I’m a little late in bringing you the results of the first ever Buchanan Family Taste Test we administered over Thanksgiving, but they are finally here. Basketball season is in full force and is taking up a lot more of my time than usual. Currently my boys are 1-2-1, notching our first win last night coming back down 10 to knock off one of the 124 Eastminster teams in our league. We’ve played four games on the season and have had exactly one full team practice. No, this does not make sense to me either.
The taste test was conducted over the entire Thanksgiving break, beginning on Wednesday when we got into town and finishing on Saturday, shortly before Clemson demolished my Gamecocks. Basically I would pour a beer and randomly hand it out to family members to see what they thought. Mom and Dad will continue to be the stars of the show, but a few other family members will pop up as we go forward. The one thing I did not do a good job of was taking pictures of the family while they were sampling. Plenty of pics of the beers, but I’ll do better next time at Christmas.
We began our taste with Victory Helles Lager on Wednesday night. I used our South Carolina glasses from the previous taste test because we accidentally left our beer sample glasses back in Columbia….again. This was Mom’s favorite of all of the beers we have sampled. She found it refreshing and really liked it. Dad was taken aback a bit by how good he thought it was. He referred to it as a “pontoon beer” and I can’t disagree with him. Kendall said it tasted like Budweiser at first, but as she sipped it she felt like it grew on her. Mom and Dad both agreed it was refreshing and Dad insisted that I point out that he called it “crisp” before he even read the bottle. Everybody really enjoyed this one and I gave it a solid ****.
Up next we sampled North Coast’s Blue Star Wheat Beer. This is a beer we previously reviewed and enjoyed. You’ll see the condensation on the bottle label in the pic above. I put all of these guys in a cooler to make sure they would be at optimal serving temperature. Mom was appreciative in this. “I tell you what the fact that these are nice and cold makes a difference. It sure is better than lukewarm Bud Light,” she said. Keep in mind this is the same person who lectured me, Will, and Davis one weekend when we were in high school for drinking lukewarm beer at the lake. Kendall really liked it and felt like it wasn’t nearly as heavy as a Blue Moon. “This doesn’t even need fruit, it already has a little sweetness,” she remarked as I thought to myself, “so do you honey, so do you.” Dad didn’t think it was as crisp as the Victory and felt like it tasted a little metallic. Kendall asked Mom and Dad if they would order them at a restaurant. Mom felt like she would definitely order a Victory while Dad looked longingly at his bottle of Jack Daniels.
As Thanksgiving rolled around the next day, we really got into it when Anne, Brian, and my main man Benjamin came into town. After we all downed our Manmosas, Mimosas, and Bloody Marys, I wanted to keep on the lighter tasting beer train and poured this Anchor California Lager. Brian and Kendall both tasted a little bite at the beginning. I felt like it was sharp for a lager and Dad just made the bitter beer face. Anne had the best commentary of everyone though. “I’ve got a pretty clean palate. Interesting aftertaste. Is it piney? It’s piney. Sharp bite on the tongue and not my fave. I would drink it obviously. It’s piney. Perfect for Hitchcock Woods. Yeah, I’d drink it at the Blessing of the Hounds.” So would I Little Missy, so would I. ***
We finished our portion of the taste test at Mom and Dad’s with Catawba’s Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale which is another one we have reviewed here previously. Dad, being Captain Obvious, nodded his head on his first sip adding that he understood why they call it a cream ale. “It’s a little creamy,” he pointed out, adding that he also thought it was good. Mom felt like it was heavier and still preferred the Victory over this one. Kendall felt like it was perfect considering the weather was about 75 degrees. She thought it was too heavy for the summer but ideal on a fall day. Anne, who I appear to have vastly underutilized during this process, commented on how much she liked it and would enjoy multiple of these. After I pointed out it was a cream ale she said that she thought it tasted a little creamy. She associated cream ales with heavier beers but really enjoyed how light this one tasted.
From Mom and Dad’s we moved along to the Outing Club and incorporates a few more family members in our little experiment. Unfortunately I only took two of our test beers out there, the River Rat Pilsner and the Founders Session IPA. Like a couple of of the previous ones, we have reviewed these guys before (River Rat here and I can’t find the Founders….I know we did it because it was in a mix pack, anyway, if you find it comment and let me know). I had to use Styrofoam cups for this guy because I wasn’t sure on the cleanliness of the glassware at the Outing Club. After pouring, I handed one cup each to Auntie, Kaminer, and Susie. All three felt like there was a little bitterness to it but was really good. Kaminer commented on the sweetness of it and Auntie liked how it stayed with you. “I’d probably end up flat on my behind if I drank a lot of these,” she said while laughing. I drank the fourth glass because I was feeling a little selfish and didn’t like what I was staring at in the cooler (it was Bud Light).
Up next is the Founders. I found these white wine glasses and thought they would look a little classier than the Styrofoam cups, so I washed them up and got them ready. I tried to hand a glass to Jim, but he said he was on a healthy diet and refused, so his wonderful daughters took me up on it. Abby really liked it, especially the smell. Considering she’s in college at UGA and has been to Creature Comforts (one of my favorite IPAs ever, seriously, if you can get your hands on some please let me know) and has a little more of a refined palate than Madison, who has Salty Nut and Pavlovs here at USC. “What is appealing about this?,” Madison asked while turning her nose up to it. Kendall thought it was delicious and Wylie really enjoyed it. “Great taste, very good,” he said. Uncle Det got the last glass and when I asked him for his thoughts, he simply said it was “solid” while trying to mask his bitter beer face. Or maybe he was just watching the Skins game. Either way.
We moved into Saturday in our taste test with just a couple more beers. I stuck with the lighter ones after the experience from the Founders. I just don’t think the majority of my Bud Light loving family is ready for IPAs just yet. When I think of easy drinking, the River Rat Kolsch comes to mind. You can even read about it here. As we were very impatiently waiting for Carolina’s destruction at the hands of Clemson (I had a bad feeling about that), I poured this one for the fam. Wylie was down at the house and took a sip, had a somewhat surprised look on his face, and said how smooth it was. I don’t know why he looked so surprised, maybe it was because he was comparing it to the Miller Lite he brought down. He said it tasted like a hybrid of the honey wheat and another Brew Pub beer, only better. Mom liked it and said it had a nice blend. She also remarked that she wasn’t going to have much left to say because she was sleep deprived from hanging out with Benjamin until the wee hours of the morning. Dad hit the nail on the head though. “You drink it and you know you’ve just had a good beer.” Couldn’t say it better myself Padre.
We wraped up our Thanksgiving taste test with Narrangansett’s Lager. I’ll be honest, when I looked at this beer and studied the label, I was thrown back to my cheap beer drinking days in high school (wait, that wasn’t legal?). It just looks like something you’d get at a gas station doesn’t it? I had to use some liquor glasses because I really didn’t feel like washing the Carolina glasses, but I actually think those glasses accentuate its appearance nicely. Mom liked it and commented on how these selections were better than her birthday selections. Kendall and Madison both really enjoyed it. Madison got a hint of apple on the nose which I picked up as well. When I pointed it out to Dad and Wylie they both agreed. Wylie commented on how less filling it was and Dad compared it to a Budweiser (he loves Bud so that’s a positive). We finished this and I was going to bring out the Allagash White, but #clemsonscored and I was forced into the bourbon sooner than I wanted.****
Overall a fun family time was had. I’ll do another one of these at Christmas and promise to take more pictures of the fam as they enjoy (or not enjoy) their samples. I have a bunch of random beers in the fridge, so I’ll down those and come back later to tell you about them.