Thursday, April 19, 2012
Frank Thomas claims he’s never met someone who didn’t like his beer. He may be right – BHB meets its motto’s claims of full flavor, high alcohol and a smooth finish – but there is room for an asterisk.
Next to the asterisk: 1) It isn’t the easiest thing in the world to tell a contagiously enthusiastic Mack truck of a man that his beer is just OK; 2) It’s even harder when he’s pouring it for you free at, say, a Superbowl party at Las Vegas’ Playboy Club.
So the Weekly convened a barrel of local beer drinkers, ranging from home craft brewers to casual domestic guzzlers, seven all told (including the author), to rate it against eight other comparable beers in a blind tasting across four categories: appearance, aroma, flavor/palate, and drinkability/experience.
Here’s what we learned:
• The beers selected by longtime brewer and distributor Moses for the tasting speak to beer genre Big Hurt Beer’s fits into, what’s generally called “premium lager,” a step up from domestics like Coors or Miller Lite but well-short of craft: Corona Extra, Stella Artois, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Primo (of Italy), Steinlager (of New Zealand), Zywiec (of Poland), Bud Light Platinum and, to represent the heavier alcohol segment, Mickey’s Malt Liquor.
• Steinlager earned the most affection overall, followed by (in descending order) Stella, Bud Light Premium and Primo. Next was Big Hurt Beer, finishing ahead of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Zywiec, Corona and, yes, Mickey’s.
• While most comments during the tasting gravitated toward drinkability (“I could drink this all day!”), they changed noticeably when they came to what turned out to be BHB (#7): “I like the aroma,” “Malty,” and “That’s definitely different from the rest.” Along with Primo, it felt fuller than the rest of the entrants.
• This judge was stunned at how similar so many of the lagers tasted – a casualty of big multinational beermaker consolidation, perhaps? – and they looked even more identical. Controlling for appearance, the rankings don’t change much. But Big Hurt does pass Primo.
• On strictly flavor/palate, Steinlager earned the most points. Stella won for drinkability/experience.
• BHB finished ahead of two significantly more expensive brews (Corona and Zywiec). Tasting champions Steinlager and Stella go for about $4 more per 12-pack than BHB.
• Not even Mickey’s (5.6 percent ABV), which flunked in the test terms of aroma, flavor and drinkability, approaches BHB’s 7 percent, though Bud Light Platinum comes in at 6. “With a name like Big Hurt,” BHB partner Brian Kovalchuk says, “it can’t be seven-ounce bottles of light beer.”