Why end my self-imposed abstinence from big-name American beer? Simple. Because I’ve also got a bottle of Budweiser Budvar Czech Imported Lager and Bud Ice. What’s the difference between them? And which one is best? Find out when I try them in my next posts. But first, I must get through this.
As a product, it doesn’t look at all bad. All that marketing and product placement in movies make it as familiar as air. From the red “Budweiser” neck label to the front label with a peculiarly complicated layout, I feel like I’ve had hundreds of these bottles. When in fact, I’ve only ever two or three, eight years ago.
What can I say about the “Budweiser” and crown logos? Nearly as iconic as a certain Irish harp logo. You’ve got to respect this triumph of marketing.
The main front label is an overcrowded mess of symbolism and hard to read text. But yet again, the Anheuser-Busch marketing machine makes that fact easy to overlook.
They modestly call themselves the “King of Beers”. And the old style imagery around the top calls it “The World Renowned Budweiser Lager Beer”. At an unimaginative 5% alcoholic volume you begin to wonder if it’s all head and no beer. But a closer look gives you reason not to give up hope.
The banner across the top does something unexpected by raising hopes about the care and quality of this big-name American lager. It informs us that they used a “Beechwood Aging” process to give it “taste”, “smoothness” and “drinkability”. Then there are the ingredients they talk about. Again, all squashed into that front label. Not only does it have the usual hope and barley malt, but also rice. Something that always adds a little extra to an otherwise bland lager. May it won’t be so bad after all?
The little back label is another marketing masterpiece.
The top corners remind you that this is 5% volume. And that the bottle is the rather less common 300 millilitres. Then there’s the familiar Anheuser-Bush trick of making a deal over the “Born On” and “Best Before” dates. Apparently that’s because it has its “Freshest Taste within 110 Days”. Unnecessary and idiosyncratic, but I like it for that reason.
Not content to leave it there, this label gives us a full paragraph on why they do the 110 days gimmick. And it’s worth reading because they describe what they think the beer in this bottle will taste like. And that’s good because it gives us something to judge it by. Unfortunately, none of the words “clean, crisp”, “fresh taste” or “refreshingly different” earns it brownie points for originality. But they’re perfectly welcome from a lager.
Down in the small print, there is the ubiquitous web address. This one is www.budweiser.co.uk. And there are the facts you probably guessed but hoped weren’t true. Not only can you send them your comments to their address in Richmond, Surrey, England. But that is also where this famous American brand was brewed. Something that makes a mockery of the words “Genuine” on the front labelLeaving my prejudices behind, it’s time to crack open this bottle and sample the contents within. Will it be as good as its competitors? Or, will it be drinkable? Let’s find out.
This is one to drink from the bottle. That’s because, at 300 millilitres, it will either leave your pint glass looking unfulfilled. Or, you’ll be left with dregs at the bottom of your bottle that can’t quite fit into your half-pint glass in one pour.
First impressions are that it looks a very pale yellow. You’ll want to keep it hidden in the bottle to stop yourself from being reminded how cheap it looks. But it’s not all bad. It does have a little head. And one that stays around even after a few minutes have passed.
As lager smells go, it’s not too bad. There are some odour-less and foul smelling lagers out there, but astonishingly, this isn’t one of them. Possibly from the “Beechwood Aging” or the rice, Budweiser smells surprisingly good. It has a well rounded smell of malted barley, possibly with a hint of those hops and the rice. Best of all, it’s neither too weak nor overpowering.
A couple of gulps in, and it doesn’t taste as bad as I had expected either. Most lagers have an unpleasant lingering bitterness. Not so much with Budweiser. Like the smell, the taste is good because it’s not too rough, and not totally absent either. Again, I’ve got to attribute it to the rice. The flavour is of that blend of malted barley and hops, but the hint of what is probably rice holds it all together. The taste is mildly bitter and it will linger. But it simply isn’t as unpleasant as I was expecting.
All this makes Budweiser drinkable. And that’s something I didn’t expect to say. If I had poured it before it had warmed up so much, it could quite easily have been crisp and refreshing too. Around two-thirds of the way through at this point and I haven’t burped either. So it’s none too gassy.
What about the downsides? Well, it’s still a lager. And, even with the addition of rice, it still tastes much like any other lager. And that makes it uninteresting. Especially if your shop shelf has British ales and European beers to choose from. Also, despite the taste and flavour, which I very much like, it’s still on the watery side. This isn’t a big solid drink to get your teeth into.
In conclusion, Budweiser, at least this English brewed cousin of the famous brand isn’t as bad as you might expect. It’s hard to find any reason to hate the way it tastes, and it’s surprisingly drinkable. Well worth a try if you like lagers. And try this with an open mind even if you don’t normally like lager. That said, it is still a lager.
Have you tried Budweiser? Sure you have. Everyone has. But what did you think of it? Leave your comments for the world to read in the little box below.
And don’t forget to leave your corrections, opinions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions and recommendations here too. Look out for two more Buds soon.