It was another one of those restless days where I was pacing the local beer emporium without being able to make a decision. A barrel-aged stout and a ditto porter caught my eye, but I kept looking, walking past the international beers, the national craft beers and the Wisconsin craft beers, to an area I rarely visit – the domestic macro shelves.
My eye fell on a sixer of slim stubbies called Budweiser Freedom Reserve Red Lager. What the…? Before I knew what was happening, I slipped a sixer in my basket.
The last time I had Budweiser, at a Wishbone Ash concert at an Appleton sports bar sometime around the turn of the century, I woke up with a massive headache after a wild night of drinking three bottles of Budweiser – all you could get – during a two-band show.
But I also thought of Dan Carey of New Glarus Brewing, who once said he learned the art and science of brewing while working for Anheuser-Busch before he and wife Deb started one of the most successful craft breweries in the country.
And, dammit, I always liked those stubby bottles.
Before I say another word I want to mention that when Anheuser-Busch’s low carb Michelob Ultra was introduced in 2002, a beer distributor in northeastern Wisconsin reportedly had my face on their dartboard because in my review of the new beer, I said it smelled like farts.
So I have a history skewed toward the negative with this megabrewery.
However, as I have been known to say for several decades now, the big brewers could make good beer if they wanted to. In fact, they regularly do make great specialty brews that go to employees and maybe some specialty clients at the holidays and on other special occasions.
I like Budweiser Red Lager a lot. Very tasty and drinkable, and who could ask for more than that? It has a distinct maltiness and a subtle combination of fruity-biscuitiness that lingers on the palate as a good red should.
The label states that this 5.4 percent red lager “is inspired by George Washington’s recipe.”
Unbeknownst to me before I just looked it up, this is the second specialty lager in the Budweiser Reserve Collection brewed with the idea that a portion of proceeds would benefit Folds of Honor, a nonprofit that provides educational scholarships to military families. To date, A-B has raised $14 million for the scholarship program.
Better yet, the beer was specially brewed by veterans who work at A-B.
So, I am going to say something that I never, ever thought would come out of me – Budweiser has made a great beer. I could drink this Red Ale regularly.
I know. I know. What’s next? PBR Pale Ale?