I am a beer segregationist. I like my macro-brews (like Miller) to be devoid of all but the faintest of beer flavor, yet good enough to guzzle massive amounts of when in the mood. When I am out working in the yard, a nice ice cold Pabst or Miller Genuine Draft will satisfy much more than a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. On the other hand I like my micro-brews to be exciting, innovative, and packed with flavor. Somewhere there is the middle ground with accessible brews like Leinenkugels and Sam Adams and those beers are great when you want a micro-brew but are stuck at some stupid chain that doesn’t have any.
Nowadays these lines are being crossed. Anheiser-Busch has released a number of “craft” brews and like all big-brother beer fads, Miller is jumping on the bandwagon. Their first attempt is called “Fredrick Miller Classic Chocolate Lager” and I drank my first one last night.
According to some PR guy for Miller “Classic Chocolate Lager gives us the chance to provide beer lovers with something extraordinary for the holidays, while also showcasing Miller’s innovation as a brewer. This bold lager meets the standards of quality, taste and brewing expertise that Frederick Miller set when he founded our company in 1855, and delivers the gold medal credentials that only Miller Brewing Company can provide.” Give me a fucking break. Its a pathetic attempt to try to appeal to craft brew lovers who have been abandoning big brother beer for great micro-brews. People who love Lakefront, Sprecher, New Glarus, and all of the other great micros in Wisconsin are not going to abandon their preferred breweries because Miller comes out with a craft beer. Sure they’ll try it once , but when they are staring into that cooler at the liquor store, they are going for the true micro-brew.
This beer is not terrible, but you would be much better off grabbing a nice Oscar’s Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, which while a different style of beer, blows this stuff out of the water. I couldn’t quite place the taste, but it was kind of like what a “scratch n’ sniff” chocolate sticker would taste like. My wife compared it to Canfield’s chocolate fudge soda. Thinking back to the last time I had one, she was dead on with her assessment. There is a definite chocolate flavor and it is not subtle like in many other “chocolate” beers. Probably because most chocolate beers get their flavor from heavily roasted chocolate malt, not tons of cocoa. Anyhow, the first sip is not a good one but as you go on its actually pretty tolerable. It is much mellower than the dark color would have you think it was. I just couldn’t get over that Canfield’s flavor. With that being said, after my 4-pack is gone I am anticipating this chocolate lager will never pass my lips again (unless its free, of course). There are far too many micros out there to waste time, money, and calories on a mediocre attempt at a craft beer.
While I don’t like Miller’s foray into the craft-brew market, I would like to point out that I really like Miller as a company. They have maintained their Milwaukee ties, gave an assload of money to the Brewers for naming rights, and sponsor all kinds of things in Wisconsin. I am just saying that Miller beers have a time and place…they are great for parties, tailgating, sporting events, or just getting hammered with your buddies but they should leave the craft breweing to those that are driven by a passion for great beer, new flavors, and quality ingredients.