The lager spectrum

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All com­mer­cial lagers sit some­where on a spec­trum.

On said spec­trum, Becks might act as the zero point, with its more-or-less neu­tral flavour. We can take it or leave it; it does­n’t actu­al­ly taste unpleas­ant; it’s bet­ter than noth­ing. Maybe that’s where Per­oni lives, too.

Above that point, there are many good, very good or even excel­lent com­mer­cial lagers. Estrel­la Damm, for exam­ple, might not be remote­ly like a craft beer, but it’s good. We enjoy drink­ing it, and even find it a lit­tle mor­eish. It has a cer­tain some­thing.

But, head the oth­er way, beyond the Becks neu­tral zone, there is the murky world of the nasty lager.

Nasty lagers aren’t just bland or bor­ing: they actu­al­ly offend the taste­buds. We’d rather drink water than San Miguel, even on a hot day in Spain. What is that flavour? Onions burned in but­ter? Stel­la Artois is in the same boat, with a taste that sug­gests some­one has bunged a bit of lighter flu­id in to pep it up.

What are your can­di­dates for the nasty end of the spec­trum?

15 thoughts on “The lager spectrum”

  1. I laughed hard when I read San Miguel. It’s prob­a­bly the worst indus­tri­al beer from Spain, how can they brew it so bad?

    Also I remem­ber Impe­r­i­al and Sagres from Por­tu­gal and Cristal from Peru, that skunky taste is ter­ri­ble.

  2. Castle­maine 4X – was stunned to see the sub 4% (is it 3.5%?) draft ver­sion of this still on sale as recent­ly as last year. Vile.

    Car­ling I’d put just below the Becks zero point – it’s not real­ly offen­sive, just utter­ly bland. Offen­sive­ly bland? Brah­ma too – no taste at all.

  3. Ten­nen­t’s lager. When I was at Heri­ot-Watt they some­times had free Ten­nen­t’s with the refresh­ments for the evening guest lec­tures. Even when it was free it still tast­ed foul.

  4. Any oth­er sug­ges­tions for *good* com­mer­cial lagers? We enjoyed Wer­nes­gruen­er a cou­ple of years back, and love Urquell. (As we might have men­tioned.)

  5. Moritz is my Span­ish lager of choice. I quite enjoyed Toohey’s Extra Dry in Oz, cer­tain­ly a cut above Toohey’s New.

    In Cyprus, Leon shines above Keo and I’m def­i­nite­ly in the Mythos camp in Greece as against the infe­ri­or Alfa.

  6. What about brazil­ian com­mer­cial lagers? I did feel like killing the bar­tender in a Lon­don bar when he tried to push me a bot­tle of Brah­ma (hey mate, I do know my coun­try’s crap lager).

    Now they are try­ing some pub­lic­i­ty stunts like “Antar­ti­ca – twice fil­tered under 0 cel­cius” or “360 degrees Skol, the anti bloat­ing beer”. Oh dead.

    Here in Brazil I’ll keep with Kaiser Gold or Heineken, light­struck or not. I’d drink Urquell for­ev­er if it did­nt cost as much as 10 pounds down here.

  7. Hmmm…My com­ment did­n’t take. Let’s see if I can remem­ber what I said…

    What’s real­ly inter­est­ing is how dif­fer­ent many Ger­man and Pol­ish­lagers taste in the States as com­pared to in Europe. We receive their beers in green bot­tles and they’re always skunked. How­ev­er, to drink them fresh and/or from the tap in their home­lands is a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence.

    Sort of sur­prised not to see Bud, Miller, or Coors men­tioned. What about the myr­i­ad of hipster/nostalgic brands owned by Pab­st?

  8. Pedro – here’s what’s going on with the Brazil­ian beer in Lon­don:

    It does­n’t mat­ter what the beer tastes like as long as peo­ple are will­ing to buy into an idea of “Brazil­ian­ness”. They’re buy­ing a mem­o­ry of a trav­el­ling expe­ri­ence, or a feel­ing that they’re glob­al sophis­ti­cates. Not mean­ing to be patro­n­is­ing here – that can be fun! And brand­ing can actu­al­ly make things taste bet­ter! (

    Zac – Mich­e­lob is the beer I usu­al­ly hear peo­ple men­tion as a US com­mer­cial lager which does­n’t com­plete­ly suck. Bud is pret­ty much neu­tral, I think. It does­n’t actu­al­ly taste *nasty*.

    Beer Nut – Moritz was pret­ty good, now you men­tion it.

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