What's the best American Adjunct Lager?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by JZH1000, May 9, 2022.

  1. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    "Good News" 'cause they sold the brand and got some needed cash? Another local PA story quoted new-owner Maier:
    Damn - The Lion couldn't sell 363 bbl. of Stegmaier at a time?

    I'd say that this CARLING BLACK LABEL from the Ontario Beer Store is closer to the original brand (no comment on recipe, etc.). Molson bought Carling-O'Keefe in the late '80s but whatever deal Heileman (which bought their US subsidiary Carling National in the late '70s) had for the US rights to the brand continued into the Stroh and then Pabst eras.

    As someone whose early beer experience came before "Craft" and Philip Morris' fueled Miller juggernaut (when I started drinking beer, Miller was something like the Seventh largest brewer, smaller than Schaefer and Falstaff, about the same size as Carling), it still surprises me that so many (younger?) people have fond memories and/or currently still purchase Miller High Life.

    After Schlitz's infamous problems of the mid-'70s (corrected too late when they hired a former AB VP) the most reviled brewery among many proto-beer geeks brewed the clear-bottled "Miller High Life" and "Lite Beer from Miller" brands. Circa 1980 recipe for the latter (supposedly "leaked" by Anheuser-Busch):
    #161 jesskidden, May 13, 2022
    Last edited: May 13, 2022
  2. Chaz

    Chaz Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    No, I haven’t visited Canada in over twenty years. The last of the Carling O’Keefe family I tried was O’Keefe, which did not impress me at the time.
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  3. Chaz

    Chaz Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    I haven’t paid attention to The Lion since I left retail (2005), and even then there was no chance I’d ever see any of the Stegmaier line (which they’d expanded with a bunch of craft styled ales and seasonal offerings) anywhere near my neck of the woods.

    They had also had the “Micro” era Brewery Hill and Pocono lines of ales and lagers (not dissimilar to what Huber and for a while, Minhas, had done with Augsburger), but those must’ve been mothballed about the same time.

    Now, it looks like “Lionshead” is the brewery’s company family and brand, and of course, contract filling and packaging is a priority.

    So yes: Good for the brewery, and good for the original family, too. Even though I still won’t be able to get Stegmaier out here any time soon. :grin:
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  4. JUkes

    JUkes Nov 11, 2019 Maryland

    In 2019 I emailed The Lion about where to find Stegmaier, because I couldn't find it around Gettysburg or Lancaster. I was told that it was mostly distributed in northeast PA around the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. I bought some in Wilkes-Barre later that year. there was only a small display of it in the distributor that I went to.

    I think that the survival of The Lion borders on the miraculous. It looks like they are expanding now, too.
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  5. pjbear05

    pjbear05 May 28, 2008 Florida

    PBR, not even a close second. In the early 80's my friends occupied apartments around Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. One m8 had his dad's kegerator in his apartment, and the party store across the street had el cheapo cold quarter kegs. Oh, the reeling walls!
  6. moodenba

    moodenba Feb 2, 2015 New York

    In the early 80s, PBR was a different beer than it is now. I remember is as being pretty good, malty with a nice aroma. I thought it was the best of the nationally distributed AAL brands. It was priced slightly below the other "premium" nationals, and that was also an asset. Of course a few of the super-premiums were better (Pabst's own Andeker, Huber's Augsburger, and some others).
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  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

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  8. moodenba

    moodenba Feb 2, 2015 New York

    I remember touring Olympia (Tumwater, WA) in about 1980 after they acquired Hamm's. The guide explained that they used rice adjunct for Oly, and a blend of rice and corn for Hamm's. Near a brew kettle we saw a plastic bin filled with whole hops, ready to be added to the wort.
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  9. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Yeah. In the '30s, under the original Hamm ownership, Hamm's also used rice as an adjunct (which a LOT of brewers did). And after buying Hamm's in the '70s, Leopold Schmidt, president of Olympia told the local St. Paul paper "Heublein had been using liquid hops to make Hamm's. We went back to natural hops, simplified the process and some other improvements." Heublein was so proud of their hop extract that they even hired a Pfiizer chemist who'd held patents on their version of extract and did PR about the new "Smooth...less bitter" recipe.
    #169 jesskidden, May 15, 2022
    Last edited: May 15, 2022
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  10. ZAP

    ZAP Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    I agree with this after having done many many blind tastings of AAL's....For instance, separating Hamms, Old Style and Pabst is tough to do in a blind setting...for all I know they may be the same beer and the slight differences could be due to age/storage of the beer.....

    I can usually pick out Miller and Bud and usually Coors but beers from the same brewery kind of blend together...Differentiating between High Life and MGD in a blind setting is tough though..

    As for my favorite...depends on what I'm in the mood for...People may not believe it but the macros do have subtle taste differences between them from brewery to brewery....

    I do think Coors Banquet is the best made beer of the AAL's though....I'd say for the old desert island question with AAL's that is what I would pick.
  11. tigg924

    tigg924 Apr 30, 2008 Massachusetts

    Schaefer is my sentimental favorite. Drank a bunch with my friends from my job when I was in college. I really enjoy a Budweiser though.
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  12. zid

    zid Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    Perhaps. I recall him stating that he drank Bud and High Life because they were well made and had intentional off flavors. Brewers enjoying macro lagers is a cliche... but at least other brewers don't feel the need to frame it as a backhanded compliment to maintain their feelings of superiority (which is how that statement from him read to me back then).
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  13. JayORear

    JayORear Feb 22, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I didn't read it that way at the time, more as self-deprecatory. Not sure we can know from print. However, I do think he's earned the right to feel superior:slight_smile:
  14. Blueribbon666

    Blueribbon666 Jul 4, 2008 Ohio

    Since we started receiving distro Narragansett has been my go to. Coors Banquet is a good maltier offering and I can't resist the stubby.
  15. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Whoa!?! :astonished:

    A BA with a user name of Blueribbon666 is not stating that Pabst Blue Ribbon is the best AAL beer!?!:confused:

  16. Blueribbon666

    Blueribbon666 Jul 4, 2008 Ohio

    Ha! How the mighty fall. I do mix in the Ribbon and his black sheep cousin Black Label but these days it's the neighborly creep from the east. $6 for the sixer of tall boys is a great price these days for sessioning, some beers are still holding their price for now:grimacing:
  17. pjbear05

    pjbear05 May 28, 2008 Florida

    I have a number of local branches of Miller's Ale House selling $2 PBR tallboys.
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  18. dbl_delta

    dbl_delta Sep 22, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    PBR. That was literally my one and only for decades. (I'm in remission now, though. It's a lot more expensive.)
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  19. puck1225

    puck1225 Dec 22, 2013 Texas
    Society Trader

    A very cold Miller’s.
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  20. puboflyons

    puboflyons Jul 26, 2008 New Hampshire

    I drank a lot of PBR in the 1980's. My late mother's favorite was Miller Genuine Draft. She discovered that one in the 1990's. So whenever I would visit, there was always some MGD to dig into.
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  21. officerbill

    officerbill Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    High Life, end of thread.
    Maybe Hamm's or Stroh's back when it was really fire brewed. My father would have said Coor's Banquet and Yuengling was the only beer my mother really liked
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  22. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    :thinking_face: So...
    *Not* end of thread? :grin:
  23. Sparty1965

    Sparty1965 Dec 11, 2021

    Is this really a conversation worth having.
  24. zid

    zid Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    Is any “what’s the best beer” conversation worth having?
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  25. Todd

    Todd Founder Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader

    Was your reply worth posting?
  26. Todd

    Todd Founder Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader

  27. bret27

    bret27 Mar 10, 2009 California
    Society Trader

    Just to clarify and disclaimer I haven’t sifted through all the previous posts:
    When we say AAL are we only referring to macro lagers that are using corn as an adjunct to replace malt?
    Todd’s top list would indicate otherwise.
    I’m a huge lager fan and am just trying to clarify what we’re looking at here.
    (The only one I’ve had on the top list is actually #1 the live oak).
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  28. thebeeremptor

    thebeeremptor Aug 12, 2018 California
    Society Trader

    I know the post calls out AAL specifically but I don't know if all of these have adjuncts. So I'll just assume that macro lagers are included, as a lot of others have posted the same.

    For my money, it's Hamm's. I know it's a bit of a meme at this point and I don't really care. I've gotten several friends and coworkers to finally try it and every single one of them has said "You were right" about it being a good beer for the style.

    Montucky is a good substitute if Hamm's isn't available; to me the profile is almost identical except that Montucky seems to have higher carbonation. Otherwise, Miller Lite and Budweiser.
  29. pinyin

    pinyin Sep 19, 2013 New York

    Yuengling Lager on draft was my favorite for years, especially when it was $1.50 a pint.

    Susquehanna Goldencold Lager is also very good, but a little bit difficult to find, even in NEPA.

    Recently the two best I've had locally were Singlecut Frequency, which is bottled but doesn't reach distribution outside of the brewery itself, and it won a GABF Silver for AAL.

    Grimm Lite is kind of similar to Frequency and does reach some distribution, although I've never seen it on shelves in PA or NJ.
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  30. crazyspicychef

    crazyspicychef Sep 27, 2012 Pennsylvania

    No adjuncts, all grain. Would be my first choice too.
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  31. crazyspicychef

    crazyspicychef Sep 27, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I would say Michelob, but it is adjunct free, supposedly.
    I'll definitely have to go with Miller High Life. The Champagne of cheap beer!
    Genny Cream Ale and Coor's Banquet for a 2nd place tie.
    Original Stroh's would have been on this list, but they screwed that relaunch recipe up royally!
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  32. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Well, traditionally in the US brewing industry, pre-craft era (back when adjuncts were adjuncts and not "everything else") the term "All Grain" meant a beer brewed with barley malt and rice and/or corn - both grains, of course - as opposed to beers that used adjuncts in the form of syrups or sugars.
    Using the traditional US definitions, Michelob is (currently) "All Malt".

    ANIMOUL Nov 28, 2013 Vermont
    Society Trader

    Strohs. How can it not be? It's fire brewed.
  34. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Not since 1999 - when Stroh sold or closed their breweries (it appears that not all had been converted to direct flame brewing, since they also owned Heileman at the time) and sold the brand to Pabst.
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    ANIMOUL Nov 28, 2013 Vermont
    Society Trader

    Strohs. How can it not be? It's direct flame brewed.
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  36. moodenba

    moodenba Feb 2, 2015 New York

    They did at least retrofit the Schaefer Lehigh brewery to fire brew. I think they needed smaller copper kettles to make it work. My guess is that they stopped fire brewing when they bought Schlitz and closed their original brewery (Detroit had all copper kettles). Now the brand is owned by Pabst, which contracts (almost) everything out. Now maybe a match under the kettle for a minute or two?
  37. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    They also converted the ex-Schlitz breweries in Longview TX and Van Nuys CA to fire-brewing. Some sources include Memphis and St. Paul (circa 1984 after the trade with Pabst for that ex-Hamm's brewery, they shipped fire-brewed Stroh's in bulk to MN for packaging).

    Stroh announced they were also going to switch over the Winston-Salem brewery but I never found a confirming source. When the ill-fated Coors deal to buy Stroh was announced in 1989, Coors execs made a big deal out of their intention to continue fire-brewing Stroh's.

    Of course by then, their flagship Stroh's Beer (2M bbl) was being outsold by their Old Milwaukee (7M bbl) and Schaefer (3.5M bbl) and tied with Old Milwaukee Light, so they likely had enough capacity in the already converted breweries.
    At some point (80s-90s?) they converted from oil to natural gas, IIRC, but, again, never came across a reliable source.
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  38. moodenba

    moodenba Feb 2, 2015 New York

    Great history of Stroh's. I stand corrected. I read Frances Stroh's "Beer Money"about the company's downfall. After finishing it, I thought Stroh's problems weren't due to any major errors; their downfall was mostly due to being squeezed by the big(ger) guys. I don't remember her mentioning putting good money into retaining fire brewing. THAT was a stupid mistake.
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  39. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Yeah, that book suffered from the same problems as so many other US-published "beer books" on a specific brewery do - more about brewers' families/conflicts and business problems (often a combination of the two) and not much about "beer".

    I knew I was in trouble within the first dozen pages where she talks about visiting the brewery as a young girl with her father. "All through the cavernous space was the pungent scent of hops and wheat." Wait - "wheat", really? At Stroh's flagship Detroit brewery? OK...

    Of course, only a few pages earlier she wrote:

    "The majority of Stroh's brands targeted inner-city subcultures, the blue-collar segment and - because the beer was cheap - college kids."

    Whoa. Poor, little rich girl. When I read that, I thought to myself:
    "Yeah, OK - and that was unlike other US breweries how exactly?"
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  40. crazyspicychef

    crazyspicychef Sep 27, 2012 Pennsylvania

    My bad