It’s the holiday season again and if you’re like me that means you’re gonna spend it alone in a dark apartment listening to your upstairs neighbors have sex while you drunkenly text pictures of your junk to your ex-girlfriends and also your landlord accidentally. Most likely you’ll be too hammered to be able to cook anything but you’ll have stocked plenty of beer and law school rejection letters to cry onto. Well you’re in luck because The Classy Alcoholic is now your only friend and I’ll be giving you a guide to the best fast food and Arizona craft beer pairings for your lonely holiday celebrations.
Yes, I’m normally big on supporting local businesses but let’s face it, a lot of your local options aren’t gonna have 24 hour drive-throughs. Most of these places do. Let’s get to it!
Jack In The Box Monster Nacho Taco
THE “FOOD”: If you’re familiar with Jack In The Box’s “two tacos for 99 cents” deal then you’re probably also going through hard times after making some terrible financial decisions like investing in the Latin Grammies or having children. Regular JBX tacos are normally a crusty shell filled with some sort of brown and beefy, Play-Doh-y paste made up of the leftover animal parts and chemicals that were deemed too unregulated to even be allowed into a Circle K hotdog. These things resemble actual tacos the same way herpes resembles a good anniversary present for your wife.
The Monster Nacho Taco was created for people who like both nachos and tacos but don’t want it to agitate their racism too much. They’re slightly larger and more expensive than the regular tacos but they’re also slathered in salty nacho cheese and jalapeños and make an excellent dinner option for people who grew up without a father figure in their lives.
THE BREWERY: Huss Brewing Company in Tempe
THE BEER: Scottsdale Blonde. A German Style Kolsch. 4.7% ABV. 90% sex appeal.
THE PAIRING: My first bite of the Monster Nacho Taco was very salty, maybe because of the cheese, probably because of the tears. Excess cheese and taco sauce squirted out the other end of the taco and onto my lap so make sure you’re eating this while standing over a household pet or small child that you hate. The jalapeños scattered inside add a nice spicy element to this act of revenge against your taste buds. The Scottsdale Blonde is a light, smooth beer with slight hoppy and malty undertones that mix well with the salt and accentuate the spice. The crisp flavor of the Scottsdale Blonde doesn’t extinguish the spicy flavor of the Nacho Taco but instead it spreads the flavor around while offsetting the burn allowing for maximum enjoyment of this crunchy, leathery monstrosity. Those of us who spent our teenage years working as a cashier in a remote gas station off of rural I-10 know that light beer and nacho cheese go together like dirty sex and nacho cheese.
THE RATING: I rate this lonely fast food and beer pairing a night out walking through a refinery district in your town where the excess smog blocks the night sky so that when you look up you see:
KFC Famous Bowl
THE “FOOD”: KFC realized it was neglecting its higher income customer base by only offering greasy, fried chicken pieces that had to be eaten with your hands. As if you were some sort of filthy animal or Democrat. Even worse, they served those loose pieces of peasant food in a bucket, the most plebeian of chicken receptacles. But after hiring the same brilliant marketing team that generated billions of dollars in revenue after pitching the lobster risotto-flavored condom KFC found a way to appeal to the higher class of fast food customer who knows that using your hands to eat is completely fucking gauche.
THE BREWERY: Oak Creek Brewing Company in Sedona
THE BEER: Oak Creek Nut Brown Ale. A…umm…nut brown ale. 5.5% ABV. Make sure to buy two bottles of these at a time so you can always offer people a drink of “deez nut browns.”
THE PAIRING: As mentioned, KFC’s Famous Bowl allows you to keep your delicate, perfectly manicured hands clean by putting all of its food into a single bowl and giving you a plastic spork that your butler can use to feed you the mushy stew made up of mashed potatoes, bite-sized chicken pieces and kernels of sweet corn. The entire plate of gruel is topped off with a thin film of solidified shredded cheese and brown gravy that gives a little bit of resistance to the first spork poke of the uninitiated. Once you realize it’ll take a little extra push to break through the force field you can dig into the flavor-filled goodness that tastes all the sweeter because the bowl made you work for it. The Oak Creek Nut Brown Ale is light but with enough nutty, malty flavor to complement the cheese and slightly sweet taste coming from the corn. The beefy, buttery flavor of the gravy would normally make this pairing a little too heavy but fortunately the Oak Creek Nut Brown Ale has a pretty light mouthfeel that makes for easy sipping with each bite of the chicken-based compost in your bowl. This paring is a perfect substitute for a Thanksgiving turkey dinner if you can’t afford a real Thanksgiving turkey dinner because you’re only a few bucks away from overdrafting your bank account because for some reason you can’t make alimony payments with a fucking Target Card.
THEN WHAT GOOD ARE YOU, TARGET CARD, YOU 22% APR-ASS BITCH ???
THE RATING: I rate this lonely fast food and beer pairing the 1995 erotic thriller film, Jade, featuring David Caruso, Linda Fiorentino and Chazz Palminteri which, even by 1995 standards, had:
McDonald’s McGangBang Sandwich
Side note: I was originally planning to pair a craft beer with the McRib Sandwich but it turns out that McDonald’s allows franchise owners to decide whether or not they want to actually serve the thing in their locations. And this year, only 55% of the restaurants opted to bring back the McRib which meant I drove around to about six different fucking McDonald’s locations trying to find this goddamn back-alley abortionist’s sorry excuse for a meal because that’s how serious I am about this blog. Obviously, I came up empty handed but I figured there would be plenty more terrible “food” options offered by the corporation that launched a thousand glucometer strips. Anyway…
THE “FOOD”: The McGangBang is not actually an item that’s available on the menu at McDonald’s. It is a combination of the McDouble and the Spicy McChicken, both of which are available on the Value Menu. There are some people who believe McDonald’s has a “Secret Menu” and that if you ask for a McGangBang then the person on the other end of the intercom will know exactly what you’re talking about and gladly assemble the sandwich for you. But if you’re the kind of person who will actually utter the word “McGangBang” to the stoned 16 year old high school dropout or the stoned 40 year old mother of three working behind a McDonald’s counter at 2am then you’re clearly lonelier than even this blog can handle. Just order the two hamburger sandwiches and assemble the shit yourself, please.
THE BREWERY: Borderlands Brewing Company in Tucson
THE BEER: Noche Dulce. A Vanilla Porter. 7.1% ABV. The name “Noche Dulce” is Spanish for “Liquid Orgasm In A Can.”
THE PAIRING: The McDouble is a hamburger sandwich made up of two 100% (?) beef patties, a single slice of cheese (?) in the middle and topped with ketchup, mustard, minced onions and a couple of pickles. The McChicken is a spicy, fried chicken breast topped with mayo and shredded lettuce. In order to make the McGangBang you spread the McDouble down the middle and place the McChicken in that gaping, empty space – buns and all – then reassemble the sandwich. I left mine in the fridge overnight so I could have it for breakfast the morning after a particularly heated debate with a tequila bottle over whether or not I could drink it through more than two orifices at a time. I won.
Biting into the McGangBang was an explosion of flavor. There was beef, onion, cheese, mustard, ketchup, pickle, cheese, mayo, spicy chicken and cheese all up in my mouth-hole. The only beer that could handle such a strongly flavored, lonely meal was the Borderlands Vanilla Porter. The spice from the chicken gave the beer a slightly smoky flavor and the vanilla taste was the perfect addition to the bold flavors of the McGangBang. The underlying sweetness was like a much-welcome dessert plate added to the Human Centipede of a burger that filtered its flavors through several, complex layers. The Noche Dulce also has hints of espresso in it that absolutely blow up and spread through your palate while becoming slightly spicy themselves after every bite of the McGangBang.
In the end I highly recommend you try the McGangBang because it’s been a non-traditional food option that’s been neglected for a long time due to McDonald’s puritanical philosophy that says two burgers should never be inside each other. This dedication to an outdated theology deprives burgers of their right to be inside whatever food group they want to be in.
I actually reached out to the McDonald’s corporate headquarters for a statement on the rights of the McGangbang and their response was simple: “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Mayor McCheese.”
THE RATING: I rate this lonely fast food and beer pairing the forgetful ninja who leaves his weapon pouch at home and when he sees a bunch of dudes with Katanas come at him he reaches down into where the pouch would be looking for some kind of sharp projectile weapon to throw only to find that he now has:
Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos
THE “FOOD”: As a person of Mexican descent Taco Bell is an offense to me and to the entire culture that my family proudly represents…but if I had any real pride in my family heritage then I would’ve listened to my mother and hidden her bag of meth in my butt like she asked in order to keep her out of jail after the cops kicked down our front door that one time when I was a kid. But I didn’t. So fuck it.
THE BEER(S): HopShock IPA from SanTan Brewing Company. An India Pale Ale. 7.1% ABV. The only beer named after the specific type of PTSD that afflicts rabbits.
Also the Barrio Blonde. An American Blonde Ale. 4.53% ABV. The only beer named after the specific type of Mexican escort I request from my concierge every time I’m in South Tucson. Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter if the blonde hair is fake. I’m not that picky.
THE PAIRING: Taco Bell has three different Doritos-flavored taco shells. I tried two because one of them is Cool Ranch and you need to keep that shit way the fuck away from me. The remaining two are the original Nacho Cheese and the Fiery Dorito flavors. I paired a different craft beer with each of them. Sorry if I seem short. It’s kind of hard to type this blog post while my colon is trying to escape me by setting off the fire alarm inside my body.
The first pairing involved the Fiery Dorito Locos Tacos shell. As the name implies, it’s spicy but it also has a bit of a lime flavor to it. The beer I chose was SanTan Brewing’s HopShock, which had a strong, lingering hoppy finish to it. The initial crisp taste of the beer cooled off the spiciness of this so-called taco a bit and it paired perfectly with the lime taste. You know how when you’re in Mexico dodging a felony charge or a child support payment and you stop at a shitty dive bar on the way to Guatemala and you order a Tecate and the bartender with the neck tattoo puts a lime on the rim of the glass and you think it’s weird but when you drink the beer it actually tastes better with a little lime taste? Well that’s what this beer is like when paired with the Fiery Dorito taco shell. But if you like the spice then the hop finish also amplifies the spicy flavor and allows it to linger in your palate. Which is good because a lingering mound of salty, imitation ground beef stuffed into a Dorito-flavored taco shell is probably the best way to forget that you’re spending the Christmas season alone watching the same five episodes of Tom & Jerry on your DVR over and over again.
The other pairing was the original Nacho Cheese Dorito taco shell alongside the Barrio Blonde Ale which was an interesting combination. The Barrio Blonde is also a light, crisp beer but it has enough of a hop profile and malt undertone to give it a strong flavor without being overly bitter or overwhelming for craft beer newbies. The mixture of this beer and the Nacho Cheese Dorito Locos Taco somehow created a caramel-y flavor in my mouth that stuck around long after the taco was gone. It was oddly reminiscent of a candy cane which was the perfect reminder of the Christmases I enjoyed in the past as a child, back when I still thought love and happiness existed.
The good part of this beer pairing is that, if you end up passing away while you’re alone at home during the holiday season, then your Taco Bell wrappers and empty beer cans can be legally considered a suicide note.
THE RATING: I rate this lonely fast food and beer pairing the official flag of the State of Israel because it has: