DRAFT PICKS: So, I guess I am a beer snob

I  get quite a bit of flak for being a “beer snob.”

I don’t think I am, but ... I guess I’ll simply embrace the description and “own” it.

The reason I’m considered snobbish is that I have written less than glowingly about what I call “industrial beer” — most of the beer manufactured and sold in these United States.

Look, classmates, the beer we are talking about today is called in the industry American Adjunct Lager.

This isn’t what I call it. American Adjunct Lager is the classification or categorization in the industry.

So what is “adjunct beer?”

Well, the dictionary defines “adjunct” as “ ... a thing added to something else as a supplementary rather than an essential part.”

In short, stuff is added to Adjunct Lagers in order to ... um ... er ...fill them out. In large part, rice and/or corn are added to the brewing process — sometimes as much as 30-50 percent of the mash is made up of rice or corn. This creates a rather sweet-ish almost sugary pop-style beer.

And people got used to it.

Adjunct beers are generally quite low in the basic ingredients that actually make good beer — such as hops and malted barley. That stuff costs money, so using the basic beer ingredients as they should be used cuts into the profit margin!

As a result, many beer manufacturers create a “typical” American beer — carbonated, lightly hops-flavored Kool Aid!

Sorry. I’m a snob.

And that, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is why full-bodied, creative craft beers packed with REAL flavor are slowly but surely taking over more and more of the market share.

‘Cause they taste good ... like real beer.

Look, adding adjunct materials to beer reminds me of a holiday cooking situation. Suddenly more guests than expected show up and mom simply adds a cup or two of water to the soup, and another few potatoes to the roast pan.

Nothing really changed, but everything got a bit thinner and watered down. Still, “American beer” still remains popular.

Great! More power to them.

I’ll stick with the stuff that tastes good!

Here are the top 10 American Adjunct Lagers as polled by the good people at Beer Advocate.

  • Budweiser
  • Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR)
  • Corona
  • Miller High Life
  • Red Stripe Jamaican Lager
  • Rolling Rock Extra Pale
  • Coors
  • Dos Equis Special Lager     .
  • Miller Genuine Draft
  • Labatt Blue

Now ... try something with flavor!

Ichabod Ale

New Holland Brewing Company


It’s getting to be that time of year — when many, many breweries release there often seasonal pumpkin-style brews.

New Holland has been turning out Ichabod Pumpkin Ale for a while now and, in my opinion, have managed to get the wrinkles well ironed out of this brew.

They are producing a REAL beer, that still has the special qualities of a pumpkin ale. (We’ll discuss the whole pumpkin spice thing at a little later date.)

Ichabod pours a clear, crisp deep reddish color — I might call this mahogany. It really is a wonderful, deep, almost exotic and tempting color.

There is a very good amount of head which maintains for a decent amount of time — enough to make good use of in the scenting.

Ichabod really is a fine looking ale.

OK. You’re going to expect a pumpkin aroma from a pumpkin ale, right?

It is here, but not as “smack you in the face” as some of the seasonal pumpkin brews out there.

There is a certain subtlety to this brew, while not withholding the pumpkin pie spices. There is a degree of autumn wrapped up in this complex blend of smells. Pie. A hint of the pumpkin patch with a touch of earthiness. Some gentle yeastiness.

It’s nice!

As in the scenting, the pumpkin pie flavor leads the way with up-front hints of cinnamon, some cloves (or is it nutmeg?) and a lot of the caramel tastes so up there in this type of brew.

But — and I’m going to have a hard time explaining myself here - Ichabod seems more ... genuine. The range of tastes blend well, but are subtle enough to still give the explorer a wide-open view of the ale. This isn’t simply pumpkin pie flavored Kool Aid!

It is an ale the is proud of its roots, while not being to withdrawn to try on a new set of flavors.

The distinct pumpkin pie taste is just strong enough to stick around with a touch of a spicy aftertaste. It lingers a while, and pleasantly so.

This is a nice example of this genre. VERY nice.

It will be a great one to serve around an autumn campfire, just a little damp outside, and at that stage when we’re first starting to really realize that winter is on its way.

Highly recommend as a treat, or sessional offering.


Greenbush Brewing Company


I don’t know what the Greenbush people are angry about. It can’t be this brew!

In a word, Anger is yummy.

I had a guest who is not a beer drinker, (at all! as in never), take a sip of this Greenbush offering. Even he admitted it was “creamy.”

I don’t care what it is called, Anger made me happy!

The brew poured, (as my crazy Uncle Louis, the Hungarian garbageman used to say), “... blacker than the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat.”

Black. Completely. No nothing other than black.

There was a ton of head. Lots, and lots, and lots of foam. The kind you have to wait a while to venture into.

LOTS of foam. LOTS of lacing.

There is a malty aroma that is really the lead to this brew. Anger is promoted as a “Black IPA” yet there is very little hoppiness, and frankly I would place this in the Black Ale category. (A later check has Beer Advocate’s team categorizing this as an American Black Ale.)

The scents and aromas are quite subtle, but there is a stronger drift of roasted malt and a strong hint of coffee or espresso.

It’s good there is the hint of coffee in the scenting, because the strong coffee flavor fairly beats you in the palate.

If you don’t like coffee, you might not want to buy this brew.

It is heavily coffee-esque.

If you stick with the tasting in a serious fashion, there are other elements here. Certainly some chocolate, but also gentle and very subdued touches of citrus in the not-to-hidden background.

There is a rich, creamy mouth feel to Anger.

This is really the kind of beer that I lean toward. No apologies.

Anger would go very well with a more smoky meat dish — such as am ale based stew, or a well braised cut of meat.

It also could well hold its own as a more dessert-style ale — with a carefully chosen final dish. Not a fruit pie or something of that sort, but something more custard based.