Saturday, July 24, 2010
Simpler Times Pilsner Beer
I must admit that even as a bartender, I am not exactly the biggest beer expert on the planet. Quite honestly, I know far more about ice cream than I do about beer. And though I may not be able to tell you the difference between the types of hops or the malts and whatnot, I do know what I like to drink. Truthfully, I like my beer to be one of two types: either thick, dark stouts like Guinness; or light, crisp, super easy-to-drink lagers like Corona or Kirin.
Hell, at the moment I am not even supposed to even be drinking. But I sacrifice for you guys. (Really, that is the official excuse I am going to use.) Alright, honestly, when I saw this sixpack on sale at Trader Joe's for $2.99, I couldn't stop myself. Could three dollar beer really be decent? It seemed possible. After all, Trader Joe's does bring us the perfectly serviceable Charles Shaw (AKA "Two Buck Chuck") line of wines for only two dollars a bottle, so I thought it would be practically irresponsible of me not to review their three dollar sixpack of beer.
Trader Joe's actually has not stuck its name on this product. It's made by Minhas Craft Brewery (formerly Joseph Huber), which has been around for quite a while.
Once I had the beer poured into a glass, it struck me that the color looks exactly like apple juice. It did produce a decent head (which collapsed almost immediately), and smelled sort of like the way old empty beer bottles smell. Needless to say, this wasn't exactly encouraging. But, trouper that I am, I persevered.
So how did it taste?
Like any mediocre, cheap American beer. It's not horrible. In fact, it is drinkable if your standards are fairly easy. But it really doesn't seem to have much of a flavor beyond "malty." It calls itself a Pilsner, but -- like many cheap, mediocre American so-called Pilsners -- it resembles a true Pilsner only in the same sorry sense that instant coffee very loosely resembles freshly brewed Starbucks. Now I'm not an enormous Pilsner fan anyway, but Chris is, and he tried some of this with me. His take? If you tried to pass this off as a Pilsner in the Czech Republic (the original home of Pilsner beer) you'd probably start another World War. At the very least, you'd have some seriously pissed off Czechs pelting you with rotten vegetables and yelling things that sound so horrifying that you're glad you don't speak Czech.
Trader Joe's has done an admirable thing for decent, affordable wine with its "Two Buck Chuck" line -- but this attempt at decent, affordable beer seriously misses the mark. If you're a real beer lover, this will probably leave you wondering why you spent the time and the modest amount of money drinking it. (Check out BeerAdvocate's review here.)