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Beer Review - Budweiser American Ale


    •   Appearance:  A     •    Aroma:  B-     •    Taste:  C-     •

    Overall:   C

Anheuser-Busch really seems to be going after the craft beer market head on these days.  The current Michelob family seems to match popular micro-brew lineups almost one for one.   Extending the Budweiser family was more surprising.  As an ale lover, there are a lot of things to like about the new Bud Ale, unfortunately the total package falls far short of its potential.   Tonight's tasting was my third sampling of American Ale overall, so that alone should indicate some level of "Drinkability" ; )

The first indication that this is a serious endeavor is the bottle cap since it is not a twist off.  The description on the label also reads much like today's popular micros:

Carefully brewed with barley from America's Heartland and Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest, this rich, amber-colored ale has robust flavor and a distinctive hoppy finish

I could have sworn that the last bottle I had even stated the beer was "dry-hopped" but the bottle I poured tonight had no such reference.

This beer has a gorgeous copper appearance and an the head is light tan with a nice homebrew/bottle conditioned look when poured down the middle of the glass.  The aromas are much milder that what I expected from the descriptions.  There is a nice malty sweet nose to the beer but it lacks the spicy hop notes the name and descriptions lead you to expect.

Mouth feel and taste are where this beer really begins to let you down.  It feels quite smooth in your mouth, but it just doesn't seem to have the full bodied character you expect from the sweet malt.  This is probably by design to complement their "drinkability" campaign.  The flavor is reasonably well balanced with a strong hop bitterness hitting the back of your tongue, but there is a really odd finish that lingers that I just can't put my finger on.  You can almost feel whatever it is on your tongue well after the glass is empty.

Another positive note is that the head laces its way nicely all the way to the bottom of the glass!

Overall, I am appreciative of A-B's effort and this could be a great sign of things to come from the mega-brewers and and broader appreciation of beer styles overall.  Having said that, I am disappointed in this beer, especially at about $7 a six pack.  There are too many better beers out there at that price point, but I expect it to be a great option for a draft at the local tavern.



Ales and Lagers living together...

Last month Anheuser-Busch launched their first ale under the Budweiser name. Its rather surprising that they would introduce an ale under their flagship brand after putting forth so much effort to distinguish Budweiser as "The Great American Lager". If my memory serves me A-B featured commercials earlier this year with August Busch IV educating us on the pure qualities of a lager vs ales that hide their imperfections.

So what's the difference? Beer is generally divided into two distinct categories; Ales and Lagers. At the risk of oversimplifying, the most significant difference in these categories of beer is the the type of yeast used during fermentation. Ales use a top fermenting yeast which typically does its best work at temperatures between 60-65°F These yeasts often leave the beer with "esters" that add spicy or fruity characteristics to the beer. Lagers use bottom fermenting yeasts which do their best work at 45-50°F. One significant reason for the temperature difference is because lager yeasts impart "phenols", compounds that leave behind a strong sulfur or burnt match taste (and smell) at warm temperatures. Lagers get much of their crisp and clean character from slowing down the fermentation process at cold temperatures (for a month or more) to allow the conversion of the sulfur compounds to those that give the beer that crisp feel in your mouth. The term lager literally means storage in German.

We tend to think of malty/heavy beers in the ale category and clean/pale beers as lagers. Actually, both categories offer a full spectrum of styles. Some of my favorite dark beers are members of the lager family.

Next up, my review of Budweiser's American ale...


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So I'm settled in on my sofa to watch some hockey and find myself bombarded by Bud Light's latest campaign "The Difference is Drinkability" (see adweek for details on the campaign)

Unfortunately, I have created my share of unimpressive homebrew.  Ironically, the first thought that comes to mind in that situation is "well, its drinkable".  Building an add campaign based on "Drinkability" is quite amusing.

I offer you the first definition of drinkable I found on Google:

drink·a·ble (drngk-bl) adj.

Suitable or fit for drinking; potable: drinkable water.

Most of us beer lovers and homebrewers have developed a true appreciation for complex flavors in beer.   Even the most common of beers can present surprising characteristics that are pleasant and elusive to describe (yeah, I'm a beer snob but I still enjoy a cold Stag).  These ads seem to be featuring the lack of flavor in their beers as if to say, hey you won't even notice its not water.

Vented Wide Mouth
Not surprising that the mega-brewers in the states are marketing their products with an emphasis on drinking for effect rather than enjoying the beverage for what it is.   Another shining example is the Coors Light "Vent".  A brilliant can design that essentially allows you to cannonball a beer without puncturing the can!


I imagine Braddog's reaction to a McRib commercial would be about the same...





From Teetotaler to Total Beer Geek

My introduction to beer was typical for any Midwestern teenager.  Friends heading out to a nearby field lane, reservoir, or creek with a case of pull tops; picking fights, diving too fast on gravel roads and racing back home in time for curfew.  My aversion to risk and the fresh memory of older kids in a tragic accident kept me from abiding.

IMGP3969College brought better opportunities to indulge, but typically the beer available was tough to enjoy.  To this day the sight of a "Beast" can is enough to give me a headache.

Then I discovered Ales and microbrew...  Once I found gainful employment and local beer cases began to expand beyond twelve packs, I awakened to a much broader world.

I was hooked and particularly drawn to the process of brewing.  In 1992 my wife and I bought a starter homebrew kit, Charlie Papazian's book, and we were off to create our own.  Thanks to the simplicity of extract kits even our beers were quite good.  We soon began to try more complex recipes, experiment with adjuncts, and after a close call with a bottle bombHand in quinoa even started using mini-kegs.

In the mid-nineties our focus turned to raising a family and brew days took a back seat to a busy schedule.  Fortunately, a couple of years ago my wife rekindled the flame by buying me a brand new kit for my birthday.  The combination of the opening of a local homebrew supplier, beer loving neighbors and a little more disposable income have propelled this hobby to new heights.

These day's our beer starts with a big bag grain instead of a can of extract.  All of our beer is on tap and the plastic buckets have been replaced with a stainless steel conical ("The Ferminator").  This year I even grew my own hops!  Fall is perfect for brewing, so stick around to see where the home brewery takes us next!  -D

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Buddhist Temple Built From Beer Bottles

I know that I'm supposed to be the resident BBQ guy, so this will probably be one of my few beer related posts.  But I saw this and got a chuckle thinking that "D" (our resident beer guy) thought he had a lot of bottles around the house.
Fifty years ago the Heineken Beer company looked at reshaping its beer bottle to be useful as a building block. It never happened, so Buddhist monks from Thailand's Sisaket province took matters into their own hands and collected a million bottles to build the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple.

Read whole story here





Red Alert, Market Down - 100920081750

If you're like me you've watched your retirement and college savings accounts evaporate over the last several weeks.  Is it possible that beer is a better investment than stocks?  I received a viral email today that suggested just that. Consider today's value of the following stocks at their 52 week highs:

$1,000 in Dollar Thrifty Automotive = $45.00

$1,000 in AIG = $33.00

$1,000 in Lehman Bros. = $0.00

If you spent that same $1,000 on beer (in cans) you would still have approimately $219.00 worth of aluminum cans!  Based on the current market conditions we're better off drinking heavily and recycling...Call it your 401-Keg plan!  -D

Czech beers

Basics of Homebrewing

For those of you who are new to the world of homebrewing I would like to offer some primers that will have you brewing in no time.  There are excellent resources on the interwebs today for learning how to homebrew.  If you are new to the world of homebrew and craft brewing I would like to offer you this link to the free online version of John Palmer's excellent book "How to Brew".

Before John's book was available I got my start from the father of homebrewing, Charlie Parpazian's book The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. This is an easy and fun book to read and I highly recommend it to everyone who has an interest in beer.

As Charlie would say, "Relax, and have a homebrew"



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