Friday, July 25, 2008

Wisconsin Beer Remembered - 1992

Pronounced Ly-nin-koo-guhlsMy first experience with Wisconsin beer (other than all the mass-produced stuff like Miller and Pabst) was Leinenkugel's original lager. I first got mixed up with this when I went to my favorite watering hole (underaged, I might add) at Iowa State called Under Where? I remember one fine evening when Mel was working the bar. I saw they had a special on Leinenkugel's: Get 5 beers in a plastic bucket and keep the bucket. I asked him where Leinenkugel's was from. He told my friend, Kurt, and me that it came from Wisconsin.

Granted, I really didn't know much about beer back then. I considered Miller Genuine Draft a fine beer. But I really liked this stuff. To this day, I consider Leinenkugel's my favorite American Lager. While Sam Adams might be better, this remains my standard, when I can get it where I live. I was so excited when I moved to Illinois. The first thing I did was go to Wal Mart, and sure enough, there was Leinenkugels right on the shelf.

Oh, and that bucket became where I stored all my bathroom crap during college and for a few years afterwards.

The Green MonsterMy second favorite American Lager also comes from Wisconsin. Made by Heileman's, who also brewed Old Style, is a beer that came in green bottles called Special Export. I usually would get this on tap at The Lost and Found Lounge when I became "legal". Dave Loose would serve you a liter mug if you asked for it.

I'm not going into great detail about Old Style in this post. Old Style is fine, but it's not one of my favorites. My friend, Duder, was not keen on any of the Heileman's stuff. In fact, in a discussion about a certain person from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, there was also some cross talk about Old Style and Heileman's. He declared, "I am a firm believer that anything that comes from LaCrosse sucks." We lived with that quote for some time, but never mentioned it when we had to go shopping there.

I discovered Blatz while interning at Speed Queen in Ripon, Wisconsin. My room mate brought home a case of it. The name wasn't too appealing to me, and besides, I could get all the Leinenkugel's I wanted living in Wisconsin, even in cans! I said, "How is that?" He said, "Pretty good for $5.99 a case." I had only heard about cases of longneck bottles of beer in Iowa for $4.99, and that was for Red, White and Blue, made in Dubuque. Everyone said it was terrible. Later, I would try RW&B and discover that while cold out of the bottle, it was a pretty decent beer. However, this had not occurred yet.

One weekend, though, when I was in the apartment alone and had not yet bought beer for the weekend, I thought, "What the hell, I'll give it a try." Halfway through the bottle, I said out loud to no one, "Hey, that's pretty good for $5.99."

I took a case of this down to Davenport for a weekend trip with Tommy Tune to visit my friend, Amy, and Tom's twin brother and my best friend, P-Mart. Amy and P-Mart were like, "I'm not drinking $5.99 beer." Then they tried it. They said, "Hey, that's pretty good for $5.99."

Point absolutely cracks me up, because nowadays, Point is a microbrew. In Wisconsin it was as cheap as Special Ex or Leinenkugel's. I saw point for $6.99 a sixer in Pensacola. This was in the late 90's. I almost bought for the sheer nostalgia, but I stopped myself. I just couldn't do it. I like the novelty of Point, but I just can't take it seriously. It's not really that good. I even bought a sampler 12-pack a couple of years ago, and wasn't all that impressed. Too bad, Steven's Point seems like a cool little Wisconsin town.

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Good Friend Buddy Weiser is Going to Belgium

Did you think I was just going to sit out on this one?


I don't care that Bud got sold to a foreign company. Miller and Coors sold a few years ago as well. Bud took advantage of that. I recently saw a somewhat faded sticker on the glass door of a cooler in Oklahoma that said, "Budweiser - the only brewer still owned by Americans" or something like that. Guess they better send those people a razor blade and get them to start peelin'.

If Bud drinkers are so offended by this, then I'm glad. Proud of you, really. No matter what kind of Budweiser you drink, you are drinking an inferior product. Sorry. The beer is brewed with rice. It's a cheap adjunct.

The thing that really pisses me off is all the marketing around macrobrews. Even though they're losing their share of the market to craft and mirco-brewed beers, they still continue to market themselves as great. I'm here to tell you that whoever owns who, as far as American Lager goes, Budweiser (and if you want to throw the light versions of beers in there, Bud Light) is at best, in 10th place. I'm sure, though, that I can find at least 10 American Lagers better than Bud.

I've been telling people the old story of how Great Grandpa Anheuser stole the name Budweiser from the Czechs in Europe, then made a recipe (was he cloning it? Not sure, through whatever process changes over the years took place, it's not at all like the original Budvar-Budweis) and this is what you're drinking now. Can the original compete in America under the original name? Sorry, no. In fact, it appears that there is an agreement with the original (now referred to as "Czechvar") company to use Anheuser-Busch's marketing and such. I'm not sure, though. I haven't really seen any ads for Czechvar in the states. Seems like this "agreement" is similar to when a record company signs a band to a contract and then does nothing with them. How are the major labels doing these days?

So to recap, I don't like Bud and Bud products overall, because: 1) They stole then tarnished a good beer's name; 2) It's not real beer because it's made with rice; 3) It's not the Great American Lager like you see on billboards.

If the current Anheuser-Busch was truly interested in making good beer, he'd take his money, and go invest it in Schlafly, down the street in St. Louis. Now that, my friends, is some decent American beer.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Missouri Session

I went on vacation last week, visited relatives in Oklahoma, then stopped by my folks place in Missouri on the way home. While there, we went to Wal-Mart, of all places, to buy beer. There we got Boulevard Pale Ale, Boulevard Lunar, and New Belgium 1554. Why can't my Wal-Mart carry good beers like these?

On the way back from the store, my sister wanted a bottle of liquor, so we stopped into a liquor store to get that. I also picked up a sixer of New Belgium Blue Paddle. Here's what I thought of these:

Boulevard Pale Ale

Apparently, I have tried this before, since I already reviewed it on I said it was a good example of the style, and one of the better Pale Ales I've had. I wouldn't say it smells/tastes like a Sierra Nevada, but it's that same style. It has a decent smell, and just the right amount of hops.

New Belgium Springboard

Dad already had these in the fridge when I got there. This was a nice example of a simple Belgian Ale. Not necessarily a whit, not a triple, just a light ale. A decent summer beer.

New Belgium 1554

I had just a sample of this at the Flying Saucer in Houston one time. I thought it was a Schwarzbier. While it looks like a Schwarzbier, it finishes more like a Belgian ale. Nice yeast in this one. Light, but dark in color with ruby highlights. I really started to appreciate this when I got near the end.

Boulevard Lunar

The description on the outside of the box would have you believe this was a brown ale. As I drank it, I thought it was a bit clovey for a brown ale, but something was familiar about the style, I just couldn't place it. So I looked it up on and sure enough, this is a dunkleweizen. A very good example of a dunkelweizen, too.

New Belgium Blue Paddle

I've been looking for a decent American pilsner. My favorite German and Czech pilsners all come in green bottles, which skunks the beer, and disappoints me. This one was in a brown bottle and was very nice, with a great hop profile, golden clear in color. I totally recommend this one.

On the way home we stopped at Trader Joe's in Orland Park where I was able to pick up a mixed six pack of Victory Hop Devil and Victory Prima Pils. I'll give those a try and let you know what I think.