Jeff's view from behind the
by Jeff Levine
It was a hot and steamy Sunday in July. Yeah, I know, it sounds like a cheesy
opening, but what better weather to do a tasting of ‘lawnmower beers’. So here
we were at the Gaslight brewpub in South Orange, NJ, for the first Draught
Board 15 sanctioned beer evaluation. We knew that the entire Board was
awaiting our report at the next meeting so we lined up the best & most
professional panel that money couldn’t buy not only to insure their honesty but to
meet our tasting budget of zero.
Our panel consisted of Dan (DJ) Soboti, brewer at the Gaslight, Jeff Levine,
brewer of some ill repute, Brian Bauman, color commentator with no tasting
experience save the swilling of many hundreds of gallons of beer, and Wild Bill
Toomey, our faithful steward for this event.
Before we could start, we needed a good cross section of lawnmower beers. We
defined this style as an American lager, light colored and very low levels of hops,
made with some other grain along with malt. We also wanted retro beers with
some history. So, off we went in search of some old time beers. Who would have
thought that the death grip of the axis of evil (AB, Miller, Coors) could be so
tight? It was a difficult time finding anything interesting at our neighborhood liquor
store, but eventually we did prevail with a field of 8 classic lawnmower beers.
Wild Bill was appointed head steward and began pouring our blind samples (well,
he was also pouring quite a bit down his throat, but stewarding is tough, hot,
sweaty work). Our adventure had begun. We were determined to find you the
best swill out there.
Our first sample arrived, Old Milwaukee ($3.25/ 6pk/ 16 oz cans – that is NOT a
misprint). DJ said “not great-maybe ice cold you could drink it”. Brian said “best
for frat party quarters games or boiling generic hot dogs”. Ever a trooper, he
then decided to wear part of his first beer sample so that he could remember it by
the end of the tasting.
At least that’s what he claimed after dousing himself with half of the sample. The
pressure was already beginning to tell.
Next up was Miller Genuine Draft (12 oz bottle - $3.99 six). I commented that it
had “slight metallic flavor no carbonation-yuck!” while Brian added that it “could
have used a little more carbonation-lawn mowing 101”.
Then we were brought the pride of A-B, Michelob ($ 5.79/6pk 12 oz bottles).
DJ’s comment “couldn’t even finish my sample” was perhaps put more succinctly
by my shouted “BLAH!” I think that this was the first beer that our faithful
steward didn’t help out by finishing the remainder of the six pack.
Wild Bill then stumbled out with our next beer, Piels ($3.09/6pk 12oz cans). After
the last beer, we needed something to cheer us up & this one came through. DJ
said “Beery touch of apple-great foam-more hops than others but goes away
quickly. MORE PLEASE!” I added “slight DMS-light hop flavor-almost has
body-not bad. Brian said “What I remember beer smelling like as a kid.”
Budweiser (12oz bottles/ $3.98 six) was next up. DJ commented “some diacetyl-
we’ve had better”. Brian unequivocally stated “electric lawnmower beer, quiet &
inoffensive-neutral kinda like the Swiss.”
Next came Schaefer ($3.50/6pk / 12oz cans). DJ’s view was that it was”clean, a
little hop-I could drink this. That was mirrored by me “more bitter than the
others, but clean.” Brian said “even more neutral then #5(Bud)-good for mowing
but only for a really small yard”
Our never tiring steward then brought Rheingold ($3.80/6pk 12oz/ CLEAR
bottles). DJ said “a little DMS and slightly sour-slightly darker then the others.” I
had to agree- “slight DMS-dark for this group”. Brian commented “darkest gold
of the bunch-best so far.”(He had already rated MGD higher, but we didn’t have
the heart to tell him)
Last up was Yuengling Traditional Lager ($1.75 / 32oz bottle). This was a very
unusual package; none of us had ever seen quart bottles of Yuengling before. DJ
liked it, saying “I could drink 2 or 3 of these.”
Brian said “Good flavor compared to the others; good beer for making batter.”
We didn’t ask what that meant but nodded in agreement anyway.
So, after all eight beers, what did we find? Our scores for the beers revealed two
surprising conclusions. First, the beer can is a better package then the bottle. The
canned beers were fresher and cleaner tasting. Secondly, price doesn’t mean
anything in this category of beer. The most expensive beers in out tasting scored
the worst (Bud & Michelob) Here are the final results. Each judge scored
everything on a 50 point scale. We then added the individual ratings (150
possible best) to rank the beers.
Best Individual Scores:
Worst Individual Scores:
That’s it for now – got to go mow the lawn.
4-Old Milwaukie-103 (tie)