The Three Stages of Beer Appreciation
To my observation there are several steps or stages that one goes through in their beer appreciation development. The first stage I call the adjunct lager stage. At the adjunct lager stage most of us are not drinking for taste but merely to get inebriated. I can’t imagine anyone savoring or anticipating a Coor’s, Miller or Budweiser. These beers provide a simple (i.e. tasteless) and affordable way to “get there”. Most American beer drinkers never leave this stage.
The second stage I call the Honey Brown stage. At this point the actual flavor of the beer (as well as the alcoholic affect) is taken into consideration. These beers are fairly obvious in flavor though (i.e. sugar) with little complexity. Brands of the kind include: Honey Brown, Killian’s Irish Red, Pete’s Wicked, etc). The key point here though is that the flavor isn’t an afterthought (as in stage one) but definitely anticipated, recognized and appreciated.
The third stage is the big one. I refer to this as the Sam Adams stage. If you can appreciate Sam Adams (or any other beer with significant hops) you have arrived. At this point you can approach and hopefully appreciate a wide variety of beer styles like IPA, German Pilsener, and other profound and “real” beers.
For me though I must draw the line at beers like Michelob Ultra, Coor's Light, Bud Light, et al. These "beers" are virtually devoid of any actual beer flavor. So what are their purpose? To me I can only conclude that they are produced for consumers who do not actually like beer (so what does that actually make them?)
I thought that might be the case, but you know, I didn't want the anti-beer-geek crowd to have any ammo.
Of course in the process I irked my pal brentk. Perhaps he can start a new thread on the nine stages of sweet tea appreciation. I'm clearly at step one. ARIZONA IN A CAN RULEZ!
(insert winky face here)
I'm weird, I guess. You can taste me out your most "complex" "interesting" beers or your blandest Yankee water and I'll appreciate them both for what they are.
I like Sam Adams, but I drink A LOT and it just can't be done all the time. Sometimes I just want a light easy beer. It's an appreciation for all flavors. Hell, I spent five hours in a beer bar in Brugge, Belgium once and had my first taste of Gueze...so I love my beer. Beer is a wonderful cornucopia of offerings, why limit yourself?
An asside note. There is a pretty cool micro brew fest at Santa Anita racetrack in Southern California. It's not the best of all micro brew fests, but it has the added attraction of being on the infield of the track, with live music. It is inexpensive, and you can bet the horses if you like. For people who want to try a lot of different new beers, it's excellent. And a lot of fun. They have one about every 3 months. It's really cool to get a bunch of friends together and go. For about 30 bucks, you can park, make a couple of 2 dollar bets, and drink a few differnet beers, and listen to bands. Check out Santa Anita racetrack's website for future dates. And you usually get cool free stuff too!
Everytime this thread comes back up to the top with an unread post, I look at the subject line quickly and think of this picture:
(I believe that bottle, despite having a name similar to a famous scotch, is actually from barrel G-1 of an early version of Samuel Adams Triple Bock, based on their expressions, at least.)
In regards to the stages of beer appreciation, I read this a long time ago in a homebrewing digest. I think it might apply now.
Stages of the Beer Discovery Experience
(starting from adolescence)
1) You drink Budmilloors because it's cheap, you want to get
drunk, and you really don't like beer anyway.
You cannot distinguish marketing ploys from taste.
(ex. Genuine Draft, Ice beer, Dry beer etc.)
2) As you get older, you still like to get drunk, but you
have a bit of cash to spend. You also tend to drink beer
'cause you like it. You drink Budmilloors taste-alikes like
oh... Leinenkugel. Killian's Red, or for that matter, anything
3) You graduate from Budmilloors to Pete's Wicked Ale, or
some kind of non-mainstream beer, such as Sam Adams.
You begin to distinguish taste. You try and actually
start to enjoy darker beers like stouts and such.
You start to ridicule Budmilloors. Mass marketing of
"craft brews" still plays a role in your taste.
4) Now you differentiate between "good" and "bad" well-brewed
beers. You discover the Sierra Nevadas of the world, and
other truly exceptional beers. You use these handful of
select brews as your gold standard. All other beers are
crap. The beer that originally tasted exceptional at
stage 1,2 or 3, is now poor.
5) You gradually begin to realize that other beers have their
place in the world too. In fact, the simple fact that
SNPA, PU or Guinness exists as a benchmark begins
to allow you to evaluate beer on a comparative scale,
and you appreciate the differences and variations in
styles. Lambic and funky beers are valued as samples of a style.
You become more tolerant of Budmilloors.
6) You reach the Zen of beer tasting. All beer has a
purpose in life, and who are you to foist your taste
on anyone else anyway? Taste is relative. You realize
that maybe you should have a Bud when mowing the lawn
instead of a barley wine. All beer serves its own
purpose. Even Schlitz exists for a reason (Tonya Harding's
drinking buddies?). No beer "kicks ass" (to use Usenet
terminology) or is swill. It simply is.
Good post Mr Springer. Yes, I believe that the final stage in beer appreciation may be the realization that Budweiser et al do have a place in the World.
In fact, most experienced brewers know that in many ways, it's a lot more difficult to brew a light "American" style lager than it is to brew some of the stronger tasting ales.
re: Greg P.
Yes lagers in general are more difficult to brew. When visiting a new microbrewery, one of the things I often look for is to see how many lagers they brew. If there are none, it may be a sign that they are amateurs.
And brewing a light "American" style lager is very challenging. For one thing, you can't just cover up your mistakes with lots of hops. Even many experienced microbrewers would find it difficult to duplicate a Budweiser, much less do it with any consistency.
I bring up the fact the Budweiser style brews are difficult to brew because sometimes people assume that they taste the way they do as a result of low cost, ease of production and even worse, poor quality control. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The thing is, it's just your opinion that Budweiser isn't "anything good." I went the beer snob route for years and refused to drink any mainstream products. But eventually, I reached that final state that Spinger described whe I realized that I actually do like Budweiser. Not every day. But some days, a Budweiser is exactly what I want. And I'm not afraid or embarassed to say that.
As others have said, don't confuse more flavor with good flavor. Some days I like the impact of Thai Cuisine or Mexican Cuisine. And other days I feel like subtelty of French Cuisine, or maybe I have a jones for diner food. Does that mean that one of these is good and the other is not?
Same thing for wines. I have a friend who drinks only full bodied cabernets. Great for him, but some days I also enjoy a delicate pinot noir, etc.
So yea, I think the final stage of beer appreciation is a realization that there may be a place for everything and appreciating that place.
re: Greg P.
re: Greg P.
Um, not to be argumentative, but I see some serious fallacies in your post here.
If you talk to any brewers (which you might consider doing, you can learn a lot) you'll find that many don't make lagers because a) they aren't that interested in the style, b) the long fermentation and cooler temperature requirement isn't practical for their business model, and c) they don't have a huge demand for it from their customer base.
Here in SD, there are a few microbreweries that do produce lagers. One of them, Pizza Port, makes a beer called Amigo Lager that's designed to appeal to the sensibilities of those who want a light lager. I would disagree that it's hard to make light lager a la Budweiser. What is hard about Budweiser is guaranteeing the exact same flavor from batch-to-batch, given the natural variations in hops, barley, and water.
However, clearly your thesis that it's more challenging to brew is completely bogus considering that Stone's new head brewer left AB to make beers that he thinks are more interesting:
Another thing that is erroneous is this idea that you can "cover up" mistakes by adding lots of hops. No offense intended, but it sounds like you've never made beer. If you had, you would know that this is a total impossibility. It's like saying you can cover up bad food by adding lots of salt. What you'll have is salty bad food. Adding lots of hops will just give you a bad-tasting beer with a lot of hop flavor.
Good beers are balanced, and a balanced beer can't be achieved with overly-aggressive hopping. The hoppier you want to make your beer, the more you have to beef up the malt so you still have some balance.
It may be that hopheads give you the impression that hops are all that matter to them about a beer, but the truth is that among serious beer geeks and homebrewers, there is a much broader appreciation of styles than you seem to think exists. The craft brewing movement in the US grew out of homebrewing, and if you get to know any homebrewers you'll see that there is an interest in most all styles of beer.
I recently went to a party at the home of a homebrewer, and in his kegerator that day was a Kolsch, a Helles lager, Flemish red, gueuze, English porter, Irish red, Nut brown, and stout.
It's a mistake to assume that "more flavor" equals "good flavor". I don't think that anyone is making that argument.
I've variously heard Budweiser described as good when ice cold (which diminishes the flavor), when mowing the lawn on a hot day, when you want to just drink a lot of beers, and none of those things to me have anything to do with quality of the beer. If I'm looking for something ice cold to chug down rapidly, why even bother with beer at that point? It's not a question of being afraid or embarrassed, in my case it's that I don't drink beer to get wasted, and I don't drink beer to cool off on hot days because it has the opposite effect since alcohol makes you dehydrated.
Where your comparison with food is off the mark, to me, is that placing mass-market adjunct-laden beers on equal footing with craft brews is akin to saying McDonalds is just as good as French cuisine. Are you really going to argue that? You may LOVE McDonalds, and nobody could ever make an argument that you shouldn't love McDonalds. But you can't seriously claim it's "just as good" as French cuisine because you like the way it tastes. From an objective standpoint looking at world cuisine and what goes into its creation, it simply falls flat as an argument, unlike your other examples like Thai, Mexican, etc.
There are many great lagers out there on the market that I would happily reach for and drink, Budweiser is simply not among them. Dismissing it as snobbery akin to only drinking Cabernet is absurd, since anyone who really knows anything about wine knows that cabs are good in a certain context, but other wines are every bit as good (and often better) in other contexts. Only drinking full-bodied cabernet is as ridiculous to me as is only drinking highly-hopped IPAs.
I do agree there is a place for every style of beer, but I am not interested in mediocre versions of those styles. If I want a lager-style beer, then I'll reach for a Full Sail Session Lager, which is adjunt-free and delicious, or Victory's Prima Pils which is an excellent American version of a classic pilsner, or even a Gordon Biersch lager before I'll drink Bud/Miller/Coors.
Beer snobs suck. I like All the beers of the world with the exception of a few. I have traveled the world and tried many and only found a few that I would prefer not to drink. But for the most part all beer has a place and or a purpose in this world. For you hops purists remember that hops only came about as a preservative not as a flavoring.The Reinheitsgebot was introduced in part to prevent price competition with bakers for wheat and rye. The restriction of grains to barley was meant to ensure the availability of sufficient amounts of affordable bread, as the more valuable wheat and rye were reserved for use by bakers. Today many Bavarian beers are again brewed using wheat and are thus no longer compliant with the Reinheitsgebot. There are only two types of beer bottom fermented or top. There are many styles and flavors, much like wine all suit different needs and tastes. Are going to drink peche lambic with a burger or brat? And you also wouldn't want a spicy Chimay Grand Cru with a light fish. Hell no, it ruins the flavor of both. Don't CRAP on a man's taste in beer until you've walked a mile in his shoes. My Grampa was a yeastmaker for Anheuser-Busch and my family is still pretty proud of that. And it is also those same big companies that have kept the craft and the education of beer alive. So lets not turn it into a snob sport. It sounds Much better if an individual prefaces there comments with what they enjoy and the reasons why without the snobbery of putting down someone else's preference for that wonderfully intoxicating libation that we love to quaff en masse called beer.
Depending on what the burger is topped with, peche lambic might be a perfectly suitable accompaniment.
Maybe you can explain something to me that I've found to be pretty baffling. When people like yourself get defensive about liking crappy beer and in turn vent your spleen at "beer snobs", that's considered to be OK. Yet when the tables are turned it's all of a sudden wrong. Can you explain the logic here?
If nobody is ever right, and every point of view is equally valid, then why do you even need to air your views about the people you're so quick to label snobs?
And while it may be true that all the beer variations are akin to wine variations, you won't find anybody who knows their wine expressing love for Arbor Mist Peach Chardonnay.
if you refer back to the initial post, it makes a lot of sense and is, for the most part, pretty true for all of us who've 'graduated' and moved on from our earliest beer experiences. that doesn't make us a snob, it makes us educated. and adventurous.
in effect, we HAVE walked a mile in their shoes. been there and drank that. ;)
as for the macros paving the way and keeping the craft alive, i beg to differ -- if only from the perspective of someone who lives in a state where A-B (and to a lesser extent the other macros) have a monopoly on the distribution channels and do their best to 'discourage' retailers and distributors from carrying a wide variety of their competitors' beers.
if anything, A-B has gotten too far from its roots and is scrambling to try and emulate the flourishing grass roots craft traditions by:
buying and/or making distribution deals with brewers like redhook, widmer bros -- adding fruit to their mich ultras, trying (and failing miserably) to make mich a hefeweizen, making a deal with jimmy buffett for the land shark lager, etc etc.
it's just too bad that with all their clout and reach they can't actually come up with some decent beer.
How do you *make* yeast? What raw ingredients do you start with? He may have cultured A-B's yeast in a lab, but I'm not sure he actually made it -- unless you're talking about developing the indiviual proprietary strain(s).
Be that as it may, I have been -- from time to time accused of saying (as Josh says in reply to you), "nobody is ever right, and every point of view is equally valid." Now, I strongly disagree that I've ever said it, but what I *have* said -- all four-letter words and epithets aside -- is that, for the person who *loves* Budweiser (or Arbor Mist, for that matter), that's great. Their tastes are pleased and satisfied, and all is right with the world. But don't expect me to agree with them that Bud is the best beer in America, or that Arbor Mist is the best wine, or that Starbuck's is the best coffee . . .
You won't hear me putting them down for enjoying their beverage of choice, but I don't have to agree to make it mine. I don't even have to agree that it's any good; on an subjective level, they may love it and I may think it's horrible. On that level, neither of us is wrong (i.e.: we are all entitled to our personal opinion, last time I checked).
But what Josh *also* said to you is quite important, IMHO, and that is,
"When people like yourself get defensive about liking crappy beer and in turn vent your spleen at "beer snobs", that's considered to be OK. Yet when the tables are turned it's all of a sudden wrong. Can you explain the logic here?"
It seems to me there is no logic here, and that you are being the very thing you accuse others to be.
Traditionally speaking, wine drinkers in American generally moved from white, off-dry jug wines (think Almaden Mountain Rhine, Chablis or Mountain Nectar Rose) then into off-dry varietal wines followed by drier and drier whites (think starting with Riesling and Chenin Blanc, ending with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc*); then, maybe into light reds, things like Gamay and Pinot Noir, ending up to Zinfandel and Cabernet. The last thing to evolve was an appreciation of late harvest Rieslings and Sauternes . . .
Then everything changed in the mid-1970s, with the success of White Zinfandel and the flourishing of stainless steel . . .
Traditionally, people began with -- not just Bud, Miller, or (if you were "lucky" enough to live in one of the 11 western states where it was available), Coors**. Usually, it was more like Lucky Lager, Pabst, and the other beers that either came in kegs and/or were cheaper than Bud. Bud, Miller, and Coors were a step UP!
Then came beers like Heineken, Beck's, Corona . . . then the more "serious" European pilners, British ales and Belgian trappists and lambics. (This pattern changed slightly with the growth in the microbrew, starting with New Albion and continuing until this day.)
What brings people -- by and large -- to beers like Pabst Blue Ribbon or Rolling Rock, both of which were moribund to say the least, is marketing. Call it "PBR" and 20-somthings think it's cook, not realizing it was what their grandfather drank with a shot. Market the "33," and watch people grab a Rolling Rock . . .
Some people do indeed stay with Bud (or Miller or Coors), but does anyone really miss Stroh's-Schlitz? I mean, asdie from nostalgia. (I remember Blatz used to advertise on Dodger games, but I don't miss drinking the beer!)
* It wasn't too long ago, virtually all California Sauvignon Blancs were off-dry; it wasn't until 1968-1973 that the dry style actually became popular.
** Coors used to be a regional beer. Back when it was $1.25/6-pack ($5/cs), I was offered $10/cs by stores when it wasn't sold -- they could sell it for $20 a case!
"How do you *make* yeast? What raw ingredients do you start with? He may have cultured A-B's yeast in a lab, but I'm not sure he actually made it"
Yeah, I thought the same thing when I read it, maybe he was a "yeast wrangler" or a "yeast herder". I used to live across the river from an Anheuser-Busch bakers yeast plant (they later sold the division to a Swiss company)- occassionally, one got a funky smell out of the place (not helped by a paper mill down river) and I always blamed a bad batch of home brew on them...
" (I remember Blatz used to advertise on Dodger games, but I don't miss drinking the beer!)"
Blatz advertised the Dodger games in LA? What era? Blatz was sold to Pabst in late 50's but the Feds made them sell it to Heileman (anti-trust regulations) and I always thought it was pretty much a mid-Western brand by then. Pabst had a brewery in LA (maybe a former Hamms facility) and they brewed local Calif. brands like Burgie! there as well. And, eventually, Pabst bought Blitz-Weinhard (mid-70's). Hey, maybe it was Blitz that advertised on Dodger games?
I think the Dodgers teamed with Schaefer when they were in Brooklyn. (The "h" in the Schaefer sign lit for a hit, and the "e" for an error, IIRC). I grew up with the old man hating the Yankees but drinking Ballantine XXX Ale (who sponsored them). Eventually, when the Mets came around, Rheingold was their sponsor. And, yeah, I DO miss Ballantine XXX Ale (the real stuff, not this garbage from Miller>Pabst) and Rheingold and Schaefer (well, the last two on draft- the bottled was pretty standard).
The original post follows my progression almost exactly. I used to wonder why I wasn't enjoying my BudMillerCoors as much as other people. Then I started researching what beer was really made of. I really didn't even know what malt was. The more I learned about beer the more I experimented with brands and styles and started on this long journey. I agree that 15 years ago pickings were quite a bit slimmer than they are now. I can go to a nearby Italian restaurant now and pick up a Chimay Blue in the cooler along with about 10 other micros. Curiosity and a fondness for new tastes are rewarded now more than ever as beer lovers fuel the burgeoning craft beer market.
there's got to be some way to include Guinness draught along with beer appreciation. Not sure how my stages but it seems like it won't from Sam to Weisse Beer and now, into a deep Guinness phase, inspired from a trip to Ireland.
Now, i almost can't imagine all the shite thing i drank a few years back.
re: Kid Quick
Yes of course Guinness is included. As stated previously due to it's high availability for quite some years now Sam has been the first "real" beer that many of us were exposed to. Therefore Sam for me served merely as the portal through which the rest of the real beer world was accessed including Guinness.
When I began my adventures into the land of alcoholic beverages, according to my friends, Coors was IT. Then it was Heineken. I could barely drink half a beer before it got warm. I figured I just didn't like beer, period. I became a wine drinker. In the past few years I hooked up with a homebrewer and have attended many craft beer tastings. Being a Michigander, we have a plethora of fabulous microbreweries. While I still drink wine for the most part, I have learned to really enjoy the heavier beers-- Belgian triples, Scotch Wee Heavy, Imperial stouts, etc. Great in front of a winter fire. But I'm not going to chug one down after playing volleyball. While I can now appreciate the bite of IPAs and the funky lambics, they just aren't to my taste. At the State competition this past weekend, the Best in Show was judged to be a Vienna lager!
My brother's beer of choice is Budweiser. That's it. I remember bringing him several craft beers to sample. He tried a couple and shook his head and went back to his Bud. C'est la vie.
I think Suzy makes a good point. Blandness has its place (do you really want brown rice rather than white with your Chinese or Thai or sushi? It has more flavor!). Obviously, there's also a point to be made about developing a sophisticated palate and appreciating the good stuff. I appreciate the good stuff on draft, but I buy freshness-dated Bud to drink at home because, as others have said, so, so many six-packs of the good stuff have gone bad on the shelf.
The cynic in me wonders how many people develop a taste for skunked and spoiled beer after being told over and over again how stupid they are to ever prefer that macrobrew "water."
re: Bill on Capitol Hill
re: Bill on Capitol Hill
re: Bill on Capitol Hill
If you go to a good quality beer purveyor, you'll have a hard time finding skunked and spoiled microbrews. Additionally, it's a mistake to assume that all beer must be fresh in order to be good, since beers which are bottle conditioned are specifically intended to sit in storage (provided they aren't kept too warm).
I once went to a beer tasting where we sampled 4 year old bottles of Chimay Blue and Avery Salvation, and both had mellowed beautifully from the aging.
As Jim pointed out, check the dates on those six-packs. Most all microbrews I've seen in So Cal sport a bottling date so you can get an idea of how fresh it is.
It's not a question of people being stupid for preferring macrobrew. I'm sure plenty of intelligent people have never developed a taste for anything more interesting.
I don't think that it has anything to do intelligence. Putting things apples to apples for a moment aren't these adjunct-macro-lagers based upon German Pilsenser? If so, I can only conclude that if one LOVES Bud, Coors, or other adjunct-macro-lagers and has NO USE for the product in what we can consider it's traditional form (e.g. Spaten, Jever, or Victory Prima Pils) then maybe he/she just doesn't like beer. (Just an opinion).
Well, I don't know. Corn and rice are definitely not part of then reinheitsgebot. They also have very little hopping. I'd say that they are light-bodied, nearly-flavorless lagers. Loosely based on German pilsner, perhaps. I think you're totally right in saying that a devoted Bud/Coors/Miller drinker that doesn't like the real deal (Spaten, et al) doesn't like beer. I don't know how anyone can drink a good German lager and not be totally impressed.
I don't see why ales would be more susceptible. If anything, I'd think the opposite true since lagers tend to be lower in alcohol content. For beer to improve w/ age it usually needs to be above 10%. Skunking of beer happens when light causes a chemical change in the hops. It can happen in as little as a few minutes of exposure to direct sunlight.
If you keep your high-alcohol beer in the dark, at cool temperatures, you can age it indefinitely.
A possible 4th stage is a post "Hop Head" stage which basically means an appreciation for subtle, session style beers. Wonderful experiences can be had with lighter beer styles like English Mild or Bitters and German Helles Lager. English Milds overall have a tea-like flavor with rose petal and orange. They also have noticeable malt flavor and lower carbonation creating a smooth and almost fluffy mouthfeel. Finally, due to their lower alcohol content, they can be enjoyed over several hours (which is very civilized). Be forewarned however if you have been a regular drinker of IPA, Pale Ale, and other hoppier styles it might require several sessions to pick up on the subtlety. As for Helles Lager think of a softer and more delicate (feminine if you will) German Pilsener.
If for arguements sake lets say there are two broad beer categories; good and bad. Wouldn't we all place Sam on the good side? My point was not that Sam is the ultimate of any particular style. But it was for me a transition point over to "real" beer because of the obvious hoppy taste of it's Boston Lager for one thing. And it was (and is) widely available so for many Sam can provide their first infantile step into the "real" beer world. Where the journey ends is up to the individual.
I'm with you on that. I've always thought of Sam Adams as the most overrated beer in America. They've improved over the years, but my taste for it is tainted with the memory of the beer being contract brewed by Iron City while they were claiming to be a "Boston microbrew". A sort of high-end version of the PBR business model. The popular story was that they started their microbrewery in Boston later, solely to keep the microbrew/craft brew moniker.
Contract brewing doesn't necessarily mean the beer quality suffers. If the grain bill, recipe, and process are the same, then the product should be close to the same across the board. Macrobrew has tainted the concept that beer can be made well in large volumes.
I'm not saying Sam Adams is awesome beer, but it's much, much better than the adjunct lagers made by the big three.
What stage is it when you realize most micro and craft brewed beer on store shelves is outdated/stale/oxidized and you get fed up with getting burned buying unfresh six packs for $8-$15 and end up brewing your own delicious beer that is way fresher and much cheaper than anything you can buy?
I do agree firstly that fresher is better. Also, I've been burned repeatly (particularly with Pilseners) in terms of getting skunked beer from store shelves. But I think that you may over state the put a bit. Lets face it, it would take a remarkable home brewed beer to out perform an adequately shipped product from breweries like: Unibroue, Stone, Spaten, Fuller Smith & Turner, et al. When you look at their equipment, controls, and access to ingredients it would (to me) appear difficult. Having said that home brew has it's place as well but let's not suggest that it can or should replace the galaxy of great beers available to us today. Moreover, more and more quality micro's are opening brewpubs (which I try to frequent due to the "fresher-ness" factor). And you can drink in, or take out cases, 6ers, etc, maintained directly at the source (i.e. fresh). There are just too many options to suggest that home brew trumps all (unless money is your only concern).
I don't think the freshness problem is nearly as bad as 5-10 years ago, but it still exists. But as a former homebrewer, I know how much fun it is to consume your own freshly made beer. As for price, it's probably not cheaper than commercial beer when you factor in time and equipment.
re: Jim Dorsch
Hey Jim (When I lived in Alexandria years ago it was always great to talk beer with you at Total Beverage)I have found some freshness issues as well.
One of my favorite spots in Fells Point continually tries to serve me Tupper's that is a year old. Maybe even 18 months old.
I send it back every time and order something else. But there is a lot of stale beer out there.
Max's on Broadway is usually great as well, but you still have to look at the date. They have some old inventory in bottles.
Chinon00, I, too, was fortunate to have been stationed in Germany. There my life changed forever as I rapidly hit stage three. That was year's ago and I'm still mystified why anyone would drink Coors or light beer. But then, I'm equally mystified when I drive by the local Olive Garden and see the parking lot packed every night. I suggest you make a pilgramidge to the FatherLand and immerse yourself in more research. It will be time well spent.
I think economics has a lot to do with it. In college (late 80s) I was drinking the junk beers (e.g. Mickey's Malt, National Bohemian, Genessee Cream Ale) purely for cost reasons.
At the same time, I had sampled Pilsner Urquell when visiting Hungary and it was my favorite beers. Dock Street in Philadelphia was another favorite. But I just couldn't afford them regularly, or I bought a case and hid it from people and drank it slowly.
Nowadays I can just pick a beer and it doesn't matter the cost, at least when sharing it with my wife or close friends rather than buying for 10-20 guests. A Cantillon Gueuze 25 oz for $10-15. Friends & I recently split & mixed 6 cases that rang up to $530. (e.g. Rochefort 8 was $170). But that will last for awhile & thoroughly enjoyed.
Where does "adjunct" come from? I've seen ASL (American Standard Lager) and AML (American Macro Lager) regarding american mass-produced lagers, but I'm not sure I understand the use of "adjunct". Adjunct typically means an addition to or a non-essential aspect... and I guess I don't understand the intended meaning. Kinda like calling McD's adjunct hamburgers?
As far as steps in beer appreciation, I'm sure there are a lot of different paths - not unlike the appreciation of foods. Personally, I could never drink more than a gulp of the Bud's and Schlitz's that my buddies always tried to treat me to in High School and College - and I certainly couldn't stand the Black label my father bought in quarts. I thought beer was horse-piss, and never actually wanted any.
Then I got stationed in Germany. Hoh-boy...
They delivered from the local hofbrau the same way we used to deliver milk here in the US. Put out the empties before you go to bed, and wake up the next morning to a full case sitting on your doorstep. This was stuff with flavor. This was stuff worth getting drunk for.
Coming back in the mid-70's and looking for anything close - something, please! I had to settle for Lowenbrau export, maybe an occasional bottle of Dinkelacker at a "specialty" place... Honestly - you young'uns have no idea how bad it used to be.
Today we have local fresh beer much like Germany. True, the majority of people in the US still have dormant taste buds, but really, that's true about food as well - many people eat at McD's and the other chains every single day of their lives. But if you are curious and need more than horse-piss to sate your buds, you don't have to fly to Germany.
My sons have all started with the micro-brews and decent middle-size brewery products that I've had in my fridge for years. Like me, they never had the yearning for ASL/AML/Adjunct/large-production lagers (horse-piss is easier). We'll try anything - often going back to some favorites like stouts, lambics or heffeweizen. We don't always like everything. That's ok. But we're game to try anything - except horse-piss.
I think it's presumptuous to say that most adjunct-lager drinkers have a goal of getting a buzz. I might agree that such people don't challenge themselves, and miss out because of it, but I wouldn't presume to know why they consume what they do, nor the typical quantity consumed, which one would need to know before drawing such a conclusion.
re: Jim Dorsch
It might be presumptuous for me to say "most" I agree. However I've yet to encounter an adjunct-lager drinker who comments on the flavor of his Bud or Coors (as he would about say his pizza, burger or wings), save the "thirst quenching" comment often heard after cutting grass in the summer heat (but what couldn't serve as thirst quenching then?). As for the quantity consumed why is this crowd so often appealed to with "25 cent Bud draft" nights at local establishments?
re: Jim Dorsch
That I do not doubt. I myself have been trashed at craft beer festivals. But wouldn't you agree that those who regularly drink adjunct lagers wouldn't be likely to invest the time and energy to attend said craft beer festival (except by happenstance)? We "chowhounds" (I believe) have a natural curiousity for new beer experiences that those stuck in the adjunct stage simply do not have.
Actually, I've run into plenty of people at beer festivals who were clearly not regular drinkers of craft or Belgian(-style) brews. These people seemed to view the fests as a way to get tore up on several types of high-ABV beer for "free," where free is the equivalent of a couple 30-racks of PBR. This is part of why I like going to the smaller Friday night sessions of the BeerAdvocate fests, but avoid the larger, more drunken crowds of the Saturday sessions.
I don't know why people insist that beers such as Bud, Coors, etc. do not have any flavor (tasteless). The craft brews, microbrews, imports, etc. have distinct flavors, but so do the macrobrew lagers - different flavors, but flavors nonetheless.
Sure, you may not like the macrobrew flavor, but some folks do. I'm sure, or at least I assume, that it is simply a common (and tiring) exaggeration, but if some people cannot tell the difference between Bud and water, perhaps they should get their water systems tested.
You may find it hard to believe, but there are actually many, many people who are financially able to purchase any beer that they wish, and usually choose an American lager simply because they generally prefer the taste to that of the other choices, many of which they have sampled.
Now please excuse me while I adjourn to the kitchen for another Busch.
Well... the obvious reason that AML has no taste is that they have purposely bred the taste out of it, in order to satisfy (i.e., not offend) the largest number of people, and produce the maximum quantity of beer for the minimum price.
Here's what Beer Advocate says:
"Light bodied, pale, fizzy lagers made popular by the large macro-breweries of America after prohibition. Low bitterness, thin malts, and moderate alcohol. Focus is less on flavor and more on mass-production and consumption, cutting flavor and costs with adjunct cereal grains, like rice and corn."
Of course, the standard Chowhound mantra applies - if you like it, it must be good. But many people liking it doesn't actually make it a good product, nor does it make it flavorful. Otherwise McDonald's would be the best and most flavorful hamburger in the world.
I think that Chinon's original point is something that applies to food as well as beer. While I may not agree about the specific steps that people take to learn more about flavors, textures, and all the elements that add up to great food or beer, (because we all get there on different roads), it's nevertheless true that people with curiosity and the desire to discern the various qualities of what we put in our mouths, will try to learn about different and more complex flavors and textures. If you're satisfied with something that is not as flavorful, and you are not curious, or have no ability or simply have no desire to tell the difference and learn about new and more bold flavors, then, of course, that's your right - and it's right for you. But that doesn't mean that in fact, AML has lots of flavor.
I believe you are making the common error that more flavor = better flavor. People with curiosity may try beers with more flavor or more complex flavors and decide that the different flavor of AML is what they prefer. Perhaps too much consumption of complex and heavily flavored beers deadens the tastebuds for the subtle flavors of AML.