In a recent effort to compete more vigorously against Sam Adams, Anheuser Busch's Michelob line has received a makeover. In addition to such awesome flavors as Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus, they have updated their recipes and adjusted their "serious" beer lineup. Craft Packs are now available featuring Marzen, Irish Red, Pale and Porter styles (and if you find the 20-pack, Amber Bock is among the varieties). For this 4-style sample pack we paid a $9.99 sale price at O'Malia's downtown.
There were two things we noticed immediately. First, they've switched back to regular caps (not twist off) and have somehow attempted to spin this into some amazing new pry-off technology their marketing team came up with. Second, there is a tasting chart included. This is actually pretty neat. If you're new to making a concentrated effort to pick out flavors, aromas and other characteristics of what you're drinking, they do a pretty good job of guiding you. Of course they do so with a lot of heavy marketing speak, but the effort is respectable.
The tasting notes, complete with a link to the website.
I picked up very faint caramel and buttery notes in the nose. The taste overall was very crisp with light malt, lemon zest and toffee flavors. It seemed somewhat watery, like a light German lager. A bit of floral honey emerged after it warmed up. This is better than Budweiser American Ale but it's still very light for the style they are attempting. Regular Michelob is a better beer.
I couldn't get over the smell of wet dog in this beer. The color was fairly light and golden with a hint of amber. It tasted slightly sweet with a butter finish. This was representative of a German lager but unlike that style, it wasn't very refreshing and had a funky aftertaste.
This beer was surprisingly impressive. Sweet malt, cherries, milk chocolate, brown sugar, butter and toasted pecans created a fairly complex aroma. The Irish Red tastes like toasted pecans and caramel with a ton of malt character and a creamy yet light body. There's a hint of something fruity sweet in here, maybe peaches? Overall this is stylistically similar to Michelob but comes across with a sweeter and more concentrated malt flavor.
This beer was a dark red color with a healthy head. The nose was a pleasant mix of hops and malt. It was slightly sweet and very balanced. This would make a good tailgating beer. No wet dog here.
It should be noted that this beer should be served at a slightly warmer temperature (maybe 50 or 55 F). If you server it ice cold you're going to miss out on a lot of the delicate hop presence here. The nose contains a mix of citrus and pine hops with a bit of mint and chamomile in the background. The flavor is very gently hoppy with flavors of pine, honey and grapefruit zest. This isn't nearly as hoppy as an APA or an IPA. It's a decent, mildly hoppy Pale Ale. Something many craft brewers forget exists, and definitely a good warmup to the standard American Pale Ale style for someone not used to the flavor of hops.
The color of this beer is golden orange and the body is slightly cloudy. It has a spicy, hoppy nose with a slight sweetness to it. Overall this is a very mild pale ale that is very floral and light in taste. The finish is very dry and refreshing.
This is the belle of the ball. The nose is full of molasses, roasted malt, caramel, cocoa and a hint of coffee. Chocolate plays the lead part is the flavor of this Porter with hints of coffee, sweetened milk, walnuts and dry baker's chocolate. This beer could stand on its own. I would buy a 6-pack of this. Very impressed.
The Porter has a roasted malt and chocolate nose. The color is very dark with red hues. This beer has a very nice mocha coffee and roasted malt flavor. This wins the title of the most drinkable beer in the craft collection.
Michelob isn't going to win over any hardened beer enthusiasts with this one, but they have improved their lineup. The Marzen is a good stepping stone for someone used to the standard American Lager. The Pale, Irish Red and Porters are all excellent gateways into the vast world of craft beer. We were both very impressed with the Porter and thought the Irish Red wasn't too bad. The Pale was a bit light for our extreme tastes and the Marzen was just not very good. I think we were both happy with the result of this experiment. If you've tried any of these, let us know what you think.