Friday, October 24, 2008

Simpler Times?

As anyone who has followed this blog for some time has probably noticed, Trader Joe's is a good place for cheap beer. Some of it is good, some not so good. This evening while buying some groceries I spotted Simpler Times Pilsner, a beer brewed by Minhas Brewing Co. (formerly Huber) in Monroe, Wisconsin. I haven't had too many Minhas private label beers. I've had more of their contract brews such as the Berghoff brand.

Simpler Times Pilsner is a pretty good lookin' clear, golden beer that pours with plenty of foam that builds a rocky head. The label advertises hops, and I think I can pick them out in the smell. The rest of the beer ain't bad either. As smooth, very drinkable pilsner, Simpler Times can't be beat. Sure it's kind of plain except for little bit of floral hops and a bit of bubblegum sweet finish, but it called Simpler Times. Not bad at all for a standard American-style lager and pretty cheap at $0.84 a bottle. Drink it cold though, it gets a little too sweet as it warms up.

There is also a Simpler Times Lager, which I didn't buy, that is stronger (6.2 percent compared to 5.5 for the Pilsner), but somehow a dollar a six-pack cheaper. Perhaps more adjunct?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More than a little DAB of beer

If you haven't ever enjoyed German lager out of a mini-keg (a 5-liter self-pouring aluminum can) now is your chance at Famous Liquors at Roosevelt and Main in Lombard, Illinois. Cases of DAB mini-kegs, a fine Dortmunder, (two in each box) are going for $20 or one 5-liter can for $10. Such a deal. I've had this beer before and it is a very clean, somewhat malty, light- to medium-bodied lager with just enough hops. Top reviewers at Beer Advocate seem to like it okay, giving it a "C+" (which is an average that got me into college) so it can't be that bad.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

London Pride at a Discount

Today I picked up some cheap Fuller's London Pride at Sal's Beverage World in Elmhurst, Illinois. Fifteen bucks for a case of pint cans of this decent English Bitter is a great deal. I've seen this beer for as much as $10 a four-pack of pint cans. The cases are about three months past there best before date, but I'm sampling a pint right now and it's not too bad. The flavor are a little subdued, but you can't complain much at 15 bucks a case.

Fuller's London Pride is a decent ale with enough complexity to balance it's excellent drinkability. London Pride starts out with a honey-ish nose accented by woody hops, followed by a delicate biscuit-like maltiness, a hint fruitiness, a slight bit of tartness and finally a crisp, bittersweet finish. Although I'd like to taste more bitter hops in the finish, this is still a decent session ale, and it must be noted that the particular sample I'm enjoying is about three months past it's best before date, which could explain it's lack of luster. I normally wouldn't consume beer past it's due date, but in this case I succumbed to a case that was more than half off it's normal price. So, given this product's condition, I'm certainly not too disappointed.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Ya got a deal with Josef's Brau

It's spring 2008 and the definition of cheap beer is changing. Barley malt and hop prices are going up, up, up and there seems to be no ceiling in sight. Fortunately, Trader Joe (or in this case Trader Josef, his German counterpart) is keeping prices down for a decent beer. The entire Josef Brau range of beers can be found for $6 a six-pack. Sure, if you really want to save money at Trader Joe's you can pick up a six-pack of Mountain Creek ($3 for six cans), but Trader Josef offers real value and a heck of a lot more real beer flavor.

Trader Josef's Dunkelweizen is a seasonal offering that shows up at Trader Joe's stores in the spring. It pours very murky, but the murkiness is just yeast, and hefe-weizens are naturally cloudy with yeast. The Hefe-weizen style originates in Germany and "hefe" means "with yeast" in German. There's lots of B-complex in yeast, which is good for you. That said, I'm surprised at the amount of yeast that ends up in my glass, even as I take measures to keep some of the yeast at the bottom of the bottle out of my glass. There's enough in suspension to probably start fermenting a typical batch of homebrew.

The beer has a decent. It smells a little spicy (normal for a hefe-weizen), but also little metallic. A metallic aroma is kind of expected in a cheaper beer. The problem is this beer isn't that cheap. The beer still tastes good, with some sweet caramel aromas, a subtle spiciness (perhaps some clove?) and a dry-ish finish. The body is light, so it goes down easy. I'd probably pick up more of this if I was in the mood for dunkelweizen and didn't feel like paying for the fancy German imports.