The King of Beers: Budweiser

Budweiser claims to be the “King of Beers” and for good reason. The Anheuser-Busch family of products, which includes Budweiser and Bud Light, are by far the top selling beers in the United States, with Bud Light in particular being the biggest seller in the US. In 2012, Bud Light sold about 269,135,600 cases of beer, which brought generated $5,452,052,000 in total sales. In the past, Budweiser has normally been in second place behind Bud Light, but last year Coors Light jumped up from their normal third place spot and became the second best selling beer in the country. Although Coors Light became the second best selling beer in the US in 2012, it sold less than half of what Bud Light sells, with about 101,760,300 cases of beer being sold and bringing in $2,056,722,000. Budweiser was right on the heels of Coors Light, selling 101,651,900 cases which generated $2,017,366,000 in revenue.

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Most people are familiar with Budweiser and Bud Light from having drank it or at least seeing their advertisements. Anheuser-Busch InBev, the parent company of Budweiser and Bud Light, has been expanding their list of products in an attempt to secure an even larger market share. Anheuser-Busch has capitalized on the popularity of low calorie and light beers and has made Budweiser Select 55, which has the lowest calorie count available in a beer, 55 calories, thus the name Select 55. Anheuser-Busch also offers a beer that is marketed as a premium light beer, Michelob Ultra, which has 95 calories.

Besides light beers, Anheuser-Busch is also attempting to benefit from the increasing popularity of specialty and craft beers by offering brands like Shock Top, Bass, and Goose Island. Anheuser-Busch offers beer alternatives like Bud Light Lime-a-rita and Budweiser & Clamato Chelada. Anheuser-Busch also offers many European varieties such as Becks, Lowenbrau, and Stella Artois, as well as Japanese-style pilsners, Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light.

With their huge variety of drink choices, Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser have cemented their place as the “King of Beers.” Budweiser is my favorite out of the big beer brands and one of my favorites overall. If you really want to learn more about Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser, visit one of their breweries and take the tour. I visited the main brewery in St. Louis and it was an awesome experience that I would definitely recommend to any beer lover. Go out and try some of the different Anheuser-Busch beverages and let me know what you think. Cheers!

Link to Anheuser-Busch Homepage

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Blue Moon Agave Nectar Ale

001As I mentioned in my last post, I recently picked up Blue Moon’s Brewmaster’s Seasonal Sampler pack, which includes 3 Blackberry Tart Ales, 3 Agave Nectar Ales, 2 Rounder Belgian-style Pale Ales, 2 Short Straw Red Ales, and 2 of their original Belgian White Belgian-style Wheat Ales. After trying the Rounder Belgian-style Pale Ale, I was excited to sample another selection from this variety pack.

I had heard some good things about the Agave Nectar Ale, so I decided to give it a try. While pouring it into a glass, I noticed that it has a sweet and nutty aroma to it. It has a nice golden color with a thin white head. The taste opens up with a malty emphasis and subtle nuttiness. The taste finishes with the agave nectar really coming through. The agave nectar adds a nice sweetness that tastes similar to honey with a nutty flavor to it. This beer is also brewed with white wheat which adds to the balanced flavor and creates a very smooth finish. Pale and Munich malts are also used in brewing this beer. Blue Moon Agave Nectar Ale is brewed with Mittelfruh hops, which is a very mild hops variety, so that undoubtedly contributes to the smoothness of this beer.

This is great beer for summer because it is really light and drinkable and it has a sweet and refreshing taste to it. Blue Moon Agave Nectar Ale is a limited summer release, so make sure to pick some up to enjoy on a hot summer day or a warm summer night. Cheers!

Blue Moon Rounder Belgian-style Pale Ale

003Sampler packs are a great way to try out a variety of beer without having to fill up your fridge with beers that you may or may not like. Seasonal sampler packs are even better because they include beers that are made with seasonal ingredients. I’ve always been a fan of Blue Moon but have grown bored of it recently, but when I saw their Brewmaster’s Seasonal Sampler 12 pack with 5 different types in it, I had to get it. It includes 3 Blackberry Tart Ales, 3 Agave Nectar Ales, 2 Rounder Belgian-style Pale Ales, 2 Short Straw Red Ales, and 2 of their original Belgian White Belgian-style Wheat Ales.

The Rounder Belgian-style Pale Ale sounded really good so it was the first bottle that I opened up. The first thing that I noticed was that it had a nice dark amber color. While I was pouring it, I noticed it had a sweet and citrusy aroma. The taste opens up with a sweet caramel maltiness and finishes with a floral and citrus flavor that has a hint of hops. The beer itself is very smooth and medium bodied.

Rounder Belgian-style Pale Ale is brewed with hibiscus and orange peel along with Cascade hops and a variety of malts that include Pale, Imported Caramel, Imported Light Caramel, and White Wheat. This was a really nice change of pace from Blue Moon’s original Belgian White. If you can find a case of Rounder Belgian-style Pale Ale or the Brewmaster’s Seasonal Sampler, you should definitely pick it up. Cheers! 004

Great Basin Ichthyosaur “Icky” IPA

001Icky IPA is one of my favorite beers for two reasons, one because I’m a big fan of India Pale Ales, and two, this beer is brewed right here in Reno, Nevada. It is brewed here in town by Great Basin Brewing Company. Icky is named after the ichthyosaur, which is Nevada’s official state fossil. Icky IPA has been a staple at Great Basin since they first opened in 1993 when it was their first “brewmaster’s special” and it remains their most popular beer today.

Icky has a nice golden color with a good thick head on it. It is everything you would expect in an IPA with its robust hop flavor. Icky is brewed with a generous amount of Cascade hops that give this beer great spicy, floral, and citrus-like flavors and aromas.

The Cascade hops used to make Icky are a popular choice among craft beer brewers because of their distinct aroma and flavor. They are a relatively newer variety of hops that was developed in 1971 by the U.S.D.A. at Oregon State University. Cascade hops are named after the Cascade mountain range that runs through Oregon and Washington.

Icky IPA is a flavorful beer that has a nice little kick to it with 6.4% ABV. Not only is this a great tasting beer, but it is made right here in Reno, Nevada, which makes it all that much better. And not only can you go down and get a pint at the brewery, but you can get it at a lot of local bars or you can pick up a six pack at the grocery store, so do yourself a favor and try an Icky. Cheers! 002

Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar

040After trying a Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale a few days ago, I’ve been on a mission to try more Rogue beers. The Hazelnut Brown Nectar is a beer that I remember really liking years ago so I wanted to give it another try and I’m glad I did. This is Rogue’s unique spin on a traditional European Brown Ale in which they add hazelnut extract to their brewing process.

Upon pouring it, I immediately noticed the dark reddish brown color and the nice tan head it had. After sipping it, I instantly remembered why I liked this beer so much, it starts off with a sweet and smooth hazelnut taste and has a nice malty finish. You get an almost dessert-like initial taste, but the flavor quickly evolves into a complex and flavorful brown ale. This malty brown ale is balanced nicely with a hint of Perle and Sterling hops.

Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar has won a staggering amount of awards starting in 1996 when it won gold in the All American Beer Festival and Wine Journal competition, to last year when it got gold in the 2012 World Beer Championships and Mondiale de la Biere. This Brown Ale is really impressive with such a unique and just simply awesome flavor. If you haven’t had a Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, you are missing out and you should go pick one up right away. And even if you have tasted this awesome ale before, go out and try it again because it is better than you remember. Cheers!041

Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale

002Rogue is one of my favorite craft beer companies. They are known for making unique and flavorful ales. Rogue is a brewery in Newport, Oregon and has been making exceptional and distinctive beers since it first opened in 1988. For this brew, Rogue collaborated with world renowned Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Chef Morimoto is one of the stars from the TV series “Iron Chef” on the Food Network. Rogue teamed up with Chef Morimoto in 2003 to create their Morimoto Signature Series of Rogue Ales.

This particular ale is brewed with soba, which is also known as buckwheat. This is a unique ingredient for brewing beer, but soba is actually a longtime staple in Japanese cuisine. The roasted soba is complemented with cascade and perle hops, which create a nice balanced flavor.

This ale has a delicate and complex flavor. The roasted soba provides a sweet and somewhat nutty taste. The flavor of the cascade and perle hops comes through really nicely, almost like an IPA but not quite as pungent. This beer has the perfect balance between malty sweetness and hoppy bitterness. This ale has a very smooth finish.

I was really impressed with this Morimoto Soba Ale and apparently so are a lot of beer critics considering it won gold in the World Beer Cup in 2008 and also in the World Beer Championships in 2001 and 2005, and silver in the World Beer Championships from 2006 through 2010 and also in 2012, not to mention the numerous other awards it has won. If you have never tasted a Morimoto Soba Ale, you should definitely go out and pick one up.

Home Brewing Success

003My home brewing experiment started about two months ago after I got a True Brew home brewing kit and an ingredient kit to make an all malt brown ale. The process started about two months ago by boiling water and mixing in two types of malt extract and hops. After boiling the wort for about an hour, I transferred the mixture into a fermentation bucket. I let the wort cool down to about 75 degrees and then stirred in a packet of English beer yeast. Then the yeast went to work and turned the wort into beer. The beer fermented for about two weeks, then was ready to bottle.

When the beer was ready to bottle, I first mixed 5 ounces of priming sugar with one cup of water to make a sugar syrup and then mixed it in with the wort right before bottling. The sugar reactivates the yeast and makes the beer become carbonated while it conditions and ages in the bottles. I bottled my beer about three weeks ago, which means it’s now ready to drink.

This past Saturday I couldn’t wait any longer and brought a few of my home brewed beers to my buddy’s house to finally try it out. I was a little nervous before taking my first sip because I’ve heard a few stories where people’s home brews came out bad and tasted sour and funky. But I was pleasantly surprised with the first sip, it came out perfect.

The brown ale that I made tastes incredibly similar to Newcastle Brown Ale. This brown ale has a nice sweetness from the two types of malt extracts used to brew it. The UK First Gold hop pellets that I used added a mild hop taste to this beer, which when combined with the flavor of the malt extracts, creates a very smooth finish. It’s been a long process and I’ve had to be patient but it was well worth the wait. So if you’ve never had a good home brewed beer, to try one. And if you’re looking for a fun new hobby, try brewing your own. For more information on home brewing, beer, and other alcohol related topics, follow me on Twitter @VanceAlm. Cheers!

Samuel Adams Irish Red and Alpine Spring

004Samuel Adams has combined six different types of their best winter and spring themed beers into the Spring Thaw variety pack, which includes Winter Lantern Belgian-style ale, Double Agent IPL, Maple Pecan Porter, Irish Red ale, Alpine Spring lager, and the original Boston Lager. I started talking about the Spring Thaw variety pack in my last blog a couple days ago when I reviewed the Winter Lantern Belgian-style ale and the Double Agent IPL. Both of those brews were surprisingly good and so were the two I tried tonight.

The first beer I sampled tonight was the Irish Red ale, which gets its name from the copper/red color it has. This red ale’s flavor is predominantly focused around the roasted caramel malts, which give it a malty sweetness. The Irish Red balances the malt flavors with 3 types of hops, East Kent Goldings, English Fuggles, and Hallertau Mittlefrueh. The combination of hops and caramel malts make for a very enjoyable red ale.

Next up was the Alpine Spring, which is an unfiltered lager that has a nice hazy golden color. This beer has a sweet and refreshing citrus taste to it. The flavor is very unique with its nice balance of crisp maltiness from the two-row pale malt blend and honey malt, combined with the smooth taste of Nobel Tettnang hops. This beer is a great combination of great flavor and smooth drinkability.

Overall, these were both really good beers but I’m really liking the Alpine Spring for its great unique flavor. The Spring Thaw variety pack is an awesome choice for anyone who wants to sample some great beers. I’m looking forward to trying the Maple Pecan Porter, but that will have to wait until next time. If you haven’t already picked up the Spring Thaw variety pack, go out and grab it while you still can because they’re only available until the end of March.

Samuel Adams Spring Thaw Variety Pack

004I’ve always been a fan of Samuel Adams Boston Lager, so when I saw their “Spring Thaw Variety Pack” I had to get it. It’s a twelve pack that has six different types of Samuel Adams brews. This variety pack comes with Maple Pecan Porter, Irish Red ale, Winter Lantern Belgian-style ale, Alpine Spring lager, Double Agent IPL, and the original Boston Lager.

The first one I tried was the Winter Lantern which is a Belgian-style white ale. It’s a refreshing and crisp wheat beer with a tangy citrus taste to it. The tangerine and orange peels used to brew this beer give it that sweet citrusy flavor and it is balanced very nicely with the subtle spiciness of coriander and Grains of Paradise. The Winter Lantern tastes similar to Blue Moon but this Sam Adams is actually smoother and even more drinkable.

My next selection from this awesome variety pack was the Double Agent IPL. This beer combines the distinct complex hop flavors and aromas of an IPA with the crisp smoothness of a lager. This beer is incredibly tasty and bursting with the flavor of fresh hops. The West Coast hops used in this brew add a piney and tropical fruit character. The Double Agent IPL has the great flavors of an IPA in a refreshingly smooth lager.

The other styles of beer in this Spring Thaw Variety Pack will have to be tried another day. So far, I am extremely impressed with the Winter Lantern Belgian-style ale and the Double Agent IPL and look forward to trying the other varieties in this case. I definitely recommend picking up this variety pack or any of the selections in it. If you have tried any of these Samuel Adams beers, leave me a comment and let me know what you thought. If you haven’t tried any of these, go out and pick up some up. For all of your beverage information needs, follow my blog and follow me on Twitter. 003

Home Brewing Made Easy

A few months ago I tried a home brewed beer for the first time and was amazed at how sweet and good it was, so I decided I would try making my own. About a month ago, I got a True Brew home brewing kit that included all of the equipment you need to brew 5 gallons of your own beer. The kit contains an informative handbook, a fermenting bucket, a bottling bucket with a spigot, a brush for cleaning bottles, an adhesive thermometer, a glass hydrometer, a 3-piece airlock for the top of the fermenter, a bottle capper tool, siphon equipment with a hose, and a container of B-Brite sanitizing cleanser.

I also got a starter kit to make an all malt brown ale. The ingredients in the brown ale kit include 1 large can of unhopped dark malt extract, 2 pounds of dark dried malt extract, 1 ounce of hop pellets, 1 pack of ale yeast, and 5 ounces of priming sugar. The ingredients to brew your own beer can be purchased in a prepackaged kit like this one or you can buy ingredients separately at a home brewing store, such as the Reno Homebrewer. If you buy your ingredients separately, you can mix and match and customize your recipe.

To start off with, you should clean and sanitize all of your equipment. After you clean and sanitize a large 6+ quart stainless steel pot, fill it with 1-1½ gallons of water and bring it to a boil. After the water starts boiling, stir in both types of malt extract and the hops until the malt extracts dissolve. Continue boiling the mixture for at least 30 minutes. Next, fill your fermenting vessel with 3 gallons of cold water and slowly mix in the hot malt/hop mixture. Fill with cold water until you have 5 gallons. You now have unfermented beer called wort. Let your wort cool to less than 90 degrees F. Once the wort has cooled you can add the yeast and put the lid with the airlock on top of the fermentation vessel. Now you can sit back and relax while the yeast gets to work. Fermentation will generally take about a week, and then you’ll be ready to bottle your beer.

To prepare for bottling, clean and sanitize your bottles and bottling equipment. Heat 1 cup of water and the priming sugar in a small saucepan, this sugar syrup will be used to carbonate the beer. Next, siphon the beer from the fermentation vessel into the bottling bucket with the spigot. As the beer is flowing into the bottling bucket, mix in the sugar syrup. Once all the beer is in the bottling bucket, attach one end of the hose to the spigot and the other end to the bottle filler and fill your bottles. Now you can cap the bottles. Finally, place the beer in a cool dark place for about 4 weeks to allow it to condition. After aging for 4 weeks, you’re ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Now that you know how, try brewing your own batch. If you have your own home brewing story, share it in the comments below. Cheers!008