Beer Squared #23: Pale Lagers

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Beer Squared, Beer: Pale Lager
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73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, and 79.....

As a family, we went downtown and watched the St. Louis Cardinals victory parade down Market Street. Afterwards we went home and as our wives went shopping, we started drinking.

I’m going to stop saying that we have any kind of set number for how many beers we do in a sitting, because it never seems to stick. I do believe, however, that we have eclipsed the number that any sane person should do in a single sitting, but this is what happens when we are left to our own devices. We thought of the beer in terms of time and not beers.

In this round, we have seven different pale lagers from literally all over the world. We went with some macro lagers, imports, craft, etc. I think we have a very good mix of them. Because we’ve chosen beers from all over the world, we’re just going to call these pale lagers instead of Pale American Lagers, but it’s close enough for government work.

Michelob Original Lager (5% ABV)

The nights belong to Michelob....

Nik: Michelob Lager has a good head with clear bubbles. Like all AB/Inbev products, it has crystal clarity in its golden color. It has a malty aroma with a hoppy taste. It’s pleasantly bitter and it has a very smooth finish. It’s a standard AB Style Lager, but it’s definitely among the best they produce.

Bob: It’s been a while since I drank one of these, and it was much better than I remembered. A dark straw color in the glass, perfectly clear, with just the right amount of carbonation. A very nice white head that lasted well and laced the glass nicely. Hoppy aroma and pleasant bitterness. If this is not the best of the American light lagers it is certainly in the top two or three. Made will all barley (no rice or corn adjuncts) and it shows.

Pabst Blue Ribbon (4.7% ABV)

Hipster Gold, PBR

Nik: PBR, the choice of hipsters and broke college students alike. I had a brief phase a few years ago where I drank this lager fairly regularly, but I could get them for fifty cents each at the bar. PBR pours out a big head with tiny bubbles. There is a nice hop smell in the nose. It’s color is very clear and very pale. This beer’s color is nearly as pale as myself, and that’s saying something. This is one of the blandest beers I’ve ever had. Beyond its bitter finish, there’s just really not much to this lager to even mark it as a beer.

Bob: Now brewed in Illinois, PBR has not held up nearly as well across the decades as Michelob. A pale straw color, it had a good white head that laced the glass very well. Had a different hop aroma than Michelob, but not upleasant. After that it was all downhill. The taste and mouthfeel was watery and very light, as if rice were a major component in the brewing. Not nasty, just not very much taste there at all. Reminded me of a very delicately flavored carbonated water. Perhaps that’s what they are going for–who knows? In this style category I prefer Pellegrino.

Heineken Lager Beer (5% ABV)

Heineken or the go to Import Beer for many Americans.

Nik: Another hipster beer, but of another sort. This one is for refined hipsters, or just me too people. Heineken has a big head full of small bubbles and it is very long lasting. This lager has a nice golden hue without any hints of cloudiness and a strong hop aroma. This beer is very bitter and very enjoyable. This is a great session beer.

Bob:  Medium straw color with extremely good lacing and a very attactive characteristically spicy hop aroma. Outstanding bittering for a pale lager. This continues to be one of my very favorite go-to pale lagers, especially during the summer. Somehow I can always drink just one more squatty green bottle.

Aris by Mythos (4.7% ABV)

Greek Lager, Aris.

Nik: This one is a Greek lager. As you can see, we’re continuing the around the world feel that Heineken started right? Mythos has a big head with small bubbles. It has a good, but not great aroma. It has a cloudy yellow color and a yeast flavor. This beer is very unique and I can’t think of another I’ve had that tastes like this at all. It’s not my favorite, but it is something interesting.

Bob: Picked this up on sale because it is brewed by Mythos brewery in Greece. I’ve had their flagship Mythos Lager several times and always enjoyed it, but this offering is not nearly as good. The best things about it were the aroma, which was a nicely balanced blend of malt, hops and yeast, and the white head that lasted well and laced nicely on the glass. A medium straw color, but with a watery mouthfeel and very sweet taste. Some of the flavor components were strangely offputting, too, and it didn’t leave a pleasant aftertaste. Won’t be buying or drinking this one again.

Moosehead Lager (5% ABV)

Oh, Canada...or Nova Scotia's #1 Export...Moosehead

Nik: Now we head north of the border for a fine Canadian lager from Nova Scotia. It has a very big, long lasting  head of tiny bubbles. This beer has a very skunky aroma to it, but in a way that’s great and very pleasing to me. It’s pale yellow and wonderfully clear. Moosehead has a hoppy and sweet taste, but only mildly hoppy. It’s very smooth and has a nice hop flavor on the finish.

Bob: A skunky hop aroma that I find rather attractive. Medium straw color, with a nice head and lacing. Excellent balance of malt and hops, with good carbonation and a slightly sweet aftertaste. Moosehead is not my ultimate pale lager, but it is very pleasantly drinkable. Certainly the best Canadian lager I’ve tasted (though my range is limited.)

Schlafly Summer Lager (4.5% ABV)

Summer Lager is good to drink in October right?

Nik: Sorry, but we didn’t get to this beer in the summer time, so we’re lumping it in with other pale lagers. This beer has a another good, tight head. This is another of the very pale colors in this tasting, but it does have a bit of cloudiness to it. Like most of their offerings the aroma is very weak.  I really can’t quite put my finger on what’s going on in with this beer. It has a bit of a strange mouthfeel and a subtle hop finish. It’s not one of my favorite offerings by Schlafly, and drinking this makes me pine for their “American Lager”  that they released for a short time years ago.

Bob: It is probably heretical to criticize St. Louis’s first real craft brewer, but for my money Schlafly puts too many styles of beer into retail distribution to do all of them very well. They seem to want to be all things to all people, which just isn’t possible. We like many of their offerings, but others, as you can tell from our reviews, just completely miss the mark. This one had a pale straw color and good white head that laced the glass, but a cloudy appearance, an unusual hop odor and a very watery taste reminiscent of PBR–mostly carbonated water. Won’t be drinking this again.

Baltika 5 (5.3% ABV) they know how to beer?

Nik: And the final beer in the set is a Russian pale lager. Russia is definitely not on my mind when I think of fine import beers, but here we are. Another large head, but this one has big bubbles. This beer has a very translucent golden color, definitely living up to it’s reputation as a golden lager. It’s very sweet, and that’s about the extent of the flavor of this beer. It has no bitterness, hop taste, or malted flavors. All in all, there’s not much to like about this one.

Bob: This is Russian brewery Baltika’s golden lager offering. Have had their dark lager before, which was pretty tasty, and was looking forward to this. It was a big disappointment. Medium gold color in the glass, with a head that laced well but didn’t last. Little to no aroma of any kind, and an unpleasant taste, with too much sweetness and a strong phenolic aftertaste. Yuck.

  1. […] Beer Squared #23: Pale Lagers « The 13 Blog […]

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