If you’ve been following my beer blog for a while, you’ve noticed I like good beers, often times ones that are on the expensive side. Sure, when I want a beer, I want it to be something I’ll really enjoy, and that usually means something that doesn’t include the American “macro” beers (you know… Bud, Bud Light, MGD, MGD Light, etc etc etc etc etc etc). That said, I do enjoy the “classics” from time to time when the atmosphere is right: tailgating, going to the Brick, camping, things like that. If I have a choice of my canned cheap beer, it’s usually Old Style. I actually don’t mind Old Style and I try to keep some on hand at least through the summer when I want to have a nice tall glass of ice water beer.
All kidding aside, my first experience with beer was as a little kid (pre-5 years old) and my dad would line up little plastic medicine cups from time to time and pour us a bit of beer. We hated it, of course, but it was a fun game and I remember it fondly today in my early 30′s. I think my dad’s usual beers back then were Pabst and maybe even Old Style.
A while back I heard that Pabst was rebranding Schlitz, taking it out of the cans it has been sold exclusively in since 1998, and using the “classic” recipe to brew it. Schlitz in a can is pretty vile stuff. In a taste test I did @ the Brick last year (sadly, before my beer blogging days had started), I tried a handful of canned beers and Schlitz was the worst of the bunch except for Olympia, which is very close to being completely undrinkable. Natural Light was even better, and Natty was my “go to” beer before I rediscovered my enjoyment of Old Style.
In any case, I was wandering the aisles of Lukas Liquors today and lo and behold, the new bottled Schlitz! I was pretty excited, I won’t lie, but I was thoroughly surprised to see that a 6-pack cost $6! For another $2-$3 you can get a sixer of hundreds of different incredible beers @ Lukas! What a rip! But, in the interest of journalism, I picked some up along with a bomber of Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s Tripel (to be tasted against Boulevard’s Long Strange Tripel in a few weeks) and Schlafly’s Pilsner (which was only $1.50 more than the Schlitz!).
Once I got over the sticker shock, I cooled it for a while in the fridge (probably to about the same temperature as I drink most of my beers… low 60′s… a somewhat ballsy prospect for an American macro beer, which is generally best enjoyed as close to absolute zero as is possible. Being in a nostalgic mood, my glassware of choice was one of those vintage-style miniature pilsner type glasses that hold about 1/2 a bottle (I’ve been to bars that still sell Natty Light off the keg in glasses like that for 50 cents a pop!). My wonderful girlfriend bought me a set of Old Style glasses and a pitcher for Christmas last year, and it seemed like a perfect time to use such glassware.
I knew the beer would pour light yellow and fizzy, but the Schlitz poured clear and damn colorless! The picture above doesn’t really give an accurate color profile because that yellow is a heck of a lot darker than the way it really poured. I guarantee you’ve peed more yellow than this beer. The head was a typical white, rocky, weak head that disappeared quickly.
The aroma… it really did take me back to 1978, I think. Just like I remember smelling on my dad’s beers as a tot (I hope you don’t get the impression that my dad was a drunk… he enjoyed a beer or two after work like a normal guy, but I don’t I’ve ever seen him more than lightly buzzed in my life). Nothing really to say about the aroma except that it smells like nostalgia! No hops, no malt, no esters… just American macro all the way.
The flavor was light years better than Schlitz in a can, but still no match of Old Style, in my opinion. Don’t buy Schlitz thinking it’s going to be something special, and I’ll tell you right now that the $6 asking price is $3 too much. The nostalgia and fun is worth the price, but it’s really nothing you can’t get from 100 other American lagers…. no aroma, thin, watery body, clear, nearly colorless in the class, and essentially flavor-free with the exception of maybe a little corn and a little rice thrown in there. It’s 4.7%ABV and leaves a little goober in my throat, but there is no real aftertaste and I think it’s a miracle that a brewery can brew a 4.7% beer with almost no character, flavor or aroma whatsoever. If it wasn’t $1/bottle I could see myself enjoying this as a lawnmower beer in the summer, but there really isn’t much here except for marketing hype, honestly.