This week's Beer of the Week brought to you as always by the fine folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits, your place to shop when you want the spirits to move you.
The old saying is "never judge a book by its cover." In general, that advice tends to hold true when it comes to the package your beer comes in. However, as JB and I have both observed, in some instances there does seem to be more than a passing connection between the label on the outside and the beer on the inside.
Many craft brewers seem to believe that it's not enough to just make high quality beer. They want the package to be as pleasing to the eye as the beer itself is to the palate. You often find that a great deal of effort and attention has gone into the graphic design of craft beer containers, whether it be the bottle with a label, the can, and, when appropriate even the cardboard four, six or twelve packs the beer is sold in. While certainly not a hard and fast rule to go by, if someone cares enough to worry about the graphic design, they usually also care about the quality of the beer.
Which brings us to our Beer of the Week. As I've mentioned before, I harbor no ill will toward macro brewers who attempt to break into the craft field. If they can produce a decent tasting beer in addition to their mass produced swill, more power to 'em. The only thing I don't like is big brewers who try to disguise the product and confuse consumers by not being clear about where the beer really comes from.
While Anheuser-Busch is pretty upfront about their brewing Michelob Shock Top Belgian White, I have to admit that the first couple of times I tried Shock Top (on tap at bars) I was not aware it was an AB product. I was pretty sure that it wasn't a true craft beer, but I didn't know who made it until I picked up a six-pack at Glen Lake Wine and Spirits last week.
Even if the label didn't clearly say Michelob on it, you can tell that it's not from a craft brewery. The look is just a little too slick, too designed by a team of marketing wonks not to have come out of a corporate meeting room. The whole "extreme" orange with a mohawk wearing shades thing smacks of The Poochie Show from The Simpsons:
Lady: We at AB want a beer with attitude. It's edgy, it's "in your face." You've heard the expression "let's get busy"? Well, this is a beer who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
It's really not a look that fits the beer at all. They should have stuck with the golden field of wheat with blue summer sky above and nixed the orange with attitude. On to the beer itself.
Beer Style: Belgian White Wheat Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 5.2
COLOR (0-2): Very pronounced orangish-gold with nice cloudiness. 2
AROMA (0-2): Light citrus with a a hint of spice. 1
HEAD (0-2): Pours thick, fades fast. 1
TASTE (0-5): Light and crisp with flavors of orange and wheat. 3
AFTERTASTE (0-2): An unusual alcohol flavor lingers. 1
OVERALL (0-6): While it's not "extreme" (as hinted at by the orange on the label) in any way whatsoever, it's not a bad beer at all. I'd stack it up there with the likes of Blue Moon. Very drinkable and pretty refreshing which makes it a decent choice for summer. 3
TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 11