Beers in Review: Giving "The High End" a try

For today's BiR, I unintentionally have two members of AB-InBev's High End series lined up for review. Which is fine--despite my near-constant criticism of Budweiser & Friends, there is absolutely some worthwhile stuff in that High End line up.

But before we get to them, I have another 21st Amendment Brewery beer to check out. Brew Free or Die pours a clear golden color. Brew Free brings piney hop flavors and a bright, slightly juicy mouthfeel, and a very slight hop bite that blends with a mild maltiness. Flavor-wise, the beer almost plays like a session beer; everything is present and well-balanced, but on the milder side overall. The ABV is certainly not sessionable, though, clocking in at 7%.

Next is one of the long-time standard wheat beers, Hoegaarden. And "standard" feels like an apt overall descriptor of this beer. It's hazy and pale yellow in the glass, and got served with a lemon, which I immediately dumped. Hoegaarden has a generally mild flavor profile, with typical spice notes--cloves, coriander--along with some wheat notes and graininess. A hint of citrus and citrus peel is also present. There's nothing earth-shattering about Hoegaarden, but it does a fine job hitting all of the notes expected out of a wheat beer.

Finally, I felt the responsibility to try a real pumpkin beer before Halloween passed, so a couple weekends ago, I ordered a Night Owl Pumpkin Ale from Elysian Brewing Company. Now, my aversion to pumpkin beers is well documented (keep in mind, this was before Monday's Warlock tasting), but I just wanted to see if my palate had changed at all. Needless to say it hasn't. Night Owl pours a rich reddish-brown to bronze color, and reminded me of straight-up pumpkin pie. I detected tons of cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, and other spices. I found it to be quite sweet, pushing towards the boundary of sickly sweet, to me. Now I'm sure this is exactly what the folks at Elysian were shooting for with this beer, but it is absolutely not for me.

AB-InBev Can't Stop Won't Stop

AB-InBev's assimilation of craft breweries continues, bringing a 5th such entity into its ranks. Golden Road Brewing, Los Angeles' largest craft brewery, will be joining Goose Island, Elysian, and others in AB-InBev's portfolio, with the deal expected to be completed by the end of the year. Brewbound first reported on and posted the press release about the acquisition early this afternoon. Like many of these acquisitions, it spurs an opportunity for Golden Road to utilize Anheuser-Busch's "incredible distribution network to bring our beers to more people”, according to Golden Road president and co-founder Meg Gill. For AB-InBev, it serves as another strong entry in their expanding craft beer portfolio.

Not much to say about this one, really. As mentioned previously, many craft beer enthusiasts were concerned about diminishing quality when AB-InBev began these acquisitions with Goose Island in 2011. To date, there doesn't really seem to be much of an indication of quality loss. So long as that pattern continues, there should be little cause for concern about this acquisition, and even hope that Golden Road's presumably quality selections can be enjoyed by a greater number of people in an expanded distribution network.