Margaritaville Brewing Co. – Landshark Lager (2015)


When a friend and I hit the local liquor shack and saw these hanging out, I was skeptical because of the hip name. Marketing and quality tend to work in inverse proportion to one another. Then again, a new brand has to fight hard in this over-populated beer market especially with all of these idiots buying hipster IPAs.

As we walked in the door, I finally connected “Margaritaville” with that guy who made the funny music. Not really a fan of country, or of entertainment, I felt my spirits sink. This was probably just a commercial con and we bought into it (for $4.99 for four sixteen-ounce beers, roughly the price of half a Starbucks latte downtown). “Ah, what the hell,” I said. “How bad can it be?”

The surprising answer: not bad at all. This is a well-designed product and as part of that, Margaritaville Brewing Co. has included quality beer. The name is cool; the logo is cool; I hate cool because it means an avalanche of tools who buy stupid stuff and drive the good stuff off the market, or into niches where it is hard to get and far more expensive. But the beer is good. The short review is that it is like a sweet, natural-tasting and high alcohol (4.7% ABV) version of Corona, with the kind of harvest time sweetness that 1664 has. This is a beer for drinkers and not people who like lite beers and lite cigarettes. You can actually put yourself into giggles and drooling with Landshark Lager, which immediately makes me appreciate it more as a beer designed to beat back the idiot beers from the beach scene or wherever people drink Corona, probably the same place they smoke Marlboro Lights and eat fat-free Ranch Dressing, both of which are proof the Communists won back in ’54 and they just never told us.

This is a thin beer with no alcohol taste, but like the best of the pale lagers it captures the yeasty and bready flavor of beer, just gently and hidden behind sweetness. I am not the world’s biggest sweet beer fan, or sweet things fan, since those belong in childhood with candy and people saying things like “it will all be all right” (obvious mental cotton for cuck beta bottoms). You can pour one of these and enjoy a beer that reminds you it is a beer, not just a wine cooler with suds, and the increased alcohol makes it fit in with the powerhouses of any well-stocked pub. Beer has been knocking up the ABV to compete with wine, which is now the preferred tipple of the average yuppie wannabe and so has hit the optimum price points, probably because some idiot in Congress regulated it less in exchange for hookers ‘n’ blow from a lobbyist. Either way, this beer is refreshingly free of hipster marketing that tries to be cute and artisanal (pronounced “artist anal”) even if it has mainstream branding and appeal. Especially at this introductory price point, it’s worth considering for casual drinking.

Quality rating: 4/5
Purchase rating: 3/5

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6 thoughts on “Margaritaville Brewing Co. – Landshark Lager (2015)”

  1. OliveFox says:

    Hrm. I cannot go with you here. Just because something isn’t a wacky hipster hop-head brew doesn’t mean it has any merit. American lagers are notoriously shitty, but just because Landshark is better than Bud doesn’t qualify it as something to look for. Pleasant surprise is one thing, but giving it undue praise is another. The price/ABV argument is somewhat valid…but at a certain point, a Pint of Old Crow serves the same role.

    Bourbon is the alcohol America is known for, does best and should stick to perfecting. I shouldn’t have to pay over 35 bucks for a decent Bourbon whiskey in my homeland.

    Leave Lagers, Pilsners and their ilk to the Czechs and Germans and the strong ales and wheat beers to Belgium.

    Aside: Duvel’s Triple Hop (with the Mosaic hops if you can track it down) is THE Belgian IPA that will make you understand why American ales are still so far behind the times in terms of craft and technique when it comes to beer. 5 bucks for an 11.2oz bottle (ouch)…but well worth it if you can find it.

    1. LordKrumb says:

      I agree that American lagers (and other imitated beer styles produced in the US) are mostly different shades of shit (palatable at best), and that Bourbon is probably America’s only native alcoholic beverage that deserves any honour.

      I also support your main point that the distinctive, traditional styles of beverages like beer, whisky, brandy, etc. are best when produced in their country of origin by master craftsmen.

      But the details of your recommendations are riddled with misconceptions about beer styles and their traditional origins I hear all the time, such as:

      – Ales are any beer that’s dark and strong;
      – IPAs are any beer that’s pale with overt hop flavours;
      – Pilsners are somehow different to lagers;
      – Wheat beers are Belgian, etc. etc.

      The world of beer and its multiple varieties is complicated, but I do think that anyone who enjoys trying different beers and appreciating their flavours should make the effort to learn the basics:

      1. Whatever is in your bottle/glass, it’s above all else a BEER
      2. BEER has two main branches,: ALE and LAGER (learn the difference and what it means for the taste of the resulting products)
      3. Work down from there to the characteristics of more specific styles under each of those two branches and where in the world each style originates from.

      Learning about the styles and country of origin means you’re less likely to buy crap you don’t enjoy.

      A few pointers on what you said:

      Pilseners are one of many styles of lager. The Germans and Czechs are indeed the masters of this and most other lager styles.

      The Belgians do make some respectable wheat beers (a style of ale), but it’s the Germans (notably the Bavarians) who create the best wheat beers.

      A wide spectrum of high quality, delicious ales are brewed in Belgium (arguably the world’s best brewing nation), but don’t forget that a similarly wide variety of excellent ale styles has been brewed in the UK for just as many centuries as Belgium and Germany. Avoid all British lager though.

      Become a beer elitist!

      1. Daniel Maarat says:

        Czech Pilsner is not a real style and it’s a hipster beer nerd creation. Pilsner just means it’s from Plzeƈ/Pilsen. The North German Pils is a style in imitation of one beer (Pilsner Urquell) but has been cost reduced that many of the more popular examples are not really that much better than US pisswater, especially the “fernseh” (television) ones. Real Czech styles are not really explored or brewed in the US, the same with real ale and German pils (Trumer and Victory excepted). A few months old Pilsner Urquell, even the filtered and pastuerized bottled/kegged version, will kill the typical US craft lager.

        Here are the real Czech styles:

        There’s no real difference between an IPA and a pale ale either other than IPAs tend to be stronger and use more hops. Pale ale also doesn’t really mean much since it describes a variety of styles. Just that it uses pale malt and is an ale. A bitter is different from an “extra special bitter” which is different from a pale mild ale. American pale ales are usualle just Anchor Liberty and Sierra Nevada Pale clones but again can be almost anything from beers that are basically just pils with ale yeast (Pilsner malt and Noble hops) to British in style (Schlafly Pale).

      2. OliveFox says:

        Wow, thank you for the very detailed post! You have inspired me to learn a bit more about what I am drinking and the correct history and style of it. I sort of thought I knew a good deal, but I clearly am missing a large portion of what makes what I like WHAT I like. I think my taste buds have elite tendencies, but my brain sometimes checks out on the gritty depths of everything.

        Upon further review of the Duvel bottle, no mention of the word INDIA or PALE on it anywhere. Golden Ale is what they say, so I suppose that’s what it is. Weird how a certain style, like IPA, works it way into casual descriptive vernacular. Like saying Slayer or Sepultura are thrash bands just because it is such an easy catch-all word.

  2. Throat says:

    I enjoy reading these beer reviews, and appreciate having the quality-over-hype mentality of this site applied to one of my other favorite topics. That said, I find it amusing that a website devoted to analyzing “extreme” music with a great deal of nuance seems to have categorically written off the more “extreme” beer styles, which while admittedly being trendy right now, can be quite delicious and worthy of attention.

    At the risk of overextending the metaphor: just as anyone can crank a Boss HM-2 to 10 and make “death metal,” anyone can dump a barrel of hops in their swill and declare they’ve made a quintuple IPA with 10,000 IBUs. In both cases, with the right marketing you can convince people to buy it. In both cases, the mediocre and outright bad outnumber the good. In both cases, hipsterism (gimmickry, confusing obscurity with quality, etc.) runs rampant. But at the same time, the omnipresence of crap within a style does not preclude the presence of quality, even greatness.

    My all-time favorite beers are big, powerful IPAs and stouts, and I’m willing to try a lot of bad ones to find the occasional gems. And once you have a taste for that sort of thing, their lighter cousins don’t hold the attention as well (as Morbid Angel is to AC/DC…). I think we can all agree that mass-market lite lagers are barely worth the energy it takes to denounce them.

    I’ve rambled enough. Obviously beer and music serve very different ends so one shouldn’t take the comparisons too seriously, but hopefully it clarified my point. Thanks again for the thought-provoking reviews! When will this site start reviewing scotch?

    1. If any of our writers drink the stuff…

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