Budweiser has released a gem of a beer called Black Crown golden amber lager. First, let me just say “nice try, Bud. Real cute.” Let me follow that up with “what in the flying f*ck is this?” Budweiser publicized this during the freaking super bowl and I just cannot understand why. Most anyone looking to drink an amber wouldn’t bat a thirsty eyelash at a Budweiser offering and any die-hard Budweiser fan isn’t looking for a flavorful amber lager. It seems fated that everyone would be disappointed.
With that being said, I did recently try the beer. I couldn’t, with a clear conscious, write a “drink this, not that” article without giving it a fair shot so, I lowered my standards, put on my big girl panties, and bought a 12 pack of Budweiser Black Crown from a convenience store nearby. Under the cover of darkness and shame, I drank it, and it was… fine. It was sweet and a little carmel-y, but mostly just tasted like a honeyed up Budweiser. I wasn’t compelled to spit it out on the floor in disgust, but I also failed to be tempted to finish my pint. Luckily for all of you out there, my sacrificed dignity doesn’t have to go unrewarded. There’s a better choice for amber-seekers out there.
Black Crown is called a golden amber lager, which can be categorized under the American Amber or Red Lager families. They are typically maltier than you run of the mill lagers (i.e. sweeter, darker) and have a lowered bitterness while still being fairly effervescent and dry to finish. If you want to get the “apples to apples” experience, a great option to try would be Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Lager. It’s malty yet light, and really balanced and refreshing.
If you want something a little more sumptuous and filling, go for an amber or brown ale. These are readily available, carry a little more maltiness and typically a nice, mid-range ABV percentage. If you live in the Austin area, Pinthouse Pizza released a new amber just today called Old Beluga that is sure to please. If not, don’t fret. Great amber and brown ales are available from just about every brewery you can imagine. Try a local brewery tour and see all the different flavors brewmasters are able to get out of these beers.
Since we are coming into the appropriate season, you could always try a Irish Red ale. They are a little sweet, but very balanced with the same dry finish you’d find in an American Amber. Boulevard Brewing Co releases their Irish Ale from January to March. Personally, I want to get my hands on a bottle of Brian Boru Old Irish Red by Three Floyds Brewing Company, so if you are in the Midwest region, see if they distribute nearby.
So, folks, lesson to be learned here is don’t be tempted by cool buzz words from big wig beer manufacturers. If you spend an extra 5 minutes exploring your local beer fridge, you are sure to find a far more satisfying representative of the amber family. Leave the Budweiser in the cooler (even the flashy one) and hunt down something really worth drinking.