Friday’s overrated beer: Stella Artois

On the surface, comes across as ironic- a mass-market light lager among a nation of ancient and singular beers, owned by InBev, a brewing juggernaut among farmhouses with vats in them.

But if you spend any time in Belgium, you’ll see that the folks really like their Artois. Stella and inBev co-owned lager Jupiler make up the vast percentage of Belgian beer sales. I guess you can’t drink Tripel every day.

Until the mid ’90s, Stella was rare around these here parts. Times change, however, and now the beer is brewed in Canada and pumped to us through large-diameter pipelines, or so it would seem based on how quickly Stella has saturated the American market.

In truth, it’s a pretty good beer. Fresh-tasting, with a grassy finish, Stella mekes a great summer cooler. But what makes it overrated is the same thing that makes it ironic: Stella rides the reputation of the Belgian brewing tradition- a tradition which, at least in its modern incarnation, the beer completely ignores.

Friday’s overrated beer: Yuengling Lager

I live in Western New York, a region that until three years ago had but a cursory knowledge of Yuengling beers. You could get the lager at about two restaurants, as well as our local beer superstore, but that was pretty much it.

Yuengling, however, made a huge marketing push in our area for their Traditional Lager. Bars had the lager on special all the time, at insanely low prices. Because people are sheep, it soon became the order du jour when out on the town. The campaign was extremely effective, especially among young adults.

Yuengling is America’s oldest brewery. That gives them all the street cred they need, but they can’t really get a pass for their lager. It’s not thin or watery, but it is full of that delicious corn adjunct flavor. Corn corn corn corn corn.

You see, barley, the grain from which beer is made, is a more expensive cereal than corn. So less discriminating breweries use corn to kinda round out the barley. Sometimes you can barely taste it. Other times, as in the case of Yuengling, the corn flavor and aroma grabs you by the nose and shakes you.

Oh, by the way, the Indians call it maize.

So, while not a terrible beer, it’s cheaper and worse than the yuppies who order it think. That’s why I consider Yuengling Lager overrated. I like my corn, err..maize, on the cob, not in the pint glass.

-Mark

Friday’s overrated beer: Carlsberg

Carlsberg is one of the great names in brewing. They perfected a lot of what goes into modern lagers. They’ve funded incredible art museums. Truly a class company.

Too bad their beer is so damn average. It’s very bland, mildly skunky,absolutely unmemorable. That’s the best I can say about it. If you want a good Danish lager, go for Tuborg (which is owned by Carlsberg). Problem is, Tuborg is much harder to find in the States.

Even Carlsberg isn’t sold on their own brand. The slogan is “Probably the best beer in the world.” Probably? Who the hell is their ad agency? I guess, with a beer as average as Carlsberg, you don’t want to overstate the case. People might ask for their money back.

-Mark

Friday’s Overrated Beer: Red Stripe

Ok, we’re starting this again…

This beer is as overrated as a Caribbean vacation. A corny, skunky, utterly sub-average lager made popular by its sun-n’-fun connotations, Red Stripe is like Corona, but without the unique and delicious flavor.

now let’s throw in the lowbrow, borderline racist ad campaign the importes of the Stripe are currently running on nationwide TV. You know, the clown in the sash mugging Jamaicanly for the camera as he hands Red Stripe to the tourist? I can’t put my finger on it, but something about that ad makes my teeth grind.

Bottom line, if you’re not on a cruise ship, or island paradise fenced off from the poverty and misery that surrounds it, you got no business drinking this dishwater. Do us all a favor and find a good Pils.

-Mark

Friday’s overrated beer- Blue Moon

You ever go out with the office crew for Friday happy hour? That one giggly chick always orders She likes the taste and thinks it’s sophisticated. She’s also got a boyfriend, so forget it.

Hey, you like what you like, and what you choose to drink is not a measure of sophistication. But Blue Moon is a pale imitation of Belgian witbeer. Oh, and it’s also a phony microbrewery. The stuff is made by Coors. Think of it as money laundering but with beer.

I can’t really lambaste anyone for enjoying this beer, just don’t expect it to taste authentic; its like lasagna from the Olive Garden. If you want to try a real Belgian wit, go for You can thank me later.

-Mark

Friday’s overrated beer: Heineken

It’s a sad situation. Many four-star restaurants will boast a wine list that resembles the US Tax Code, and yet carry only three beers. Since these are classy restaurants, one of them will be an “import.” That import is almost always Heineken.

Now Heineken isn’t bad per se, but it has some, shall we say, questionable flavor characteristics. Out of the tap, it tastes like nothing. You might as well be drinking Fosters. When served from those green bottles,the UV rays of the sun break down the hop compounds, and Heineken takes on a characteristic skunky taste that some people swear is part of the flavor profile.

Love it or kinda like it, Heineken will always be that one import you get at the wedding reception’s open bar. It will be the beer you order on the plane. And trust me, over the course of your life you’ll order it again and again, usually because there’s nothing better on that anemic index card that all to often passes as a beer menu.

-Mark

Friday’s overrated beer: Sam Adams Lager

The American beer scene of a couple decades ago was pretty bleak. Imports were sparse and expensive, no micros to speak of, and the closest anyone got to actually appreciating it was “Bud Bowl.” Then Jim Koch changed everything.

Never mind the fruity-looking patriot on the bottle. When first appeared, it was like the gates of heaven had opened. Balanced, dark, delicious, it quickly became a favorite among the trendy set and the beer afficianados. For years, Sam Adams remained a viable choice on any tap set.

Then something went wrong. Horribly wrong. Perhaps it’s because they started letting Genesee (now ) contract brew the stuff. Perhaps it got lost in Marketing’s frenzied push to increase the Boston Beer Company’s product range. It just slid right of the hill. It’s nice that tey use Hallertau hops and all, but what was once a flavorful, complex lager nows seems cloying, a tad syrupy, with a weird finish.

Sam Adams is still held in very high esteem, and granted, I haven’t ordered one in about four years, so maybe it’s good again. But for now, it goes on the Beercraft list of Overrated Beers.

Special Thanks to the guys from Spaten and the for this hangover. We enjoyed the event at the Krown last night. That the Spaten was excellent goes without saying. The Brooklyn Blond Bock was a very pleasant surprise. Nice job, Mr. Oliver and crew!

Friday’s overrated beer: Bass Ale

is ubiquitous. It’s the oldest trademark in Britain. The bottle was depicted in a Monet painting. It’s often considered the pinnacle of beer by people who rarely venture out of Busch-land.

And it sucks.

OK. Mayby it doesn’t exactly suck, but it lacks body and character. Other English pale ales, such as blow bass out of the water (sic) in terms of body, balance, and general character of the beer.

I guess Bass’ strongest positive is that it’s available everywere. Mostr restaurants carry it, and you can get it in the British Airways Club Lounge (provided Snoop hasn’t totally trashed the place). It’s blandness also helps make it less of an acquired taste than many of the craft beers.

At any rate, you won’t ever find it in my fridge.