Posts Tagged ‘Budweiser’

Beer Review: Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager

4 February, 2010

REGULAR Budweiser Budvar lager turned out well in the end. Especially after discovering that it needs to be cooled to Arctic temperatures to taste good. So it’s with lots of optimism and some trepidation for the comments section that I face a bottle of Budvar’s cousin; Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager. From one of a growing number of London shops that sells it, for a price I can’t remember. It’s also my first dark lager.

Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager bottle

So far, so similar. It looks just like ordinary Budvar, but with a black bottle and matching neck foil and labels.

Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager neck foil

The front label is little changed either. Apart from the colour scheme and words “Imported Dark Lager”.

Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager front label

All of which is good news, because it means I don’t have to describe every little detail again. And again. Instead, we can go straight to the back label.

Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager back label

Same layout as common Budvar, but this time with enough changes to warrant a little more of your time until we get to the interesting bit.  That’s because this one has a completely different story behind it. This one talks about “finest available ingredients”, “devotion to the brewers art” and “an inimiatable flavour straight from the heart of darkness”.

Down on the ingredients list, and here’s the first sign of what the alcoholic volume is. At 4.7%, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Why are they hiding it?

The ingredients, which if you bought this kind of beer, you’re probably interested in, do indeed look good. They are “water from artesian wells, barley malt (Pale, Munich, Caramel, Roasted), Saaz hops.” That’s the sort of ingredients list you’d expect of ale. Not a lager. So I’m guessing this will take the route of being a lager that wants to be ale. Like the sublime Pilsner Urquell or Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

For the detail fanatics, this Budvar has the same EU Protected Geographical Indication as the other Budvar. It has the same UK importer. And the same web address, which is www.original-budweiser.cz. It’s in the same 500ml bottle. Surprisingly, it is a little weaker at 4.7% alcoholic volume instead of 5%. And like its cousin, the label shouts at you to “Serve Cold!” After last time, I intend to do just that.

So here’s the interesting bit. What does it look like? What does it smell like? How does it compare to normal Budvar and to the other best lagers the world has to offer? I can’t wait to find out.

Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager poured into a glass

First impressions leave me speechless. It’s by far the darkest lager I’ve ever seen. It’s dark ale, porter or stout darkness. I thought the bottle was brown or black, but it wasn’t. It’s a normal green Budvar bottle that happens to contain the only lager I’ve seen that you could mistake for the famous Irish brew. Apart from the head. It’s a patchy, creamy white. Nothing to worry you during pouring.

What does Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager smell like? A quick sniff promptly reveals that familiar odour of roasted barley. Again, just like a dark ale, porter or stout. Incredible for a lager. Though I should have seen this coming. The ingredients list did say it had roasted barley malt. It goes to show what an immense difference that little fact makes.

So, what does this cold, nearly full pint of Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager taste like? The first gulp is a very satisfying one. And one that seems a million miles from any over lager experience. Is this really a lager? It tastes like a dark ale, porter or stout. Which shouldn’t be a surprise seeing as it looks and smells like one.

What can I taste exactly? A few more gulps in, and I’m beginning to make some sense of it. On the flavour side of the equation, you’re reminded that this is indeed still a lager. There’s little more than a slight savoury bitterness. Quite light, clean and refreshing. Then, smoothly arriving, is the aftertaste. This goes into a mixture of lagery bitterness and long lasting ale, porter or stout style roasted flavour and taste combo. It’s dry and mildly bitter, but without the sharp “bite” you get with lots of lagers. It also tastes much more full bodied and heavier and more syrupy than most lagers. More like, you guessed it, a porter.

What am I enjoying about Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager? As already worked out, I’m thoroughly enjoying this perplexing brew. Partly because it is such a mystery. If you insist on calling it a lager, it is the most un-lager like I’ve ever tasted. You could give it to an ale pan, tell them it’s a porter and most probably wouldn’t argue. With that potential for mischief and the originality and distinctiveness, Budvar Dark is off to a flying start.

I love how it’s got some of the best of ale and lager. It’s crisp and refreshing but also rich, tasty and satisfying. I like very much how smooth and easy to drink it is. It’s not too gassy. And you can just tell it’s well made with excellent ingredients.

What aren’t I enjoying about Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager? Not much. What little I can find is mostly nitpicking. Because it feels so much like ale, I’m left wishing it had more interesting and unusual flavours. Like an ale. If you really like ale, why not buy a real one with the complexity you get with it? Also, that roasted taste is going to quickly stop feeling refreshing, and it’s still expensive and hard to find here.

How can one possibly sum up Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager after just one bottle? Which reminds me, I better buy some more. So far, Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager is possibly the most intriguing, distinctive and delicious lagers I’ve ever tried. It’s firmly up there with the favourites. It’s also a great stepping stone for you to wean your friends off big name lager and onto proper beer. Outstanding lager action. But if you love this stuff, why not just get dark ale, porter or stout instead?

Rating: 4.3

Have you tried Budweiser Budvar Imported Dark Lager? What did you think of it? Leave your opinions, corrections, translations, recommendations and places to buy, here in the comments.

Beer Review: Budweis Budweiser Budvar Czech Imported Lager

25 July, 2008

BACK when I started this blog, I knew nothing about beer. Now, two years and hundreds of beers later, I now know almost nothing. A slight improvement over where I was before. The upshot of this is that my early posts weren’t always very good. My first attempt at ‘reviewing’ Budweiser Budvar for instance had so many mistakes, that the entire Internet felt compelled to leave angry comments. So, I replaced it with what you’re reading now.

Before going any further with a less erroneous ‘review’, I’ve got to get something embarrassing off my chest. I don’t much care for Budweiser Budvar. I’ve enjoyed can after can to try and figure out why it has such a dedicated following. It is an excellent Pilsner lager, but that distinctive, bitter aftertaste just doesn’t do it for me. Pilsner Urquell on the other hand has deliciously hoppiness, flavour, and a rich, smooth character. Budweiser Budvar does an outstanding job of being a different kind of pilsner lager and one I don’t like as much. It’s only one point of view. No doubt the comments at the end of the post will fill up with anger over my ‘wrong’ opinion.

So why bother with this ‘review’? Well, the detail junkies need to be fed. While the old version was up, it was one of the most popular on the blog. And this new version is a chance to upgrade the photos.

So, here we go again. With a big-ish bottle of Budweiser Budvar Czech Imported Lager.

First impressions are that it’s a big, upmarket bottle of lager. Unless you buy the smaller bottle. In which case it’s a small bottle of upmarket looking lager. Either way, it’s a green bottle with some fancy foil wrapping.

Neck foil isn’t normally worth a look, but they went to the trouble of putting a picture of a stamp on there. So let’s take a quick peek.

It features a picture of what looks like castle towers with a crest in front of them. And around the border it says “Budweiser Budbrau”.

The front label is a funny thing. Stuck half way between a tasteful European style and the in-your-face American Budweiser style. I think it gets away with it.

The top has a clearer version of the logo on the neck foil. But this time, around the border is written something different. Thanks to ‘Adam’ for explaining that “Sigillum Civium De Budiwoyz” is “coat of arms of Budějovice (or Budweis), or city seal of Budweis literally”.

Behind the logos is a crest. Not of a lion or dragon this time, but two medieval characters standing next to to a shield. And down at the bottom of the label is confirmation of the fact that sets this bottle apart. That’s because this has been “Brewed and bottled by the brewery Budweiser Budvar, N.C. České Budějovice (Budweis, Czech Republic”. Thank goodness it doesn’t mention a certain provincial town or city the keeps popping up on imitation foreign beers.

Over on the back label, and the original Budweiser remains that much classier than the one with all the advertising.

Budweis” has “Protected Geographical Indication” status. And that’s important because it means you won’t find anyone else pretending to sell and Budvar. At least not legally.

The little ‘story’ paragraph gives away a lot of juicy details as well. That Budvar has some 700 years of heritage. That they use Saaz Aroma Hops, which are new to me. That they have “carefully selected Moravian Malt” and use soft water from their own wells. All very welcome details indeed. But where is the rice? Without that, this will taste radically different to normal Budweiser.

Further down, and they get to the small print. That this is a 5% alcoholic volume lager. Little surprise there. The ingredient list is not a complicated one, giving only with only water, malt and hops.

There is also a web address which is www.original-budweiser.cz where you can tempt yourself with beers in their range that you can’t buy over here. Darn it. Lastly, you are told in no uncertain terms that this unremarkable 500 millilitre bottle (unless you bought the 330 ml one) is to be served cold. So I will.

This time around, it was a synch to pour. No uncontrollable fizzing at all. Just smooth pouring and a thin, patchy white head. It’s a slightly darker shade of amber than regular Budweiser. Much less head too. By the way, this time the bottle has been in the fridge. Not sure quite how much that will change things.

What does Budweis Budweiser Budvar smell like? The few cans of this I’ve tried seemed to have almost exactly the same smell of blended malted barley as every big-name lager. But this bottle right here is changing that. Maybe it’s the coldness? Whatever the reason, this time around, I can smell malted barley and hops! That would be the Saaz Aroma Hops at work then.

A couple of gulps in to my very cold glass of Budweis Budweiser Budvar, and things are turning out very differently to the first few times I’d tried it. This time , the old familiar “bite” is replaced by something else. Namely, a nice, clean, crisp and refreshing malted barley (that would be the Moravian Malt) and a bitter finish that tastes a tiny bit hoppy.

Before opening the bottle, I expected to find the same taste that put me off it again and again. Then to leave the ‘review’ there and just post it up to the photo above. But this time, possibly because of how cold it is, it smells and tastes utterly different. Now, at last, I can see what everyone was banging on about.

So, now that my Budweis Budweiser Budvar is sufficiently cold, what am I enjoying about it? At last, it’s doing the things that a lager should do. It’s clean, crisp and refreshing. It has a distinctive taste of malted barley and hops that I can’t remember finding elsewhere. It’s different to the other high-end lagers. You can taste how well made it is. And now you can buy it from many more shops than you used to.

What aren’t I enjoying about Budweis Budweiser Budvar? You can’t ignore how important it is to serve it cold. Most beers say on the label or can to serve it cold, but it’s not absolutely necessary to enjoy it. This time, when the label shouts “Serve Cold!”, they mean it. It tastes nowhere near as good at room temperature. Even at if just chilled. It needs to be cold; properly cold for it to taste right. And that’s not always easy. Especially in summer when you want a refreshing lager and can be sure that it won’t stay cold for long. Besides that, this one came out on the gassy side, although others I’ve tried weren’t.  And that malted barley taste, as it warms up when you get to the bottom of the glass or bottle won’t be as refreshing anymore.

So how can I sum up this re-review of Budweis Budweiser Budvar. In a word, a surprise. When I started re-writing it, the plan was to stop after the photo of it all poured. “I’m not going to enjoy drinking that” I thought. Only this time, the Budvar was much colder than before. And that suddenly made it delicious.

So how can we sum up a cold bottle of Budweis Budweiser Budvar? It’s a fine lager, that’s for sure. It goes a different direction from some other fine lagers. Pilsner Urquell and Samuel Adams Boston Lager are like lagers pretending to be ales. Budweis Budweiser Budvar on the other hand is more like a mainstream pilsner lager that just does what it does very very well. Watch out for the coldness of your glass or bottle though. Without the rice that regular Budweiser has, it quickly looses it’s smoothness as it warms up. Well worth trying if you haven’t already.

Have you tried Budweiser Budvar Czech Imported Lager? What did you think of it? Leave your personal opinions, corrections, opinions and recommendations in response to my personal opinions, here in the comments.

Beer Review: Budweiser

24 July, 2008

WHY do I keep subjecting myself to American lagers? Miller Beer and Michelob Lager were abysmal. Scraping the bottom of the barrel even further then, is this bottle of the ever-popular Budweiser.

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.

Budweiser bottle

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.

Budweiser neck label

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.

Budweiser front label

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.

Budweiser back label

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.

Budweiser poured into a glass

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.

Rating: 3

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.


%d bloggers like this: