Saturday, November 8, 2008

American Ale: That Bud's for me

As I write this, I'm sipping beer from a coffee mug. It's fitting. I arrived at beer snobbery through the unlikely path of coffee snobbery.

While in college, I tried the coffee at Cup a Joe on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, N.C. All the beans and brews were roasted in-house, and with the first sip of that French Roast, I entered a religious experience that henceforth consigned all the Folgers and Maxwell Houses to the shadows of the unredeemed.

When I opened the late Living Room Coffee Bar and Used Books in Myrtle Beach back in 2001, I purchased beans for brewed java and espresso from Larry's Beans, another small, regional roaster, because I knew the quality was going to be better than anything I could get from the big distributors.

In other words, in that one sip at Cup a Joe years ago, I learned that every product had a big brand for mass consumption as well as little-know artisan brand hidden in an out-of-the-way shop. Today I prefer the local and regional microbrews, and scoff at the Budweisers of the world.

Budweiser's American Ale has shut me up.

Figuratively speaking. I'll keep writing for now.

Bud's American Ale seemed like a cynical ploy to appeal to the pickier beer drinker, except that the quality of the beer takes the cynical part out of the ploy.

I never liked the idea that Bud's lager - the brand's best known beer, the one everybody calls Bud - was made with rice as well as barley. The company must have decided that a good remedy would be to make an all-malt ale, an ale made with nothing but barley, and to enhance it with Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest.

So as I drink Bud's American Ale from my prized CNN coffee mug (speaking of big brands for mass consumption), I'm tasting a solid amber brew and a finish that leans toward the dry side. I didn't quite get the advertised "noticeably citrus aroma," although I tasted a bit in the finish. If I hold the coffee mug under a light, I can see that the color scale runs to the deep and dark side of amber.

The most informative thing I can say, however, is this: My respect for Bud and its big parent company Anheuser-Busch is bubbling upward.

I've seen six-packs of American Ale bottles selling in the $6.14-$6.59 range. Go to www.budamericanale.com and click "Find It" for local bars and stores that carry this ale.





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