Saturday, May 2, 2009

Could that Belgian influence actually help Anheuser-Busch?

As anyone who hasn't been living under a rock knows, Anheuser-Busch was bought out by Belgium's InBev.

It's always disturbing to hear about a radically profitable American company being bought out by some oddly-named bunch from Belgium, but that's what happened and I suppose all we can do is make the best of it.

Of course, I vowed to refuse to buy anything from the company again once news of the merger was announced. My wife, however, took no such vow and she brought home a Michelob Spring/Summer Sampler Pack the other day.

Now, I do hate the new, bastardized Anheuser-Busch, but Marci did bring home my favorite kind of beer -- cold and within reach. So I decided to give these things a whirl and see if the Belgians have ruined a company that was once both American and great.

The sampler pack has four types of wheat beer in it and here's what I thought of each of them:

* Hop Hound Amber Wheat -- this one wasn't bad at all. It's a pleasing amber color and is amazingly devoid of both complexity and after taste. This is a very straight-forward, light beer that is just made for guzzling. I liked it.

However, I didn't taste much in the way of hops. There's plenty of malt in this, but it's hard to tell if the "hops" flavor is provided by actual hops or just a lot of carbonation. Further, the beer loses a point or two for being rather bland overall. A "craft beer" is supposed to be distinct, but this stuff tastes like one of several wheat beers I've had over the years.

This one isn't bad, but it isn't great, either. Regardless, it's a pleasant beer that suggests that some of that Belgian influence might not be such a bad thing. It's a couple of notches above the domestic beers I generally drink, so I may purchase some more of this in the future.

* Michelob Honey Wheat -- This one was a disappointment. Think of any thin, generic American beer you've ever had, stir in some honey and you've got this stuff. One criticism I've always had about American beers is that they just taste too thin and lack character. This is the same as most of those cheap domestic beers I've had, with the exception of a bit of honey thrown in for good measure.

Where's the sharp tang that is associated with wheat beers? It's simply not here. There's too much honey thrown in here, too. It's not bad, but I'll never bother with buying more of this stuff.

* Shock Top Belgian White -- This one was so bad I actually got angry. That cloudy, gold color looks great, but this beer tastes like someone let a cheap sucker dissolve in it. InBev? What the hell is that? Short for "Belgians Like to Throw Weird Crap InBeverages?" The weird crap in this beer is orange, lemon and lime peel and coriander. That's right. It's full of citrus and cilantro. Who the hell wants that?

Do you find the folks at Guiness dumping fruit in their beer? What would Jack Daniels taste like if the folks around there thought, "Hey, let's dissolve a bunch of pears in our whiskey. That would be fun!" You just don't go around throwing components of a fruit salad and/or salsa in beer, for God's sake. It's just plain wrong and unnatural and that's doubly true when the weird crap overpowers the flavor of the beer.

This beer tastes like an experiment gone wrong. Blasted Belgians and their fruity damned beer. Could this sampler pack get any worse?

* Michelob Dunkel Weisse -- Yes, this sample pack can get worse. A lot worse, in fact. Give me back that Shock Top trash so I can wash the taste of this swill out of my mouth. Yes, it's that bad.

Now, it looked promising when I poured it in my glass in that it's nice and dark. Dark beers tend to be great, right? This stuff is far from great. The "weird crap" of choice this time around is cloves and banana. But mostly cloves. Go over to your spice rack and stuff your mouth full of cloves. Enjoy that taste? Do you, bucky? If you do, you'll love this stuff.

Honestly, cloves are about all you can taste in this beer. It is the definition of horrible. Shock Top may have tasted like a failed experiment, but this trash tastes like a dirty trick. About 20 years ago, I had a few bucks in my pocket and wanted some beer. The only thing I could afford was Hamm's. For years, I've said that was the worst beer I've tasted. You've been replaced, Hamm's. Michelob Dunkel Weisse now holds the crown. Sorry, Hamm's.

This beer made me hate what's become of Anheuser-Busch and question how the hell InBev got to be such a huge company. I can just imagine someone sitting around and trying to figure out how to "improve" the classic Budweiser formula by infusing it with such great tastes as strawberries and garlic; mango, kiwi and cat urine; fried squash and wet dog; or pearl onion, mushroom, apple and Wintergreen Skoal spit. God help us.


I've got a bad feeling about this...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday -- swine flu

Head on over to Wordless Wednesday and submit something of your own, huh?

Monday, April 27, 2009

A great birthday party idea

On Sunday, I took my daughter to a birthday party at the Pulaski County Humane Society in Little Rock.

A birthday party? At an animal shelter?

Yes, indeed! Why? Because the birthday girl -- a student in my daughter's homeroom at school -- wanted it that way. It seems she's been learning about missions in church and wanted to do her part to help a worthy cause in her community. So, instead of presents, she requested that all in attendance donate $10 to the animal shelter.

That's a very unselfish request and it's all the more impressive when you consider it was made by an eight-year-old girl.

The kids had a great time playing with dogs, looking at cats and begging their parents for a new dog (Brenda is pictured at the top of this post with the dog she wanted). I'm certain more than a couple of parents left with a new pet in tow, but I refused as we've got three dogs and I figure that's more than enough.

Besides, we adopted a three-legged shelter dog a couple of years ago and have spoiled her rotten. I've done my part and I'm sure we'll probably stop by the local Humane Society the next time we need a dog.

Even if I had adopted a dog, I would have made my wife furious. The dog I would have brought home reminded me of Cobb, my rat terrier who is best described as a lovable rascal. Yes, there was a female rat terrier mix at the shelter who reminded me a lot of my Cobb in that she was hyperactive and managed to escape out the front door and avoid capture for at least a few minutes.

Rat terriers are pains in the ass. Mine escapes the yard when he can, has spent the night in the pound after animal control nabbed him one day and he once figured out to open the latch on our back gate (we've kept it padlocked since).

Rat terriers are great dogs, though. Cobb is as loyal as the day is long and he kills the snakes in my yard (we live near the Saline River here in Benton, Ark., so those slithering pests are common), so I'd say he's worth the trouble. I wouldn't mind another one of those things running around the house, but I'm sure my wife would throw a fit.

Slowing down a bit

I'll be happily editing and writing magazine copy for the next few days, so I doubt I'll get to update this blog as much as I'd like. After writing all day long at work, I have a feeling I won't be too keen on the idea of coming home and writing some more.

I'll be flinging my usual nonsense at this blog before long, of course.

Music Monday -- The Wedding Present

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