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Blind Tasting: Standard American Lager

Jeremy Short · May 12


The ubiquitous beer that is the American Lager, it’s hard to avoid this "domestic" beer. Even the most proud tap-houses carry Budweiser, Coors, and/or Miller. Why? Because people everywhere prefer lager over ale, and it's hard to argue the drinkability of these beers. You know what else is very drinkable? Water. Anyway, it's easy as a craft beer drinker to demonize these mass produced beers, but is there something more to these lagers that we should appreciate and acknowledge? I think so, and to try this out my friend Shawn and I got together and did a blind tasting of six pilsners to see what we liked and didn't about each.

This tasting's goal main was to look at the three major American lagers: Budweiser, Coors, and Miller. To keep the tasting interesting and allow for some comparisons we tossed in these other random lagers: Grolsch, Trumer Pils and Molson. Technically, some of these beers would be judge in separate categories under BJCP guidelines, but we put them altogether anyway.  For some time I've wanted to try this particular blind tasting, just to see which beer I truly preferred. See, I am from Colorado and that means I choose Coors. Always choose local, right? I worried that that during this tasting I would discover that I like Budweiser more. So, let's get to it.

Here are some of the brief notes we took as we blindly tried each of the six beers:


Jeremy’s Notes

Shawn’s Notes

Beer 1

Low hops in the with a sweet grainy corn flavor. Has a tingly front with a papery finish.

Has a sweet corn aroma. There’s a residual sweetness that washes our quickly. Papery mouth feel. Spicy noble hops.

Beer 2

Skunked. Most have been one of the green bottled beers. Has some malty sweetness. More spice in the hops.

Very skunky. Much spicier than that first beer. Lingering bitterness with a thicker body.

Beer 3

Soapy aroma. Very clean. No hops. Paper thin.

Slightly floral, soapy aroma.  Not very hoppy, washes out clean with not much residual sweetness. Thin body.

Beer 4

Herbal hops in the aroma. Lots more hops in the flavor. Light body.

Very hoppy but not too much lingering bitterness. Light pear aftertaste. Light body. Dry finish. Not very effervescent.

Beer 5

No hops. Grainy/corny flavor. LOTS of sweetness. Dry finish and very light body. Tastes like a popsicle.

Watery with fruity sweetness. Almost a nutty aftertaste. Very Thin, dry finish. Super drinkable.

Beer 6

Subtle aroma. Very clean with a little spice. Crisp. Slightly bitter. Very drinkable.

Straight forward clean malt, with slight bitterness.  Very crisp.


So which one is which? And how did we rank them? Well the results surprised us a little:

Jeremy’s Rankings

Shawn’s Rankings

Beer 4 – Trumer Pils

Beer 3 – Coors

Beer 6 – Molson

Beer 1 – Miller

Beer 1 – Miller

Beer 6 – Molson

Beer 3 – Coors

Beer 4 – Trumer Pils

Beer 4 – Grolsch

Beer 4 – Grolsch

Beer 5 – Budweiser

Beer 5 - Budweiser


And the lesson here is? A SUPER skunked Grolsch is still better than Budweiser. I was actually kind of surprised about how bad Budweiser scored—I actually thought it would be more competitive, but it wasn’t even in the same ballpark as the other beers. It was crap. Seriously, it is surprisingly sweet when tasted with the others with a bizarre chemically quality. The other thing I learned from this little tasting is that Molson is pretty tasty and if I am at an event where the beer selection is weak I’ll pick Molson as my beer of choice (followed by Coors). The Trumer Pils and the skunked Grolsch very much stood out in the tasting and clearly didn’t belong in the group, but did help add some variety to what was a fairly bland group of beers. I very much liked the noble hops of the Trumer Pils and thought it was a great beer.

While I am not advocating that anyone run out and buy any of these major lagers, I do think it’s worth acknowledging and appreciating what they offer which is a simple, drinkable and a consistent product. I know some craft beer freaks will argue the drinkability and say "it tastes like piss" or "I wouldn’t give that shit to my dog," but it really isn't that awful. And you have to admit, most people are going to have their first experience with one of these beers. There's no need to condescend and tell them that they made a bad choice. Well, unless they picked a Bud; that really isn't any good. And in some ways these lagers are like your first car. It's crap. But it got you from point A to point B and you sometimes have fond memories of that past. Beer is good. Even mass produced lagers have some good in them.


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