beer review

A bit wiser about Bud

I’m certainly no “fan” of Budweiser….geddit?

Budweiser is a beer I’ve never had – and with good reason.

The advance news of this US beer has never been good. In my teens, when my own knowledge of beer was largely limited to working out which of my underaged mates was going to by the case of beer from the bottle shop, Budweiser was a joke.

We’d see photos of US bands drinking Buds, acting like outlaws and rebels and we’d laugh. We’d laugh because it was well-known that the alcohol content in a Bud was way weaker than the robust five-and-something per cent of Australian beers.

Was Bud ever actually substantially below five per cent? While I don’t know for sure, I’d very much doubt it. The low-alcohol story probably stems from the other bit of bad publicity about Bud – that it’s watery. It’s a claim best epitomised by the joke that compares drinking Budweiser to having sex in a canoe. And if something is watery, it must be low in alcohol.

So I’ve hit my 40s without once tasting the so-called ‘‘King of Beers’’ – not even an underaged sip during the three years my family lived in the US. Lately I got a little curious about it, wondering if a beer could really be quite as bad as all that negative publicity.

So I bought a bottle from Dan Murphys. And not some ‘‘brewed under licence’’ version either – according to the label the Bud I had was brewed in the US of A.

The ingredients are listed prominently on the label – ‘‘Brewed with our original all-natural process using the choicest hops, rice and the best barley malt’’, it says. Several things strike me as odd about this claim.
Firstly, it makes no claim as to the quality of the water. Why talk up the other key ingredients and leave out the water?

Secondly, what is this ‘‘all-natural process’’ they use to brew the beer? Presumably that means they don’t use things like mash tuns, fermenters or even pipes, as none of those things are ‘‘natural’’. Last time I check mash tuns didn’t just grow out of the ground. Do the brewers of Budweiser have some secret ‘‘all-natural’’ way of making beer that involves using nothing man-made?

The Budweiser label, home of several questionable claims.

Thirdly, there’s the claim about using rice. I’ve heard it suggested that rice is used in Budweiser because it’s cheaper, but I’m not so sure. If that was the case, then surely they wouldn’t openly advertise that fact right on the front of the label. Putting it upfront like that signifies to me that they’re clearly not ashamed of using rice; the makers of Bud figure that rice makes for a great beer, much better than that crappy old malt (though presumably not the ‘‘choicest’’ rice, given the absence of an ‘‘and’’ on the label between ‘‘hops’’ and ‘‘rice’’).

Elsewhere on the label it tells us that ‘‘we know of no brand produced by any other brewer which costs so much to brew and age’’. Oh really? Then where does that leave stuff like Samuel Adams Utopia or Australia’s Crown Ambassador? I’m suggesting that this is either a bald-faced lie or the Budweiser people are immensely unaware of what is going on in the world of beer.

Anyway, turns out the label is the most entertaining part of a Budweiser. The colour of the beer is very, very pale. The aroma is of wet cardboard (exactly like wet cardboard, in fact) and the flavour is almost non-existent. I had to keep looking at the glass in my hand to make sure I was actually drinking something.

Would I drink it again?: Nope, my curiosity is now sated and there’s utterly nothing about Budweiser that would mean I’d need to drink it twice in one lifetime.

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