Plzeňský Prazdroj – Pilsner Urquell

Pilsner Urquell bottle

A short history lesson is in order. Pilsner Urquell is the famous original pale lager. A “Czech Pilsner” is not actually a beer style given that the word pilsner itself is a demonym indicating the beer’s origin in Plzeň. The Czechs do not define their native brews by styles such as lager, India Pale Ale, porter/stout1, and so on but by color and degrees Plato with stronger beers of the same color not simply being the weaker beer “scaled up” but separate styles2. The Plzeňský Prazdroj brewery was founded in the 19th century to brew Bavarian-style lagers  – then mostly dark at the time – but with pale malts pioneered in England and relatively highly-hopped compared to the common Dunkel. Pale lager became the type of beer that was copied around the world, was cost-reduced with adjuncts, and eventually made into the mixed beer and carbonated water soft drink that is Miller Lite with its “Great Pilsner Taste”. Unlike most beers, Pilsner Urquell continued being fermented and lagered in giant wooden vats and barrels into the 1990s when it was privatized and sold to conglamerate SABMiller. The international piss brewers “modernized” the brewery, replaced the wooden vessels with stainless steel tanks, slashed the lagering time to a third, and replaced most of the whole cone hops with hop oils. This review is of the filtered and pasteurized export variety which is a pale imitation of the rare unfiltered and cask versions usually unavailable in the US.

Pilsner Urquell pours a dark shade of gold with a frothy head. Not uric gold but a rich, vaguely ambery shade of gold. The beer smells vaguely of fresh bread and slightly floral, grassy hops. The taste is biscuits and bread interspersed with hints of butterscotch, caramel, and a mildly spicy hop bitterness. Pilsner Urquell is balanced, unlike many of the hop bomb, onions and cat piss craft IPAs best suited to keep teenagers away from drinking in the same way that putting hot sauce on your food will keep the dog from trying to steal it. The beer may be dumbed down by accountants and many of the flavors typical but it’s well made, tastes great, isn’t sour, doesn’t resemble animal piss, and you can easily down a six pack in a couple hours like I did.

Quality: ****/*****
Purchase: ****/*****

1Porter and stout are interchangeable. Despite stout formerly indicating a stronger porter – a “stout porter” -, many breweries that brew beers called by both terms make a porter stronger than their stout.
2Read Ronald Pattinson’s excellent rundown of Czech beer styles on his Shut Up About Barclay Perkins blog. A more comprehensive detailing may be found on his European Beer Guide website.


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Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. / Mahrs Bräu – Oktoberfest (2016)

sierran nevada oktoberfest 2016

Oktoberfests seem to be brewed in July so they can be shipped to every liquor store and supermarket shelf in the western world by October. Most American Oktoberfest beers are simply caramel-flavored American lagers unpleasantly bumped up in flavor and alcohol. By making everything extremely loud, nothing truly stands out and what results is usually some tomato-tasting malt flavor with either too much or too little hops and and a warming alcohol finish rather than anything resembling the traditional märzen style. Sierra Nevada avoids this by partnering with a different traditional German brewery every year to brew what is annually one of the best American examples. For 2016’s version, Sierra Nevada teamed up with Mahrs Bräu to produce a simple, well-hopped pale lager. As the beer hits the tongue, the spiciness of the Germanic hops take hold and lead into a doughy, slightly chewy body of toasted white bread that finishes with a spicy hop finish and a slight note of warming alcohol. The warming finish and palette fatigue prevent the subsequent consumption of multiple bottles but Sierra Nevada’s 2016 brew thankfully avoids the grapefruit and mango IPAs for women trend to produce a decent, inoffensive drinking beer with well-developed simple flavors that can be savored while still letting you think about whatever else it is that you’re doing without having to pander to Panera Bread “crafted” bullshit such as pineapple phenol scented specialty Okinawan hops mixed with smoked habanero peppers in a stout that tastes like the fruity candy you leave for the annoying relatives you despise in a box of chocolates.

Quality: ***/*****
Purchase: ***/*****


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Coors Brewing Company – Coors “Banquet”

coors banquet can

The original Coors that is usually advertised with “Banquet” in the title is the least dumbed down for carbonated corn syrup soda chugging couch potatoes of the big three American adjunct lager brews. Budweiser and Miller High Life both taste strongly of green apple while Coors is still clean tasting. The beer smells of bready pale malts, adjunct grains, and somewhat fruity yeast esters. Gulping it down, carbonation slams the tongue, followed by a chewy combination of pale malt and adjunct sweetness that in combination with the yeast flavors, resembles liquefied banana bread. Coors probably slightly stresses the yeast of their flagship Banquet beer to obtain that banana fruit ester while most American brewers, including the so-called craft ones, have terrible control over yeast flavors and generally opt for a neutral yeast profile in comparison to the ancient British and continental breweries. Coors Banquet finishes with a bitter hop finish, noticeable but balanced to not overpower the other ingredients. At well under twenty dollars for a rack of twenty-four cans across the country, Coors Banquet puts hipster and yuppie swill to shame for a balance of flavor and price.

Quality: *****/*****
Purchase: *****/*****


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Miller Brewing Co. – Miller High Life

miller high life

Miller High Life, the apple juice of beer. The cheapest of the big three of Bud, Miller, and Coors, High Life is your typical heavily cost-reduced in both ingredients and production process mass market lager. The beer starts with beer flavor, then corn grits continuing into green apple-scented acetaldehyde, and finishing with a chemically bitter off-flavor resembling Bitter Apple brand dog deterrent rather than a proper dry or bitter hop finish. High Life might as well be carbonated apple juice with corn starch and detergent dumped in due to the cut-short lagering to stock urban liquor store shelves full. While the cheapest of the cheap outside of Game Day Ice, High Life is a beverage only suitable for sharing a swig with unwashed bipolar bums in bus shelters. Pabst Blue Ribbon, the watery favorite of Dennis Hopper and hipsters everywhere, is much more suited to the task of rehydration while sitting outside in ninety degree heat. High Life will only bring irritable bowels and unlike those bums, you won’t be comfortable squatting in the corner of a glass-enclosed bus stop. With food? High Life will make you hate yourself into not wanting to be like them: the homeless hammering you with their fists over refusing them change for crack, the larded alcoholics homebrewing IPAs, and the sweatshirted sports hooligans watching the NFL every Sunday while downing eight tallboys; High Life motivates teetotalling and fasting.

Quality: */*****
Purchase: ***/*****

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Anheuser-Busch InBev / Florida Ice and Farm Company S.A. – Labatt Blue & Occult Burial – Hideous Obscure (2016)

occult burial - cover


Occasionally an artist’s work and the chemical inspiration thereof are inseparable and must be experienced together. Occult Burial’s recent ersatz, Hideous Obscure, was inspired by the sloppy, mid-Eighties Teutonic speed metal recordings of Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction which were all written and performed under the influence of a copious deluge of the cheapest Euro pilsner poured down their throats by the liter. This proto-underground beer metal was composed so as to be musically comprehensible to even the drunkest bar patrons still standing in the audience. Lacking even the melodic narratives of Motorhead standards, rocking rhythms, groovy powerchord progressions, and catchy choruses repeated ad nauseam over speed metal gallops and pick-up drum beats, hammering the basic riffs and leads into the heads of all the long-haired drunks tackling one another protected only by jean and leather jackets. To get into the garage practice space, inebriated mindset of these Canadian imitators of the imported speed metal of their fathers, I decided to pick up the Genesee-brewed as mandated by the Obama administration modern recreation of what those in my generation considered a northern, imported treat alongside the likes of St. Pauli Girl, Beck’s, and Guinness Extra: Labatt Blue.



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Brooklyn Brewery – Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout (2016)


As much as any sane person avoids the mention of our elites, we tend to shy away from names like “Brooklyn Brewery” because such trendy terms and locations can only be designed for the denialists who rule us through money, law and social pretense. Much as in the Soviet Union — another dying society in late-stage collapse — what is said in Pravda is never trusted and always mocked, but… very carefully. In Western totalitarianism, we still have the freedom to purchase, and so, we avoid those products tainted with the symbology of the elites.



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Taco Bell – “DoubleDilla”


The concept is simple: take an ordinary steak or chicken quesadilla and make it twice as big for $1.20 less than you would have spent on buying two quesadillas. In my view, this is a long-overdue recognition by Taco Bell that the quesadilla alone is not a meal, and yet it is just a mite too pricey to be treated as an a la carte item like the smaller tacos and burritos.



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