All at sea with bilge-like beer

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Ahoy, matey. Pull up your stool and listen ye closely as Cap’n Sixpack chills your spine with a terrible tale of seven dreadful nights adrift upon the high seas.

Neither pirates nor man-eating urchins plagued our odyssey. This fearless crew faced challenges of an even more evil sort:

A boatful of bad beer.

I shudder as the memory creases my brain. No soul should suffer such agony, lest the scars never heal.

‘Tis true, I confess, at first this tale may seem hardly so awful. We weren’t exactly marooned. In fact, this voyage was an all-expenses-paid Caribbean vacation aboard a luxury cruise liner. And, yes, they pleasured me with plush, poolside cabana chairs and mile-long buffet tables.

But man cannot live on buckets of ice-cold shrimp alone.

We set sail a fortnight ago, from a sleazy, shameless port known as Miami Beach, where topless supermodels and cross-dressing vixens lured us like sirens. They had little to offer us, though: just case upon case of lemon-corked bottles of Corona.

As the town disappeared over the fiery horizon, I sought refuge below. A large, dimly lit bar beckoned from Deck 5.

“What’s on tap, Admiral?” I asked the uniformed bartender.

He sneered and a gold tooth reflected the neon. “Draft beer on a ship at sea? You’ve gotta be kidding. Here’s our beer list.”

Shiver me timbers, it was like staring into my own watery grave. Miller Lite and Budweiser, Heineken and Harp – it’s a sad irony that a man could die from thirst afloat so much sea water.

(Honesty prevails upon me to mention, my friends, that the gods had seen fit to stock this vessel with ample supplies of whiskey and champagne. Were it not for these potables – well, I’d rather not consider that fate.)

Deck 6 was not much better. I hoped a Jamaican Red Stripe would soothe my throat, but it was not much tastier than a pallid bottle of Stroh’s.

On Deck 7, my eyes fell upon a Guinness Stout – a righteous brew, but not the sort of thing one wants to pour into the gullet when the temps are near 90. I shuffled off and waited for the first sight of land.

But the ports were as dry as a beached shard of driftwood.

Yes, the island nightclubs were filled with flavored rums and exotic, umbrella-topped drinks. Tanned virgins tempted me with backrubs and mai tais.

Not a single ale, though, would cross Cap’n Sixpack’s lips.

Fear not, mateys, this tale has a happy ending.

It is 2 in the afternoon. The sun is blazing and I am just emerging from the crystal-blue waters of Cozumel, a resort island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Black and gold fishies tickle my toes, a three-piece combo with a steel drum plays reggae on the golden sand, happy couples goof off ‘neath the palms.

I collapse onto my lounger, my salty palate thirsting for a cold one. A waiter appears and says the magic words:

Cerveza, amigo?

I nod.

In seconds he returns with a sweating, green bottle: Dos Equis Lager Especial. I’ve tasted it a hundred times before, never with any enthusiasm. And I’m still not thoroughly convinced that this was not a mirage.

But on this day, on this beach, in this mouth, it is the perfect beer. I have sailed the seas and survived the worst.

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