Thursday, January 31, 2013

Beer Tasting: Budweiser Black Crown


 Super Bowl 47 is coming up this Sunday, and what better time for a beer to get its advertising debut? After all, Anheuser-Busch had great success launching Bud Light Platinum just days before Super Bowl 46 and first advertising it during the most-watched American Football game of the year. The apparent idea was to advertise the beer and when people saw the ad they would ask their bartenders for a Platinum. And boy, did it work; within months, Bud Light Platinum took up over 1% of the American beer market. Will Anheuser-Busch see a repeat with the new Budweiser Black Crown?

The Story

Black Crown was developed when 12 pairs of AB-InBev brewers were tasked with creating the next Budweiser variation. 12 beers were created and tested among 25,000 consumers who elected Black Crown the next "King of Beers". If Bud Light Platinum had an "Irish Twin", that twin would be Black Crown. While Platinum is a malt-liquor marketed as a sophisticated beer for the sophisticated drinker, Black Crown is more highly-hopped when compared to Budweiser and appears to be marketed as a more sophisticated beer for the craft-beer enthusiast. Both are 6% ABV, compared to the 4.2% ABV Bud Light and 5% ABV Budweiser, and both cost 35% more than their classic counterparts.

The Taste

Budweiser Black crown pours a translucent amber color with a large head which quickly dissipates. Black Crown smells very much like the classic Budweiser with faintly more hop aroma. At first taste, this beer has slightly more body than the classic Bud and a stronger malt flavor with a very light bitterness from the increased hop presence. The signature rice flavor is there, lightening the taste of the beer while giving a distinct flavor and sweetness which only comes from rice. At first taste I did not really enjoy Black Crown, though after drinking four bottles throughout the week I grew to like the beer a little more. But all in all, this beer tastes very much like Budweiser's other beers. They have a classic formula that appeals to the broadest audience possible, so it's only natural for Anheuser-Busch to tweak the beer, give it a new label, and advertise it as a very different beer.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Beer Tasting: Batch 19

As I browsed my favorite local beer retailer, I noticed Batch 19. I had never seen it before and was intrigued by the label and unique bottle shape. I searched the label for the name of the brewery, and in small letters I found "Coors". This was the same day I had read about Budweiser releasing a new beer to compete with the Craft Beer market, so I decided I had to try this "pre-prohibition style" beer.

The Story

Batch 19 is inspired by the beer Americans consumed before prohibition of alcohol was mandated in 1919. For fourteen years breweries were forced to make new products or close. Coors Brewing Company adapted by making malted milk and non-alcoholic beers, but was mostly kept alive due to other businesses owned by Adolph Coors. 
The story behind Batch 19 is an odd one. When prohibition was repealed, Coors started making beer again. But without the original beer recipe, they had to make a new one and thus, Coors Banquet was born. Then in 2004 a brewer allegedly found the old recipe and the company began brewing Batch 19, inspired by the recipe (not using the recipe itself). The company claims that the original Coors used malts, hops, and yeast which are no longer available. 
If the story sounds like a gigantic marketing ploy to enter the Craft Beer market, you are not alone; Batch 19 has been met with a lot of skepticism over its limited release and growler sales. Though the truth may be hard to find, a beer is best judged on the way it tastes.


At first pour, Batch 19 looks distinctly different from the classic American Pale Lager. Batch 19 pours a deep copper color with a fluffy cream-colored head. It really is a beautiful beer with bubbles dancing and a thick lacing (rings of foam around the glass as beer is consumed). Take a good smell and you'll notice that Batch 19 smells rather bread-y and has a hint of that familiar Coors scent, but with slightly (very slightly) more hops and a bit more malt. At first taste you'll find this beer tastes much like it smells, reminiscent of Coors with a subtle hop flavor and a stronger malt. The overall taste is much stronger than the classic pale lager and the medium body finishes with an interesting bread flavor that is neither light nor crisp. Batch 19 weighs in at 5.5% ABV, a little stronger than the 4.2% ABV Coors Light. 
My personal experience with this beer was not exactly positive. While I thought it was great to try something new, I felt like Batch 19 was made very much along the lines of a macro-beer rather than a craft beer. While it looks like perfection and tastes stronger than Coors Light, I think I would prefer the Coors Light. Batch 19 tastes too much like a good bread with hops and malt; I'd prefer to just eat the bread (maybe on a sandwich) and drink a malt-driven beer. I'm not sure if it was the beer or just coincidence, but after consumption I had a headache that lasted through the night and next morning. 
The purpose of this blog is not to rate beers and point people in one direction and away from another, so despite my bad experience I would recommend that the adventurous beer drinker try this beer. At first taste, this lager is different-- very different if you normally drink Coors or Budweiser. If you drink lagers from the Craft Beer market, you may find this beer a little different but slightly sub-par in comparison. 

Beer Tasting: Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
In the cold Winter months, many beer drinkers turn to dark, spiced ales. But if you are looking for something different during the doldrums, then never fear! Rogue, who pride themselves in going against the grain, has something to offer.

Hazelnut Brown Nectar is a Winter seasonal from Rogue Ales in Newport, Oregon. This brown ale holds a lot of characteristics that are common among brown ales, pouring a chestnut color with some clarity and a creamy, fluffy head. Take a good whiff and you'll immediately notice the hazelnut, smelling like both a beer and a coffee drink. At first taste it is a little bitter and rounds out with a nutty semi-sweet flavor, finishing with a little caramel and chocolate taste. This beer has a lot of sweet hazelnut flavor, definitely fitting the descriptors "Hazelnut" and "Nectar".

The first time I had Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar was from the tap, and I thought it had a great hazelnut and malt presence. Most recently, I had it from the bottle. I'm not sure if it's the bottling, the distance between Oregon and Michigan, or the time the beer set on the shelf before my purchase; but there was a distinct difference between the two. My experience tasting Hazelnut Brown Ale from the bottle was enjoyable but not as enjoyable as from the tap, as the beer had a lower Hazelnut and malt flavor and had less of a full-bodied mouth feel.

That said, I would recommend Hazelnut Brown Ale in any shape or form. I could not find the ABV of this beer on the label nor on the brewery's website, but according to Hazelnut Brown Ale weighs in at 6.2% ABV; which means that you can split a six-pack with a friend over the course of dinner, a movie, or while watching your favorite sports.

Beer Tasting: Newcastle Winter IPA
Today we have a special beer from Newcastle. Owned by Heineken, the Newcastle Brand has seen some new varieties show up in the United States over the past few years. For those who like the Newcastle Brown Ale, Winter IPA should be a welcome addition.

For those familiar with Newcastle Brown Ale, Winter IPA will appear similar when poured from the bottle. It has a nutty brown color and a creamy, almost fluffy, head. After a smell and a taste, though, one will find that Winter IPA is distinctly different.
Winter IPA is based on the India Pale Ales from the early 18th century. India Pale Ales were made in Imperial Britain for travelers to take on the long trek to India. Brewers found that hops and alcohol help prevent beer from spoiling, so they upped the hops and alcohol content. 

American IPAs often have a very strong hop presence. Newcastle Winter IPA, however, is much lighter on the hops and slightly more hopped than the traditional pale ales. It also weighs in at 5.6% ABV versus the 4.7% found in Newcastle Brown.

Newcastle Winter IPA has a spiced or zesty smell, much like other winter seasonals.The initial taste is of a spiced ale and rounds out with a sweet malt and balanced hop bitterness. The aftertaste is lightly bitter and zesty. Newcastle Winter IPA pairs very well with both seasoned foods and sweet treats, so be sure to try it out with some of your holiday leftovers! If you don't have any leftovers, I would recommend making a seasoned beef roast or steak and for dessert have some chocolate and caramel popcorn.


Allow me to introduce myself and this blog. My name is Drew, I'm a new homebrewer from central Michigan, and big fan of beer.

Simply put, I love beer. I love the taste of several beers. I love the imagination used to create craft beers. I love variety. I enjoy being able to drink a different beer every day of the year.

What do I plan to do with this blog, you ask?

Well, I plan to talk about beer! Beer is something that brings people together and creates great joy. And that's definitely worth talking about.

To be more accurate, I wish to use this blog to talk about the beer I drink and share my thoughts with you. I plan to try AT LEAST one beer every week and share my thoughts on it with you, and hopefully it will either encourage you to try a new beer or give you something to talk about. I love beer and conversation, and my favorite conversations are about beer.

I also plan to spend some time talking about home brewing. If it is something you've never tried but wish to, I hope to be of some help or encouragement. As stated, I am rather new to homebrewing so I don't judge and I'm often looking for advice, as well. Hopefully this will help ME learn a thing or two.
So sit back, relax, and have a beer. Hopefully we'll have a lot of fun!