The unique thing about a six pack is that it lives beyond the initial pour. There are six of them! A sixer is like taking in a stray. It sticks around and asks to play fetch. It’s maybe cute and then annoying and then charming once again over the course of a week. You introduce it to your friends. It starts showing up in pictures. You start to wonder if this thing might stick around for good. Forever?
So with Deep Six, we ask a member of the GBH crew to capture the longevity of that relationship—to document as each can gets popped, drank, and reflected upon in tranquility.
For this sixer, Stephanie Byce visited Bottles & Cans in Chicago for a pack of Noon Whistle Cozmo Pale Ales, a 5%, hop-forward APA that she’s enjoyed a few times in the recent past.
My six pack’s story begins at my friend Tricia’s house in Albany Park. She invited me over for vegetarian chili and cornbread. We both had a hockey game later in Mount Prospect and I would be her ride. The least she could do is cook dinner for me.
Chili-making is fully underway when I arrive, with another friend, Shana, and two of her friends that had recently moved to Chicago from North Carolina. It’s February and we realize early on that it’s impossible to feel cute in parkas, hats, scarves, and big boots while trying to survive the freezing temperatures. Functionality over fabulousness, as I say. (I’ve never said that.) But I had a local Pale Ale to introduce them to.
I crack my first Cozmo and Tricia’s instincts kick in immediately. (She’s also a photographer.) She hurries off to another room and returns with a milk frother she’d recently bought at IKEA. “I wanted to try this on a beer to see if it would work up a nice flavor lid for pictures!” she exclaims. It works well, and is now a staple in beer photography whenever we drink at her place.
Post-chili, we attempt a board game called Carcassonne. Unable to maintain any type of focus, we instead chat about Shana’s upcoming Advanced Cicerone exam. We settle on calling the game “Carcass One” while playing with the game pieces like toddlers and making crude jokes. More like Carcass None, amirite?
Tricia snags one of the beers and, after taking a sip, declares it a “Steph beer,” which means it’s an APA. More specifically, it’s an APA that leans toward IPA, often with either Citra or Mosaic, and a nice, dry finish. It’s a style and flavor profile that perpetually exists in my refrigerator and is my general preference in all drinking situations. Give me that low ABV with lots of flavor and nuance without ruining my palate, thankyouverymuch.
At this point, I began to worry that the sixer might not make it through the night, so it’s time to set off to the suburbs for our hockey game. Hockey players are always thirsty, after all.
A hockey locker room is an interesting place—and even more so when it’s filled with women. Coed teams sometimes necessitate a shared locker room, with men and women bullshitting pre- and post-game as they dress and share beer. I’ve seen more men blush from words coming out of women hockey players’ mouths over the last few years than I’ve ever seen in my life. It brings about an odd sense of pride to belong to this group.
It also makes it easy to ask a teammate to take a picture of you dumping a beer into your mouth without any need to explain why.
We win (6-1!), and it’s time to celebrate. I crack open the third beer, aim, and pour. There’s a reason post-game beer is typically shitty and very, very cold. That reason was never more apparent as warm Pale Ale made its way down my throat and into a stomach and on top of two bowls of chili, several pieces of cornbread, Rice Krispie Treats, and three pre-game beers. I’ll have a Coors Light next time.
Fast forward a few weeks and Chicago’s in the throes of a heat wave. Temps are in the mid-70s, which is quite an oddity for mid-February in the Midwest. My sister’s planned an impromptu trip to the city and, because of the weather, we spend the weekend hopping from brewery to brewery, drinking what feels like a metric shit ton of beer and ending up at a winter Luau party at some point.
Following my sister’s departure early Sunday morning, I hop on my bike and find a nice spot to enjoy Febru-Summer. (Swinter? Fummer?) Poking my head into my fridge, I see several orphan beers from previous sixers, and I began to realize why I rarely buy six packs. It’s time to finish this one up—there's already been a three-week lull. I pack a book, some snacks, my beer, and drop my two wheels onto the Lake Shore path.
I make my way South, stopping a few times to take in the almost-eerie feeling of serenity along the lake and genuine warmth from the sun. People are everywhere, quietly enjoying the morning and the opportunity to get out of their homes for a bit. I eventually settle on a spot overlooking Oak Street Beach where Lake Shore Drive meets Michigan Avenue. The sun feels amazing, the music coming through my headphones sounds great, and my beer is still cold. Life is good.
It’s hard to find fault with a beer, even straight from the can, when you’re totally enveloped in the moment. As for this beer in particular, it still feels crisp with citrus aroma lingering just before each sip and the smooth transition from tropical fruit notes to a cracker malt finish. Aged a few weeks, I can’t find a single thing to dislike about how Cozmo is tasting.
It’s late March, more than a month since I drank beer number four. The life of a six pack in my household, I’m learning, is quite long. I’m also learning just how fickle I am when it comes to which beer I drink. It’s a Friday, and another unseasonably warm day in Chicago with temps nearing 80. My friend Guylaine is having people over to hang in her backyard. Beer number five is on deck.
Alas, the warm weather is short-lived. After sweating on my back porch earlier in the day, I’m now bundled in a jacket, hoodie, hat, and gloves as the mercury drops nearly 40 degrees by sundown. As we grill and eat, we build a fire to huddle around. We’re determined to be outside, because at this point in the Chicago Spring, you kinda have to be.
Nearly two months old, this beer could’ve tasted better. The bright citrus hops feel flattened, the bready malts taking over throughout—a once-wonderfully-dry finish becomes blunt and unbalanced. But, again, about anything gets the job done when you’re next to a fire with pals.
It’s the final day of March, I’m sitting in the hot-seat at the Good Beer Hunting studio, about to record a short podcast segment discussing my upcoming projects for the site. I’ve brought a couple of bottles of my homemade cider to share. After that, I produce the final can of Cozmo to share with GBH founder Michael Kiser. It feels like a fitting end to this sixer’s extended life.
After we finish recording the episode, Michael divvies up the last can into two glasses and asks how the six pack has held up over time. I think back to the fifth beer and remember a positive experience, possibly affected by having had a good amount of beer already in the bloodstream and enjoying the occasion, and declare I thought it had mostly retained character. First sip of the final installment, however, quickly told a different story. It was almost unrecognizable with its floral, fruity hops all but depleted. Left behind was a very sweet, malt-forward shell of a beer. Give credit where credit is due: Noon Whistle was still drinkable, albeit significantly changed.