23 April 2009

The darker side of empiricism

It's always a risk, going drinking with someone who has studied beer packaging technology at university. They end up making impulse purchases of stuff in shiny cans and expect you to help them drink it. But at least they have the decency to be ashamed of it, don't they Thom?

So it happened that in a gigantic sports bar in the centre of Cork last Saturday I found myself sharing a bottle of Bud served from the new "aluminium bottle" which Diageo are currently foisting on the Irish market with an all-pervading advertising campaign. The unique selling point is that it's served at -5°C from a special fridge, though if it actually was when the lid comes off I suspect that this 4.3% ethanol solution would freeze solid.

Either way, however, it pours out bloody cold. And rather unpleasantly thick too -- gloopy, the way vodka goes in the freezer. The big up-front taste (yes, there is one) is apples. It's a long time since I last tasted Bud, but I don't remember the apples. It quickly vanishes though and you just get water and gas, until the finishing surprise. We were drinking from glasses, which I don't think is the intended method of dispense, yet there was a major metallic tang left behind after swallowing. I'm guessing that straight from the bottle it would be even worse.

So there you have it: Bud isn't very good. I'm actually rather surprised at the flaws, given what I've been told about the impeccable quality control procedures at the brewery in Kilkenny where they apparently take every imaginable step to remove all flavour from the beer -- I was expecting fizzy water and nothing more. Turns out it really is bad beer. Who knew?

17 comments:

  1. I'm sorry Thom, I think I'll be printing that photo.

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  2. What'S this? Captcha turned on? I suppose you did get alot of spam posts recently :(

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  3. this 4.3% ethanol solution - This made me giggle.

    Could the apple taste be residual Acetaldehyde?

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  4. That's what I'd assume, John. Thom?

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  5. Since you've sunk to this depth, I assume the anniversary stout is next?

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  6. It would be if they planned to sell it here; but they don't so it won't be. US, Australia and Singapore only.

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  7. Loved it!

    I wonder if you've made someone loose their job when mentioning that you could feel some taste.

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  8. Whats the metal taste from? Presumably not the bottle as then wouldn't cans have it as well?

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  9. The bottle is definitely made from different stuff than cans. I know cans are lined with plastic to keep the liquid separate from the metal, but I don't know if that's the case here.

    Does anyone know what happened to that bottle? Last I saw, someone was drinking smoked stout out of it.

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  10. Maybe the plastic lining crackled in the cold and let the beer onto the aluminium? Better metal taste than no taste, I'd say.
    Maybe there will limited editions in tin and iron cans with different nuances in the flavour? I think the bright young things in marketing at Diageo have only scratched the surface so far.

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  11. Damn you, TBN.

    I imagine the apple note is acetalaldehyde. It was quite striking on the first swig. It appears to be a signature flavour according to some American books.

    The bottle is thicker than a can but must be lacquered to prevent contamination of the bottle (or the beer)in the same way cans are.

    It was reassuring to note that Bud tastes as bad as I always thought it did.

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  12. Anonymous2:33 pm

    i don't think i'll be able to resist trying this Bud bottle just to taste how awful it is for myself!

    speaking of the Guinness anniversary stout - I managed to get my hands on a couple of bottles to sample and as far as I could tell it's a very mildly tweaked version of Extra Stout. As a regular drinker of ES and Foreign Extra anyway it didn't do anything for me. So in short I don't think anyone is missing out on much although I'd be interested to hear an expert review of it and comparison to Extra Stout.

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  13. Anonymous, how much people are missing out on depends on where you are and what you mean by "Extra Stout". In Ireland, Guinness Extra Stout is standard 4.2% ABV draught Guinness, CO2 carbonated, and served from a bottle. AFAIK, it means something else in North America.

    In terms of building resistance to this sort of Bud, the €6 price tag helps a lot.

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  14. Anonymous3:14 pm

    sorry I should've said it was the pint bottle Extra Stout available here in Ireland I was comparing it to.

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  15. Ah. Fair enough. "Mildly tweaked" seems to be Diageo's usual approach to brand expansion these days, if the late not-very-lamented Brewhouse Series is anything to go by.

    (Yes, Diageo, we're still talking about that, and we'd still like to know what the hell you were thinking.)

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  16. Taste is not important.... the real question is did you feel like a MAN with the big shiny metal bottle in your hand?

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  17. A girly-sized US-pint (473ml)? 'Course not...

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