tastes like pure liquid ass. At least Olde E gets better as you get drunk. Granted, I haven’t drank it since I was a teen paying homeless guys to buy it for me 😛

  2. November 8, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    Cave. Creek. Chili. Beer.

    What a hilarious send-up of, in the parlance of my fraternity days in the mid 90’s, “O E”.

    • November 8, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

      I thought I’d give it a fair shake, and it was certainly not very good. But it’s legendary for being bad, which is better than mediocre, right?

  3. November 8, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Two words: Brass Monkey!

    • November 8, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

      That funky monkey?

      • November 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

        That’s the one. Gets your vitamin C in for the day.

  4. November 8, 2010 at 4:06 pm #

    Funny! Mad props for giving it the ol’ college try though!

    • November 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

      I think just about everyone gave “The Olde” a try in college, Scott.

  5. November 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    Totally out of line with the shot at Cop-Rock. As a fan of Randy Newman all I can say is…. Ok, really what were they thinking!

    • November 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

      I was on the fence about calling it the worst TV show ever, then I looked at the video clip on YouTube that I linked to.

      After that, I considered writing it in all CAPS and making it bold. If I could make it a flashing *worst*worst*worst* I would. 🙂

      • Don
        November 8, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

        How come I have never heard of this Cop Rock? The song seemed pretty good…He’s Guiiiillllttttyyy!

        • November 8, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

          Maybe they didn’t get it in whatever isolated hellhole you were living in at the time.

        • Don
          November 8, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

          That sounds like a good thing, no?

        • November 8, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

          Missing Cop Rock? Yes.

          Still having dial-up Internet? No.

      • November 8, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

        There was also “Uncle Buck: The Series”:

        and an Enos spinoff from “The Dukes of Hazzard”:

        • November 8, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

          Wow, those are both contenders, John.

          I kept waiting for Kevin Meaney to shriek “That’s Not Riiight!” during the Uncle Buck opening. And the theme song is just perfect. What a load of 80’s poo that was!

  6. Brandon
    November 9, 2010 at 2:48 am #

    Jim, way to man up! Don, your brother is almost Idaho worthy. Get the flannel ready!

    • November 9, 2010 at 10:43 am #

      Don’t forget that I lived in Iowa for five years as a kid and then suburban Detroit. I’m flannel worthy already, trust me!

      Of course it might be designer flannel, with a tighter patterns and a slim cut…

      • Don
        November 9, 2010 at 11:15 am #

        Dude, You’re like LL Bean Flannel worthy. You need to get out here and get you some Carharts!

  7. BobBu
    November 9, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    Is the malt liquor classification close enough to a beer to be in the same category? If that’s the case, wouldn’t Smirnoff Ice and the Mike’s Hard be there as well? Aren’t those all in that malt somethingorother category?

    • November 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

      Malt Liquor isn’t exactly beer – it uses tradition beer ingredients, but the alcohol content is usually jacked up using sugar or other additives. But in general, if it’s yellow and fizzy, it’s considered to be in the “beer” family (at least by me).

      Mike’s and Ice are both malt beverages, but they don’t use the ingredients found in beer the way a traditional malt liquor does. They are alcoholic beverages designed for those who don’t like beer but want something to sip on that won’t separate them from their panties.

      • BobBu
        November 9, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

        I thought that was the point of the malternatives, no? Helping people make bad decisions since the Zima era?

        • November 9, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

          Zima was just aping the pioneering work done by messers Bartles and Jaymes with their lovely wine coolers. I wonder how many kids born in the mid to late 80’s can thank them for helping get them into this world?

  8. Frank
    November 9, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    You’re welcome.

    • November 9, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

      Yes, thanks for supplying the bottle of OE, Frank. You are a man of exquisite tastes.

      Sorry I didn’t invite you over for the tasting. There was plenty to go around.

  9. November 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    Anyone down for round of Edward 40-hands? You bring the duct tape, I’ll get the 40’s.

    • November 9, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

      You win. Whew – I’m glad that’s over! 🙂

  10. November 10, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    I’ve never had OE. Even back in the day when I drank macro stuff I never thought to pick it up. I used to play a drinking game called ‘Edward 40 Hands.’ Duct tape a 40 ounce of crap beer to each hand…can take them off till they’re gone. The memory alone makes me want to puke. Anyway…OE seems like a perfect choice for Edward 40 Hands.

    • November 10, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

      I believeOE is pictured in the Official Edward 40 Hands Rulebook. It was made for that game!

    • November 10, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

      oops…just noticed justin commented on the same thing.

      • November 10, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

        it feels good to not be alone…

  11. Kevin M
    November 11, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    You mentioned GG Allin and “crap” in the same sentence… haha!

    • November 11, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

      I didn’t think of that, but it’s totally appropriate, no?

      • November 11, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

        Monsieur Allin and I share a birthday. I think fondly of it.

        • Don
          November 11, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

          Why does that not surprise me?…

        • November 11, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

          Better than sharing a bathroom with him.

        • Don
          November 11, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

          How did he always know he would go on stage? He must have had a big meal before each performance!

        • November 11, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

          Coffee and prunes!!

  12. November 11, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Also, Michael Jackson, but not the beer one. The kid-diddler-Thriller one.

    • November 11, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

      That, too, makes sense, Daniel…

  13. Some dude
    March 31, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    damn. this beer is bomb. im tired of getting 40s with no taste to it. i.e. light beers. i always get a 40 of olde english when im at the store.. ive had MUCH worse beers in my life. like king cobra.

    • lashanna
      August 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

      Or 40….

  14. pseudonym
    October 1, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    I like Olde English and I have tried other beers when I lived in Germany and I liked them too. I do not think it should be labeled as such. I guess people have their opinions.

  15. Matthew Uballe
    October 14, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    you know they make it in cans haha thats my favorite beer but not in a dam 40

    • October 14, 2011 at 11:55 am #

      I actually had no idea about the cans, I’ve only seen the 40’s. And there’s something about this beer that makes the 40oz see-through glass bottle just seem like the way to go…

  16. DJ Uncle Boom Boom
    October 28, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    Old E has always been my favorite since I was 16 yrs old…I’m 41 now and still enjoy it. 40, 24, 22 or 16 oz. They use to make 64 oz bottles of Old E. (serious arm curls) I drank that too. To my surprise Old E is made by Miller and I enjoy all Miller beer products.

  17. Mike white
    December 15, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Packaging? The “feel” of the cap? You act like you bought a car or something. Drink a fourty or six, then tell me it ain’t the whip son.

    • December 15, 2011 at 11:58 am #

      I hear you, dog.

  18. z
    March 27, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    I dunno if it’s just me, I drink the canadian 8% and it just tastes like a sweet beer with a little extra alcohol. In fact, I love this stuff… 12 bucks and you’re as drunk as you wanna be. On the other hand, I have awful taste according to my friends… being in university and all you can’t afford that much. Old E or Old Mil when you’re poor and Crown Royal/Coke or Canadian when the money comes in.

    • March 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

      If your metric is buzz-for-the-buck, then OE is a contender!

  19. OneVoteManyTimes
    April 5, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    It is great that FLOTUS appears in an ad at the end of a Malt Liquor article asking for a vote for her husband.

    ML drinkers unite!

  20. lashanna
    August 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    I been sippin on old gold for 15 yrs….i can say i still have a flat stomach…its the best hood beer ever…who ever the makers are need to do commercials i’ll represent for old gold……….

  21. curtis
    September 27, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    what kind of bitch pours the 8ball in a glass lol 8ball aint for the taste its to get the ball rollin and get u drunk you lame

  22. Mike B
    September 16, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    They are terrible on their own. Try out a brass monkey, it’s the only way to drink old e.

  23. July 3, 2014 at 1:19 am #

    There are beers that are worse than Olde E. The mentioned Steel Reserve is awful. Natty ice is slightly worse. Colt 45 too me is much worse. They do come in cans of course but are better known for the 40’s. I use to drink this back in the day. Since then i moved on to other mass produced beers. Now just more recently i rediscovered Olde E and been drinking it again. As long as it is cold and i avoid drinking the head it is acceptable and more importantly cheap..lol…Anyone remember Crazy Horse?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. It’s Beer Review Day « An Untrained Exploration into Beer - November 8, 2010

    […] for Beer & Whiskey Bros. today Jim commented on the the worlds worst beer, Olde English 800, and does a quick review on the brew. First off I love the passion about beer and his willingness to […]

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