Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 10 Worst Beers of 2009

It's time for "The Critic's Revenge!" The WORST beers of 2009! This is NOT "The Worst Beers Ever Made" or the worst beers that were released in 2009. If I reviewed it in 2009 it was eligible for this list.

NOTE: for my #1 worst beer - at the time I reviewed it I gave it WAAAAAY to much credit and gave it "the benefit of the doubt". But the more I think about it, the more I HATE that beer! Maybe I'll re-review it someday but not anytime soon.

And if I offended you by listing something you like as a bad beer, well... that's really your problem. I explained why I disliked these beers as much as I did. The reviews speak for themselves. Please watch the ENTIRE review to understand my reasoning behind my rating.

#10 Curim Gold Celtic Wheat

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this beer since it was described as being crisp, hoppy and fruity and yet it’s a wheat beer. I wondered if this was perhaps an Irish take on the Belgian White style. If only.

Curim Gold Celtic Wheat is crisp, to be sure, but it had next to nothing else going for it. There was no fruit taste at all, not even a general sweet or citrusy flavor. Not that the taste was off-putting, but there isn’t much to enjoy about it.

In the United States, certain macro breweries like to market their beers as tasting “crisp” and/or “clean” as if such adjectives were compliments. I would use both to describe the taste of Tsingtao. This is a pale lager, after all, supposedly based on the German pilsner style. Those looking for something distinct in the palate will have a tough time finding anything.

Surprisingly, this beer does not have a rice-like flavor since rice is apparently not used as an adjunct ingredient. The bottle boasts “only the highest quality malted barley, hops, yeast, and pure mountain water…” If this is the highest quality China has to offer, I’d hate to taste what the lesser-quality beers taste like. However, it does have a slightly sweet taste, but it’s extremely faint. Like most lagers of the type, water seems to be the predominant flavor.

I had no idea what to expect from Wacko. I’ve never had beet sugar or extract (or even the vegetable itself), although I suppose that’s good because it gives me a more neutral starting point. Upon my first swig I tasted something I haven’t had in years – a wine cooler (or at least a very watered-down version of those alcopops).

Magic Hat is known for being experimental and having eccentric beer styles, which is fine since the beer always tastes great… until now. Drinking Wacko is not a pleasant experience. I get no specific ingredients here other than an overly-sweetened palate which finishes with a dry, malty thud. No fruit flavors are noticeable, although there is a taste similar to the tartness of cranberry or grapefruit juice.

From what I understand the Shmaltz Brewing Company intends for Genesis Ale to be a cross between a “West Coast-style” pale ale and a brown ale. I’m all for experimentation if the results warrant it, but this beer does not.

The first sensation to hit me as I took my first sip was that of a strongly-flavored  pale ale with a distinct hop bite and tart bitterness. However, as the beer finished it had a rich, sugary, caramel-like flavor that just didn’t seem to match. As I continued to drink I noticed the hop character was completely outshined by a syrup-like quality. Molasses, butterscotch and even pineapple seemed to be distinct ingredients – all of which can be attributes in the right context, but here it’s just a very strange concoction.

I probably should rate Labatt Blue Light a little lower than I’m going to since it’s woefully bland. However, I prefer bland to offensive, and for a beer to score a 3 or worse for me, it has to be a struggle to drink. While there really aren’t many redeeming qualities to this beer, it’s at least easy to get down. I think I’ve built up a tolerance to adjunct macro lagers, as this flavor profile doesn’t repulse me all that much (well, maybe the first swig or two).

This seems to have a smidge of true pilsner quality to it than most light beers of the caliber. Slightly sweet taste of pale grain throughout the swig. I do detect some toasted corn and a hint of metallic flavor in the aftertaste, but it all homogenizes quickly. What this ends up tasting like it exactly what it is: light fizzy yellow beer. The most prominent flavor here is its lack of flavor, or maybe an actual watery taste. While that may sound repulsive, I found it to be tolerable.

This is perhaps the beer most lacking in flavor I have ever experienced. Many bargain-basement brews of this type are known for tasting as cheap as they sell for, but Keystone Light is actually at the point of being neutral. I does not taste good by any means, but it doesn’t taste bad and offensive, either.

I do detect a mostly watery, grainy palate as though it were just beer-flavored water. There’s no hops or malts to speak of, nor are there any adjuncts detectable. Dare I say I might actually get the slightest of a sweet taste to the palate, but it’s so ridiculously weak it cannot save this beer. It’s mediocre all around by virtue of its blandness since there’s just nothing to appreciate or enjoy here.

I’ve tasted many mass-market adjunct macro lagers and their “light” counterparts which have been bland and watery, but Modelo Especial takes it one step further by actually having an odd taste beyond the blandness.

Up front I get a watery composition, but the finish is dry, bitter and even more watery. There’s a strange flavor here I can’t really put my finger on. It’s somewhat metallic, but at the same time powdery. There’s an aftertaste to match which is reminiscent of the boozy quality of an imperial brew (rubbing alcohol, for example). It’s quite off-putting, but not to the point of being completely undrinkable.

In fact, the blandness of the overall palate is what makes Modelo Especial at least drinkable (and when drunk while eating a meal it’s easily ignorable and somewhat thirst-quenching).

I’ve slammed the macro brewers for their bland taste, but rarely does a craft beer invoke the same sense of indifference in me. Even when I dislike a niche-style beer by a smaller brewery I at least have a strong reaction to it. However, with Blonde Ale every sip was an anticipation for the next sip. Sometimes it takes a few swigs before I begin to detect the flavor in a beer, but even after three bottles I failed to notice a taste of anything whatsoever here.

The only way to describe this beer would be to imagine a “light” by one of the big breweries but without the taste (whatever that taste may be). It doesn’t even taste like corn, rice, potatoes or whatever adjuncts are often used. Basically this is beer-flavored beer that has been watered down. And I might almost compliment it for not tasting bad, but it definitely does not taste even remotely good.

Criticizing a light beer for being bland and watery is stating the obvious. I don’t know too many people who drink a light mass-market brew for the delectable palate. However, at the very least, such beers shouldn’t be off-putting. But Michelob Light actually goes beyond the typical plain, watery light lager to the point of actually tasting bad.

This beer has one of the strongest metallic tastes I’ve ever encountered. It also has what my friend Jay calls a “dirty” taste - as if it were poured from a tap that hasn’t been cleaned in a while. It’s so bad that it actually makes it feel as if I have a canker sore in my mouth. What’s worse is that if this beer is not drunk immediately, it takes on an even dirtier, bitterer taste.

I’m not a big fan of mass-market lagers and pilsners, because most have no genuine craftsmanship to their taste and that is true of Heineken. Many of the European beers of the style that I have tried have been at least crisp and clean, maybe even creamy. However, the same cannot be said of this beer which is just plain watery with an off-putting taste.

The first thing I notice is an extremely grainy flavor which finishes with a heavy, dry, yeast-like taste. In fact, the beer has almost of a metallic flavor, which is likely the product of the grainy taste combined with the skunky smell. The flavor bad to the point of making the beer only tolerable to drink. There’s simply no appeal at all.

Dishonorable Mention:

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