Friday, 20 July 2012

Don’t Pour It Out – Why US MegaBrews Are Crap*

Those in the UK that think that the current crop of mega-brands mean bland and characterless beer should spare a thought for many poor souls in the USA. Granted, there is a thriving craft and microbrewery scene, but towering over all else are the national monoliths of uniform mediocrity, propped up by sheer market presence and the steamroller of incessant promotion.

And perhaps the best known of these brands is the Anheuser-Busch version of Budweiser. Bottle labels and cans bear an upmarket looking design, the ad-men keep pushing the idea that fresher beer is better beer (as if anything dead on departure from the brewery can be other than utterly uniform), and every bottle has its own “born on” date, which it wasn’t. That was when it died.

In addition, the idea is pushed that this product should be drunk straight from the bottle. Er, why? We’re a long way from the days of the Frontier, thanks. What’s the problem with doing what we would expect to do with any other bottled beer, and pour it out into a glass, so it can be savoured and enjoyed? That is, of course, assuming there is anything to enjoy in the first place.

Those of us that have studied what goes into well-known beers know one thing about Anheuser-Busch Budweiser and brews like it: these are the pinnacle of producing beer to meet the diktats of cost accountants. You thought that the amount of substitute ingredient and reduction in hopping was a UK lager thing? Welcome to the world of the mega beer.

If you want to create a brew like the US Budweiser, you’ll need lots of flaked rice – around a quarter of the mash, the rest made up of Pilsen malt. And far less hops – maybe half the amount of a genuine Pilsner, and Hallertau instead of Saaz. There you have it – cheaper to mash, cheaper to hop. Forget the flannel from the ad-men, because flannel is all it is.

No wonder the idea is so remorselessly sold of consuming brews like that cold and straight from the bottle. And no wonder the microbrewing movement is taking off across the USA: once one person discovers beer that tastes of something, the habit catches on.

No lager or US megabrand beer was consumed during the compilation of the Crewe Beer Blog. Thought you’d like to know.

*This is merely a personal opinion, as is my right under the protection of the First Amendment. So there.

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