Friday, May 2, 2008

Lime in the Crappy Beer

I try not to be a beer snob; I honestly do.

At least, I try not to frown upon the beer choices of others. I'm not always successful, but I honestly do believe that you should drink what you like. If you honestly don't like the way a Double IPA tastes, then you shouldn't drink it just because certain people tell you that it's good. (Although Lagunitas Maximus is awesome.) I honestly only get frustrated when people say ignorant things like, "I don't like dark beer" as though "dark" is somehow a flavor. This sort of thing irritates me a bit because it shows a closed mind - as there are a lot of different styles that could be classified as "dark". (And besides, how dark does it need to be in order to be considered dark? I once had somebody say that in reference to a Sam Adams Boston Lager! I never thought of that as being dark!)

While I also don't ever buy the macro lagers like Bud, Miller, Heineken, etc., I don't find them to be bad necessarily. They're not my preference, but I've enjoyed a few MGDs when that was all there was (or the best choice anyway - I'll take an MGD over a Heineken any day).

Honestly though, I don't understand why many people actually seem to prefer the taste of light beers though. I find that they range in style from basically flavorless to outright bad. I believe that I've mentioned Bud Select before, which is Bud's low carb beer. That was genuinely awful. I got a free one and I couldn't even finish it. I mean, I realize that taste is subjective, but I just can't imagine anybody drinking that and actually thinking that it tastes good. At best, somebody might find it tolerable. As a person who genuinely enjoys beer, who sips it slowly and savors it, that's not exactly a ringing endorsement - not when there are so many other options out there.

So, maybe you've heard of this new "Miller Chill." I admit, as soon as I heard about it, I thought it sounded like an awful idea. It's basically a light beer with salt and lime flavor added - basically to compete with Corona or something, I guess. (Know why people put lime in Corona! To make it taste like something! Or to hide the fact that it tastes like puke when it's any warmer than ice cold!) From what I figure, Miller Chill is a beer for people who don't actually like beer. I guess that there's not necessarily anything wrong with that - although, why not just find something else to drink? Whatever though, I really wasn't curious enough about it to try it.

Of course, the big companies like Miller and Bud can afford to do all sorts of promotions and giveaways at various bars. (It'd be heaven if North Coast, Lagunitas, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, etc. would ever do a promotion when I'm at a bar!) Last night, Miller was doing a Miller Chill promotion and giving out free samples.

Now, my friends have known that I've been mocking this beer for some time. A friend of mine (who actually appreciates good beer when he has it) has admitted to buying 12 packs of it, and I give him a hard time. (Oddly enough, he doesn't defend it - he even admits that it's crap.) My (half-joking) theory is that it was specifically marketed to the douchebag demographic, and while you don't necessarily have to be a douchebag to drink it, if you're a douchebag, you'll be interested in it.

So, I tried it. I honestly tried to keep an open mind. Now, was I expecting that it could possibly be as good as a Belgian Dubbel? Well, of course not. Still, I thought that it was possible that I could be surprised and find it perhaps at least drinkable - perhaps even slightly refreshing.

Wrong. It was bad. Thing is, with a lot of bad beers, they actually taste okay on the first sip or two. Even with Bud Select, it took a few sips until I decided that I simply couldn't have any more. This one was bad right from the get-go. It's hard to explain, but here goes: You know how they make lemon-scented Windex? Well, imagine that they made lime-scented Windex. If they did, Miller Chill is what I imagine it would taste like. I know what lime is supposed to taste like, and this wasn't anything lime-like - not even an artificial candy lime. Perhaps the salt did it, but I doubt that this is an all-natural beer. I mean, it's not like light beers in general stick with the basic beer ingredients of malt, hops, yeast, and water in the first place - so why put in authentic lime and salt flavor? You gotta imagine that would be expensive, and the point of these beers is to make them cheap.

I didn't say anything though, as I was sure that my friends would have chalked it up to me having already made up my mind before taking a sip. I don't know. Perhaps that's what it was. Or maybe I'm right. (My friend who drinks it described it as being worse than he remembered.) Another friend called it a good beer after doing yard work on a hot day - you know, a beer that's good on certain conditions. I'm not buying that either though. For me, there are plenty of good, quality beers that taste good on a hot day. I'm going to be homebrewing a Belgian White beer which is perfect for that sort of a thing. My American Ale is also pretty light and refreshing, without being low on taste - or tasting gross when it warms up a little.

Of course, if you're not a homebrewer, you don't have as many options. Still, the summer offerings of Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams (among others) both do the trick nicely as well. And they taste good even if you HAVEN'T been doing yard work! Why settle for crap when you can have something good? Here are some other recommendations for summer yard work beers (if you're over 21, that is):

Lagunitas Pilsner
Wittekerke (available at Trader Joe's for $4.99 a six pack - not the best example of a Witbier, but well worth the price!)
Trader Joe's Bohemian Lager
Springboard (New Belgium)
Black Diamond Belgian Blonde
Bud Light Lime (kidding - although I've never tried it - doubt I ever will)


Gary Fouse said...

Miller Genuine Draft? Yuk! I realize Heineken imported is so so, but if you are in Holland, it is great. Unfortunately, they serve it in small glasses over there.

Lagunitas is pretty good beer-for American.

Most Belgian beer is like drinking perfume. 10-15% is too much alcohol for a beer. Stella Artois is pretty good, but in belgium.

I've had Spaten in Munich-actually at their own restaurant, and for a Germaqn beer, I was disappointed. I think Paulaner is the best of the Munich brews.

Yes, Carona sucks. It is just like an American beer. The best Mexican beer for me is Bohemia-especially in Mexico.

Honestly though, Germany still has the best beer-as long as you are in Germany. Next,I would rate Czech, Dutch, San Miguel (in the Philippines), Indonesian and Turkish beer (believe it or not).

Worst countries for beer? American macros, Italian, French (except for Alsace)come to mind.

Gary Fouse said...


If you like dark beer, next time you go to Germany, go to Dusseldorf. The nightlife (Altstadt) is great, and most of their beer is dunkles. It's their specialty.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Well, like I said, I've enjoyed some MGDs, but I don't exactly have it in my fridge. I can probably count on one hand the number that I've had.

There are actually a lot of Belgian Ales that are in the 4-6% range. Those are the kinds that I make. I know what you mean though (although I like some of the stronger ones as well - but those are more like 8-9%). Oh, and the only thing Belgian about Stella is that it's made in Belgium. It's pretty much nothing more than a Euro macro, which I'll admit are better than American macros.

Good call on Paulaner - I agree, and I like them better than Spaten - just didn't think of it. Also, Bohemia is by far the best Mexican beer, although I do like Negra Modelo too.

I wouldn't put a conditional on Lagunitas though - I think that they're awesome (but I like some of their stronger, hoppy beers).

Ingrid said...

I will be thinking of you guys beginning Thursday when I am at the "Erlanger Bergkirchweih" drinking the best beer in the world. I wish you could join me.