Tag Archives: Brew Review


When you think of beer meccas, Italy isn’t first on the list. Conventional wisdom holds that you look to this country more for wine than suds.

Even so, don’t dismiss Peroni outright.

Billed as the top Italian beer import to America, this is a foamy and straw-colored brew with a floral aroma. There are similarities to another European brew, Beck’s, in the use of Saaz hops, or at least Saaz-like hops, in the creation process.

To be forthright and honest, it’s a pretty thin offering. There’s not a whole lot of substance to it.

Still, if you enjoy European-style pilsners — or light, summer-y easy drinkers — Peroni isn’t the worst route to take.



Flying Dog, even in its weakest offerings, always impresses aesthetically with its Steadman-style illustrated labels.

And thankfully, with Lucky SOB, this brewer strikes gold with what’s inside the bottle as well.

An Irish red ale with a hint of strawberry in the scent, this one pours a chestnut brown with a dark-cherry glossing. The floral hops add spice to a flavor that has fruit character without the sweetness.

Brewed with clovers for a subtle accent and, undoubtedly, a nice marketing hook, this is an intriguing beer that’s probably the best this reviewer has tried thus far in 2017.

Hats off, yet again, to the eminent brewers at Flying Dog.



If aroma and flavor were everything, this one could be an award winner.

Shock Top Ginger Wheat blends a citrus and — of course — ginger scent into a tangerine-colored brew topped with precious little foam. The taste includes both of the aforementioned and a fair amount of spice and honey. It’s sweet, but not sickishly.

All this is fine and good. But it falls way short on mouthfeel.

A better brew in this genre would expand for a more satisfying finish. The effort is good here — it’s just a little too watered-down for a lot of wheat beer drinkers.



We end a full month of cheap booze with an old standard.

Affectionately referred to as “Genny” by adoring fans, Genesee is advertised as one of America’s oldest continually operating breweries. It has a brine-ish scent, lots of head and a flavor heavy on barley, conveying traces of month-old peanuts. The aftertaste, unlike the light version of this, is thankfully not pure aluminum.

Don’t misunderstand: Genny isn’t the worst entry to the review this month. But at $13 for a 24-pack, you have to dock points for it being the most expensive of the bargain beers.

Final standings: Extra Gold Lager in first, Milwaukee Special Reserve in second, Genesee in third, Pennsylvania Style Lager in fourth and American (sorry, @POTUS) a distant fifth. 



Before you discuss Milwaukee Special Reserve, you almost have to first dispel some natural misconceptions.

Believe it or not, this beer is a brand of Melanie Brewing Co., which also produces Nighthawk Premium Malt Liquor and Beer 30 Ice. (Full disclosure: Never heard of either prior to researching for this review piece). 

Milwaukee Special Reserve, Milwaukee Special Reserve Light and Milwaukee Special Reserve Ice, therefore, have no familial relation to Old Milwaukee or Milwaukee’s Best. 

This a fairly unremarkable effort. The color’s pale, the smell negligible, and finish sharp and dry. Essentially unsatisfying yet inoffensive — characteristic of the $13-per-30-pack genre.

Non-related and far more tasty Old Milwaukee will much sooner return to my fridge than this stuff. Make of that what you will.



Extra Gold wasn’t extra great, but it was decent. American Beer? Not so much.

As the third cheap-o selection for January, Pennsylvania Style Lager falls somewhere in between. Decent might be a stretch, but it’s nowhere near the low level of the wretchedly bland and hangover-inducing American.

Pennsylvania Style is a disturbingly pale-colored brew with little in terms of scent or taste. There’s a light version as well, which ought to be called Pennsylvania Style Air because it’s hard to conceive of anything more tasteless.

Probably the best thing you can say about this beer is that you barely notice it. 

That’s not a compliment — but again, we’re talking about the most inexpensive drinks on the market this month. So let’s look on the bright side and call it a modest victory.



It gets no more generically domestic than this.

American Beer is exactly that — American beer. Made in Pittsburgh, this is a sudsy blond drink that tastes of sweet corn. Its aftertaste is dry and somehow sticky, despite its light body.

There probably isn’t a brewer on Earth who could make American Beer great — again or ever — without a major makeover. It’s pretty stale and bland, to be polite.

Like all beer on the menu this month, this one’s a bargain. Hard to beat $11 for 24, even though Extra Gold Lager probably edges this one out on flavor. 

Best of the month overall? We’ll see in three weeks.



Be honest: Your credit card is maxed and your bank account minimized.

It’s the month of January, a financial hangover from Christmastime’s gift-giving gluttony. So with imports and high-end craft beers out of the budget, let’s get real and look your most palatable cheap stuff — beginning with Extra Gold Lager.

Produced by Molson Coors Brewing Co., this stuff smells of straw and tastes of cereal and corn. The roasted malts and high carbonation are not negatives for this particular brew and, if you’re anything like this reviewer, it may even bring back some college memories.

No, it doesn’t compete with your premium brands — but at less than $15 a case, don’t cry about it.

Will this be the best (or least worst) of the bargain beers? Check back throughout the month to find out.



If considering this Magic Hat offering for your New Year’s Eve toast, you may want to look elsewhere instead.

Demo Black I.P.A. is 6-percent ABV and has a rich head that dissipates swiftly. The scent is sharp, almost acidic, but the taste is dominated by dark chocolate malt and a trace of raisin. As for mouthfeel, it’s deceptively light.

This is a beer that can’t decide if it’s an India pale ale, porter or stout. It does several things simultaneously, which is fine, but does none of them particularly well.

If the words “LIMITED ENGAGEMENT” on the label indicates that this won’t be on shelves forever, that won’t be such a shame. There are better brews out there, especially from Magic Hat.



When you drink at least one new beer a week, you can become a little numb and tough to surprise. But Kellerbier is certainly a standout in many ways.

Though unfiltered, this lager is only slightly cloudy. It pours blond and has barely perceptible carbonation. The scent is citrusy, which belies its hop-forward flavor — a flavor that also includes a full complement of floral hops.

Kellerbier has a 5.5-ABV, and a spice and a pungecy that fades swiftly on the tongue. This gives the beer a crisp and clean feel that adds to its overall drinkability. And that makes this the second solid Saranac beer sampled in the past few weeks. 

If you haven’t tried anything from this brewer yet, you might want to give them a try. They seem to keep things fresh and interesting.



A product of Magic Hat, Winter Mingle states “A PERFORMANCE IN EVERY BOTTLE” on each rear label.

In essence true to its word, this beer’s performance can be described in three acts.

Act No. 1: the scent. Roasted and nutty, with a trace of cocoa.

Act No. 2: the taste. Malty and sweet, evidence of the advertised vanilla.

Act No. 3: the aftertaste. Akin to coffee and bitter, with a commendable sense of finality.

Winter Mingle is solid. Stout aficionados may not be entirely satisfied, but it’s not the worst thing to find under your tree.