Budweiser, to a craft beer drinker, and indeed anyone who might refer to themselves as a “beer writer,” is supposed to be anathema.
It is a relatively bland beer brewed with a rice adjunct and it has the distinction of being one of the world’s most popular beers largely by virtue of the fact that it is backed by millions and millions of dollars in marketing. It is brewed en masse, it is distributed by a foreign-owned multinational conglomerate, and its advertisements typically run the lowest common-denominator range of blatantly sexual or related to sports–and often blatantly sexual and related to sports at the same time.
Budweiser is the epitome of a “big brewery beer,” and essentially stands in opposition to all the things about the beer business that I like.
I should hate it.
I’ve been craving a cold Bud lately.
The fact is, Budweiser was actually probably one of my first loves. My earliest memories of beer are stealing sips from my father’s can of Bud as a kid and most of my memories of the Johnson side of my family involve a bunch of cousins and uncles around a pool table in a basement somewhere with a Bud-stocked fridge nearby.
Throughout my later high school years, along with scoring weed, figuring out a way to get our hands on a 2-4 of Bud (and occasionally a 2-8 for the same price!) ranked among my friends’ top priorities on a Friday night.
Even into university, out at a packed student bar or even taking refuge in a divey pub, long-neck bottles of Bud were always my standby. Indeed, aside from a forgettable foray into the beers distributed by Diageo that I largely drank for free when I bartended at an “Irish bar,” Budweiser was my beer before I discovered craft beer and became one of those craft beer evangelicals that never ceases to offer up a detailed explanation of what he is drinking and why.
And so, for reasons that are probably not unrelated to the fact that I’ve been marathoning Sons of Anarchy–a show which enjoys some seriously gratuitous Bud product-placement–, I decided to pick myself up a six-pack of the self-titled King of Beers and give it an actual tasting to see if any of my happy memories would hold up to the discerning tongue of my now-snobby self.
Out of the bottle, Bud pours a really watery straw colour. I expected Bud to look a little on the pale side and remembered it as such, but I was actually surprised at how little colour there was to it. It also had near perfect clarity. Perhaps it’s a by-product of regularly drinking unfiltered beers and thicker porters and stouts, but I was downright amazed at how damn clear this beer is. I know it’s not an indicator of quality (and could in fact be the opposite), but truth be told there was something inviting about such a clean looking glass of beer. It also poured with a good amount of foamy white head but that quickly disappeared.
Also, it should be noted that in order to enjoy Bud in a manner that is appropriate, I drank it as cold as possible, directly after a long day of work. I didn’t have a pick-up truck on which to lean while doing so–what I imagine would be the optimal setting for consumption, ideally listening to Kid Rock–so I just put on some overalls and propped one foot up on my couch while listening to Bob Seger. It seemed to work.
The aroma of Budweiser, or what there is of it, is really sweet. There isn’t a ton of smell coming off a glass of Bud, but if one tries hard enough, one might discern hints of smells that you might expect from a really mild wheat beer. It’s a sort of fresh smell, and there’s a hint of malt, maybe a suggestion of fruit, but nothing obvious.
Budweiser is really quite sweet-tasting at first. There are some hints of fruit here again, maybe a little Juicy Fruit gum taste…But honestly, it’s really hard to taste this beer. And I mean that in every sense of the word. It’s difficult to do a detailed tasting and it’s literally hard to discern any taste.
There is an extremely mild hop bitterness in the beer’s aftertaste and virtually no mouthfeel. It’s a weird sensation trying to drink Budweiser critically, because it really is something like a non-beer. I sucked down over half the beer just trying to make some tasting notes. There’s just nothing that stands out about this beer. But what was most interesting to me was that, far from finding that offensive, I was shocked to discover that I was vaguely impressed.
Don’t get me wrong, I still favour a beer with, you know, flavour, and I find the idea of giving my money to massive, foreign-owned macrobreweries skin-crawling when I could be supporting hard working local guys and gals, but there really is nothing offensive about the taste of a Budweiser. It’s actually sort of intriguing how easy it was to drink one. And when I finished my official tasting and put on an episode of Sons of Anarchy, I’ll admit I cracked a second one.