The Great American Beer Challenge

I was recently accused of being unamerican. It was not because I love foreign films or dislike baseball (although both of these are true). It was because I had never had a Coors. Here I am enjoying some of the best beers of the world in San Diego, planning a beer tour of Belgium, and yet I haven’t had some of the most prevalent beers in the US!

After years of saying disparaging things about the great American lager, I figured it was time to delve into their shadow-world and see what I was missing. Every since the cola taste tests of my youth I’ve had a predisposition towards lining up unknown glasses of labeled liquid and trying to discern the differences. So this was the obvious choice: gather together the big-name lagers and see which one is best. Amanda was so horrified by the idea that she volunteered to be the beer pourer.

I then set about my quest of gathering together the candidate beers, and found eight good candidates: Budweiser, Coors, Miller Genuine Draft, Busch, Mickey’s, Olde English 800, Rolling Rock, and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

It was at this point I realized that my beer challenge was going to bigger than just the US. What about the Stella Artois, Red Stripes, and Sapporos of this world? Clearly this was not a single taste test anymore, but a full-blown international bracket competition. I decided to do a few different regional tests–one for the US, another for Europe, Latin America, Asia, etc–and then have a final run-off. I’ll spend the next few weeks finding these beers and have the tests when I feel like I have enough for the region.

Anyway, on an auspicious Sunday afternoon (cheap beer being a football tradition) Amanda opened the cans of Great US Lager and poured me a tray of golden bubbly goodness.

And then I set about drinking. A couple seemed “smooth, creamy”. Others were “rich, bad flavor” or “bitter lemon aftertaste”. In the end there were only a couple I thought were decent enough to drink, and a couple that I really though were bad. So when all was said and done here was the final ranking:

  1. Mickey’s
  2. Olde English 800
  3. Coors
  4. Pabst Blue Ribbon
  5. Budweiser
  6. Miller Genuine Draft
  7. Busch
  8. Rolling Rock

Mickey’s and Olde English were decently malty and hoppy. They had more flavor, I think they were ales anyway, so I somewhat discount them. Coors and PBR, then, were the winners among the lagers and make it to the next round. Busch and Rolling Rock were truly bad. I had higher hopes for MGD, but in the end it just didn’t taste good. Budweiser was utterly unremarkable.

While I finished up the winners, I managed to do some voting. I also started my first recipe in my cookbook cookthrough, but that’s a subject for another post.

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2 Responses to The Great American Beer Challenge

  1. Pingback: Worldwide Lager Challenge - Latin America « The Varied Travels of Chuck

  2. Ryan says:

    Really?!?!?! Mickey’s and OE? I guess the answer is that america just doesn’t do lagers very well. Most are made with rice and corn as a barely replacement. Pretty disgusting.

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