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 When prohibition was repealed, Coors started making beer again.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. 

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