Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Beer Review?: Leinenkugel's Amber Light

The Common Man was only too happy to double up on his drinking assignments this weekend. He had many options. Corona (pushed back to the week of May 5th). New Glarus (still got to get to those). Point (which The Uncommon Wife brought home today). But when The Common Man's neighbor, Jim, handed him a bottle, told him to chill it, and to report back on what he thought...well, The Common Man was intrigued. The intrigue, coupled with the fact that Jim is such a generous host, makes it impossible for The Common Man to refuse, even though the rest of you are going to have to sit through another Leinie's review.

This one, however, is a little offbeat. According to The Common Man's extensive research, the beer he was given, Leinenkugel's Amber Light no longer exists. Despite winning a gold medal in the American Amber "light" division at 2003's Association of Brewers Great American Beer Festival, Leinie's pulled the beer from production in 2006, supposedly to make way for the Summer Shandy and other less manly offerings. The Common Man's neighbor, then, has been holding this beer back in reserve, hoping against hope that he'll have the chance to buy more and shelling out one of his last remaining bottles in the hope that he can find a kindred spirit. Someone who, like him, will fight for its revival.

Sadly, The Common Man can't go quite that far. Don't get him wrong, it's a good beer. For a light beer especially, it has flavor and body. It goes down very easily and is crisp and refreshing. The hops are thoroughly under control, allowing the beer flavor to stand on its own. And it didn't seem to suffer from its long stay behind Jim's bar. But, at least as far as The Common Man is concerned, there doesn't really seem to be anything special about it. Indeed, after drinking it and turning to The Uncommon Wife for confirmation, he concluded that it tastes an awful lot like Yuengling Light, another decent light beer that doesn't have any real defining character.

The Common Man believes these beers have their place. For instance, real connisseurs of beer would not want to get drunk on something like Bass Ale or Newcastle, preferring to savor the experience and appreciate the flavors. But these lovers of good beer have nights when they need to tie one on, just like the rest of you. And no real connisseur should stand for drinking Bud Light into the wee hours. After all, they aren't in college anymore.

So, beers like Leinie's Amber Light serve a valuable function. Because they're smooth and non-descript, they can be drunk in mass quantities. Yet, they have enough flavor and body that they look and taste like real beer. It's not as though you're drinking carbonated, malt water. And there's no shame waking up the next morning next to an empty case of Amber Light. Sure, you probably overestimated its hotness the night before, but it's not like you ended up going home with the tatted-up woman with a mullet that you thought was a 10 and it turned out was a 2, and now you want to get her out before your roommate sees her. Rather, you thought it was an 8, and it turned out to be a 6. Not bad. Congratulations all around.

So drink your Amber Light and be not ashamed. Enjoy it for what it is, a decent beer that's easy to pound back and that is versatile enough to be enjoyed with any meal, and classy enough for a variety of occasions. But be honest about what it is: the beer that looks good when you put on your beer goggles, and that is otherwise ok.




One final note, an informal survey at the party yesterday confirmed that no one actually likes Leinie's Berryweiss. And even though the brewery's suggestion to combine the berry and honey weisses to make a Honeybear turns out to be a viable alternative ("It takes the edge off the Berryweiss" one fellow said. "It's not bad," reported another.), the consensus was the the Honeyweiss was still better. One wonders, then, why in the hell anyone ever makes a Honey bear, and why the brewery keeps making this inferior product, while allowing a perfectly decent beer like Amber Light to languish. It's almost sad.

2 comments:

BillP said...

You're 0-for-September, TCM! It's a slippery slope on whose crest you're teetering, as we both know (reference three previous blogs).

Bought some Leinie's "Octoberfest" the other day. Undecided. Don't taste much differentiation from Honeyweiss (not quite as sweet, but a similar flavor), but my palate is surely less refined than TCM's.

The Common Man said...

The Common Man owes you no explanation, billp, though he has (in his infinite generousity) provided one. Indeed, had you but held your tongue for a few short minutes, you could have read The Common Man extoll the virtues of one CC Sabathia. Oh, how your impatience makes you appear the fool, billp, but The Common Man forgives you. It is, after all, his nature.

He will, however, point out that it's your move in the scrabble. Go. Busy yourself.