It’s super hot outside right now, except when it’s pouring, after which it’s hot again, and also insanely humid. In such a miserable month, I said to myself, “Why not add insult to injury?” For almost this entire series thus far, I’ve spent my time reviewing high-quality craft beers. This habit, while delicious, leaves a huge segment of the world of beer simply untouched. For this month’s post, I chose six macro beers to review. I chose these beers haphazardly at my local Kroger “build-your-own” booth. The pickins were slim, though to its credit, not all bad — I’m looking at you, New Belgium’s Snapshot, mmm — but I came out with what I think is a respectable (un-respectable) sixer. Let me know what you think of my choices, or just tell me how brave I am, in the comments.
Labatt Blue Pilsner – bottle – 5% ABV
Crystal clear and pale gold, it smells and tastes like light biscuity malts. There’s also a very light citrusy hop tang. It’s honestly way better than I was expecting, and definitely superior to the big US adjuncts. For the style, it’s a really good beer. The main negative for me is the 11.5oz bottle. As an American, I DEMAND an even number of ounces!
Yuengling Black & Tan – bottle – 4.7%
Ugh, no thank you. Way too smoky for my porter tastes, and the aftertaste is like a bad pale lager. Medium body and some weird fruitiness are at play. In future, my black & tans will be made the old-fashioned way.
Shiner Bock – bottle – 4.4%
With a rich dark amber color and respectable head, Shiner puts on a good show, but that’s (almost) where it ends. The aroma is mainly of light malt syrup, with maybe the barest hint of floral hops. The flavor, while not offensive, is simply more malt syrup with some bread and caramel notes. It’s not too heavy on the tongue thanks to good carbonation, and the medium body serves it well. The finish is bland with a tiny hint of smoke. Halfway through the pint I have a headache, and while I can’t be sure that’s the beer’s fault, I won’t be seeking this out again, if only because it’s boring.
Tap Room No. 21 American IPA – bottle – 6.3%
Pours clear and copper-colored with a half inch or so of off-white head that quickly drops to nothing and leaves no lacing. The aroma is mild, but has a decent floral hop note and a little scent of lightly toasted malts. Honestly you should just stop there. Remember that, if you ever get this beer, just smell it. The first taste is astringent and bitter, that side-of-your-tongue bitter that you get when you don’t swallow a pill quickly enough. There are more floral hops in the taste, I guess, but they’re not worth it. It’s medium-bodied, and the finish is thin…and bitter. This one gets two red lights. They should pay me to drink this. It disgraces the good name of American IPA.
Miller Fortune – bottle – 6.9%
Pours clear and bright, a straw-gold color with (this is becoming a trend) an off-white head that fades quickly with no lacing whatsoever. The aroma is corny — literally — with alcohol and, if I work at it, a hint of noble hops. The flavor isn’t much, but it’s actually not a terrible beer. A bit of a sour finish, and definitely has that macrobrewed, It’s Miller Time® flavor. At the end of the day though, it’s still a low-quality beer that has me nursing a mild headache halfway through the glass.
Shock Top Honey Bourbon Cask Wheat – bottle – 5.5%
A half inch of foamy white head disappears into the beer very quickly, once again leaving no lacing. It’s like these macro beers are engineered to leave no evidence they were ever in your glass. The color is cloudy and dark gold with a tinge of red. It smells exactly like opening a jar of honey, the kind with a bit of honeycomb included. The aroma — maybe “odor” is more appropriate — is sickly sweet, like rotting fruit, though I think I do smell a little oak and what might be a touch of bourbon extract. More honey in the first taste. The best way I can think to describe this beer is like low-quality mead that’s been infected and allowed to sit around for a while. Cloying vanilla flavors take over when the rotten honey has had its way with you, and the finish is sticky. The aftertaste is just like the taste is just like the smell. If you haven’t figured it out by now, DO NOT DRINK THIS BEER.
And the worst beer this month is…
Shock Top! I didn’t think it could get any worse than the Tap Room No. 21 IPA. It gave me a headache, my chest tightened up, I had heartburn — it actually pained me to drink it. But I couldn’t even come close to finishing the Shock Top. Three sips were all I could take, because I think if I drank any more, I might have thrown up. This is definitely the most offensive beer I’ve ever had, and I’ve had lacto-infected homebrew that was made in a Mr. Beer.
Whew, so glad that’s over. Next month’s post will be full of tasty, quality craft beer once again. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that if I’m ever forced to drink macro beers full-time, I’m moving to Canada.
Top image via shirt.woot.com