Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Budweiser? Yes, Budweiser, for your consideration

Yesterday a bunch of us went out to lunch and I had the opportunity to sample a brew I had not had before. Here are some very subjective tasting notes.

Venue: Charlie Brown's steakhouse restaurant (Old Tappan, NJ). One person in our party remarked that the room seemed a bit warmer than we had expected, given past experiences elsewhere and the cold temperatures outside.

Under test: Budweiser American Ale, 16 oz., on draft.

About the name: Fox News was nowhere within sight at the time, though there were little popup cards on the table with a picture of Uncle Sam in his customary posture. It seems to me the kind of thing that every native son should be having this week into next if the opportunity presents itself.

Color: Amber, distinctly tending toward the red end of the spectrum, contrasting greatly with the pale insipid straw color of the Bud Light one of my lunch companions was having.

Body: Of medium density, though not really what anyone would consider heavy. The appearance was slightly cloudy, leading one to speculate to what degree it has been subjected to filtration. The person sitting to my right complained that the glasses were cold enough to support ice crystals, which while exaggerated might have something to do with the sensation of specific gravity.

Head: Almost minimal, maybe 0.5 cm on top, which is more or less incidental. It seems to me that with heavier bodied beers (porters and stouts) the head has a stronger influence on the taste of the brew by skimming off some of the ingredients, but not in this case.

Temperature: Rather cold, with a good deal of condensation on the outside of the glass.

First impression: The first sip had an impact that was somewhat substantial, clean without being soapy, just a slight amount toward the acid as is typical of many ales. No metallic or harsh notes noted, making it seem like more of a European style beer with a sort of elegance.

Hops: Were there hops? I didn't notice too much of the puckery feel, but there must have been some of this going on. Someone asked me how the beer was and I said that it tasted "red," kind of the way it looks, though not as much as that other ersatz European-style product, Killian's. Is it caramel?

Finish: Pretty clean and short-lived. It was not one of those kinds that had me reaching for the plate of salty things from the salad bar to counteract the aftertaste.

Food pairing: It might not be substantial enough to stand on its own, but seemed to go pretty well with the grilled tuna salad I was having, better than a lager would have I think. If you were having something heavy like a cheeseburger or a Sicilian pizza it probably would be overwhelmed flavor-wise.

Satisfaction: I only had the one, but I am a lightweight that way. But beer is not the kind of thing that really makes me want to have a number of rounds.

Aftereffects: Conviviality enhanced, somewhat toward the silly end of the spectrum. It was not so strong as to have obscured my memories of what went on or led to anything I much regret. I had a strong coffee about an hour later, much appreciated. A drink always makes me want to lie in bed a little longer when the alarm goes off the next morning.

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