Paste Magazine Reviews Cheap Macro Lagers

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by cid71, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. cid71

    cid71 Initiate (97) Mar 2, 2009 New Jersey

  2. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,509) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    Now I want a Schlabst!
  3. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,461) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Premium Trader

    I was surprised to see Stone Brewing's lager included in this taste testing ... I thought it was only macros?
  4. tzieser

    tzieser Savant (995) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    Wow, this is easily the worst Paste list I've seen yet. Here are some AAL/malt liquor omissions that could've easily made the list (in my opinion of course)

    • Narragansett Lager (easily #1....they included Genesee so they should've included this)
    • Coors Extra Gold (my #2...perhaps #1if above is not available)
    • Olympia Beer (PBR brand)
    • Stag (PBR brand)
    • Old Style (PBR brand)
    • Schaefer (PBR brand)
    • Schmidt (PBR brand)
    Malt liquors:
    • Mickey's (idk who owns it...miller?)
    • Olde English "800" (miller brand)
    • Country Club (PBR brand)
    • Colt 45 Double Malt (PBR brand)
    • St. Ide's (PBR brand)
    • Private Stock (discontinued but they listed "Schlabst" as an entry so I figure I can add this too. RIP)
    Seeing a trend here? What I'm trying to say is, really any of the Pabst brands are better than PBR itself (even if they are all really slight variations of the same recipe!)
    #4 tzieser, Mar 13, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,717) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    From the article:

    “This is a tasting of non-craft lagers from “Big Beer” producers. We made one sole exception—I included Yuengling Light Lager as an experiment, as it competes in the macro beer market and is largely viewed by the public through the macro rather than “craft” lens.”

    It is a shame they did not decide to purchase Yuengling Lord Chesterfield instead. I would have been interested to see how this beer would have been ranked in this blind taste test.

    Last Sunday I discussed both Hamm’s and Founders Solid Gold in the New Beer Sunday thread:

    A “gold standard” or is it “fool’s gold”!?!:thinking_face:

    Founders recently came out with a new AAL that they brand as Solid Gold. Below is some marketing jargon for this beer from the Founders website:

    “Our brewery was built on an attitude of no regrets. An attitude of taking risks to bring the best beer possible to our fellow renegades and rebels. Never brewing to style, but always brewing what we want to drink. Our take on a classic, Solid Gold is a drinkable premium lager brewed with the highest quality ingredients. Challenging what a lager can be? That’s something we won’t regret.”

    Well, isn’t that special!?!:rolling_eyes:

    @Urk1127 started a BA thread and he provided more substantive information of:

    "4.4 percent ABV golden lager brewed with lager yeast, corn and lemondrop hops. The new lager is a revamped version of a beer that has been pouring in the Founders taproom “for years” and will be a year-round release"

    I have had beers in the past that featured Lemondrop hops but to the best of recollection they were all ales. This will be my first time drinking a lager which features this hop.

    Below is a description of Lemondrop hops courtesy of Hopsteiner:

    “The name truly says it all. Lemondrop offers a "unique lemon-citrus character with a pleasant aroma." The bright citrus and subtle herbaceous notes are perfect for sessionable beers. While ales tend to bring out her sweeter side, Lemondrop is delicate and refined enough for quality lagers.”

    But wait, there is more!!

    I thought it would be worthwhile to drink this new beer from Founders as a side-by-side tasting with Hamm’s. A battle of ‘old school’ vs. ‘new school’?

    Served in my Spiegelau Lager glass:


    Founders Solid Gold: Golden colored with a BIG white head. This beer has good head retention and forms a bit of Belgian Lace as the beer is consumed.

    Hamm’s: Straw 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.


    Founders Solid Gold: There is a subtle but notable aroma here that is reminiscent of ‘soapy’ to me. I am not picking up any lemon-like aromas.

    Hamm’s There is a subtle, pleasant grainy aroma.


    Founders Solid Gold: The flavor pretty much follows the nose with a subtle but notable flavor which reminds me of ‘soapy’. There is a low bitterness

    Hamm’s: 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.


    Founders Solid Gold: Light body, medium carbonation with a dry finish.

    Hamm’s: Light body, medium carbonation with a dry finish.


    Founders Solid Gold: On the plus side this beer has a notable hop aroma/flavor to it. On the non-plus side the aroma/flavors that is there does not exactly hit my palate’s ‘sweet spot’.

    Hamm’s: A very cleanly brewed AAL beer with a light, pleasant grainy flavor.

    I do not typically bring up economics here but since we are discussing AAL beers, and these beers are typically economically priced I figured I would mention:

    · The Founders Solid Gold (12 ounce cans) was priced at $8.99

    · I purchased the single can of Hamm’s (16 ounce can) for $1.00. I suspect that the 6-pack price for these 16 ounce cans would be less than 6 bucks.

    Everybody will have their own viewpoint when it comes to price but it seems to me that the Founders Solid Gold is priced a bit too high.

    If I was at a neighbor’s Picnic party and the three beers available to drink were Hamm’s, Founders Solid Gold and Bud Light my selection in order would be:

    1. Hamm’s
    2. Founders Solid Gold
    3. Water


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  6. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Devotee (497) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts

    Not sure how they found Yuengling Light but not the original.
  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,345) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Damn... don't trust ANY info in that article, it's full of misinformation, starting with the fact that the author seems to be unaware than MIllerCoors is one company today, and brews all the AAL's sold by Pabst.

    Also, while they all typically contain an adjunct, most people (even those who don't drink any of them) would consider "American Adjunct Lager", "Light Beer", "US Ice Beer" and "Malt Liquor" four different beer styles.

    Then there's:
    No, but they did outsell Anheuser-Busch for a few post-WWII years - 1947, 1950-52, 1955-56, with Pabst in the #1 spot in '46, and again in '48 and '49. AB had been #1 from Repeal through the War.
    Well, they replace a portion of their recipe's barley malt with corn syrup when they changed the malt/adjunct ration... They couldn't sell it as a legal malt beverage in the US without barley malt.
    When Natural Light was introduced in the late '70s (as AB's first "light beer") it was priced in the "above premium" segment, in most markets priced between Budweiser (premium) and Michelob (superpremium). What was then called Busch Bavarian (w/different recipe as the later Busch) was a "popular-priced" regional AB brand, not distributed nationally.
    #7 jesskidden, Mar 13, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  8. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (242) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    It's always interesting to me to see how the fine tuned palates and taste assessments of supposed experts devolve into mere insult comedy when they are to taste test macro beers.
    TongoRad, tzieser, zid and 2 others like this.
  9. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,109) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    "It’s sort of hilarious to think that only a handful of decades ago, a beer like Coors Banquet had such a mystique around it that well-meaning Midwesterners would drive out to Colorado to acquire cases of it, load up their cars, and come home, Smokey and the Bandit-style."

    Well, it might be hilarious, if it were true. Any Midwesterner "in the know" knew he only had to cross the Big Muddy into Iowa to get some Coors in them olden days. :rolling_eyes:
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  10. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,345) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    And the next sentence also isn't true
    since Coors Banquet used rice as its adjunct at that time.
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,717) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Well, on the plus side I not believe they ever used the word "piss" in this article.:rolling_eyes:

  12. muck1979

    muck1979 Initiate (134) Jul 3, 2005 Minnesota

    Wow. What happened to Schlitz? As I recall it used to be the highest-rated AAL on this site for quite a while. Perhaps Pabst finally killed off the 1960s "Gusto" version and now we're back to the (mid-70s?) version of Schlitz?
  13. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,109) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Jim Vorel is their staff writer and resident "beer guru," in case you wondered about his credentials. :wink: Wonder who at the magazine is following his advice? :grin:
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  14. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,345) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Unlikely - even before Schlitz was bought by Stroh in the early '80s, in '77 they hired a former Anheuser-Busch brewmaster, Frank Sellinger, to run the company and he reformulated the flagship brand. After Stroh turned it into a discount brand, they likely messed with the recipe as would Pabst once they got the brand in '99 and send it to Miller to brew.
    Bitterbill likes this.
  15. zid

    zid Savant (920) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    Ha. That took me a second.
    Amen. I was happy to see that this was done like their other tastings, but then a bit disappointed as soon as I read any of it. Why do people need to get on their high horse and not attempt to do these straight? They even called it "a less-than-serious blind tasting." It doesn't have to be and it shouldn't be that. Why should they have taken this long to do this when they've repeated themselves with other styles? It's a shame really. Just treat it like any other style dammit. Then there's this terrible line: "They are the silent majority. They are the drinkers of macro American adjunct lagers, and they’re all around us." :rolling_eyes:

    Personally, I favor Miller High Life. :grin:
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  16. meefmoff

    meefmoff Zealot (542) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts

    I suppose i should just ask this directly to @jesskidden.

    Do you know whether the cheap 'ice' beers are actually 'iced'? Looking at the ABVs which hover at only around 6% it seems like bringing all that liquid down below zero to remove some water would be more expensive than just using a bit more malt/syrup/adjunct in the first place.

    Do they really make them that way or is the 'ice' thing solely marketing?

    Nicely done. That sailed right past me :slight_smile:
    tzieser, zid and Bitterbill like this.
  17. thedaveofbeer

    thedaveofbeer Initiate (133) Mar 25, 2016 Massachusetts

    Hamms was my go to cheaper beer when I lived in MN 15 years ago. Thankfully my budget allows me to enjoy more craft beers than back then, but damned if I don't have a hankering for a Hamms right now. Do packies in MA carry Hamms?
  18. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,345) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Well, originally (1990s) they were, the ATF even had a ruling on the legality of the process:
    Today? Who knows - not sure the TTB really monitors the process for beers labeled "ice beers" even tho' they still have a legal definition, but they might:
    ICE BEER - Malt beverage containing 0.5% or more alcohol by volume supercooled during the brewing process to form ice crystals.

    Well, since likely most of those AB and MC brands are high-gravity brewed, it'd be even easier to just dilute with a bit less carbonated purified water.
  19. BeRightBock

    BeRightBock Devotee (436) Apr 27, 2007 New York
    Premium Trader

  20. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,249) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    My wife and I did a mini "macro showdown" in Las Vegas last month. Beers included Bud Light, normal Bud, MGD, Michelob, Corona, Stella, and Heineken.
    That (not coincidentally) is the order we preferred them in.
    The biggest surprise was how much bolder the Corona was vs. the American macros. Michelob included. I wouldn't have guessed that. Stella and Heineken were night and day bolder than anything from North America, though.
    Bud Light was vaguely sour and foamy, but didn't have a lot going on.
    Normal Bud was the sweetest tasting one and it had no balance or hop character whatsoever.
    MGD had less sweetness and a little bit of corn grits character to it.
    Michelob tasted like what Bud probably wishes it was. Hops were still mostly missing, but the cereal flavor is appealing.
    Corona actually has some hops to it! At least compared to all the US macro lagers we had. It also has a little bit of a zest to it, even without any limes. Could possibly be that Corona bottles are almost always near limes, though.
    If the Corona had hop character, the Stella had like 2x as much. It was also a little sweeter, but not in a syrupy way. It finished super clean, too. We weren't sure if it was our favorite or if the hoppier and heavier Heineken was.
    The Heineken wasn't skunky at all. I know that's always a crapshoot. It tasted basically like a mid-level pilsner. Yet, compared to everything else it was a borderline hop bomb. It's easy to forget that Heineken isn't too bad. Especially when it isn't lightstruck and it's competing with American-style macros.

    If I had to choose one, the Stella was the cleanest and probably the most all-purpose option. The Heineken might as well have been a Jever considering how much bolder it was than everything else, though.
  21. BeRightBock

    BeRightBock Devotee (436) Apr 27, 2007 New York
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    Oh Micheloeb in thr early eighties....

    Geez I’m old....

  22. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,345) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Yeah, pretty weird but apparently Yuengling Premium (which was the brewer's flagship beer up to the late 1980s) distribution is kept pretty close to "home" - we get it in NJ, where it's sold typically by the "suitcase" and a lot cheaper than Yuengling Traditional Lager.

    Note, too, that they used Yuengling Light Lager (i.e, the light version of the Trad. Lager) not Yuengling's light AAL, labeled Yuengling Light Beer (extreme right below).
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  23. BeRightBock

    BeRightBock Devotee (436) Apr 27, 2007 New York
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    I got a case of the Porter for $9.99 last year ‘cause it “wasn’t selling”.....

    Hee hee.
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  24. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,109) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Completely agree with that.
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  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,717) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    It has been years since I have seen Schlitz with the labeling of "1960's Formula". FWIW, I was a fan of the beer that was labeled with "1960's Formula". That beer was cleanly brewed and more flavorful than a 'standard' AAL beer (e.g., Budweiser).

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  26. AWA

    AWA Aspirant (217) Jul 22, 2014 California

    I gotta say it breaks my heart to see Schlitz so far down. Not that I'd drink it or anything, but still.
  27. pjbear05

    pjbear05 Initiate (164) May 28, 2008 Florida

    I checked on Mickey's, and yes, Miller now brews it.
    tzieser likes this.
  28. muck1979

    muck1979 Initiate (134) Jul 3, 2005 Minnesota

    I seem to recall a thread a while back where a poster was questioning whether the repackaged Schlitz with no mention of "1960's Formula" was still the new/old "Gusto" formula. Someone posted an email response from Pabst indicating that it still was the "1960's Formula."

    I too enjoyed the "1960's" Schlitz version--even with the Cascade hops that clearly weren't available back then.
  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,717) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I recall that post indicating a response from some Pabst Marketing person. FWIW, I did not believe that response from the Pabst person then.

    I made a personal decision that if I ever saw Schlitz beer with the labeling of "1960s Formula" I would purchase that beer. I have not seen this beer in a number of years (4-5 years?).

  30. zid

    zid Savant (920) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    That's funny... when I did a blind tasting with Corona and a few others, I was surprised that I could detect some hoppiness in the Corona (which I never noticed when having it on its own). When I posted about it here, the notion wasn't met with any agreement from others. :slight_smile:
  31. ZebulonXZogg

    ZebulonXZogg Defender (664) May 5, 2015 Illinois

    I may have learned something here! I just found out AAL stands for American Adjunct Lagers. I always thought it meant Awful American Lagers! Thanks everyone!
  32. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (242) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    It's worth noting that two of the three beers which were tested in this article and said to taste skunked were canned beers. I think Heineken is a mild but enjoyable European pale lager beer. Europe is a diverse geographical and cultural area of course but in general I would say that one thing that separates European macro lager beers from American lager beers is a mild bitterness and hop flavor. Some countries brew their beers to be adjunct lager beers rather than brewing all malt beers, yet they typically have more hop flavor and a mild bitterness compared with the American brands. In Sweden the typical IBU of the domestic Export style is around 23IBUs (based on the answers I've gotten from the 5 remaining macro breweries), see for example the product pages for two different popular Swedish brands on the website Finnish alcohol monopoly who measure the IBUs of the products they sell: Sofiero (5.2% abv, 25IBU, was the most sold beer at the Swedish monopoly for the last decade), Fagerhult (5.3% abv, 28IBUs). Compare that with Budweiser (5%, 6IBU) and Coors Light (4%, 6IBU). Miller High Life's own product page is now listing an IBU value of 7. IBU values do not convey hop flavor of course, and hop flavor can't be quantified, but I would argue that a similar pattern exists there as well. In Europe we only get the big name AAL brands however, so I can't speak for the smaller brands.
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  33. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,345) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    The Pabst "Schlitz" page lists the "Gusto" hop recipe:
    And website's "Timeline" ends with:
    ...but the distribution footprint sure seems to have shrunk (only saw it in central Jersey once or twice).

    Constellation's Corona website lists the IBU's of the 3 Corona beer (Extra, Light and the new recipe Familiar) at 18, 18 and 19.5 - pretty much twice that of what is usually stated for the US AB and MC flagships.
    #33 jesskidden, Mar 13, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  34. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,217) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Premium Trader

    I reviewed it in 2009 but it disappeared from my market shortly after. Same thing happened with Olympia 95% Malt only in 2011. :slight_frown:
  35. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,717) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    But there is no mention of the fermentables. The Schlitz "1960's Formula" when it was marketed a few years ago listed that it had a higher percentage of malt.

    Bitterbill likes this.
  36. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,509) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    A couple of weeks ago we did a throwback-type beer day on WBAYDN and I got a big can of Heineken for it- and I liked it! If I bought two I would've kept on going, too :grin:.
  37. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,217) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Premium Trader

    Good on draught as well.
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  38. tzieser

    tzieser Savant (995) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    I honestly considered including Mexican Adjunct Lagers in my post but then I noticed no Mexican beers were in the article. Sometimes I wonder why we classify all adjunct lagers as “AALs” even when they’re brewed in, say, Korea or Okinawa for example...anyway, I digress.

    When I lived in Arizona I grew to love Mexican adjunct lagers. I always thought Corona was okay but I guess I over drank them in college so I wrote off most AALs from that country. Tecate, Pacifico, Carta Blanca and perhaps the searing AZ heat and delicious Mexican food changed my opinion on the matter. I think the aforementioned beers would easily top the list, especially if they also bought Canada into question, who makes some great AALs like Molson Golden, Molson Canadian, Labatt Blue. If we included all of the (North) Americas on this list I think most of us would agree that the US wouldn’t fair very well on the continental scale.


    EDIT: I forgot about Moosehead, probably your best bang-for-your-buck AAL out there
  39. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,509) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    Have you had St. Pauli Girl lately? Any thoughts on that one?
  40. tzieser

    tzieser Savant (995) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    I actually haven’t! My friends mom was a big St. Pauli Dark fan (and Becks dark). I had it once years back and it compared similarly (perhaps favorably) to a Beck’s or Heineken. I’ll have to pickup some next time I’m hankering a good Euro Pale Lager
    TongoRad likes this.