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This Is Good Beer

GuinnessBlondeI really can't claim to be a connoisseur of beer, but I have pretty strong likes and dislikes. (That sounds like the old "I don't know much about art..." line. Well, so be it.)  I don't entirely understand things like this, the "tasting notes" for this beer at the Guinness site:

Aroma: Light and hoppy with floral and citrus notes
Flavor: Complex and flavorful, hoppy and citrus on the nose
Palate: Lively mouthfeel, crisp and refreshing with a long malt biscuity finish
ABV: 5%
Appearance: Golden amber colored beer with a dense head
Hops: Citra, Wilamette, Mount Hood

I do get part of that description, but not all. I ain't taste no biscuits, that's for sure. What I would say about this beer is that it's a perfect balance of heavy and light, dull and sharp. I really like IPAs in general, but that basic flavor has been sort of run into the ground. I've loved Guinness Extra Stout for a long time, to the point where I thought ordinary Guinness Stout was watery when I first tasted it. But it's really heavy and not something I want more than now and then. 

I was skeptical about Blonde when I first saw it advertised--oh, they're just putting out some bland stuff for Americans--and only tried it the other day when I noticed that our local supermarket was selling it in individual bottles as well as six-packs. Next time I went to the store I bought a six-pack.


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Fusion is a good thing. A lighter American friendly Guinness could be delicious.

It’s not that exactly. It’s a completely different beer. But it’s worthy of the Guinness name in my opinion. I think it’s what’s called a lager rather than a stout. But more flavorful than, for instance, Yuengling lager. To say nothing of Budweiser and stuff.

It’s kind of like they made a superior hamburger.

Who did? We never had hamburgers in the UK until everyone was eating them in the US. Then we had a ghastly chain called Wimpey. That was dreadful. Then we were invaded with American real hamburgers.

I love IPAs. They are delicious. But I agree that one cannot drink that every day. I go out to an Artisan beer place at the end of semester with colleagues. I couldn't do that more than three times a year or so. I have always found Guinness too bitter and harsh. I would never buy a beer called Guinness Blonde. I've seen it in the supermarket, and I couldn't buy that. But I agree with you. How much insane could it get than the Beer Snob? Or the Beer Bore? If its a kind of version of Guinness than Americans can drink, and drink every Saturday night, then why not. Its America.

What I mean is, it's not a version of Guinness that Americans can drink, if you're thinking of the Guinness that you would get in a bar in the UK or Ireland. It's not the same species of beer. It's something that's basically of the same species as Budweiser and the other standard American beers, that were the only thing you could get until fairly recently. But GB is much better.

So what I meant about the hamburger is that Guinness doing that is as if Brits (or Irish) had come over here and gone into the hamburger business and done it better than we do.

I guess the comparison to Bud isn't really fair because Guinness Blonde costs half again as much as Bud. Probably there are American craft lagers that are just as good (and cost just as much). But GB really hit the spot with me. I'm about to have one--cheers!

My one and only time in England was in the '60s when Wimpey's was all there was in the hamburger line. Yes, it was truly awful. I'm sure my standards weren't very high but I remember being kind of appalled.

No disrespect to IPAs, btw. I love them, too. It's just that they became sort of a fad and some brewers seemed to think throwing in a ton of hops (which apparently is what gives an IPA its bite) was all they needed to do. I've tasted some that seemed really excessive. My favorite is Sweetwater 420.

I see. Its an American beer made by an Irishman. I will try one

I've not tried it yet but an Irish friend tells me that it's fairly similar to Harp Lager, which is also made by Guinness.

I'm not an IPA guy really, but I do like some of the ones that have a good hops/malt balance. My favorite is probably Sierra Nevada's 'Celebration.' I also like Yard's and Ballantine. I'm not crazy about the newer New England-style IPA's (the 'hazy' ones) but I can drink them if they're not too floral.

I like stouts and porters, and also English-style ales and bitters. Not long ago I tried a UK ale called Wells Bombardier, and it was marvelous (had it on tap at a Scottish-themed pub).

And I also like German beers in general: hoppy lagers, bocks, dunkels, etc. And I remain committed to Pilsner Urquell, the Czech beer which is basically the Guinness of pilsners. It's one of the first beers I ever drank, and although it's not as good as it was back in the 80's, it's still wonderful, especially if you can find it on draft or in cans.

Sorry to go on, but you've hit upon a favorite subject!

Or you can mix Pilsner Urquell and Guinness and have a "Black Czech", which is really yummy. Bar I would go to years ago would make that for you. Can't even remember where, but it was great!

That sounds really good. Too bad you almost never see Pilsner Urquell on tap anywhere anymore.

The craft beer movement has had a lot of good results, but one of the negatives is the reduction in availability of imports, at least on draft.

Y'all are way more knowledgeable than I am. If I've ever heard of that Czech beer before it's probably because one of you mentioned it.

A while back I was having dinner with a friend and ordered a Bud just to shave a couple of dollars off the bill. I hadn't drunk anything like that for some years and was surprised at how less bad it was than I expected. :-)

As you're probably aware, PBR has become a slightly ironic popular thing. Well, in that general class of not-very-good beer, I have a nostalgic attachment to Miller High Life (a memory of adults drinking it when I was a child). I was with some people who ordered PBR, so I ordered a High Life, and they were sort of laughing at me. I challenged them to a taste test, and they agreed there was not much difference.

It's a sad commentary on the state of American life that Bud Lite is now considered the beer of Regular Guys. I heard it referred to that way in a country song the other day. Or rather "country". And then there are those detestable commercials that portray people who don't like it as effete weaklings.

Small town America is crazy for Bud Light for some reason. Here in Rock Springs WY and when I used to live in Silver City NM that's what you see people buying in the grocery. Miller High Life tastes amazing compared to a Bud Light! But there are certainly tastier options out there, and really they're not that much more expensive.

My favorite "standard" American beer used to be Michelob, but even that's hard to find anymore. It's Michelob Ultra everywhere!

I can do Miller High Life, Coors, etc., in a pinch, especially with food, but those "light" beers are all pretty terrible.

PBR is Corona for hipsters: a cheap standard lager that has gained its appeal not by how it tastes but by who drinks it. Back in 1987 when my ex and I honeymooned in Mexico they were literally giving Corona away in places. It was basically the Budweiser of Mexico. Then a few years later for some reason it caught on in U.S. yuppiedom and it soon became a "thing." I remember one beer writer saying that it was because the yuppies thought the clear, painted bottles were cool.

I had a Corona not long ago, I guess for the first time. Negra Modelo is my usual in the local Mexican restaurant, or else Yeungling if I'm feeling cheap. I had no idea of this history about Corona and was surprised when I found it sort of nasty.

Last summer, trying to lose a few pounds but not wanting to give up the evening beer, I tried Yeungling's Lite. It was better than the others but not much. I found that adding a healthy shot of lime juice made it much more palatable.

I googled PBR and got a lot about professional bull riders. I see it is Pabst something Beer.

There used to be funny advertizements about some of the German beers - but I think it was Pilsner with the very funny ads.

Pabst Blue Ribbon. Been around forever. Which makes me wonder what happened to the other standards of my youth--Falstaff, Schlitz...?

I think Falstaff was what used to be advertised on baseball games with Dizzy Dean announcing. And what was the "grab for all the gusto you can get" one? I thought that was a really horrible slogan, and I remember one friend who I think was sort of haunted by it, feeling like he wasn't getting enough out of life or something. This was when we were, like, twenty.

It was Schlitz.

When I bought my house in February 2014 the seller left a dozen tins of beer behind. I cannot remember if it was Coors or Buds, but I could not persuade any dinner guest to drink it. It took me about 18 months to palm it off on students and such at dinner parties and movie clubs.

(speaking of which we are watching Wild Strawberries in our next movie club - I have never seen it).

I remember when I was at the religious magazine in nyc, one of the editors mocked the fashion for artisan beers and said he would rather drink Schlitz or Bud or Coors. I knew at that moment he has no judgement.

In evaluating that editor's remark I would think either "no judgment" or "poseur."

I've never done a top 10 movies and would rather not, but if forced I would definitely put Wild Strawberries in it.

That said, I would have drunk your Coors or Bud if nothing better was on offer. And would definitely have been willing to take it home and get it off your hands, if only to save a few dollars. I tend to be one of these people who can't throw away anything that might possibly be useful or consumable.

Those unwanted cans of Coors or Bud could always have been used to make a good beef stew. Or a Mexican mole sauce.

Just found a TV ad for Pabst Blue Ribbon from the 1950s. I'd forgotten it had a popular jingle "What'll You Have"?, which still occupies a spot somewhere in my old brain. :)

Oh no! Just those three words, and now I've recalled the whole jingle and it will be stuck in my head for the next few hours.

Negra Modelo is good. I also like Dos Equis Amber and Pacifico. They all go well with Mexican food. There's a Mexican place near me that has expensive draft beer, mostly craft stuff, but for some reason sells big 23 oz. cans of Sol for $6.00, which is a pretty good deal.

One of the best lagers I've had in a long time is a newish one from Bell's called Lager of the Lakes. They also make my favorite wheat beer, Oberon. I think they're out of Michigan.

"Those unwanted cans of Coors or Bud could always have been used to make a good beef stew."

Or a big pot of pork and sauerkraut!

I do sometimes make a beer and beef stew, so I don't know why I never thought of it.

Mac, we are watching some movies that one is embarrassed never to have seen (like Wild Strawberries) and some movies one is embarrassed to have seen.

We would like to end with a Comedy. All of us have seen all or most of the Coen brothers films. I am thinking of the Death of Stalin, but that might be too black. Can anyone think of anything somewhat Coenesque that we could watch.

The guy is a poseur, no question

I guess everybody has seen Dr. Strangelove? I still think it's brilliant. I haven't seen Death of Stalin.

Rob, I think you must drink a good deal more beer than I do. You definitely have a wider selection. I lean toward our local brewers with some experimentation in what the supermarket offers, like the GB, but that's mostly craft beers with national distribution. New Belgium, Sweetwater, Goose Island, and the like. Don't remember seeing Bell's.

My favorite comedy of recent years is The Grand Budapest Hotel. It's got some language and lewdness although not extreme, and it's somewhat Coen-esque.

If you want something a little lighter, I'm a fan of Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

It's not particularly dark, but I think Galaxy Quest is very funny. It's in part a Star Trek satire.

I like to try a lot of different beers but I'm not really a big consumer. I seldom drink any at home for instance. I think it may be because I'm in a good-sized city with a lot of choices, as you said. We have a number of local brewpubs and microbreweries, but I'm not really partial to any of them in particular.

My favorite microbrewery is approximately 80 miles away, roughly half-way between here and my sister's place in Columbus, Ohio. I always stop on the way home and have a pint or two, and bring some home to share with friends. I'm glad the place isn't closer because I'd be broke and I'd weigh 300 lbs.

Grumpy, how about the original The Ladykillers with Alec Guinness?

Re the guy who said he would rather drink Schlitz etc.: I know someone who only likes Bud Lite. I know it's supposed to be "Light", btw, but "Lite" just somehow seems more appropriate to me--more scornful and dismissive. I have kidded her a little about it. But it's truly what she likes. She was at some kind of beer tasting event where everybody was given a small sample of 30(!) different beers without being told what they were. She said most people dropped out before trying all 30, but she and a friend persisted all the way, making notes of what they liked and didn't like. In the end they picked their favorite, by number or whatever. Hers turned out to be Bud Lite. Completely blind taste test.

Ladykillers and Dr Strangelove both appealing ideas.

Rob, I didn't like The Grand Budapest Hotel. I liked the cartoon about the dog very much, and I liked the early one about the Family. But Grand Budapest Hotel didn't make me laugh. I feel that this director has ons and offs.

Interesting -- GBH is really the only one of his I've liked so far!

The Royal Tenenbaums is my favorite Wes Anderson movie. I really love Grand Budapest too.
A friend of mine is from Michigan and has been pushing Bells beers for years. I think they are all very good.

Yeah, there are certain breweries that seldom if ever seem to have a misstep. I think Bell's is one of them. Anchor and Sierra Nevada too. They've all been around for years and the quality has never dropped off.

I think Sierra Nevada was the first craft beer, if that's the right term, I encountered. It was their pale ale (just PA, not IPA) and I really liked it.

As a rule, I don't like beer, although there are a few exceptions. If backed into a corner, I will always go for a Guinness stout as my first choice. I also more-or-less like the Chimay beers from Belgium. I like Corona because of the clear, painted bottles.

Grumpy, a good comedy that many people haven't seen is "Kind Hearts and Coronets". I don't know how Coenesque it is, but it is quite dark -- about a man who systematically murders his way into a dukedom. Alec Guinness plays 9 different characters!

It’s so sad that you don’t care for beer. Though I’m sure winebibbers would say the same of my indifference to wine. Well, they might be more disdainful.

Kind Hearts would be a good choice.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was a craft go-to for a lot of people until the IPA surge developed.

Craig - I love Kind Hearts. I wrote about it in one of my books, God is not a Story. It is very dark - all of those Ealing comedies are pretty dark

Then I guess you already thought of it!

My favourite comedy of the last 10 years or so is Love & Friendship, which is a costume comedy based on Austen, and so not very Coen-esque, but it has a deliciously wicked main character.

I liked the first half of The Death of Stalin more than the last half, when the comedy starts to evaporate, but it's not a bad choice. The same director's earlier political comedy In the Loop is even better.

I saw In the Loop quite a while ago, probably over ten years, and thought it was good. Don't remember that much about it, though.

I adored The Thick of It, which is the TV series 'in the Loop' was a movie of. Brilliantly funny. Not that keen on 'In the Loop' - I didn't think it was in the same league as the TV show. I don't think much TV comedy is really funny, but the Thick of It was.

No, I literally didn't think of any of the suggestions anyone made.

Yes, the Stalin movie just somehow does not quite work. It is a comedy about a genocidal murderer and in the end that's not funny. I don't really want to get nine kids together to watch a movie that doesn't really work.

I just remembered this. A possibility?

Yes. Because we have not seen it

There are always those Christopher Guest mockumentaries: Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, etc.

I recently watched the Arab/Israeli comedy Tel Aviv on Fire and liked it a lot.

Rob, I will take a look at that. I've liked many recent Israeli movies that I have seen.

Tel Aviv on Fire is available on Amazon Prime. The problem with Mac's Wrong Box is that its only available on DVD. Im not sure if my new player has a slot for a DVD! I've had it for a year and I've only watched netflix and amazon.

Darn. I see I have been missing a movie conversation hidden under the beer post. I will have to get back to this shortly.



I didn't think about availability. I saw it on Turner Classic Movies back when we had a cable subscription that included it.

I live in Milwaukee. A friend said that in Jeopardy the other day one of the"questions" was about the location of the Pabst mansion. They were guessing St. Louis, Minneapolis--anything but Milwaukee. You would think that even if one didn't know that Pabst was from Milwaukee, the mention of"beer"would make you think of Milwaukee at least second.

Isn't Milwaukee associated with beer any more?

Remember the Shots brewery where Laverne and Shirley worked?

No, but I at any rate still associate Milwaukee with beer. "The beer that made Milwaukee famous / Made a fool out of me."

But now I'm not sure which beer that was referring to. There also is or was a beer called Old Milwaukee.

I don't know that I've ever typed the word "Milwaukee" before, but as I did so I realized that I've always heard it in my head as "Milwalkee."

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