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16 Ounce Macro Lager Can Shootout

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by ZAP, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (3,754) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Recently completed a blind taste test of eight macro lager beer in 16 ounce cans.

    The field:
    Grain Belt Premium
    High Life
    Old Style

    The Process:
    One 16 ounce can of each beer was placed in my beer fridge.

    Over four days my wife would randomly take two of the beers out and I would close my eyes. She would open them and then keep a key of what was what. I scored the beers from 1-10 based on how they tasted right out of the cans. I dictated some brief notes and my wife wrote them down.

    After I was done rating and reviewing I left the room and she poured them into glasses and disposed of the cans in a special paper garbage bag so I could not see what beers I just had.

    After the four days were up all the beers had been tasted and rated...once. Time to do the exact same drill again. Again, she chose random beers to face off 1-on-1 and I rated them again.

    Finally after another four days of tastings (not consecutive) she revealed the scores and notes.

    I also tried to predict what was what. I nailed Bud and Premium both times, and the Miller products both times but got them mixed up once. I hit Pabst, Coors and Hamms once as well. Mixed up Hamms and Old Style one time.

    Results (scores are the average of the two taste tests)
    1. Coors Original (8.95): Clean, smooth pleasant maltiness.
    2. High Life (8.8):Grainy..sweet malt
    3. MGD (8.6): Sweet malty macro lager
    4. Bud (7.95): Fresh, nutty, ricey
    5. Hamms (7.2):Sweetness on finish. Not a lot of flavor. Lightly sweet
    6. PBR (7.1):Chewy sweetish malt..old time beer taste
    7. Old Style (6.85): Light flavored, clean, basic.
    8. Premium (6.45): Sweet malt aroma, apples...bad after taste.

    Final Thoughts/Tidbits:

    I do not know the dates on the beers. Should have written them down.

    Is High Life and MGD same beer? Tough to tell. Flavors and scores are real close and the difference could be due to the age on the beers.

    What about Hamms and Pabst being the same beer? Personally I thought they tasted different but their scores are remarkably close.

    Bud was easy to pick out as were the Miller products. I drank a lot of Miller products growing up (back in 3rd, 4th grade) and have always liked their flavor so there may be a slight taste bias for me.

    Still, Coors was clearly the best of the lot both tastings and right now as I type this from a fresh 12 pack I just bought and I feel the same drinking it now. It is now my macro of choice.
  2. Maestro0708

    Maestro0708 Aspirant (257) Feb 27, 2015 Kentucky

    I did something similar to this once. Its good fun, and can be eye opening how different your opinion on a beer can be when you dont bring your brand bias to the table.
    ESHBG, drtth and ZAP like this.
  3. Oktoberfiesta

    Oktoberfiesta Aspirant (256) Nov 16, 2013 New Mexico

    Cool stuff. I would have thrown in a perceived 'better' craft lager to see if It can detected amongst that bunch. Or maybe now, do a craft pilsner/lager sampling and see how Coors matches up.

    I've had some terribly mediocre craft lagers that are upwards of 1.8x the cost of the macro beers. So that's where my next experiment would be, If this was me.
  4. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (562) Mar 28, 2009 California

    I’ve always loved me some yellow bellies.
    GreenBayBA likes this.
  5. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Champion (871) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    My understanding is that the only difference is the High Life is flash pasteurized and MGD is cold filtered.
  6. MikeP64

    MikeP64 Initiate (164) Jan 24, 2015 South Carolina

    Nice to see that even a "Poo-Bah" can enjoy macro beers......
  7. miwestcoaster

    miwestcoaster Champion (889) Jan 19, 2013 Michigan

    Thank you for your insight. I took a peak at the average ratings for these beers on BA. The top five are:
    1. Grain Belt Premium 3.26
    2. PBR 2.94
    3. Old Style 2.83
    4. Hamm’s 2.8
    5. Miller High Life 2.69

    I drank my share of Premium back in the day, but I can’t get it in Michigan. Now Hamm’s is a staple in my fridge. IMO Hamm’s or Old Style are superior in taste to Founders Solid Gold Lager or Short’s Local’s Light Lager at a less expensive price. Cheers!
  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,858) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

  9. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (3,754) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    I personally thought Premium might finish pretty high but for some reason it did not score well or taste good. I did look at the dates on that one as I had others in the fridge after the taste test was completed and I was a bit surprised. The dates were actually fresh on that one.
    miwestcoaster, GreenBayBA and Junior like this.
  10. Wiffler27

    Wiffler27 Meyvn (1,268) Aug 16, 2009 New Jersey

    I've recently started buying 12 packs of Carlsberg 16oz cans. 5% each and $13 works out fine for me. Ideally I could get something in a similar format for less money. 16oz cans are perfect, 12oz cans are a pain.

    They're perfect for FUT weekend league.
    tzieser, nc41, TrojanRB and 3 others like this.
  11. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,285) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Society Trader

    We can? I didn't get the memo!

    A buddy of mine is into craft and macro, and his macro of choice is Coors.
    ZAP, MikeP64 and GreenBayBA like this.
  12. Hoos78

    Hoos78 Aspirant (236) Mar 3, 2015 Ohio

    Premium is certainly different from most other AALs. Its sweetness is so strange.
    ZAP likes this.
  13. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,553) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    "even"? :rolling_eyes::wink:
  14. Tilley4

    Tilley4 Poo-Bah (2,036) Nov 13, 2007 Tennessee
    Society Trader

    Hamm's for the win IMO.... it's my beer of choice once the weather gets warm... cheap and tasty in the pool
  15. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,397) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    Coors Banquet on draught is even gooder.
  16. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,746) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    Shoulda thrown a Montucky Coldsnack in the mix.
    AlcahueteJ, dcotom and GreenBayBA like this.
  17. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,553) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I did something similar with my son a year or two ago, and came away pretty impressed with the Naragansett.
    Tilley4, mkh012, dennis3951 and 2 others like this.
  18. Zorro

    Zorro Poo-Bah (4,382) Dec 25, 2003 California

    No Steel Reserve? What about Colt 45? :wink:
  19. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,415) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    That used to be the case since the latter's creation in the 1980s, but currently MillerCoors' "Nutrition and Codes" pdf lists a slight variation in ingredients - MHL notes only "hop extract" while MGD lists "hop extract, hops" :thinking_face:---- and there is now a 1 calorie difference:rolling_eyes:

    Also, AFAIK MC's pasteurized bottles and cans are tunnel-pasteurized, not flash.
    AlcahueteJ, ZAP, Bitterbill and 3 others like this.
  20. Giantspace

    Giantspace Defender (687) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I used to be a PBR guy. I read the article on the brewers tasting AAL and that’s how I found Hamms. Cheap and good. Less harsh than PBR. I also really enjoy High Life in a bottle. I should revisit Coors. I had a draft in CO a bunch of years back and it was very refreshing.

    I tried Solid Gold last week for the first time. This was left at my house. It was far from bad but I prefer the taste of Hamms and High Life. Once you factor in the $ it’s a no brainer.

    bubseymour, ZAP, Bitterbill and 3 others like this.
  21. stevepat

    stevepat Devotee (498) Mar 12, 2013 California

    this times infinity. I would bet that the poo bahs are the bulk of the macro drinkers on here. Us youngerlings call any beer made before anchor 'macro swill' while these old guys remember who all got consolidated to make the real macros.
    ZAP, TrojanRB, TongoRad and 1 other person like this.
  22. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,415) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    "Grain Belt Premium" = "macro", tho'? Probably not since circa mid-1970s, when the brewery closed and sold the brand, after which Heileman neglected the brand in favor of their other MN flagship, Schmidt, even selling it off, as part of the spinoff that created the short-lived Minnesota Brewing Co. No way current GB brewer, August Schell is macro (well, given the current state of the geekery''s definition of "small brewer", maybe there is?)

    Oh, damn, I think I just reopened the AAL vs Macro vs BMC debate :astonished:
  23. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Champion (871) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    I have never heard of tunnel-pasteurized.
  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,858) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Earlier today I discussed Modelo Especial in the New Beer Sunday thread:

    What exactly defines what a “Mexican Lager” is anyway?

    Last year Sierra Nevada produced a beer branded as Sierraveza that was part of a variety pack. They marketed this beer via:

    On the back of the bottle is a story:

    “Inspired by the classic cervezas served ice cold by the beach, we created our own take on these easy drinking beers born south of the border. Sierraveza is golden and crisp, with a balanced malt flavor and a hint of floral hops that will have you calling out for another round.”

    This beer of 2018 had some corn (corn grits) as part of the grain bill. I thought that considering what type of Sierraveza was it was a pretty good beer. I discussed it in this NBS thread:


    Sierra Nevada decided to produce Sierraveza as a year-round beer in 2019 and this ‘updated’ beer is now all malt. Having stated that, the ‘connection’ to Mexico is still apparent in their marketing of this beer: “Inspired by the classic cervezas served ice cold by the beach, we created our own take on those light and easy beers born south of the border. Sierraveza is golden and crisp, with a balanced malt flavor and a hit of floral hops that will have you calling out for another round.” And the images of palm trees is prominent on the labeling.

    So, back to my question that I posed above. Well, I suppose one aspect of what defines a “Mexican Lager” could be that the beer is brewed in Mexico? I must admit that I am not well experienced with drinking Mexican Lagers. I have had a few (e.g., Corona, Victoria, Dos Equis Special Lager) but there are plenty of brands that I have not consumed (e.g., Tecate, Sol, Carta Blanca, Cerveza Pacifico Clara, Modelo Especial,…).

    While I visited a local Retail Beer Distributor to purchase some craft beer I was chatting with the store’s manager and we just happened to be standing by a refrigerator that contained large format AAL beers. One customer stepped by us to buy 6 large (quart size) bottles of Corona Familiar beers. I took note of a BIG (19.2 ounce) can of Modelo Especial in the refrigerator and a ‘light bulb’ went off: why not try this beer? Now some of you might ask: why Modelo Especial vs. the others I listed above? Well, I have read a number of BAs opine that among the Mexican brewed beers they had a preference for Modelo Especial so I figured I would see for myself.

    Below is how the brewery describes this beer on their website:

    “Brewed as a model of what good beer should be, this rich, full-flavored Pilsner-style Lager delivers a crisp, refreshing taste. Modelo Especial contains Filtered Water, Yeast, Malted Barley, Corn, and Hops.”

    Enough jibber-jabber. Let’s drink!!

    Served in my Firestone Pivo Pilsner glass:


    Golden colored and brilliantly clear accompanied by a BIG white head. This beer has good head retention and forms a bit of Belgian Lace as the beer is consumed.


    There is a subtle, pleasant grainy aroma.


    The flavor follows the nose with a nice, pleasant grainy flavor. The one word that pops into my mind is “clean”. There is a low bitterness.


    Light body, medium carbonation with a dry finish.


    I think this is a good AAL beer. It is very cleanly brewed with no off-flavors.

    Oh, to circle back to the question I posed as the lead in to this post. In my opinion a “Mexican Lager” is an AAL beer.

  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,858) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    For your reading pleasure:

    “1. Tunnel Pasteurization:

    Tunnel pasteurization is commonly used in aluminum can and glass bottle filling. It can be used for PET bottles, but it can be costly and ineffective at prolonging shelf life. Tunnel pasteurization uses multiple stages of heating a beverage and its packaging to target temperatures. Both are held for a predetermined amount of time to ensure microorganisms (micros) are killed.

    Timing and temperature is calculated based on the number of required pasteurization units (PU). One PU defined as the micro death that occurs when the beverage is held at 60°C (140°F) for one minute. Here is a commonly used PU formula: PU = t × 1.393((T − 60)/T) where T = degrees in Celsius, t = the time in minutes at which the product is held at T.”


  26. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,553) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Yeah, but it's not just age, it's experience as well as the phases people tend to go through. People who have been doing this longer are a lot more likely to take things on their own terms, and aren't stuck in the bigger-is-better mindset.
    drtth, THANAT0PSIS, stevepat and 6 others like this.
  27. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (3,754) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Yeah you're right..poor way to describe this on my part...should have titled it AAL Lager Shootout.
    THANAT0PSIS likes this.
  28. HammsMeASAP

    HammsMeASAP Initiate (108) Jun 14, 2012 Minnesota

    High Life and MGD are definitely not the same.

    And Premium in bottles > cans. Too much of a metallic flavor with the cans IMO.
    tzieser and Milktoast75 like this.
  29. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,709) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    Lol, I love a few aals, every time I drink a Narragansett pounder I wonder why I bother with the others. But I like Bud and PBR too, nothing in the world wrong with the style. The best aals imo are far better than bad craft, and it’s hard to really find a bad aal that’s not a Malt Liquor. I dabble with all kinds of beers depending on my mood, sometimes I just get tired of buying and working my way thru mediocre craft beers at $12-13/ six.
    tzieser, Jacobier10, lic217 and 11 others like this.
  30. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,709) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    I‘ve never had a Grain Belt or an Old Style, and the scorings are very different from 1 to the last. I’m a bit surprised Coors is #1, but blind takes eliminates any bias, it was always my opinion that Coors was a bit sweet compared to say Bud. Bet it was fun to do.
    ZAP likes this.
  31. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Savant (908) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Enjoyed a High Life last night at a restaurant.

    I'm not a "Poo-Bah" though. :wink:
  32. Gobearswalter34

    Gobearswalter34 Meyvn (1,256) Aug 1, 2014 Illinois

    I would have nearly flipped everything. For sure, bottom 4 would have flipped with top 4. Interesting.
  33. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,368) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    To the OP @ZAP, that is an excellent and unbiased method you did your taste test by the way. Thank your for your Beer Advocate services and entertainment for us forum nerds.

    Agree that someone should volunteer up to do a similar test for 2-3 of the craft AALs against a mix of macro AALs and see how they compare with no bias.

    I just bought an 18pack of High Life cans just to have on occassions when my craft beers are low or I'm just in the mood for low ABV and cold /refreshing beer. For $10.99 it was a no brainer and should last at least 6-8 weeks.
    ZAP, ESHBG, nc41 and 1 other person like this.
  34. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,858) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    For those looking for the 'best' deal permit me to suggest a 30-pack of Hamm's. My local Retail Beer Distributor sells this pack for less than 15 bucks. It is likely even cheaper in other states.

    Tucquan, ESHBG and nc41 like this.
  35. miwestcoaster

    miwestcoaster Champion (889) Jan 19, 2013 Michigan

    $12.49 in my cart and then my garage (cellar :sunglasses:) yesterday.
    ESHBG, nc41 and JackHorzempa like this.
  36. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,368) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    I haven't seen the Hamm's 30's anywhere yet, but I've seen the 24 packs run around $10.99-$12.99 in many places. Definitely the best value macro on the market IMO (if you like Hamm's).

    There was a special at a gas station that had 2 18 packs (36 beers) for $19.99 of High Life. That's pretty close to being on par with the Hamm but now your splitting hairs on spare change so who really cares.
    miwestcoaster, ESHBG, nc41 and 2 others like this.
  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,858) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    It happens to be in my top 5 of favorite AALs.

    Number 1 for me is Yuengling Lord Chesterfield and numbers 2-5 are pretty much 'equal' for me.

  38. beergoot

    beergoot Poo-Bah (4,461) Oct 11, 2010 Colorado
    Society Trader

    Poo-Bah doesn't equate to snobbery. I'd wager the majority have a favorite (in the best sense of the word) macro beer or two...

    For me, a traditional Strohs, Budweiser, and Negra Modelo are solid offerings. And, surprisingly, Olde English 800 is another one. And Hamm's...I guess I could go on and on and...
    tzieser, MikeP64, ESHBG and 2 others like this.
  39. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,709) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    Hamms here are 24/ $12-$13 I believe, but I rarely ever buy by the case anymore, but easily the best deal in beer. The Gansett pounders are I think $5.99 for a 6/16s, it’s also a great value.
    ESHBG likes this.
  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,858) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Yup, and I listed two in post #37 above.

    tzieser and beergoot like this.