Sunday, January 20, 2008

BEWARE! Sneaky Seasonal Beer Can Ruin Your Winter!!!

Lately The Wife and I have been enjoying a lot of the seasonal beers that various breweries have been releasing for Fall and Winter, such as Magic Hat's Jinx, Red Hook's Winter Ale, Sam Adams' Autumn and Winter beers. There's something about a smooth ale with a little hint of spice that's perfect for a cool afternoon.

So, one day a few months ago at the local Publix, I spied a new seasonal six-pack there in the midst of all the import and micro-brews: Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale. The Wife was full-on Jonesing for Sam's Octoberfest at the time, and they were all sold out, so I figured, "That looks like it might be pretty good."

Boy was I wrong.

Back at home, I cracked open the first bottle and took a sip and almost gagged. The taste of pumpkin was overwhelming--as if they'd brewed the stuff straight from discarded jack-o-lanterns and left out the barley. And, while a hint of spice is pretty good in a beer, this was a jackboot of cinnamon and ginger right in the snoot. Garrgh!

About then I noticed up in the upper right corner of the label: "Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis Missouri". Now, I've got nothing against old A-B. I'll drink a Budweiser every now and again. It's a nice accompaniment for fishing or shooting pool. I'm not proud. But, what irks me is the way the "seasonal brew" was slipped right there in the middle of all the German imports and small batch microbrews rather than being down with the Miller and Coors and Schlitz when it belongs.

The six-pack--now a five-pack--languished in the back of the garage beer fridge for weeks. At some point I thought to myself, "how bad could it be?" and, since all the rest of my beer stash was gone (how does that keep happening?), I thought I'd give it a second try. Three sips in, I wondered, "why am I putting myself through this?"--and down the drain it went. I can't remember the last time I poured out an uncompleted beer, and not another option in the house, to boot!

The rest is still out there, waiting for the unsuspecting house guest I can fob it off on. I tried my best over the Christmas holidays, but everyone kept opting for the Sam Adams or the Sierra Nevada or the Palmetto Pale Ale. Go figure.

Today, back at the Publix checking out the beer options, I noticed a new variety up there amid the Warsteiner and the Fuller's and the Anchor Steam: "Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale." Sounds interesting . . . checked the label text: "aged on bourbon cask staves and whole Madagascar vanilla . . ." Vanilla, in beer--might be good, could be a little cloying . . . wait a second, cloying . . . yep, there's the old Anheuser-Busch logo right up there in the corner of the label.

Sorry, fellas. Fool me once . . .

(Sidenote: "Madagascar vanilla" sounds pretty exotic, doesn't it--till you look it up in Wikipedia and realize Madagascar is far and away the world's largest vanilla producer, putting out some 59% of the world's supply. By law, bourbon whiskey has to be aged at least four years in "virgin" [new] oak barrels, so the barrels have to be discarded after their first use, making them, by my way of thinking, pretty much scrap lumber. But it sounds good on the label.)


The Wife said...

Ok, now I'm thirsty. There better be some Sam Adams Winter in the beer fridge.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

Well, there is . . . but I got this great pumpkin ale I think you'd REALLY love!

Steve said...

Yeah Coor's employs similar sneaky tactics with their Blue Moon brand. Nobody seems to know that Blue Moon is made by the same guys that crank out Coor's Light.

Scott said...

My curiousity got the better of me the other day and I finally tried the Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale. Fortunately it wasn't really heavy on the pumpkin flavor. Quite nice actually.

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