Posts Tagged ‘ice’

Beer Review: Foster’s Ice

30 July, 2008

AFTER the miserable Bud Ice a few days ago, I’ve foolishly decided to give the ‘Ice‘ themed bottled lager another try. Say hello to this little bottle of Foster’s Ice.

Fosters Ice bottle

First impressions are that it looks a lot like Bud Ice. The glass is transparent. And the logos and labels are slanted and trendy. But this is no Anheuser-Busch mega-brand. No. This mega-brand comes from an entirely different mega-brewer.

As a product, it’s hard to fault the packaging. The top has the Foster’s logo of an ice-skating kangaroo. And that’s a logo you don’t see very prominently in their television commercials these days.

Fosters Ice bottle top

The neck label has the familiar Foster’s “F” logo with the gold, red and blue colour scheme that goes with it. The words “Premium Quality Beer” raise a smile. Will that prove to be ironic? Or will it surprise me?

Foster’s Ice neck label

What I like about the little neck label though, is that they’ve managed to stick it onto the bottle at the same slanted angle as the main front label. And that’s good packaging.

Foster’s Ice front label

It’s hard to fault this label. Sure, it dispenses with the anything remotely traditional. In fact, it makes the whole thing look more like an alcopop. But since it’s probably aiming at the alcopop drinker, that’s forgivable.

Under the gigantic logos and brand name are the facts you need to know. Carefully placed in a little silver bar along the bottom is the description “For A Clean Crisp Taste”. This is a lager then, clearly aiming for the basics. Next to that, in red no less, is the alcoholic volume. Which at 5% isn’t notable in any way.

Because the back label is the size of a postage stamp, they’ve carefully put some of the small-print on the sides of the front label. On one side, we’re informed that this is a 33 centilitre bottle. That it’s a “Premium Quality Ice Brewed Beer” that contains barley and wheat.

Over on the other side are the UK units of alcohol. You probably won’t be interested to know, that this little bottle contains all of 1.7 units. But if you are, they also print the recommended daily units for men and women. Which are four and three respectively in case you are the curious type.

Around on the back of the bottle, and the barcode dominates the Post-It Note sized label.

Foster’s Ice back label

Fortunately, they don’t try to cram much else on  there too. What there is, is a quick description about what this drink is. And the address of where it was made. The description describes it as “Ice Brewed and Superchilled”. And that this is to “Produce a Smooth Refreshing Lager” that has a “Uniquely Clean, Crisp Taste”. All good qualities. And with expectations as low as mine, maybe it won’t disappoint.

Sadly, the address of the place where this was made does. That’s because Foster’s comes from UK brewing giant Scottish & Newcastle in Edinburgh. That makes this bottle of Foster’s Ice as Australian as deep-fried Mars bars.

Still, it’s now time to crack open this bottle. And to sample the lager within. In a London hotter than the Earth’s core, I truly hope this one is as refreshing at it promises.

Fosters Ice poured into a glass

Once in the glass, you won’t be surprised by the colour. Which is pale yellow. But you knew that already from the transparent glass bottle. What I was pleased to see was a proper head. A little patchy, but better than expected.

It has a richer smell than expected, too. You don’t need to sniff hard to get a good whiff of malted barley. I like it.

A couple of gulps in, and I must admit, it is no where near as bad as I had been expecting. It has a solid, lagery taste of malted barley with a lightly lingering, but not unpleasant bitterness. Not very strongly flavoured and not so weak as to be un-noticeable.

I didn’t expect to have any positives to report, yet, here they are. The taste and flavour is as inoffensive as you can get for a lager. And that makes it very easy to drink. If you’ve got a chilled bottle, it should be as “refreshing” and “clean” as promised. It’s also smooth and none too gassy.

Being a lager, there is no chance that it can escape fault. For starters, it tastes of lager. Compared to ale or beer in any other form, this means it tastes cheap and it boring. That’s a fact that is true however good the lager in question is. Then there’s the taste itself. That lingering bitterness will stop Foster’s Ice from being so refreshing after a bottle or two.

In summation, Foster’s Ice is a good example of the “ice brewed” lager phenomenon. Think of it like the whole “white cider” boom. Both this and Bud Ice are lagers stripped of real flavours, apparently designed to be as easy to drink as possible. If you have to make a choice, then choose Foster’s Ice over Bud Ice. Alternatively, choose a real beer instead.

Rating: 2.6

Have you tried Foster’s Ice? What did you think of it?
Leave your corrections, opinions, thoughts and recommendations with the world in the little box below.

Beer Review: Bud Ice

26 July, 2008

WITH regular Budweiser proving unexpectedly drinkable and Budweiser Budvar proving a disappointment, where does that leave Bud Ice? Let’s answer that question as I turn my cynicism to this little bottle.

Bud Ice bottle

This one cost £1.19 pence from a shop on Brick Lane. I think it looks good. From the transparent glass to the ice shaped surface around the shoulder, this is a beer for the trendy young drinker. It’s also quite a lot different to either Budweiser or Budvar. Just have a look at the logo on the neck label.

Bud Ice neck label

And how different everything looks on the front label.

Bud Ice front label

The big “Bud ICE” logo is slightly reflective. Everything is trimmed down from the regular Budweiser style. But it remains jolly American and unmistakable “Bud”. Look a little closer and you’ll spot some familiar sights. Near the top there’s the Anheuser-Bush logo of an eagle colliding with a large, stylised “A”.

Getting down to the details on there, the alcoholic volume is clearly labelled at 4.7%. A deliberate attempt to separate itself from the established premium beers perhaps and go head to head with the likes of Corona Extra and Sol? Perhaps. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.

Under the big “Bud” logo we get a concise and informative sentence about what this drink is supposed to be all about. And I quote “Our exclusive ice brewing process produces a rich smooth taste that’s remarkably easy to drink”. Is this “ice brewing process” something real or just marketing speak? Whatever it is, “rich smooth taste” and “easy to drink” are two very welcome qualities. Let’s hope it pulls it off.

Under that, we get the name and address of the producer proudly displayed. “Anheuser-Busch Inc., St. Louis, Mo., U.S.A.”. Does that mean this is imported? Why else would it have that on the front label? Alas, I’ve already checked the back label, and can reveal that it’s all just marketing. I’m as disappointed as you are.

Last detail worth mention from the front is that this is a 330 millilitre bottle. That makes it the same size as Budvar. And 30 millilitres more capacious than Budweiser.

Over on the back label, and the “Born On” date makes a welcome return.

Bud Ice back label

As with regular Bud, this one has its “freshest taste within 110 days”. But there’s something you should know about the paragraph underneath it. The entire “Fresh Beer Tastes Better” paragraph is exactly the same as that on the Budweiser bottle. Only the name “Budweiser” has been changed to “Bud Ice”. Whether that affects how “clean, crisp” and “refreshingly different” it purports to be, I’ll have to investigate. I’m feeling rather mislead at this point.

Elsewhere on the label, the only address we get is the one from Richmons, Surrey, England. So you’ll know who to write to, to ask them to import the genuine article instead. It includes barley malt. And gives us no clue about how many UK units of alcohol there are. Not that you need those daft symbols to tell you that more than three or four in a night is too much. I recommend everyone at some stage in their lives be a student and work such things out for themselves in the environment of halls of residence or the student union.

Back to the beer, someone’s got to “pry off” the cap of this bottle and pass judgement on the contents. Any volunteers? Oh okay. I’ll do it then.

Bud Ice poured into a glass

Once in the glass, it looks more like Budweiser than Budvar. That is to say, it is an anaemic yellow. Rather disappointingly patchy head on it too.

The smell is like every other cheap lager in the world. Some generic blend of malted barley and hops. Not as rich as Budvar nor as well-rounded as Budweiser. Just a cheap lagery smell. I think I can see where this is going.

And sure enough, a couple of gulps proves this to be an undistinguished cheap lager. It tastes lagery. Not the premium continental lagery or the quality independent or craft brewer lagery. Just lagery. You get a brief taste of malted barley before you receive a lingering bitter taste.

To its credit, that lingering bitterness isn’t as strong and unpleasant as with Budvar. It is rather muted in comparison. The label describes it as “smooth” and “easy to drink”. I can’t really disagree. It’s smooth. And it’s inoffensive enough to be easy to drink. Well I had no problem throwing back each gulp of the wretched stuff. As for the taste it leaves, at least it leaves a taste at all. And it’s a taste that isn’t up there with the worst of them.

Unfortunately, Bud Ice can’t hide the fact that it’s just an ordinary cheap lager. The taste doesn’t stand out at all from all the other cheap lagers. And compared to the lagers that have rice in the ingredients list, this one reaches sub-mediocrity at best.

In summary, Bud Ice is a slightly gassy, run of the mill lager. Not as distinctive as Budvar, not as tasty as Budweiser. This is actually what I expected Budweiesr to be like. But instead, Bud Ice receives the honour of being most pointless Budweiser in the small range available in east-London off-licences. There is no rational reason for you to choose this over the alternatives.

Rating: 2.15

Have you tried Bud Ice? What did you think of it?
Leave your corrections, opinions, ideas and recommendations with the world in the little boxes below.

Comparison: Cider with Ice vs. Cider without Ice

8 July, 2008

AS proof that I do read your comments, here is a request. The question to answer is simple… Which tastes best? Cider with ice or without?

Now, I have thought about doing comparisons before. For example, comparing domestically churned out lager with the imported version of the same brand. But that would be like comparing council tax with income tax. Whatever the outcome, you’ve lost out. Not having the things to hand has also been a problem.

It is with both the means (the four-pack of Gaymers Original Cider) and the will (Gaymers Original Cider is pretty good), that we get this comparison under way. If you read yesterday’s review, you’ll know that this cider does a reasonable job of representing all the ciders out there where the manufacturers want you to use ice. So this isn’t just comparing Gaymers with and without ice. It’s comparing all ciders with and without ice.

Hypothesis:

I’ve always had the suspicion that adding ice makes it a little more refreshing, but waters the thing down. Especially by the time the ice has melted. And, if you’re buying your cider, or any other drink from a bar, you get worse value if they add ice because it leaves that much less room in the glass for drink. You can try it the next time you get a cola with your fast-food meal. When your body is cursing you for having a Big Mac with cheese, at least you’ll be smug about getting good value from your soft-drink.

Back to the cider. I started out with two glasses roughly equally filled.

 Cider with Ice vs. Cider without Ice - No Ice

Next step was to add four ice cubes to one of the glasses. I added them to the glass on the right-hand-side if you couldn’t tell.

 Cider with Ice vs. Cider without Ice - With Ice

You might have noticed how one of the glasses is now nearly full. The next time you order a drink and it arrives with ice, just imagine a quarter of it being water. In these tough economic times, you may want to pass on the ice.

First Test: Smell

Yes they do smell different. The glass with no ice has a much fuller smell of apples. The glass with ice has a very weak smell of apples. No surprise considering the quarter of a glass of water sitting on top.

Second Test: Taste

Glass without ice tastes of tangy, citrusy and rather dry cider. The glass with ice tastes of… not much. It tastes watery with a hint of apples. The character is completely different. With the ice, it’s no longer as tangy and citrusy. Which is bad. But it’s not longer so dry in character and it’s much more refreshing. Which is good.

Observations

The difference is bigger than I expected. It changes the character and nature of the cider in a big way. If it affects the typical example of Gaymers that I used, you can be sure it will affect any other brand in much the same way. And that would go for pear or fruit cider too, I would imagine.

Which is best?

That depends on your taste. And how hot the day is. Hot day, I’d go for the ice option. You probably need the re-hydration anyway. If you’re not sweaty, then enjoy a civilised and flavourful glass of cider without ice.

Conclusions:

This shocking result nullifies all my past cider reviews. Some of them were with ice and others weren’t. That immediately makes my comparisons wonky. If you do trawl the archives of this blog, compensate for the cider reviews where I added ice by imagining that I was more complementary about the smell and flavour. I certainly won’t be adding ice for any more reviews.

Where do you stand on the ice vs. no ice debate? Leave your opinion here for the world to see.


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