Sunday, September 13, 2009

Store Bought Beer

I don't often buy beer from the store. With my increased brewing schedule, I am finding that I have more selections than small brew pubs. I never was one to regularly buy beer, anyway. So, it is actually a treat to have store-bought beer in my fridge. As I said last week, my friend Todd brought some store-bought beer to my small Labor Day get together. I like when people bring their bought beers as I get to try stuff I wouldn't necessarily choose for myself. Todd brought two very different beers, again, which is extremely appreciated. The two selections were Molson Canadian, and Red Hook ESB. As Todd said, "one is from our youth", the other is just opposite of that.

Drinking Molson

Molson Canadian was a staple from our youth in Southeastern Michigan. It was my 3rd favorite Canadian Beer growing up (after Labatt's Blue and Moosehead), but today I appreciated its fuller flavor. Molson used to be an independent brewery, but is now part of the Miller/MolsonCoors megaconglomerate international brewery family....which seems to change names every two weeks....I think it is now referred to as MolsonCoors (formerly MillerCoors before Molson).

I poured my last bottle of Molson Canadian Lager into a standard straight-sided pint glass. I was struck by the fact that there was nearly no aroma from the freshly poured and chilled lager. As it warmed, it smelled like beer...that is, the smell of beer imprinted on the memory, that is like a bar after closing before clean up. The beer was a deep golden color, clear, and is deeper than most American Lagers with a white loose bubbled head that dissipated to a thin film and disappeared altogether within minutes of the pour. No head, no lacing, nothing.

The taste had a slight bitterness which subsided quickly to a fruity/sweet malt flavor and a slight hop taste. The aftertaste lingers and it is that familiar beer smell/taste that is not altogether pleasant. The mouthfeel is thin, tinny, and carbonated, not unlike any American Pilsner Style Lager.

Now it sounds like I don't like this beer, but that isn't true. This ranks among the better of the mass produced American crowd (on par, I would say with Pabst Blue Ribbon). It is a slightly heavier than the rest of the brethren, which I appreciate. It is this quality that is the reason why I remember it as my 3rd favorite Canadian Beer. Recently, my tastes have changed. This beer reminds me of my youth, and that isn't an altogether bad thing.

Red Hook ESB (Extra Special Bitter)

Red Hook is one of the early microbreweries out of the Pacific Northwest and their ESB has been around a long time. It isn't my first time trying it, but I can't remember when I last did. I also, like the Canadian poured this beer into a straight-sided pint glass. It had a malty aroma, I didn't smell hops. Its appearance was a orange color, crystal clear, and a thin head that left slight lacing to the sides of the glass.

The flavor was bitter (hence the name and the Pacific Northwest Origin) and malty, and the flavor and aroma blossomed as the glass warmed to also have a slight alcohol warmth with it. The hops flavor was tobaccoey and was totally appropriate for the English style. I don't know if it uses English hops, but if not, it was reminiscent of English hops. The mouthfeel was thin, and it had a standard carbonation which is more carbonation than I would have liked for the style.

Overall, I find Redhook's ESB a nicely rounded ESB. Most ESB's I have had recently have emphasied the Extra and Special, either too highly hopped, or too strong of a beer for my tastes. Lately, and as a result of my recent ESB tastes, I have been avoiding the style. Redhook's emphasis was definately on the traditional definition of bitter with a stronger starting gravity and increased IBU's to balence the malt bill.

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