I don't get sent much free beer (yeah yeah, boo-hoo etc) but was rather intrigued to be offered some lager by a US PR company a few weeks back. "Sure," I said, "send it on over". And then waited for the "Oh wait, you live very far away, sorry about that" mail. It didn't arrive. Instead I got a box containing a bottle and a can of Minott's Black Star plus some accompanying press materials. I supposed I'd better read the stuff now that I've committed to writing about the beer.
A slightly odd tale unfolds between the lines of the press release. The beer boasts of origins in Whitefish, Montana though is brewed in Milwaukee and is being marketed specifically at Northern California. It looks like desperate attempt at preserving a beer's credentials of origin while having it contract brewed elsewhere and being upfront about it. Convoluted, but at least it's honest: lots of other beer companies are nowhere near as forthcoming about where their product is made.
Sweeping the geography puzzles aside, the beer is an attractive dark gold lager, a colour that immediately had me thinking Budvar thoughts. Saaz and Mittelfrüh are the hops, says the marketing, so that's definitely the right direction. And the body is similarly big and rich with that golden syrup sweetness. But that's where it ends: those hops are nowhere to be found and it all tails off rather sadly.
It's not a bad beer, but with just a bit more hopping it could have been a very good Czech-style lager. I suppose it's wrong of me to criticise it for not being the beer I'd like it to be. With that heavy texture I think it'll stand up well to a curry, so that's where the can will be going.
And if you're reading in Northern California: hey look, here's a beer you can buy.