Beer Review: Michelob Lager

A few days ago, I wrote about the seismic shifts in the brewing industry when European mega-brewer InBev made an offer for American brewing giant, and home of Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch. I wanted to mark the occasion by trying an American beer from the Anheuser-Busch stables, but was deterred by Budweiser being a cheap lager. So I cheated and had an unrelated and equally cheap Miller Beer instead.

Since then, London taxis have continued advertising a new, and different looking beer from Anheuser-Busch. So, after much procrastination, I relented and picked up a bottle of Michelob Lager.

Michaelob Lager bottle

And it’s not a bad looking bottle. All the black and gold offers a premium look. And a nice change compared to the shouty look of other American beers. The dark coloured bottle even has a Coca-Cola-esque middle. And the name “Michelob” is subtly embossed upon the surface. All unusually classy.

The bottle top isn’t something I normally dwell on. But this one deserves mention because it’s a screw top. The quality of the bottle just went down a notch for me. But what do you think? Leave your opinion at the end of the post.

With no front or back labels cluttering up this stylish bottle, what we do have is a very large neck label. Something I think makes the bottle look like it’s wearing a spangly dinner-jacket.

Michelob Lager front label

I like the font of this neck label. And that’s because it has all the words the convinced me that it would be worth trying. Even though it’s a lager that comes from somewhere with a poor reputation for mass-produced beer. Starting with the gold coloured top, it describes itself as “a classic all-malt lager brewed with noble European aroma hop varieties”. I’m salivating already. Malt is good. European hops can be good. As for this being a lager, well, I’m staying open minded about this one.

The “Michelob” brand is new here in Britain. And I’d be interested in learning what reputation is has across the pond. To me, the discreet little flag, and typeface sum up elegance. They also remind me of after dinner mints.

Even after vowing not to bother with lager again, there are some things that get me interested. And the word “Imported” does just that in this instance. The Miller Beer turned out to have been brewed “under license” over here. That’s no good. I want to review real American beer. And beers genuinely from other countries for that matter. So this one fits the bill nicely.

Just like the cap, the best before dates aren’t something I normally mention. But this time I will.

Michelob Lager left of neck label

Some countries require food and drink to have a best before date. Others require the date that the food or drink was produced on. Because this is the export version, it sensibly has both. It has a “Born On Date” and a “Best Before Date”. Adding a belt to those braces are the words “Freshest Taste within 110 Days”. This isn’t something I’ve seen on many other beers. Not those from Europe, Africa or Asia at least.

Over on the other side of the neck label is all of the small-print.

Michelob Lager right of neck label

After seeing so many faux foreign beer that turn out to be brewed in the UK, the St. Louis address for Anheuser-Busch, Inc., is a welcome sight. This really is from the USA and imported to me, via Richmond in Surrey.

This bottle is the usual volume of 355 millilitres. But the alcoholic volume is a rather typical 5%. It contains, surprise surprise, barley malt. And there is a UK postal address for comments. Unusual not to see an email address or consumer helpline though.

With that out of the way, its time to answer the big questions of our time. Namely, are there exceptions to the rule of big-name American beers generally being terrible? And does Michelob Lager taste as good as it looks?

Michelob Lager poured into a glass

Be careful if you decide to pour it. The head fizzes up almost uncontrollably, so keep an eye on your enthusiasm. It does end up as a good, thick layer after a few moments though. The other thing you’ll notice, if you went for the half-pint glass, is that it wasn’t big enough. Frustratingly, 355 millilitres is somewhere between half a pint and full-pint.

The colour is typical for a lager. It’s a pale yellow. It’s also filled with bubbles. Oh dear.

The label talked about “European aroma hop varieties”. And I’m delighted to report that the smell is not bad. Even compared to European lagers, it smells good. It has a much more rounded smell of barley and hops than many others. Not quite up to the levels of a proper ale, but not bad.

The first gulps were hindered somewhat by the thick layer of foam. First impressions aren’t too bad. I liked that it was smooth. I liked the initially light taste of lager. I was starting to think that it wasn’t a bad example of a lager.

Then the aftertaste hit me, and everything changed. The initial taste of a light blend of malted barley and hops vanishes. To be replaced by an intense, sour and bitter aftertaste. It feels like it’s clinging on to every surface of your tongue. And it is ghastly. You might expect this taste if it were a 9% super-strength lager, but for a premium, imported lager, it cannot be excused.

I truly wanted to enjoy Michelob Lager. My expectations were modest, and achievable. It looks the part. And smells the part of a quality, premium lager. But that taste. It is one of the worst and most unpalatable I’ve tasted.

How can I sum it up? This is a beer for people who have spent their lives drinking Budweiser, and want to imagine that they’re experiencing a European quality beer. When in fact, all this is doing, is perpetuating the reputation that big-name American brewers produce urine and get away with it.

Rating: 1

Have you tried Michelob Lager? What did you think? What reputation does it have elsewhere in the world?
Leave your corrections, opinions, thoughts, ideas and suggestions here please. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think.

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28 Responses to “Beer Review: Michelob Lager”

  1. mark Says:

    Just an FYI…Duval is an Ale, not a lager. Judging from many of your reviews, I wonder if you have the two mixed up. Lagers are generally brewed to be very smooth. They are ‘lagered’ or ‘cold-stored’ for months to ‘smooth’ them out. Ale’s on the other-hand are made to drink within a few weeks of fermenting. They are usually on the ‘sharper’ side, with more fruity aromas.

  2. From America Says:

    Sadly, we’re brought up in America to believe that beer should taste like water, and that the bitter aftertaste is normal, and something you get used to as you get older. It’s the rule rather than the exception over here.

    If you want something smooth from America, buy a bottle of bourbon. :-D

  3. Wrong taste from the US Says:

    If I had know you were going to try Michelob I would have tried to wave you off! You assessment is accurate, though. Michelob is feigned elegance. If you want to try something good from the US, look to the micro-brews. Alaskan Amber is very good and a better choice from Budweiser is their new American Ale.

  4. Sandor Major Says:

    I just purchased the new Michalob original lager and I was not happy with the bottles new label, and not having a twist off top is very inconveant. now the tast was just like the ultra witch I can’t stand. My friends and I like the old taste and the old look.

    • tim-penny Says:

      mich original lager tastes terrible….i expected a great tasting beer and after 5 cases during 2009 ….i am off to buy anything but michelob….big dissappointment in taste.
      i can’t wait to eat food after drinking it so i can loose te beer taste….i did like budweiser but i need to find a better taste asap……new years eve is in a few days……….happy new year !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Inge Says:

        I love Cruzcampo! I went to Spain last summer and loved this beer. I am on the lkuooot for a Cruzcampo tshirt so if you know where one can be acquired, please let me know. Great blog!

      • Anonymous Says:

        It took you 5 cases in 2009 to figure out you didn’t like it? hahaha…
        That’s what I call “in depth” research! Hey, to each his own, if you don’t like it, there are plenty of other choices to make you happy.
        AB probably is more interested in marketing than in brewing at this point, but I maintain my view that Michelob is a quality Lager. Cheers to all!

  5. Kraig in Redlands (CA) Says:

    The Michelob of 2008/2009 is rice-free. Prior to approximately 2008, the beer also had rice in it. Since then, they ditched the rice, and added extra hops. To understand how rice tastes in a beer, try Budweiser (called Anheuser-Busch in some European countries including Germany).

    I have always enjoyed Michelob. Eventually I gave it up a few years ago, but when they doubled the amount of hops, I tried it again, and now I’m hooked on it again. I find it delicious.

    I never tasted the aftertaste before, till you mentioned it. After you mentioned it, I was able to discern what you were talking about, but I do not find it hardcore or unpleasant.

    The beer with the strongest aftertaste is Guiness, wouldn’t you think? Do you agree with that statement, and if so, do you enjoy or dislike Guinness?

    I personally dislike it, but then again it’s a totally different kind of beer of course.

    I point that out because I do not like strong aftertastes… but I do really enjoy the Michelob Original Lager.

    I’m drinking it right now in fact. I enjoy the light but definitive taste (not nearly as light as Mexican beer, but light enough that I can drink a lot without feeling a strong taste or strong heaviness).

    It goes really well with the peanut butter n jelly sandwich I’m also consuming.

  6. sam Says:

    Was the taste of 1970s’ Michelob altered when it became Michelob Original Lager? Did taking out the rice affect the aftertaste? Michelob, lager or not, is fading the shelves and bars in Florida. I loved the brew from 1972 to 2007. Not anymore. The brewers ruined it. The ultimate signal of its demise was my inability to buy a Mich in St. Louis. Imagine that?

  7. sam Says:

    Correction: Make that inability to buy a Mich in a St. Louis Marriott in 2005.

  8. ST Says:

    Growing Up on Budweiser products Michelob always had a reputations as a “drunks” beer- not something a casual beer drinker drinks. Then years later Michelob starts putting out “specialty” labels pale ales, Marzen and transforms its’ bottle and cans. That is what turned me on as well–the bottle. Like yourself I took one sip and thought wow this isn’t too bad I can actually taste hops in a macro beer wow!!! Then it hit me even more so than the after taste_SUGAR and LOTS of it. I bought a 12 pack of Michelob and I cringe to drink it the terrible taste after the first sip and the overwhelming sugar it’s like a terrible dessert! Never again. HOWEVER Michelob Light is not bad at all for what it is- a light macro beer. Go figure.

  9. pymnlyclica Says:

    Impressive Article , I thought it was exceptional

    I look forward to more innovative postings like this one. Does your website have a RSS I can subscribe to for more information concerning this?

  10. netrioter Says:

    The Old Michelob was far better….in the stubby bottles. Michelob is/was ab’s flagship beer.Tastes like overpriced and bitter Budweiser now.They should have never stopped making Michelob Golden Draft.That was by far the best in the Michelob line.

  11. Michelob Lover Says:

    Michelob is one of the best when it comes to American beers. Well rounded, neither too light nor too strong. I don’t know what you’re talking about with regards to a bitter after-taste. I think it tastes delicious.

  12. tim-penny Says:

    michelob and budweiser were my favorites for years, i don’t know what happened but i can’t deal with the way either taste anymore.
    the are a big dissapointment to me.

  13. Mason Says:

    As with many lagers, freshness (and shipping conditions) make a large difference in flavor. Generic American beers deservedly have a reputation as being thin and bland, but even a keg of Budweiser can be acceptable when bought minutes after being wheeled in the door by the delivery guy at the local purveyor (this is according to my roommate, who has tried his fair share of beers over the past 15 years).

    Seeing as I am drinking a Michelob Original Lager right now, I feel safe in commenting that when fresh, the beer is excellent — for an industrial-scale beverage. Crisp, light in the mouth, yet with a “European” level of malty flavor and a restrained amount of hops. If there is an aftertaste, it is very mild. I should note that the bottle it comes in looks more “standard” than the characteristic hourglass bottle displayed above; it resembles a Yuengling Lager in its muted color scheme and classic lettering.

    See here (http://www.examiner.com/x-3242-Dallas-Craft-Beer-Examiner~y2009m3d12-Michelob-Good-beer-from-a-giant-brewery) for a visual of the revised-to-standard bottle.

    Frankly there are very few American beers I could recommend drinking abroad. Some primary contenders might include “1554″ by the New Belgium Brewing Company out of Colorado; RedHook ESB and CopperHook Ale from RedHook Brewery; and Hennepin from Brewery Ommegang in New York. There are other highly touted microbreweries like Ipswich, Goose Island, Anchor Steam, Stone Brewery; however I’ve not yet tried their wares and thus can’t offer a personal recommendation.

    The quintessential American brew is Bud Light, which as I understand it outsells the original Budweiser (and with good reason, as it has a cleaner flavor profile and crisper texture) — pale, thin, yet crisp and refreshing when at its best. Served cold, it typically accompanies something hearty (e.g. hamburger, pepperoni pizza, cheesesteak) and/or spicy (nachos, hot wings, chili con carne). American lager consciously aims to be at the opposite end of the spectrum from, say, an authentic Guinness “warm-bread-in-a-pint-glass” type of brew. Coors & Coors Light, Corona, and Heineken are other common choices. Miller and Miller Light have always been unquaffable to me, but apparently someone is buying it.

    One final note — the Original Lager is a step above the rest of the Michelob beers, excepting the moderately praised Black&Tan which is now defunct.

  14. Mason Says:

    As a follow-up… After drinking the first 3 or 4 quite quickly out of my 12-pack, I left the rest in a beverage cooler/fridge and slowly polished off the rest over the following month or so. With each passing week the beer became noticeably less pleasant to drink. I would compare it to stale bread — a certain level of flavor remains, but there is a freshness to the frecently-purchased beer that disappears within a few weeks of storage, even when not exposed to light.

  15. Mike Says:

    Wow seriously? I am no expert but I have tasted plenty of beer in my life and within it’s category I find Michelob to be one of the best. It has been replaced on most shelves by Mich Ultra which I can’t stand. If I wanted to drink water I would buy Bud Light.

  16. ggjr@aol.com Says:

    The “new” original lager is horrible. They should go back to the stubby bottles as mentioned previously. That flavor was one of my favorite and I drink everything from Budweiser to Chimay.

  17. jagr1850@aol.com Says:

    well here it is december 2010 and i am trying
    michelob ultra amber….i give it a b minus overall….i just bought a case of budweiser and i expect it will get atleast a b overall…i had a bud draft at the rivers casino last friday and it tasted better than in the past ….m/b they are doing something to improve taste……
    guiness will become my favorite if the case of budweiser falls short on taste…..

  18. Joe Says:

    Im a craft beer drinker, No doubt about it. I decided, To give the new Michelob Lager a try … I was very pleasantly surprised!! The old recipie was so watery tasting, And bland, Blahhhhh!! But this new recipie, Is very much improved!! Its not overpowering, And does not leave a bitter aftertaste on the palate … Very smooth drinking beer, With a nice malt, And hops finish!! Kudos on this one AB!!

  19. Gil Says:

    Hywell,

    Mason made some very excellent points. If you haven’t tried Anchor Steam beer out of San Francisco, I highly recommend it if you can find it over there.

    I’m across the pond here in the US and I’ve drank Michelob on and off for the last 30 years. Recently, I haven’t had much of it, but will pick up a six tonight for old-times sake. They no longer ship it in the classic hourglass bottles, but that won’t deter me.

    Compared to others, you would be hard pressed to find Michelob on tap like you would Bud, Coors, Miller, Yeungling etc.

    It’s not a bad beer and as far as American macros go, is it.

  20. Shelly Says:

    I am finding it very hard to find the original michelob lager in stores anymore. All I find is the ultra which I have tasted and think its disgusting. I love the taste of the lager. Are you guys notgoing to be making this anymore and why. the only place I have found that carries it anymore is bev-mo! I have tasted many beers and not impressed with them like I am michelob lager!

  21. Anonymous Says:

    i still drink michelob after 30 years but i miss the teardrop bottle.Bring it back!

  22. Brad Says:

    Michelob Light and Michelob are my two favorite beers. Not too heavy, great aroma and nice finish. I miss the old “tear drop” bottle and have communicated this to the Michelob Brewing Co. via their website.I also enjoyed their now out of production Honey Lager, very tasty. They don’t make it anymore, too bad, it was primo in my opinion. Most Americans don’t want a dark, heavy beer, we want a nice Lager like Michelob, and more recently in the market Yuengling.It’s just how we are brought up…Can’t stand any of the Milwaukee beers, rot gut hangover stuff to me. Michelob Ultra is terrible, it has pushed regular Michelob off of the shelves and that’s too bad, it’s just not a good beer.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    I LOVE Michelob light and Amberbock. ML is the only light beer with flavor out there. Amberbock is great with a nice steak or burger.

  24. bonman67 Says:

    I love Michalob teardrop lager, however since early 2010 I have not been able to buy it anywhere , can you possibly help !!!!

    • bonman67 Says:

      As I was saying I love Michalob teardrop lager, however since 2010 I have not been able to buy it in Scotland Uk, can anyone help , many thanks

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