I wanted to give an example of lagers that was neither made by the big three, nor was known by the majority of Americans. This cut down my options very quickly. And while there were some craft lagers that I could have chosen, I picked the Leinenkugel’s original, based solely on two points. One, I happen to like the name, and two, it’s a regional brew, rather than a micro, and I wanted to show them some love as well.
However, things didn’t go exactly as I’d hope.
Somethings to note: this beer is the primary brand of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company based out of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. From what I’m told by a friend from Minnesota, this beer does have a loyal following in the upper Mid-West. From a guess, I suspect that this loyalty is similar to those who show love to the Schmidt’s, Iron City’s, and Gennesee’s of the world. However, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company does brew some specialty beers that are common to micro-brews, such as IPA’s, bocks, and Stouts, so perhaps my generalization is off base. My opinion is drawn off of the sheer pedestrian-like out put of their original.
Appearance: Light yellow to straw colored. Sort of an average look. Head quickly dissolved into near nothingness.
Smell: There’s a slight malty aroma, but you have to look for it. Barely noticable.
Taste: Sharp, nearly acrid taste of the hops hits the palate first, Very sharp, and then just as quickly gone to a just perceptible malt/hop taste.
Mouthfeel: Eh. Not memorable. Slight carbonation, but barely tickles the back of the tongue.
Drinkability: It’s not horrible, but it’s not all that great either. Perhaps my standards are too high? When I think lager, I think a crisp, memorable flash of a moment. What I get here is a brief walk-by. Better than some beers, but worse than those beers I respect.
I’m not sure why, but I expect a lot out of American Lagers. Perhaps more than they’re willing or able to give.