Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Budweiser Alternative - Brooklyn Pilsner

I'm getting a little sick and tired of those Budweiser "Great American Lager" ads - you know, the ones where that smug idiot stands there and tries to convince everybody (and likely himself) that Budweiser is superior to "darker, cloudier beers" because lighter beers like Budweiser don't "mask flaws" like those other beers do.

What a bunch of bullshit.

For one thing, there's really no such thing as an "American-style Lager", as Budweiser refers to it in the ads. At least not as an actual beer category. Go ahead, Google it. What you'll find is a Wikipedia page that was first written in December of 2006 (and initially edited largely by one person), a couple of articles referring to said Wikipedia page, a few older posts and articles derisively referring to "American-style lager" not in any formal way but as a colloquialism, and then Budweiser's own site. You see the pattern here? Budweiser invented this term to explain away why their beer tastes like water. There are no real distinguishing characteristics to "American lager" other than a lack of taste. And that just arose from the two or three early major brewing companies cutting corners and using cheap ingredients like corn and rice in their beers, instead of proper hops and barley.

A little beer lesson for those coming here through Google. There are really only two kinds of beer: ale and lager. Everything else is a style of one of those two beer types. Even stouts, which are ales. Pilsners are lagers. What distinguishes an ale from a lager is the process used to make each. But effectively speaking, ales are sweet, lagers are dry and bitter.

If you want a "light" American beer (not a "lite" American beer) - and really, there is nothing wrong with that - you should drink this:

Yep, that's Brooklyn Pilsner. Budweiser is also just a (really bad) Pilsner, whatever they want to say about being "American-style Lager" - they always just called themselves a Pilsner before. Pilsner is already a light lager. The difference is Brooklyn Pilsner actually has taste.

I've been a fan of the Brooklyn Brewery for a while now, and not just because they're from Brooklyn. (Most of their beer, including the Pilsner, is actually brewed upstate in Utica.) I know I went on and on a while back about Japanese beers, all of which are also light lagers, but Brooklyn Pilsner is probably even better. It also has the advantage of being pretty widely available. Yeah, you might need to go to your local "beverage" store, but it's not at all hard to find. And this is really a top quality beer, not just "for an American beer", but I'd hold this up to any Pilsner you could dig up from anywhere around the world. (Remember, don't believe all you read on beer rating sites. Their results are skewed by a few people who believe that good beer has to look and taste like used motor oil. They never rate any pilsners very highly.)

Brooklyn Pilsner tastes extremely clean, like a Pilsner should, and is quite dry. The overall taste is pretty malty. The finish is very bitter, which may be an acquired taste, but this is the way lager is supposed to be. What the bitter finish does, though, is just make you want to drink more. By the end of a bottle, you feel as if your palette has actually been cleansed by the beer. That's pretty much exactly what Budweiser wants you to think about their beer in their new ads, but Brooklyn Pilsner's got about five times more taste and none of the skunk. I don't even think it's possible to skunk a Brooklyn Pilsner; I've never had one that was.

The great thing about Pilsners is that they go with pretty much any kind of food. That's probably why they're so popular around the world, and it's why Brooklyn Pilsner's become sort of my default beer now. (I was drinking Brooklyn Lager, and I still like it a lot, but it's a little too heavy for some foods.) Now look at this - this is what I call a winter meal:

Mmmm, chili under all that cheese, corn bread and an ice cold Brooklyn Pilsner. It don't get no better!


  1. Anonymous7:23 PM

    There actually are quite a few different styles of recognized "American Lager" including a "Lite American Lager." If you look ip the BJCP Style Guide theyre actually a 1B and a 1A respectively. There is also a 1C which is a Premium American Lager. So even though you may not like Budweiser, American Lager is a style and is not marketing BS.

  2. The BJCP has existed since 1985.

    Beer itself is hundreds, if not thousands of years old.

    The BJCP itself is marketing BS.

  3. Anonymous2:37 PM

    I had my first Budweiser Pilsner today for the first time. I got it to try it out. We'll argue until we're blue in the face about whether or not there is such a thing as an "American" style beer. My comment is: Budweiser Pilsner is processed horse water, only I didn't use the term water when I was asked about what I thought.

  4. Are you talking about Brooklyn Pilsner or Budweiser? There's no such thing as "Budweiser Pilsner" that I've ever seen. Budweiser is a pilsner already.

    This post is about Brooklyn Pilsner. If you're talking about Budweiser, then I agree with you.

  5. Unless you're talking about Budweiser Budvar, which is a whole different thing entirely. Not even the same Budweiser. But I'm just confused about what you meant.

    I've never tried Budvar.


About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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