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Budweiser is a better beer than you think
August 21, 2014 3:37 PM   Subscribe

Today, there are new brewers in London diving straight in at the deep end, creating beers with wild yeasts, aggressive hops and whisky barrel ageing. Some of them are exceptional. Many are indifferent, and some are plain bad. Some of these cocky rebels could learn a thing or two from the bland brands they rail against: just as Picasso proved he was a master of painting human figures before he evolved into his unique abstract style, any new brewer should prove they can brew a fault-free, balanced lager or pale ale before they earn the right to tackle the hard stuff.
Pete Brown: in defence of bland lagers.
posted by MartinWisse (139 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I enjoy drinking the local microbrews in my area. Mostly it's me disliking big corporations and wanting to support the smaller brewing companies. You get to know the people and the owners. So I'll continue doing that for as long as I am financially able.

So no.
posted by Fizz at 3:42 PM on August 21 [9 favorites]


You could use the same argument to praise tasteless vegetables that sure do ship well.

You shouldn't.
posted by smackfu at 3:43 PM on August 21 [19 favorites]


Ew. Nope. Can't.

Bell's Oberon is about as light as I can stand.
posted by MissySedai at 3:44 PM on August 21


My opinion of mass-market "american" lagers is sufficiently poor that it's very easy to believe that Budweiser is actually better than I think it is.

However, I have used science to prove the negative - that it is always worse than I expect it to be.
posted by jefflowrey at 3:46 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I will say that a Budweiser brewery tour is pretty impressive, from an industrial engineering perspective.
posted by smackfu at 3:49 PM on August 21 [17 favorites]


Even though drinkers much prefer their beer in clear bottles, Bud doggedly sticks with brown bottles because this helps prevent the sun’s UV rays attacking the beer and degrading it.

Is this a thing, or is the author indulging in some glittering generalities? I consider myself a beer snob of at least 15 years standing, and I don't remember bottle color ever being a consideration in what I drink or buy. If I want to see what a beer looks like, I just order it on draft or pour it in a glass. Come to think of it, I can't even think of a brand of beer that doesn't come in either a brown or green bottle, excepting the canned stuff.
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:50 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


Consistent lagers are one of the most difficult beers to make. Any flaw in the fermentation or hopping will be incredibly obvious.

The AB brewers are some of the best in the world. They make very light beers, and they are exactly the same every time.

Now that they're brewing what they want to brew is good, because that's better. But the reason they can brew anything is that they could brew Bud Light correctly every time.
posted by eriko at 3:52 PM on August 21 [21 favorites]


Surely you enjoy a corona on a hot summer day, with a twist of lime?

Then you have seen a clear bottle =)
posted by LoopyG at 3:52 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


I do enjoy fault-free, balanced lagers but Budweiser is not that beer. Gimme a Stiegl instead.
posted by Hoopo at 3:52 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


If you're going to critique beer the same way Roger Ebert critiqued movies ("Did the beer/movie achieve what it set out to achieve?"), then sure...Budweiser is a beer that will get you drunk, and you won't have to choke it down. I can think of more than few beers that did not clear the second half of that bar.

> Come to think of it, I can't even think of a brand of beer that doesn't come in either a brown or green bottle, excepting the canned stuff.

Corona. Sleeman. Miller. There are lots!
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:53 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Budweiser, made in 12 breweries across the United States, is truly a modern marvel of process engineering and quality control. And that's about the only good thing I'll say.

What I learned from 30 days of macro beer reviews
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:53 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


Here in the PNW there is a huge craft brewery culture, and full-bodied ales and stouts are very popular. Beers are either very hoppy, or very heavy and sweet. I can't stand them. Almost all beer produced in Canada, whether it be from one of the major breweries or by craft breweries, has a somewhat sweet aftertaste that makes me slightly nauseous.

Luckily more and more craft breweries are starting to brew Kolsch, very light, blonde ales with a clean, crisp taste and a bit of complexity, but not too much.

If I want a complex taste I'll drink whiskey or a red wine or something.
posted by Nevin at 3:55 PM on August 21 [7 favorites]


One of my buddies is now head brewer at The Narrows in Tacomah, and I remember back in his homebrew days him talking about how Budweiser was really impressive as brewing — to get that level of consistency on that scale, with multiple different breweries having to work from similar recipes that account for local conditions, it's not an easy thing to do. That buddy's beer is crazy delicious, but he'd never truck with bagging on Budweiser as macrobrewers, and apparently the actual head brewers at Budweiser have some pretty great homebrew skills too, when they're not making rice and corn taste beer flavored.
posted by klangklangston at 3:55 PM on August 21 [5 favorites]


All the good parts the author describes are engineering accomplishments rather than brewing ones. If Anheuser-Busch could manufacture a good, flavorful beer at that scale with that quality control rather than a tasteless one I'd be impressed.
It's the difference between crafted beers and engineered ones, and I don't get the point in comparing them.
posted by neonrev at 3:56 PM on August 21 [5 favorites]


Corona. Sleeman. Miller. There are lots!

Newcastle.
posted by brennen at 3:56 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Newcastle as well!

But yeah it's a beer that's awful, mainly in the sense that it inspires awe (in me). I don't like it but it's a hell of an achievement.
posted by Carillon at 3:56 PM on August 21


Dammit should have previewed brennen.
posted by Carillon at 3:57 PM on August 21


Well, Budweiser is both a poor quality beer and a high quality beer, it all depends on which qualities you are concerning yourself with.
posted by ckape at 3:58 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I don't remember bottle color ever being a consideration in what I drink or buy

I do. If it's a green or clear bottle I'll tend to stay away because it's more likely to be skunky. If it's been kept out of light, it may not be but it's a decent rule of thumb.
posted by zsazsa at 3:58 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


This reminds me that Oktoberfest beers will be out before long. It's a wonderful season for lagers brewed with absolute simplicity, that nonetheless blow Budweiser (and over-hopped micro IPAs) out of the water.
posted by graymouser at 3:59 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


When you brew a beer that is as delicately flavoured as Bud, there’s nowhere for mistakes to hide.

I can't think of any circumstances - other than stretching to make a poorly-conceived point - under which you could plausibly called Bud "delicately flavoured".

IMO we arrived at a happy middle ground in the mid-late 80s w/beers like Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada appearing and starting to get national distribution. I was grateful then, and I'm grateful now.

He has a point about microbrews, but there are obviously many fine ones - either way, as a drinker, I've got some reliable workhorses that insure I'll never have to drink Bud again.
posted by ryanshepard at 4:01 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


That is all very interesting, but it still doesn't taste very good does it? Consistently bad is still bad.

Of course I'll still drink it if it's all that's available, or if it's what's provided by the host, but otherwise...

What's the point of drinking Bud when for just $1.50 more per sixpack, I can get a beer that is orders of magnitude more pleasurable to drink, in addition to a higher alcohol content?
posted by mrbigmuscles at 4:05 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


"I can't think of any circumstances - other than stretching to make a poorly-conceived point - under which you could plausibly called Bud "delicately flavoured"."

It's a light, malty flavor that's not overpowering. That's "delicate," in that it's easy to break.
posted by klangklangston at 4:07 PM on August 21 [5 favorites]




"What's the point of drinking Bud when for just $1.50 more per sixpack, I can get a beer that is orders of magnitude more pleasurable to drink, in addition to a higher alcohol content?"

To be able to drink more beers when doing lawn work or something? Higher ABV means it's less of a sessioner.
posted by klangklangston at 4:08 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Budweiser is kinda the McDonalds of beer. Very consistent, you know what you are going to get. Every.Single.Time. Very impressive for what it's worth, but christ if it was between drinking Bud and never drinking beer again sign me up for a long cool drink of water.
posted by edgeways at 4:08 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I admit that I don't drink Budweiser out of principle, mostly the advertising costs, and bandwagon stuff and fearing a monopoly in every convenience store. Therefore I don't need to believe that Bud is worse than it is. I agree with the author, and assume it would likely win in many blind tests in its category. It's not a fluke that it is successful with top notch quality control.
posted by Brian B. at 4:08 PM on August 21


Daniel Davies already wrote the definitive defense of Budweiser.
posted by asterix at 4:10 PM on August 21 [8 favorites]


Man, I get that you all totally only like good beer. But how about you also like reading the article?

The article its targeted at brewers, and says basically that you should try to learn how to make a pale ale or lager before more ambitious brews. Kinda a "know the rules before you break them".
posted by yeahwhatever at 4:10 PM on August 21 [23 favorites]


Pabst Blue Ribbon gets a lot of shit for it's "hipsterness" or something, but I swear it is the only pisswater beer that I can actually stomach. I'm not sure what it is, but the difference between it and something like Bud is really noticeable.
posted by brundlefly at 4:11 PM on August 21 [7 favorites]


I agree with the point, just like any potter worth their wheel should be able to throw 100 identical items before they can start experimentation. That said, bud has the weight of a mega-billion corporation's logistics team behind it, so I don't think it's that remarkable that they can be so consistent.

But yes, there should be more and more sessionable beers from the craft guilds of the world. Some of us like to drink outside in the sunlight instead of the dank old-world stone basement.

Also - it seems like a lot of commenters haven't read the article, wherein the author says that he does not like the taste of bud, but admires its consistency.
posted by Think_Long at 4:13 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Higher ABV means it's less of a sessioner.


That's true, I'm not a big fan of doing yardwork while slurping down some 8% microbrew or whatever. I'm more of a Corona guy in those situations.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 4:13 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Context is everything. When I'm tubing on the river for three hours in 90 degrees in the middle of summer, I want something light, bland, and cold. I want a Coors Light. I've tried better beers and it's not the same.
posted by echocollate at 4:14 PM on August 21 [16 favorites]


Budweiser is the reason I started making my own beer.

Thank you, Bud!
posted by freakazoid at 4:15 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Aren't there, you know, middle-of-the-road beers in the US? I'm not a drinker anymore, but in the Australian context, at one end we have the microbrews (which are generally pretty damn good, apart from the absurd price and ridiculously wanky names and labels), at the other end we have the VB/Fosters/XXXX swill, but in the middle there is a great range of affordable, drinkable beers. Most stuff by Coopers (the dark ale is great). Southwark Black. James Squire.

From what I hear from Americans, this debate seems to play out as a dichotomy between Budweiser, and obscure microbrews, with nothing inbetween.
posted by Jimbob at 4:16 PM on August 21


Two points:

1) To say a beer is a bland, crap commercial lager, insipid, that he hates (all descriptions given by the writer) and that it's without fault is surely a contradiction.

2) That it takes significant skill to make does not make it a good beer. A high quality does not follow automatically from a high degree of difficulty.
posted by oddman at 4:16 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Peroni is delicious. Session is also quite nice. Lagers are great!
posted by stenseng at 4:17 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


Making Bud is actually a lot harder brewing task than making a micro-brew and their consistency over time and from different physical breweries is pretty impressive but it's still nasty stuff.
posted by octothorpe at 4:17 PM on August 21


" a dichotomy between Budweiser, and obscure microbrews, with nothing inbetween."

The in-between is the spot that Sam Adams' standard beers aim for. I think New Belgium is doing a good job of filling that slot, currently.
posted by oddman at 4:19 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


The fact is, there are a fair number of lower ABV, non palate wrecker pales and similar beers from microbreweries that you can crush on a hot summer day. They may not be as totally consistent but who actually wants that? They generally taste like something other than boozy shit and giving a light, crisp beer a full flavor is really tricky.
posted by selfnoise at 4:20 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Aren't there, you know, middle-of-the-road beers in the US?

There are plenty, but remember that beer history in the US is pretty complicated what with prohibition and weird county by county liquor transport laws. Every region has at least one locally popular brewery that is not a microbrewery, but does not have a distribution that generally goes beyond state lines. Most of the national-level brews are the mega corporations that have world-wide distribution, like the ann. busch group, or the bigger Euro drinks (stella, Heinekin, et.c).
posted by Think_Long at 4:20 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I wonder if consumers of the future will reject large scale batchwise products in other industries? Will it one day be de rigueur to, like, insist that Allergan's onabotulinumtoxin A is totally lacking in the sophistication that smaller scale culture systems are capable of producing?
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 4:22 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


I haven't had a skunky beer since the mid 90's and that was a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I wonder if various changes in the way beers are produced means skunked beers are mostly a thing of the past? I know in the 70's and 80's it was an issue but have millenials even heard of it?
posted by cell divide at 4:23 PM on August 21


It is still a thing, a few years back there was a big controversy when a particular brewer - can't remember the name - switched from brown to clear bottles. Though apparently using certain hops or variants of hops can prevent it from happening.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 4:25 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Man I wish finding Session weren't such a random crapshoot. I haven't seen one in the wild in Brooklyn in months.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:26 PM on August 21


Yeah I agree. I've never really had a skunked microbrew out of the bottle. Definitely have noticed a freshness difference though and it's nice to have a retailer who pays attention for that with the stuff that isn't bottle conditioned.
posted by selfnoise at 4:29 PM on August 21


I live in London and come from the Midwest, so its interesting being between the two beer cultures. What the article says is completely true. There are too many indifferent in the IPA style microbrews on both sides of the Atlantic, sometimes with crimes committed against hops.

That said, done right, like Kernel in London, is as good as anything. And likewise Dogfish, Revolution, Bell, New Glarus (WI) in the US.

But what most of the UK AND the US is missing out on is the old, cheap, working man's affordable Germanic regional lager culture in the midwest. I DO regret Budweiser's intrusion and displacement of lots of these brands in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Nothing beats coming out of a camping trip out of the Boundary Waters with a cold Grain Belt. I wish the world had access to that
posted by C.A.S. at 4:30 PM on August 21 [7 favorites]


I'm something of a beer snob, which I think is acceptable given that I'm a part owner of a craft beer bar, but yeah, I'm a little bit over overly hoppy IPAs. I did laugh at a friend who thought it was a good idea to firstly order the 15.4% ABV beer we had on tap last weekend and then proceed to down it in about 20 minutes and then had to go home shortly afterwards.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 4:31 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Jimbob: "From what I hear from Americans, this debate seems to play out as a dichotomy between Budweiser, and obscure microbrews, with nothing inbetween."

There are a huge boatload of mass-market brewers that aren't Budweiser in the US. Coors is available pretty much anywhere, and is a fair bit more flavorful than Bud. There are a number of mass-market breweries that are relatively regional; when I lived in Massachusetts, my cheap beer of choice was always Narragansett, and the old Pennsylvanian brewer Yuengling is making inroads now that it's being stocked as far north as Boston.

Also, it's worthwhile to remember that there are a ridiculous number of "micro brewers" in the US, of such variety that plenty of them really count as pretty much higher quality mass-market beers. oddman mentioned Samuel Adams above; Sam Adams often bills itself as a microbrew, but in fact it's the largest American-owned brewery in the country. New Belgium (Fat Tire, etc) produces enough beer and ships enough places that it's more available than some of the mass-market beers I mentioned above. And I will say there are some really cheap passable microbrews, for instance Full Sail stuff (like their popular Session beers).
posted by koeselitz at 4:31 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


There are several reasons for beers like Budweiser/Carlsberg/Stella Artois etc. to exist. Let's remember that beer isn't just consumed alone. Sporting events and concerts, for example, require massive amounts of beer and only large-scale brewers can produce and deliver enough of the stuff consistently to make it work.

Even in a small group or party, you need a beer that will appeal to most people or at least be "good enough" for most. If you serve only Firestone Double IPA you may please your hop-head friends, but others may complain that the beer is way too intense for their liking. For all the amazing beer produced in the USA and elsewhere, there are always going to be limits on distribution, and on a road trip or camping trip, you may find yourself outside the reach of the microbrewers, but still able to get a drinkable beer from a major brewery with the money to send trucks everywhere.
posted by cell divide at 4:32 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Sure, and if that beer you pick to appeal to everybody is Bud, I'll content myself with water.
posted by wotsac at 4:37 PM on August 21


. . . can I have wotsac's bud?
posted by Think_Long at 4:39 PM on August 21 [7 favorites]


Let's not throw the beer out with the bathwater
posted by mrbigmuscles at 4:41 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I mostly drink good beer, but macro beers have their place and can be enjoyable.

I don't know what their actual volume is, but I'd add Sierra Nevada to the middle category of good beers that aren't obscure or expensive, and Full Sail is headed that way if they aren't there already, as noted.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:41 PM on August 21


Even in a small group or party, you need a beer that will appeal to most people or at least be "good enough" for most. If you serve only Firestone Double IPA you may please your hop-head friends, but others may complain that the beer is way too intense for their liking.

I dunno. At least out in California and Oregon, (relatively) cheap IPAs are becoming pretty dominant (and really, hasn't the Sierra Nevada Torpedo taken over the East Coast already?).

TBH, I don't see much reason to drink a beer these days that's less than 7-8% alcohol. They are pretty good (at least there's almost always SOMETHING good) and you get considerably more bang for your buck.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:42 PM on August 21


In the summer I go through quite a few Budweisers, even though I am a dedicated hop-head and wouldn't drink Bud by itself. I use it in redeyes: 1/2 Bud, 1/2 Spicy V8. Tasty.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:44 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


So, on the subject of clear bottles: why does Ommegang use them now? I bought a bottle of Hennepin the other day and saw that it along with Three Philosophers both use clear glass now.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:44 PM on August 21


I guess they're slightly tinted, but it still caught me by surprise.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:46 PM on August 21


mrgrimm: "TBH, I don't see much reason to drink a beer these days that's less than 7-8% alcohol. They are pretty good (at least there's almost always SOMETHING good) and you get considerably more bang for your buck."

Sometimes drinking beer is less about the destination (wastedness) than it is about the journey. Most of the time I would prefer spending more time drinking more beers with friends instead of going from zero to trashed as quickly as possible.

Most of the time.
posted by brundlefly at 4:51 PM on August 21 [6 favorites]


Budweiser is a pilsner. Pilsners are lagers. Lager yeast is distinctly different than ale yeast. Does the writer really think that all of these brewers didn't start out brewing things a little more "by the book" including pale ales & lagers? Does he really know that all these brewers never made a good pedestrian beer? I reject his premise. He's free to drink whatever swill he likes - and so is everyone else on the planet.
posted by spock at 4:53 PM on August 21


I don't like, and don't drink, American Budweiser. Nonetheless, I'd choose it over the UK equivalents, the Carlings, Kronenbourgs, Stellas et al, which are actively nasty. Most of the lager choice in supermarkets and off-licences is no choice at all: really unpleasant cans of industrial product that are virtually indistinguishable. They're mostly sold as being from their countries of origin, and all brewed under license in giant sheds to ensure that they entirely misrepresent their originals. (In general, if you can find those originals, and they can be found, you'll get a much better drink. Currently, in north London, there are a lot of Polish lagers that are strong, cheap and quite distinctively flavoured, but if they catch on I'm sure they'll be snapped up by the majors and licensed to death.)

As soneone who came of drinking age just as the Camra revolution was starting to really kick off - I missed the Watney's Red Barrel era by a few years - I can just about remember when things were generally bad, certainly enough to be vastly grateful that, first, the real ale and now the microbrewery revolutions have happened. I don't need to drink Budweiser, because there's a universe of much nicer things out there at reasonable prices, to the extent that I've given up being a proper beer snob. There's always something new and tasty to scarf, and a decent repertoire of really good standards (Tim Taylor's Landlord, Harvey's, Youngs et al) in a lot of the London pubs that, if well kept, will provide an evening of deliciousness on demand.

But the UK would be better off if there was a single mass-market lager with the inoffensiveness and reliability of Bud. Compared to the cynical swill that's marketed, I'd be happy if - on those occasions when I'm in a bar with not a single damn drop worth drinking - I could find something I could actually sink a few pints of with a soupcon of pleasure.
posted by Devonian at 4:55 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


As a good friend of mine attests, there is nothing quite like an ice cold tinny of VB on a warm day.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 4:56 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Budweiser is entirely drinkable, which you can't say about many mass-produced beers.

Respect for it though, really has to come from a place of knowledge. I homebrew myself and, I'll tell you, there's a lot more room for error when brewing an imperial stout or a super hoppy IPA than there is when trying to brew a pilsener or a light lager. Not to mention the challenge of brewing the same beer every time.

I'm not a big fan of Budweiser, and I prefer my beers to be made from barley rather than rice, but I can sure as hell respect what an incredible brewing accomplishment it is. And it has a distinct flavour that some people really love. Those people aren't wrong for having that particular taste and I defy most craft brewers to be able to satisfy it.
posted by 256 at 5:04 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Instead of a Budweiser, I'll take a Bud Light Mang-O-Rita.

No seriously.

For real.

Try one.

They're so tasty, you'll hate yourself for trying it.

I mean, c'mon, "cold Bud on a hot day" folks! How low can you go? The Bud Light Mang-O-Rita. That's how low.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:31 PM on August 21 [10 favorites]


And note: I never said it was beer.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:32 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


Strange Interlude: "I can't even think of a brand of beer that doesn't come in either a brown or green bottle, excepting the canned stuff."

The Card Cheat: "Corona. Sleeman. Miller. There are lots!"

brennen: "Newcastle"

I stand corrected. In my defense, I've never bothered with Miller, never even seen Sleeman around these parts, and I've never had a Corona in a bottle because I only drink it on draft and only when I'm eating ridiculous amounts of Mexican food. As for Newcastle, the beer is already brown, so the bottles in turn also look brown.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:37 PM on August 21


another vote for PBR - i don't think much of bud, although i'll admit that it's drinkable (and their discontinued american ale was actually fair, although not as good as bell's amber) - the last time i tried coors, i thought it was vile and sugary and i've always thought miller was just crappy beer

PBR is a good refreshing beer - stroh's, too, but it's a shadow of what it used to be - schlitz's 60s gusto formula is actually excellent - it actually has, for its style, the quality a good craft brew should have - but it's hard to find

there are many easy craft beers out there
posted by pyramid termite at 5:52 PM on August 21


I've been conducting a [not really very] scientific blind taste test of various beers here at my agency (self-link from agency blog) for the past couple of years. So far American lagers have not come up*, but we have done both Mexican and Asian lagers, and MAN are light beers like that hard to taste-test. Blech.

Anyway, impressive quality control does not an enjoyable beer make. Kudos to AB for the rampant industrialization and everything, but I'll take a craft brew every time.

*Because, really, why would they? No one wants to drink that shit on purpose.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:53 PM on August 21


Copying Bud's formula is probably along the same lines as copying a McDonald's burger. Meaning there are shitty organic chem flavor molecules that give it that "I defy you" experience. Pfft. New Belgium has blue paddle pilsner and a summer lager. If IPAs are a current obsession, session beers including IPAS are in fact the next big thing. Admiring a commercial behemoth for consistently turning rice into Budweiser is dubious at best. And how dare they rip off Budvar (Germanically pronounced "Budweiser") and get any credit at all. They do have a place in my heart from my 20 something days. The thing you drink after you're drunk but still out and about.
posted by aydeejones at 6:05 PM on August 21


The Czech name and beer that Bud ripped off is actually Budějovice
posted by aydeejones at 6:08 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I enjoy drinking the local microbrews in my area. Mostly it's me disliking big corporations and wanting to support the smaller brewing companies. You get to know the people and the owners. So I'll continue doing that for as long as I am financially able.

So no.


Why not?

Lots of people would love to support microbrewers and avoid megacorporations, and lots of people would love to drink beer that doesn't taste like earwax and leather conditioner. These goals need not be mutually exclusive.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:09 PM on August 21


I agree with the general theme of the article- that good, balanced lagers or pilsners are a) difficult to produce skillfully and consistently; and b) good to drink in the right contexts.

However, the assertion that Budweiser is in any way a "good" beer is patently ridiculous. Even in the class of economical standard American lagers, there are a number that are better- Yuengling for one. Old Style for another. I'm currently drinking a very fine (Canadian) pilsner called Steam Whistle. Creemore (also Canadian) makes one as well, and it is quite agreeable. Sapporo's Yebisu is excellent. If you want an actual Czech pilsner, drink Staropramen.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:09 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Quoting myself from an earlier thread on a related topic:

I'm not a fan of Bud Light (High Life would be my cheap domestic of choice) but I have had some thoughts as to the role beers like it have in history.

If we were to use a time machine and let brewers of centuries ago sample a Budweiser, I think they would feel as if they were sampling beer from God's own stash. So delicate! Crisp! Clean! Lightly flavored! While we consider it watery and (rightly) devoid of personality, I think many of us would have difficulty choking down something with as much "personality" as the product of a 1650's brewmaster.

The same with baked goods. We all know that Wonder bread is a joke, but give a sample to a 17th century french baker and they would marvel at how refined and delicate and fluffy and white and pure it is. They would think it were made from actual angel (or at least the clouds they sit on) and be amazed they could eat a piece without chipping their teeth on something, uh, wholesome. But for us, white bread is a product to ridicule--the more rustic the better, you see.

posted by sourwookie at 6:10 PM on August 21 [9 favorites]


They're so tasty, you'll hate yourself for trying it.

I think I made it about half of the way through a can once before pouring the rest down the sink. I can go pretty low, but it turns out not quite that low.

Then again, I may eat at a Burger King on the way home, so it's not like I'm in a position to pass judgment here.
posted by brennen at 6:16 PM on August 21


I would rather try all these daring beers, including the utterly shit ones, than take one more sip of a riced-up, near-beer, pale and tasteless pisswater lager like Bud/Miller/Coors.
posted by adoarns at 6:16 PM on August 21


I have respect (not admiration) for the classic light-bodied American lager. I sold several Olympic swimming pools of the stuff in the twenty-five years I spent in the bar and restaurant business. My own favorite example of the genre is Lone Star. It smells and tastes exactly like the beer my dad would let me sip sometimes back in the 50's as a kid. Nostalgia I guess, but I do buy a 12-pack occasionally and thoroughly enjoy myself...
posted by jim in austin at 6:22 PM on August 21


I totally agree with the premise of this article. OK so leading with Budweiser is flamebait, but I've recently had the epiphany that a good basic lager is a really nice beer. It started after a couple of trips to Poland and Germany where I came back to San Francisco and thought, why can't I get a decent basic beer. Like the thing you get anywhere in Germany when you ask for "ein bier". Or if you're being specific, "helles". Basic beer.

I way prefer good basic beer to the cherry lambic tripple IPA Oktoberfest/Maibock nonsense that passes for San Francisco hipster beer. I particularly resent how overly bitter IPA has dominated so many taps in local bars. This argument is nicely summed up in Adrienne So's article Against Hoppy Beer. Too much American "craft brew" is overhopped, overdecorated nonsense. And it's done that way to hide the fact that the basic underlying beer is often not that good. Or that tasting a bunch of beers in one sitting is even harder than tasting a bunch of wine.

These days I'm happiest drinking a Scrimshaw Pilsner. Or a Longboard Lager. Or a Trumer Pils. Sudwerk in Davis makes an Aggie Lager that's pretty good too. Hell, even Yuengling is good and slightly exotic here in California. I think the pretentious beer hipsters call these simple, solid things "session beers". But over in middle Europe where they perfected the art of brewing, it's just "a beer". And if it's made well, it's a good thing.
posted by Nelson at 6:25 PM on August 21 [7 favorites]


The Czech name and beer that Bud ripped off is actually Budějovice

My relatives from Prague are visiting us this summer. They find it funny and mildly irritating that Budvar has to be marketed as Czechvar in North America as a result. They turn their noses up at Budweiser, and quite rightly, at least in part to some national pride. Our family favourite Czech beer is Pilsner Urquell, which is produced in huge quantities and is a very good example of a traditional pilsner.

As it's been a while since they were here last, the relatives were also amazed at the variety and non-traditional plethora of local beer we have here in Victoria, BC. Whereas in Europe the brewing is traditional and regional, here it's the opposite. They were rather impressed at the quality of the local stuff, and so in that respect I think the breweries around here have earned their right to make whatever they want.

I don't mind Budweiser as a camping beer and something to sip when there's nothing else around - there's much worse. I can enjoy it.
posted by jimmythefish at 6:27 PM on August 21


"another vote for PBR - i don't think much of bud, although i'll admit that it's drinkable (and their discontinued american ale was actually fair, although not as good as bell's amber) - the last time i tried coors, i thought it was vile and sugary and i've always thought miller was just crappy beer"

Heh. I switched to Bud at a few dive bars once they started pricing PBR above it.
posted by klangklangston at 6:30 PM on August 21


Pabst Blue Ribbon gets a lot of shit for it's "hipsterness" or something, but I swear it is the only pisswater beer that I can actually stomach

Same. It's a mild enough flavor, and when you had a sip, the flavor is just GONE. Like, no aftertaste, like, "wait, didn't I have a sip of beer just now? Guess not, let's have another". Bud, on the other hand...I can't honestly say I've ever drank an entire can. By the end of it, it is revolting warm flat liquid gross.
posted by Hoopo at 6:31 PM on August 21


I thought based on the headline that they might have been talking about Kronenbourg or Peroni or Castle, in which case yeah I'll take that over some over-hopped 'craft' IPA anyday, but Budweiser? No.
posted by Flashman at 6:35 PM on August 21


Devonian: “I don't like, and don't drink, American Budweiser. Nonetheless, I'd choose it over the UK equivalents, the Carlings, Kronenbourgs, Stellas et al, which are actively nasty. Most of the lager choice in supermarkets and off-licences is no choice at all: really unpleasant cans of industrial product that are virtually indistinguishable. They're mostly sold as being from their countries of origin, and all brewed under license in giant sheds to ensure that they entirely misrepresent their originals.”

Even as an American who has never been to the UK, I will agree with this. One reason I liked this piece was because it put the lie to a common misconception about beer – that Budweiser is the worst there is. This is clearly not the case, but people talk as though it's true all the time. Personally, the worst beer I have ever had the misfortune of tasting was Oranjeboom, which was for some ungodly reason imported and available at a Trader Joe's in Boston when I was living there a few months ago. I understand that Oranjeboom is one of those beers like those you're describing – a bad UK beer trading on the supposed "authenticity" of being Dutch – or maybe the cans I had were just old and terrible? Either way, good lord that was some bad beer.

And I'll say this: I would much rather drink Budweiser than Carlsberg. Carlsberg is, here in America, one of the classic "trading on its foreign origin" beers. It's been available in the United States in supermarkets since the 1970s, and yet it's almost always terrible – and inconsistently terrible – whereas Budweiser is at least consistently bland.

cell divide: “Even in a small group or party, you need a beer that will appeal to most people or at least be ‘good enough’ for most. If you serve only Firestone Double IPA you may please your hop-head friends, but others may complain that the beer is way too intense for their liking. For all the amazing beer produced in the USA and elsewhere, there are always going to be limits on distribution, and on a road trip or camping trip, you may find yourself outside the reach of the microbrewers, but still able to get a drinkable beer from a major brewery with the money to send trucks everywhere.”

I have to say – such places are getting almighty rare. I was in Lander, Wyoming last year, and we had a party; the go-to inoffensive everyone-will-like-it beer was what it is everywhere else I've always lived: Fat Tire. Fat Tire is an extraordinary workhorse of a beer that way, I think, and I have to say that, if it's a feat that Budweiser has pulled off being so consistent with their beer, it's an extra feat that New Belgium has been manufacturing such a solid, likeable beer as Fat Tire for so many years. And – yeah, I think it's crazy how much market saturation there is with beer at this point. All the tiny towns I've lived in had a wide range and fine supply.
posted by koeselitz at 6:43 PM on August 21


Carlsberg is, here in America, one of the classic "trading on its foreign origin" beers.


See also Heineken and Grolsch. In fact, Dutch lagers are almost uniformly terrible (Oranjeboom is another case in point). Something must have happened after the Peace of Münster.


I'm not sure what's up with Carlsberg, though, as there are several other good Danish lagers.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:56 PM on August 21


Too much American "craft brew" is overhopped, overdecorated nonsense. And it's done that way to hide the fact that the basic underlying beer is often not that good.

What does this mean? What is the 'basic underlying beer' if you remove the hops? Did you just want to drink straight wort?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:56 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I'm in the totally awesome position of getting to do a beer tasting event at my library, so what I'm saying is, more posts like this.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:03 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Another person in with some Session love. Despite it's hard to find character, I feel like their state by state distribution is much broader than many other breweries their size, so I'm not really sure what the story is there.

I have to say though: a lot of times when I want a good lager, I want it in a can. PBR is acceptable if there's nothing else, but as we're pulling together camping gear for this weekend, I do wish there were another easy to find nonbreakable lager or Middle of the Road Ale (TM: Alton Brown, miss ya Good Eats) to throw into the kit.
posted by deludingmyself at 7:03 PM on August 21


a beer tasting event at my library

What is this and where do I get one?
posted by deludingmyself at 7:04 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


and can Jessamyn come with a pony
posted by deludingmyself at 7:05 PM on August 21


PBR has given me some of the worst hangovers I've ever had on a surprisingly few number of beers. For that reason alone I avoid it.
posted by echocollate at 7:05 PM on August 21


What is this and where do I get one?

Move to the idyllic land of Danvers, Massachusetts. We only hung a few witches.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:07 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


The AB brewers are some of the best in the world. They make very light beers, and they are exactly the same every time.

Now that they're brewing what they want to brew is good, because that's better. But the reason they can brew anything is that they could brew Bud Light correctly every time.


And now they're brewing the Goose Island's more mass-market offerings. Ten Hills Pale Ale (winter/spring seasonal) was damn good, especially for the price.

Though apparently using certain hops or variants of hops can prevent it from happening.

Miller uses a modified hop extract to brew High Life that eliminates the possibility of skunking.

Sam Adams often bills itself as a microbrew, but in fact it's the largest American-owned brewery in the country.

Second largest, now, to Yuengling.

I don't know what their actual volume is, but I'd add Sierra Nevada to the middle category of good beers that aren't obscure or expensive, and Full Sail is headed that way if they aren't there already, as noted.

Sierra Nevada is just under 1m barrels/year, if I recall correctly. Lagunitas is closing on that number pretty fast, and New Belgium (~800k bbl) and Deschutes (~500k bbl) are enjoying healthy growth, too. (Boston Beer and Sierra Nevada are in all 50 states; Lagunitas soon will be, while New Belgium and Deschutes still have a lot of untapped US markets to fuel expansion.) I didn't think Full Sail was that big, but according to Seekabrew, they're available pretty widely outside the Great Lakes region and the Midwest.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 7:13 PM on August 21


I studied brewing in college when Sierra Nevada was starting out and brewing in a metal building in the industrial part of Chico, and I've been home brewing ever since. If you think the large brewers can't make a quality beer, then you're highly mistaken. People are confusing beer style with quality. The large brewers in the United States are Brewing for the largest portion of the market, and as tastes change, they are introducing products to fill those niches. Blue Moon was introduced by Coors nearly 20 years ago, and they started a brewpub at Coors Field when it was built at about the same time.

As far as craft brewers, there are getting to be so many around here that it's getting absurd. It hardly seems like you can swing a dead cat around here without hitting a brewpub. I'd say about maybe 10% of what I try distinguishes itself, and the rest are just kind of run of the mill and indistinguishable from other beers of it's ilk, and some are just plain mediocre at best.

Now, if you want truly great beers, go to Belgium and try all the beers you can't get out here, plus some of the ones you can get here. The Netherlands too has plenty of great beer that doesn't get exported.
posted by Eekacat at 7:29 PM on August 21


Sam Adams often bills itself as a microbrew, but in fact it's the largest American-owned brewery in the country.

Second largest, now, to Yuengling.


And of course, Sam Adams only has 1.3% of the market. Sam Adams and Yuengling are not microbrews, but they are definitely still not on the same tier as the megacorps.

I like Budweiser and Yuengling and Genesee and all kinds of even lower tier beers. I'll occasionally even have a malt liquor if I'm in the mood. I love craft beer too, have tried hundreds upon hundreds of examples. My favorite style overall is probably a moderately hopped brown or amber ale. I want to taste the malty flavors most and have the hops just add some flavor and balance.

Beer and food snobs get on my nerves. Pale lager sells so much because people like the taste. If you have different tastes for a niche product that is fine, it doesn't make what other people like crap. Taste is subjective.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:32 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


No, IPAs are kind of done. They've been done for a while as their proponents try to out-hop each other. There are so many other kinds of beer to look into. We're on the cusp of spring down here and I've been trying to convince people that lambics is where it's at.

So tasty.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 7:45 PM on August 21


Lower ABV and a more fruity taste. Perfect for the long afternoons we get down here over summer.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 7:49 PM on August 21


Sam Adams doesn't position itself as a microbrewery, but by the Brewer's Association's definition Boston Beer Co. is a craft brewery.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:56 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


(And it's weird that I find myself saying that in every beer thread-- are there just a lot of people who want to act like they Know The Truth about Sam Adams for some reason?)
posted by shakespeherian at 7:57 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what's up with Carlsberg, though, as there are several other good Danish lagers.

Tuborg, the Golden Beer of Danish Kings!

Which even as teenagers who'd swill down anything we could get our hands on in small town Connecticut in the 70s, we dubbed "the Golden Beer of Danish Armpits"
posted by stargell at 7:57 PM on August 21


Bud tastes okay if you get it from the tub in the warehouse with the band blasting plenty loud and it's the only flavour available. Then it's fine. If you're high.
posted by ovvl at 8:08 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I like the Clydedales.
posted by theora55 at 8:11 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


No, IPAs are kind of done. They've been done for a while as their proponents try to out-hop each other.

IPAs are far from done, at least in the States. They're by far the best-selling craft beer style in America ("Seasonal" is not a style) and still growing. And the IBU wars are over. Now the trend is juicy, tropical hop flavor - Galaxy, Mosaic, Citra - it's getting hard to find a new IPA that doesn't taste like a goddamn fruit salad.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 8:19 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I refute the entire premise of this with two words: Shiner Bock.

Spoetzl is the 4th largest craft brewery in the US and their flagship product, Shiner Bock, has been produced and sold since 1913. Even during the prohibition years when it was produced as a near-beer.

It's not quite as old as Bud, but hey: it's a light, cheap, mass-market lager. And it tastes pretty good, too.

Disclaimer: I am not a Texan but I lived there once.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:27 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


I really like New Belgium's Shift as a Bud (Light) alternative. Pale lager, lower alcohol, but still tasty - a perfect lawnmower beer. Even comes in a blue and silver can.

I think a lot of the "true Scottsman" beer nerds have moved from IPAs to sours. Breweries will continue to make IPAs because they sell, but what gets you instant cred at the craft brew-focused pub or fancy beer store is asking for a berliner Weisse, guezue, or sour brown ale.
posted by jeoc at 8:31 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


There is only one context in which I will consume Budweiser. That is- at a bowling alley in Chicago, served in pint bottles shaped like bowling pins. It helps if the bar also has one of those promotional lamps with the model of the beer wagon and the clydesdales going around it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:42 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Budweiser is certainly better than the alternative, which is a 3cm anal fissure at 12 o'clock on your ringpiece, like the one I've got right now. Joke's on me, I guess?
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:44 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


It's also better than Fosters.

The fissure, I mean.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:45 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I think a lot of the "true Scottsman" beer nerds have moved from IPAs to sours. Breweries will continue to make IPAs because they sell, but what gets you instant cred at the craft brew-focused pub or fancy beer store is asking for a berliner Weisse, guezue, or sour brown ale.

It's funny because I am around brewers and beer professionals all day and everyone is perfectly happy to enthuse over a particularly nice ESB or blonde or pils.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:45 PM on August 21


Saison Dupont Vieille Provision or GTFO.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:53 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Well yeah, pils is practically an industry shibboleth. But I've lost count of how many people I've recommended Polestar, Flywheel, or Krombacher who look at me like I've lost my mind.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 8:54 PM on August 21


Benny Andajetz: "In the summer I go through quite a few Budweisers, even though I am a dedicated hop-head and wouldn't drink Bud by itself. I use it in redeyes: 1/2 Bud, 1/2 Spicy V8. Tasty."

Eh, that's what green chili beer is for!
posted by notsnot at 9:02 PM on August 21


"It's funny because I am around brewers and beer professionals all day and everyone is perfectly happy to enthuse over a particularly nice ESB or blonde or pils."

Brewers do, but LA beer hipsters are all about the sours now, and a bunch of new ones have just hit the market. It's the same way that a bunch of black ales and lagers (why they don't call them schwarzbiers or dunkels I don't know) have hit. I'm not a fan of sours/lambics, but I do like the broader selection of dark beers; it's something that I missed from the midwest.

(And at least around me, the sours seem to have replaced the previous super sweet Belgian trippel thing, which I also wasn't a big fan of.)

The other thing that I've tasted more of lately is cross-yeast beers, e.g. ale yeast in lager recipes. I tend not to like really yeasty beers, and these tend to highlight the yeast in a way that isn't to my taste.
posted by klangklangston at 9:11 PM on August 21


I mean, going just by the folks working at my place, brewers will drink just about anything.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:15 PM on August 21


but what gets you instant cred at the craft brew-focused pub or fancy beer store is asking for a berliner Weisse, guezue, or sour brown ale.

Why I should be seeking credibility, reassurance and praise from a liquor store clerk when I am shelling out my own money is something I can't understand.

It's as bad as the entire 4th-wave coffee movement, where ordering a dark roast marks you as a hopeless square who should never venture beyond an exurb strip mall.
posted by Nevin at 9:17 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


I think there's enough out there now that you should be satisfied regardless of your taste.

There are lagers of all kinds from delicate to black, ambers, browns, strong IPAs, weak IPAs, lambics, saisons, wheats, porters, stouts, and others... and session versions of many of those things, and more!

Forget the trends. Try different things, find what you like and drink it when you feel like it. This is a great time to enjoy a wide variety of beers!
posted by delicious-luncheon at 9:19 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Krombacher

Makes delicious goddamn beers of several varieties.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:36 PM on August 21


I don't believe I've ever tasted or even heard of such a thing as a "sour" ale, and I consider myself a reasonably widely read drinker of beer. They don't sound particularly good, but I suppose that in order to be a more complete person I ought to edify myself.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:49 PM on August 21


Sour ales (which are delicious!) previously on the blue.
posted by namewithoutwords at 10:42 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


IPA is the over-oaked chardonnay of beer: dissed by the cognoscenti but still very popular in the stores.
posted by mr vino at 11:01 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Also - it seems like a lot of commenters haven't read the article, wherein the author says that he does not like the taste of bud, but admires its consistency.

I read it. And I don't care that it's "consistent", it's still gross.

Perhaps I am spoiled from living in Germany. I lived about an hour (ish) from the Warsteiner brewery, and we got 24 bottles a week delivered right to our door. The Rheinheitsgebot ensured consistency, AND it was (and is) delicious.
posted by MissySedai at 11:04 PM on August 21


I don't believe I've ever tasted or even heard of such a thing as a "sour" ale, and I consider myself a reasonably widely read drinker of beer. They don't sound particularly good, but I suppose that in order to be a more complete person I ought to edify myself.

In a sentence, they do what they say on the tin. I say you should try one if you get a chance as they are quite distinctive (and of course, who knows, you may like it). I definitely don’t judge anyone for not liking sours; they have a very opinionated flavor which you are biologically wired to dislike at first (sour is associated with spoilage). I like them a lot but by god they are absolutely the hipster beer du jour. I guess that makes me a beer hipster…

I’ve found myself gravitating towards a standard pale ale as my bread-and-butter beer. They tend to be more balanced than the local IPAs, which as mentioned upthread are often just completely hopped to hell. The fact that a good pale seems to be my dad’s style of choice is a bonus, too.
posted by conorh at 11:35 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


See also Heineken and Grolsch. In fact, Dutch lagers are almost uniformly terrible (Oranjeboom is another case in point). Something must have happened after the Peace of Münster.

Hey, I like Grolsch! But my favorite beer is Alfa.
posted by Pendragon at 1:18 AM on August 22


I'm a bit reminded of the whisky thread from a while back.

There seems to be a popular myth that Industrial Product must be intrinsically homogenous in taste, made without any skill; and that the Small Batch Local Craft product has an individual taste which is a reflection of artistry of its maker.

But every barrel of matured whisky naturally has its own distinct taste. To produce a homogenous product, the blender actually needs a lot of skill and taste to blend all these diverse barrels into something consistent.

From what this article is saying, it seems beer is similar: the bland homogenous taste of mass-market lager is similarly difficult to achieve.

Sometimes it takes a lot of skill to produce a homogenous product, but individual character pops out by itself if you let it.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:35 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


Budweiser is a better beer than you think

No, it really isn't.

If you like bland, drink water. It's cheaper.
posted by Decani at 3:07 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


Consistent lagers are one of the most difficult beers to make. Any flaw in the fermentation or hopping will be incredibly obvious.

This is very true, and is largely why (at least in the US) craft brewers have largely shied away from attempting true lagers. What makes Bud and its ilk terrible beers isn't so much the industrial scale, but the ingredients used. At such a gargantuan scale, one would almost have to augment the grain bill with adjuncts like corn and rice in order to keep volume up and cost down. I'm not privy to AB's grain bill for Bud, but I'd wager the amount of actual malted barley is pretty damned low. This, combined with the drive for nation-wide "sameness", leads to an insipid and featureless brew.

Luckily, there are a handful of craft brewers starting to tackle the challenge of an all-malt, true lager. And the results are quite good.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:31 AM on August 22


I just hit the "my comments" button and realise that the last three threads I posted on were Beer Posts. Interesting.

Metafilter - home of daily discussions around the hot-button topics of transgender issues and craft beer
posted by C.A.S. at 6:33 AM on August 22


I have some friends who work or have worked as brewers for various craft beer makers, including Russian River, Ommegang, Harpoon, and Flying Fish, among others. Mention Budweiser to any of them and they will chew your ear off about what an expertly made product it is. None of them actually drink it, but they have an immense amount of professional respect for it.
posted by snottydick at 8:09 AM on August 22 [2 favorites]


Sam Adams doesn't position itself as a microbrewery, but by the Brewer's Association's definition Boston Beer Co. is a craft brewery.

There's a surprisingly wide range of beers that emanate from Boston Beer Co. I assume that a fair number of them don't see wide distribution west of the Hudson, but that's an entirely unjustified assumption on my part. Maybe it's an artifact of good marketing, but I have the strong impression that there is still very much a craft brewing process alive and well at the heart of Boston Beer Co.

Anecdata: I randomly bought a Sam Adams Merry Maker this past winter and found it to be legitimately tasty. Given how fast it was here and gone in the metro Boston area, I'm guessing that particular brew didn't make it too far outside of New England.
posted by the painkiller at 8:24 AM on August 22


One thing I haven't seen mentioned in this thread is the expense of fermenting lagers – both in terms of energy (fermenter must be kept colder) and time (tying up the fermenter for longer). If you're a craft brewer trying to bootstrap yourself, why spend all that money on a good lager when you can make a good ale for less? My suspicion is that this plays into the relative lack of craft lagers as well, not just craft brewers not being able to brew a good one.
posted by conorh at 8:27 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


What is the 'basic underlying beer' if you remove the hops? Did you just want to drink straight wort?

I'd like to taste the fermented wort. Hops are a flavoring. The quality of the water, grain, and yeast have a lot to do with the taste of a good beer. So does the treatment of the grain and the details of fermentation. When an American beer maker then dumps a shitload of hops into it and call it an IPA, it obscures the taste of the fermented wort. As Mr Vino says above, this is very like the problem with over-oaked chardonnay. Or someone wearing too much cologne.

I'm not saying a super bitter IPA is a bad thing. If you like it, great! I'm saying there's a lot of other kinds of beer out there, some of it more subtle. My suspicion is high alcohol super hoppy IPA is popular because it's a relatively easy style to make taste "special".
posted by Nelson at 8:41 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


Chipping in some anecdotal support on how these arguments always come down to macrobrews vs super experimental microbrews. Here in Maine we have quite a few micro-breweries that do consistent tasting, rather bland, traditional beers. They tend to be associated with small-scale brew-pub chains (Gritty McDuff's and Sea Dog Brewing Company for example.) You can go to any of their 4 or 5 locations, and it will always be the same experience. They do do some "experimentation" with special seasonal varieties, but those still always tend to be on the low-scale of taste complexity. We also have a few bottlers that do that too. (Casco Bay Breweries and Shipyard for example.)*

In my experience, every region tends to have at least one or two places like this. They just tend to get ignored because they straddle the line between corporate-chain and scrappy-micro-brewers.

*After doing some digging while writing this post, I just found out that Shipyard has acquired all of those breweries I just mentioned, in some kind of regional middle-of-the-road beer hegemony.
posted by mayonnaises at 8:44 AM on August 22 [2 favorites]


I'd like to taste the fermented wort. Hops are a flavoring. The quality of the water, grain, and yeast have a lot to do with the taste of a good beer. So does the treatment of the grain and the details of fermentation. When an American beer maker then dumps a shitload of hops into it and call it an IPA, it obscures the taste of the fermented wort. As Mr Vino says above, this is very like the problem with over-oaked chardonnay. Or someone wearing too much cologne.

Unhopped fermented wort is ludicrously sweet. It would be like drinking maple syrup. The reason beer is bittered is to make it palatable and possible to drink. Whether you bitter with hops or chamomile or dandelion or whatever, a bittering agent is an important element of making beer into the thing we call 'beer,' which is why I don't think there's such a thing as the 'underlying beer' without the hops. It's like wanting to taste lemonade without sugar-- sure, there are important elements to lemonade besides the sweetening, but the sugar isn't put in just to obscure the taste of the lemon.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:53 AM on August 22


Ask Metafilter: How does hop-less beer tastes and looks like?

I'm not saying I want zero hops. I've never tasted a beer-like beverage with no bittering agent; I'll take your word for it that it's gross. I'm saying that there are more flavors to beer than the hops and that the American craft beer style tends to blow out those flavors with the hops. I linked this upthread, but this Slate article makes the argument better than I can.
There are a few obvious reasons for hops’ status as the darling of craft brewers. Hops’ strong flavors present a stark contrast to watered-down horse piss ... Hops are also appealing because they give brewers an easy creative outlet. ... And unfortunately hops are a quick way for beginning brewers to disguise flaws in their beer ... From a consumer’s standpoint, though, beers overloaded with hops are a pointless gimmick.
That author seems enamored with the idea of adding other novelty flavors to beer. Me, I'm just seeking out something in San Francisco that's as good as any simple beer you get in any beer hall in Munich. I'm grateful to Trumer for trying.
posted by Nelson at 9:21 AM on August 22


Sure, and I'm not saying that hoppy beers are the end-all be-all of beer. But the reason hoppy beers are hoppy is because that's the flavor that they're going for, not because someone made a nut brown and it wasn't very good so they dumped 44lbs of Zythos in the fermenter. If you don't like hoppy beers, that's fine, and despite the huge popularity of IPAs and PAs and DIPAs there are tons of low-hopped beers available at bars and stores and bottle shops. But I don't think it's accurate to say that hops are used as a crutch simply because they're popular. Maybe by homebrewers, but by the time you get yourself on a 7- or 10- or 30-BBL system it's probably safe to say you've gotten over that.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:37 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


I don't have any idea what New Yorker article I referenced here, but this discussion reminds me of a comment I made years ago about a European master brewer who said his favorite American beer was Budweiser.
posted by jayder at 9:51 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]



I don't believe I've ever tasted or even heard of such a thing as a "sour" ale, and I consider myself a reasonably widely read drinker of beer. They don't sound particularly good, but I suppose that in order to be a more complete person I ought to edify myself.

Some of them are absolutely delicious, but there's a huge amount of variation. I'm okay with sours being hipster now- trying to find a Berliner weisse since my favorite German restaurant stopped importing it ten years ago has been next to impossible. Now I can go to almost any beer hall in Oakland or SF and have at least one sour option. I'm just wating for more U.S. brewers to start making some decently funky, complex, non-sweet ciders or perrys.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:21 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


I don't believe I've ever tasted or even heard of such a thing as a "sour" ale, and I consider myself a reasonably widely read drinker of beer. They don't sound particularly good

Actually of almost any beer style, I think a sour is one that can delight your taste buds in an extreme way. Some sours are literally the "tastiest" beer you'll ever drink, full of nice flavors. I rarely find myself in the mood to drink sour after sour, but that first sip can be a revelation. Sours are on the upswing among American craft brewers. If The Bruery has distribution where you are, I recommend trying any of their sours.
posted by cell divide at 11:21 AM on August 22


In my experience, every region tends to have at least one or two places like this. They just tend to get ignored because they straddle the line between corporate-chain and scrappy-micro-brewers.

Yeah, a lot of those places just kind of fall under "what's the point?" Sam Adams is pretty much all I need for "generally inoffensive semi-local beer."
posted by smackfu at 11:31 AM on August 22


IPAs are far from done, at least in the States. They're by far the best-selling craft beer style in America ("Seasonal" is not a style) and still growing. And the IBU wars are over. Now the trend is juicy, tropical hop flavor - Galaxy, Mosaic, Citra - it's getting hard to find a new IPA that doesn't taste like a goddamn fruit salad.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 8:19 PM on August 21 [1 favorite +] [!]


Like I said, I've developed into something of a beer snob over the last few years - I probably should have been less categorical though because basically what I meant is that I'm pretty much over overly hoppy IPAs. We tend to lag a few years behind what's going on in the States when it comes to craft beer though, so I guess we'll start seeing fruity IPAs in the next couple of years here.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 3:30 PM on August 22


I really love watching the Budweiser Clydesdale horses

...while drinking something else.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:10 PM on August 22


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