Archive for February, 2012


Great American Macro Taste-Off, 2012 edition

Here’s the setup: My so and I have been wanting to do this for a while, taste test a variety of American macro lagers and determine a favorite; a best of the worst if you will. The competition was fierce and limited to what we could buy in 24oz cans that didn’t say ‘light’ on it. The decision was made that the tastings would be blind, we would each take notes, rank, and then compare our rankings to determine a winner. After traveling to several nearby gas stations we had our lineup.


Natural Ice


Pabst Blue Ribbon




Miller High Life


Predictions were that Yuengling would win followed by PBR with Natty Ice the expected last place finish. Cups were marked, beer was poured, and cups were mixed up.

Tasting Notes

I’ll post some tasting note highlights as most of these beers are remarkably similar.

Landshark: hint of lime in the taste, sweet corn malt

Miller High Life: light funk in the nose and taste, a bit bready, very highly carbed (highest of group)

Yuengling: amber color (the only not yellow colored one), lots of malty biscuit and bread tones, the most flavorful

PBR: very little smell with only wet old bread coming out, watery and old tasting, worst beer of the group

Natty Ice: prominent lager yeast in the nose, one of the cleanest smelling and tasting in the group, some ‘old’ aftertaste

Coors: good amount of lager yeast, lots of sweet corn malt (the sweetest and corniest of them all)

Budweiser: sharp very high carb mouthfeel and watery, otherwise middle of the road


  1. Yuengling
  2. Coors
  3. Landshark
  4. Natty Ice
  5. Budweiser
  6. Miller High Life
  7. PBR


First off, this was fun as hell and a bit surprising. Yuengling was easy to pick out in both taste, flavorful all grain malt, and color. Natty Ice scored surprisingly well with nothing terribly wrong about it. The big shocker was PBR’s extremely poor showing. In the past PBR has been my cheap beer of choice until it was replaced about a year ago by Genesee Cream Ale. Blind tasting showed it to be inferior to the other macros with a noticeable funky old taste. I also discovered that I detest super carbed lagers, Budweiser and Miller High Life were the main offenders here.

It should be noted that none of these beers blew the others out of the water and they are all pretty bad beers with the top scoring maybe a C on my rating scale.


Thisted Bryghus Limfjordsporter

This is a special one folks, one of the few really good Danish macro brews. I had this brought over from Denmark by my friend Jens who visited me for a week in late January. As a sign of good faith I sent him back with a Founder’s Breakfast Stout. As with all beers this one has a story attached to it.

This beer was introduced to me by Jim, an American friend I made during my semester in Copenhagen who had been living in Scandinavia for the last 5 or so years. He helped show me the ropes and it was nice to have someone to talk to with a shared cultural vocabulary. When Jim and myself were in the city and we needed to kill some time (too cold to just hang around outside in Copenhagen) we would stop by a bodega near Studenterhuset and one of the post offices and it was a 50/50 shot as to whether I ordered a Tuborg Classic or Limfjordsporter. Bodega’s are the Danish equivalent of a dive bar but with less seediness, more like a small local pub. These days they are the only bars that allow smoking and they have kept their local crowd. Lots of wood and smoke in a Bodega and also the cheapest beer you can buy outside of the supermarket. Average price of 20-25 DKK (about $5 when I was there) for regular beer and 25-30 for a ‘luxury’ beer. It feels good to hold one of the heavy standardized Danish beer bottles with their characteristic rough worn areas, been at least 8 months since I’ve done that.

Limfjordsporter pours a near pitch black with a strong brown/tan head. The smell is decidedly smokey with some sweet malt hiding behind. The smell is fairly close to a ruachbier but less aggressive. The taste is bitter, smokey and alcohol forward. Some coffee tones and even liquorice here but smokiness dominates. Simple and effective combo but a bit boozy. Mouthfeel is heavy in body, medium carb, and somewhat creamy.

I’m a bit biased when it comes to this one as it reminds me of good times abroad. This is a good foreign stout that isn’t too complicated yet interestingly smokey. Perhaps a bit too boozy but still a very good beer, especially for a Danish macro.

Man do I want to go back and visit the frozen North.

Rating: A


Southwestern Rice

I got a rice cooker for Christmas and I’ve been experimenting around with it beyond just making white rice. Tonight I looked up some rice cooker recipes so I could do an all-in-one dish. I ended up finding quite a few on including one for an American SW style Rice dish.


  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1.5 cups white rice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 15oz black beans, drained
  • 10oz diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 10oz corn, drained
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)


Put approx 1/4 of chopped onions and green peppers to the side. Put all ingredients except for the beans, corn, and set aside onions and peppers into the rice cooker and cook. Stir in beans and corn and serve, garnishing with uncooked onion and pepper.

Notes: this barely fits in a 3 cup rice cooker for the initial cook, a 5 cup would be better allowing you to mix in the cooker.


Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider

Switching gears today to do a cider review. Now for those of you not in the know, cider isn’t just unfiltered apple juice, it’s also an alcoholic beverage that is particularity popular in the UK. On my side of the pond cider is starting to become more popular with nationally distributed brands such as Woodchuck and Hornsby. Once American women discover cider the mixed drink will have met its match. On to the review.

Comes out of a typical sized Samuel Smith bottle of 550ml: certified organic. Poured into my plastic PBR tumbler (fancy). This cider pours a crystal clear gold/yellow with a small white frothy head that disappears quickly. It does keep a ring and some skim for quite some time. So far all is to style. Smells of apples (granny smith), some dryness and some sweetness. Taste is very dry with green apples and some residual sweetness. Mouhfeel is dry, tart, and features high carbonation and an extremely light body.

Not a bad cider, and definitely on the English dry side. I tend to prefer sweeter ciders but this is definitely the best dry cider I have had easily trumping Strongbow, Woodchuck and Hornsbys. A no frills dry cider This actually tastes similar to cider that I made, though without the funkiness I accidentally created.

Rating: B+


Beer Reviews: Sweetwater Happy Ending, Terrapin Hopsecutioner, North Coast Old Rasputin

I let some of my beer reviews ‘pile up’ and though I’d do a quick dump of them here. These were taken from my BeerAdvocate where I do most of my reviews. The ones here are supposed to be more pictorial in nature, need to get on that… As a side note, Terrapin is another company that is being played around with by a Macro with MillerCoors owning a minority share in the brewery.

SweetWater Happy Ending, American Imperial Stout

22oz bomber (wax top!) into New Belgium snifter, 2012 batch
Appearance is an almost black color with a brown head. Leaves a strong brown and creamy lacing. Smell is lightly roasted malt and lots of bright, citrusy hops. Taste is some nice mellow roasted malt (some coffee, some vanilla) riding on top of a dark hoppy wave. Hops are citrusy, lemon and grapefruit, has some of that almost metallic RIS tone and medium alcohol presence. Mouthfeel is full body and extremely creamy, all together a very pleasant and soft mouthfeel.
O: This one surprised me with its hoppiness given the RIS branding. It manages to stay out of Black IPA territory with its creamy mouthfeel is heavy body. Altogether a substantial beer with lots of hops that keep it from being oppressive.

Rating: A-

Terrapin Hopsecutioner, American IPA

on-tap in tumbler at Flying Saucer in Raleigh

Appearance is a clear amber with next to no head, more of a skim really. Some lacing in the beginning. Smell is lots of hops, as to be expected, that are mostly citrusy: a tendency towards grapefruit. Taste is hoppy with the grapefruit tones dominant and a hint of pineapple. The surprise in the taste is that there is a actually a ton of malt (caramel?) presence in this beer, maybe too much? Mouthfeel is somewhat heavy for the style with medium-low carbonation and lots of hop oils.
O:This is quite similar to Bell’s Two Hearted in profile, but not as good. A good IPA but not a great one, the malt sorta weirded me out.

Rating: B

North Coast Old Rasputin, Russian Imperial Stout

on-tap (nitro) in tumbler at Flying Saucer Raleigh

Pours a beautiful three layers: a black bottom, a black/brown middle where the nitro effect is on full display with large round bubbles cascading downwards, and a creamy tan head that leaves extremely strong speckled creamy lace. Wow. Smell is a good amount of roasted malt: some dark chocolate, cream, hints of coffee. Taste has lots of the Russian Imperial Stout metallic sharpness and a big warming alcohol presence. Good amount of roast malt, coffee, in the taste with some nice liquorice. As it warms the liquorice really comes out and complements to beer nicely. Mouthfeel is über creamy and quite low carb.

O:This is the prettiest beer I have ever seen and definitely the best RIS I have had a chance to drink. In the dark world I think I prefer Founder’s Breakfast Stout, but when compared to Old Rasputin, Breakfast Stout’s coffee, oatmeal, and chocolate almost come off as gimmicky. Old Rasputin is a legend and must have.

Rating: A+


Goose Island Matilda

Tonight I’m cracking open a Goose Island Matilda, a Belgian strong pale ale. Goose Island Brewery is sorta famous in the craft world for being the craft beer of choice in Chicago, and for being bought by Anheuser-Busch InBev as part of a new trend of the macros experimenting around with established craft beer. I got this beer as part of an attempt to get some Pliny the Elder, I was successful. This will be my first review of a Goose Island beer. On to the review.

The bottle is quite sophisticated and minimalist with an eggshell colored background and a just few lines of text. Nothing in the design jumps out at you but it definitely asserts a certain elegant vibe. This one was bottled on 9/21/11 and given that Goose Island says I can age this for 5 years I should be fine, 7% abv. I chose my New Belgium snifter for this beer. Appearance is an orange/amber with a white head. This is very dark compared to other beers I have had in this style. Smell is quite yeasty with some banana tones, some Candi sweetness is also there. So far the  nose is pretty much to style except there isn’t much malt detectable. Taste is sweet, yeasty, and spicy. As I drink more a certain mellow, subdued fruitiness emerges. It features a moderate level of alcohol and a certain citrusy tartness. Continental hops are barely there, Mouthfeel is high carb, quite dry, and a  bit tart.

This beer fits the style well with its yeasty dryness and prominent alcohol. Given the dryness, this is more of a beer I would pair with food than drink alone. Definitely has a certain Belgian vibe to it. Nice and complex in taste and mouthfeel and I do love the yeast. I’m still not crazy about non-wheat beers that are dry, but this is an improvement over some Belgian pale ales I have had. Makes me want to try a Duvel to see how Matilda matches up to the king of the style.

Rating: B+


21st Amendment Brewery, Brew Free! or Die IPA

So tonight I cracked open the last of the awesomely named Brew Free! or Die IPAs I had in the fridge. They were picked up at Sam’s Quik Shop in Durham about a month ago. (Side note: if you like beer and live in Central NC you owe it to yourself to go and visit). The can features some sweet artwork that features Lincoln busting out of Mt. Rushmore to, I can only assume, grab a brew. Canned on 11/14/11, 7% abv, “IPA with a solid malt backbone & hoppy flavor.” Looks like we can expect a malt forward IPA which should be a nice change from the light and uber-hoppy IPAs I’ve had of late.

The beer pours a clear amber/copper with a nice white head. Lookin’ good so far. The smell is surprisingly malty for an IPA with some nice biscuity/bready tones. At the end of the nose, some earthy pine-like tones emerge from the hops. Taste is deliciously hoppy and bitter with the mellowing malt coming in midway to chill things out. Hops are mainly citrusy with grapefruit tones. I’m really digging the maltiness of this (caramel) which almost leans it towards an English Style IPA but the hops bring it back across the pond. Ends with the nice clean IPA bitterness I’ve come to expect. After a few sips there is some very strong lacing coming from the ring that has replaced the head. Mouthfeel is medium weight with a certain hop oil presence and a mild alcohol presence.

Pic taken on so's Macbook, please excuse image quality

So, this is the only IPA I’ve had in a can, although the super-pale-ale that is Dale’s Pale Ale comes close. It’s still somewhat unusual to see craft beer in a can though this is changing, especially now that Sierra Nevada and New Belgium are rolling out beer in cans. This is an excellent IPA that stands out from the crowd with its DIPA strength malt, definitely something I’d pick up again. Only downside I can find is that the hops are a bit one dimensional.

Rating: A-


February 2012