Showing posts with label american lager. Show all posts
Showing posts with label american lager. Show all posts

Friday, May 19, 2017

Impartial Pursuit: The Fourth

I realised when I had this crazy notion of writing about the mass produced lagers that suffer so much craft cognoscenti opprobrium that it would be an irregular feature on Fuggled. I didn't realise that there would be a year between part three and today's fourth installment, in which I look at a beer that has a storied history, hispter street cred, and is now stable mates with BrewDog. I refer, of course, to Pabst Blue Ribbon.


Once upon a time, think late 1970s, Pabst Brewing Company was the third largest in the US but then went into a precipitous decline that saw them in the late 90s brewing less than a million barrels a year. Enter then the heroic hispters, and the brand's revival to the point that in 2015 the company won the GABF's award for best large brewing company. Anyway, enough with the Wikipedia entry details, what about the beer in the can...?


Well, it pours a golden yellow not unlike the Heineken from my previous Impartial Pursuit post and sported a surprisingly voluminous, bright, white head. Even more surprising, at least in my mind, was that the head lingered far longer than any of the other mass produced lagers I have tried. In common with the other beers, the aroma was dominated by a cereal character with wisps of lemongrass hops floating about. Tastewise, and again in common with the other beers in the series, it was mainly a rather indistinct grainy flavour with very little discernable hop flavour, overall it was just plain bland, though it didn't have the slick corn character that I was expecting, and neither was it as thin as I imagined it would be. Thankfully it was as clean as I expected, which is always a good sign in a lager.


I very much doubt I will be adding to Pabst's bottom line again any time soon, though not because I think the beer is badly made, it quite obviously isn't, but because if I am on the look out for a mass produced lager then Heineken is a couple of steps up in terms of having stuff going on in the flavour and aroma department, and is nowhere near as fizzy as PBR, or Bud/Coors come to think of it. I doubt it will be another full year before I dip into macro beer world again, though I am not sure where to go for the next beer, Miller High Life perhaps?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Flagship Craft Lager

On the same shopping trip that resulted in buying the Coors Banquet that I wrote about in my previous post I decided to also get myself some craft lager. Wanting to try something I had not had before I perused the collection of singles rather than splashing on a 6 pack. I learnt my lesson with buying 6 packs of craft lager when trying out Samuel Adam's Noble Pils.

As the aisle I was standing in was in a supermarket rather than a specialist beer retailer the selection of craft lagers was somewhat meagre. I did though find a craft lager that I had never had before...


Now, I know there will be people looking at that picture and wondering where the craft lager is, it's the rather fetching copper liquid that I poured out of the can into the glass. According to the ever flexible definition of a craft brewery espoused by the Brewers Association, America's oldest family owned brewery became a craft brewery in 2014, and if I have understood the numbers correctly, Yuengling Traditional Lager instantly became the best selling craft lager in the US. It really was remiss of me to have not drunk it already, and how was it? Well, here goes:
  • Sight - orange copper, topped with a thin, loose bubbled, white head that rather surprisingly didn't disappear quickly
  • Smell - imagine walking into a pub first thing in the morning, that distinct beer smell that pubs have, that, with some light butter and earthiness lingering in the background
  • Taste - distinctly grainy, like Weetabix, with a toasty taste in the middle and a slightly nutty finish
  • Sweet - 2/5
  • Bitter - 1.5/5

The thing that really surprised me with this was that the body was more on the medium side of light than I expected. It was also nowhere near as carbonated as I expected, no fizzy mess here thankfully. Overall it was a nicely balanced beer that I really rather enjoyed and at 4.4% definitely one I can see myself ordering in the pub from time to time.


Without wanting to get into the politics of what makes a craft brewer, it is after all the BA's definition and they can do with it as they will, Yuengling tick every box when you think about a bit. Small, independent, and traditional, it's just that the tradition they adhere to isn't some puritanical obsession with Reinheitsgebot, but a very American tradition, innovation - a tradition that these days sadly gets confused for having an ingredient wankfest.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Impartial Pursuit: Part Deux

It seems like an age since I sat down on a Sunday afternoon in June and drank a 25oz can of Budweiser. Not Bud Light, not any of the rita sisters that are brand extensions of Bud Light, but good old classic Budweiser. I didn't love it, but neither did I loathe it. I was wet, it had alcohol, and I could imagine drinking it at a party rather than being a sneering craftophile who refuses to drink beers not made with navel lint and then aged in the barrel that took the body of Admiral Nelson home for burial.

That rather large can was never intended to be a singular event from which I would denounce all beer made by the multinational breweries. Nope, if you want to really know what something tastes like you have a buy a bottle or two and then drink the damned stuff. Anyone who says shite like 'I don't need to drink it to know it is bad' is a poseur of the highest magnitude and deserving of the showers of opprobrium coming his or her way, they are also complete twats, but that's a different story.

Anyway....my parents are visiting from Scotland for a few weeks and a couple of days ago we were in a local supermarket picking up bits and bobs while Mrs V was off doing her running in preparation for a 10 mile run in the new year. Looking at the collection of singles (a phrase which still puts me in mind of the latest 'Best of....' album by a favourite band) I noticed that the store in question actually sold singles of some of them there dreaded 'macro beers', in this case aluminium bottles of Coors Banquet.


Coors Banquet is the 'premium' pale lager offering from Coors Brewing in Colorado, premium here of course being shorthand for 'full strength', weighing in a 5% rather than the 4.2% of the various light American lagers produced by the behemoths, and this was the first time I had ever drunk it....so on with the modified Cyclops tasting notes:
  • Sight - pours a light gold, rich yellow colour, with a healthy half inch of pure white, tight bubbled foam that lingers basically for the duration of drinking while leaving a reasonable lacing down the sides of the glass, if you pay attention to such fripperies
  • Smell - the aroma is mainly grainy but with some herbal and spicy hop notes making their way through the head
  • Taste - again cereal is the dominant flavour, mostly smooth buttered corn, there isn't much int he way of identifiable hop flavour, but there is a bite in the finish that works well with the honeyed grain
  • Sweet - 2/5
  • Bitter - 1/5


In some ways this is very close to the Budweiser that I drank back in June. Fairly bland without being offensive in any way whatsoever, though I would say that Coors Banquet is several steps up in terms of taste and drinkability from classic Budweiser. I actually wouldn't complain if I had to spend a night on the lash just drinking Coors Banquet. The beer is pretty light bodied, but not thin and watery as some mass produced pale lagers have a tendency toward, actually to be bluntly honest, it reminded me of a lot of many 'craft' iterations on K?lsch I have had this side of the Pond. The beer leaves a slickness on the tongue as you drink, but the fizz of the high carbonation soon strips that away.


In common with classic Budweiser, this is definitely not a bad beer, even if it is something that would not be a regular in my fridge, but let's face it, even highly regarded beers like Rochefort are not regulars in my fridge.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Drinking a Shiftload

Friday afternoon was a case of finish work, swing by the old apartment to pick up some bits and pieces in preparation for having satellite internet installed and then a quick jaunt to the store to buy ingredients for baking as Mrs V had the urge to make cupcakes.

As is my habit I went straight for the beer aisle, which is reasonable in the Giant we shop in, and will continue to shop in as it is on the way home. Their selection is pretty diverse, serveral Samuel Adams' products, a couple of Sierra Nevada, plenty of Starr Hill, nothing that would have the hardened hophead racing over, but plenty for those of us who like to drink good beer whilst avoiding the de riguer tongue rape of whatever colour and multiple of IPA we are on these days. Nestled in amongst the selection are a few brands from New Belgium, the ubiquitous Fat Tire, Ranger IPA and as a four pack of cans, Shift Pale Lager. The choice was easy.


Lager, as I am sure you well know, is my thing. I love lager, I think the best brewers are the ones that make tasty lager, and thankfully in this neck of the woods we have 3 brewers of very fine lagers. I knew what I was getting into with Shift because on the day we closed the contract for the house, Mrs V, myself and Mrs V's running partner went out aboozing to celebrate, and the bar we went to had Shift in cans, so I had a few.

One of the things I liked straight off the bat with Shift was that New Belgium weren't trying to pass it off as a Pilsner, but I also liked the firm hop bitterness which subtley avoids being harsh and reminded me of the best Pilsners. You realise by that by "best" I mean "Czech"? Of course you do, you are a suave, sophiscated, worldly person, whatever was I thinking? The hops in question are Target, Nelson Sauvin, Liberty and Cascade, and they work wonderfully well together.


According to the marketing waffle on the packaging, which was cardboard rather than those duck strangling plastic things, Shift is the beer the guys at New Belgium drink when they come to the end of their alloted hours of employment. While I wouldn't call it a session beer, at 5% it is just a touch outside the boundaries for that, it is definitely a beer you can sit and have a few of. Just an aside, when I say "session" I am thinking of having at least 6 imperial pints, 3 pints is popularly known as "lunch".

I can see Shift becoming something of a regular in the fridge, especially for unwinding from a week of work on a Friday evening, preferably when it isn't hotter than Satan's horns outside and we can sit on the deck without developing a case of sympathy with the pains of the fried egg.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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