I’ve got good news and bad news. Which do you want to hear first? Bad? OK.
The Bad: Bud Light Platinum
At my sister’s urging, I finally bought a six pack of Bud Light Platinum (BL:P). I should qualify that I almost never drink anything from AB InBev, as I prefer my beer to taste like, well, beer. But my sister went on and on about how BL:P tastes like actual beer, and being a good brother, I thought I’d at least give it a try.
I’ve had three so far, as I refuse to judge a beer from a single experience. I poured the first I into a traditional pint glass, hoping to make it more palatable. This was a mistake. Do not do this. Most beers open up and benefit from a little air, but in the case of BL:P, you should strive to keep it in the bottle at all times. Releasing it from its glass fetters is like unleashing the evils of Pandora’s box unto the world.
It smells like a field of corn, just after the first harvest, when the chaff and leftover stalks are decaying in the late summer sun. It is an unnatural yellow. You can’t really compare it to urine, as it has a subtle hint of orange or brown. It bubbles ferociously even after the measly head has dissipated, almost as if it is warning you not to drink it.
If the smell is bad, the taste is far, far worse. Original Bud Light is drinkable if served basically frozen and consumed very quickly. BL:P is drinkable, compared to bleach. It has the same acrid rice-malt taste as other high(er) alcohol lager-clones, reminding me of my days in college when Milwaukee’s Best Ice was the beer of choice. The over-carbonation burns your mouth like straight from the bottle Pepsi, followed by a worrisome aftertaste that really makes you want to brush your teeth.
As it gradually gets warm in the glass, the smell becomes even more pungent, and the taste more overwhelmingly awful. I have had 40 oz malt liquor that was smoother and more satisfying that this mess of malts and yeast. I used to think Bud Light was as bad as beer could get, but this weekend, I was proven wrong.
I suppose the “point” of this beer is its 6% ABV. That’s 1.8% higher than regular Bud Light, putting it above most other comparable beers (most “Ice” varieties come in at 5.9%) and other craft brews. It comes in at 137 calories per bottle, making it on the lower end compared to others in the same category. If you can stomach the taste, this stuff will go straight to your head.
The redeeming factor is that it comes in a very pretty cerulean blue bottle. It’s sort of a cross between a Bawls and a Zeema. If the label were not etched on (or painted, or burned, or however the hell it is attached), I’d be tempted to recycle these bottles for home brew.
I’m not going to bother giving this any kind of numerical rating, because I think that would be offensive to the numerical rating system. Let’s just all agree that it is really bad. If you just want to get drunk, save yourself time and money and just buy some Olde English 800. Same crap, bigger bottle.
The Good: Newcastle Founder’s Ale
While swallowing my pride and buying something as embarrassing as BL:P, I also came across something delightful. I was confused by the green label, as I’m so used to the iconic yellow. Sitting right by the entrance to my favorite beer wonderland sat Newcastle Founder’s Ale; a British style pale ale from the brewers of the well known Newcastle Brown Ale.
Anyone who knows me well can attest to my fondness for any pale ale. My staples are usually British (Bass, Young’s, Fuller’s) but I’ve grown to love American variations as well. I pretty much fall all over myself to try new kinds. I also really like Newcastle Brown on occasion, so imagine my childlike glee when I found a pale ale bearing their name and logo.
I rinsed the putrid remains of the BL:P from my pint glass, and filled it with the contents of the green, starred bottle. The color is a nice, golden brown; reminiscent of the top of a perfectly cooked pound cake. It forms a nice head, nothing too showy, that remains for a few seconds while the beer settles. I imagine the beer room in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (and there definitely is one, in the “Children Over 21 Only” area) smells something like this beer. Subtle caramel. Sweet maltiness. A tiny bit of flowery hop.
It’s taste is surprisingly mellow. Even Bass – a less intense pale ale in the grand scheme – has a little bite to it. Founder’s Ale is smooth and delicate, almost to the point of being watery. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it makes the beer incredibly drinkable, and leaves no bitter or hoppy aftertaste. At one point, I lifted an empty glass to my lips, having finish the beer without even realizing it.
Some people, especially those fond of IPAs, might expect more taste from a 4.8% ABV, 144 calorie beer. If you’re used to sharp flavors and the in-your-face hoppiness of Dogfish Head Shelter Pale or Harpoon IPA, this beer may come off as weak and somewhat bland. However, I think this beer fits in well with Newcastle Brown brand; a beer often advertised as being anything but heavy and bitter. This is a great Friday night pale ale, especially when paired with a somewhat heavy meal.
Overall, I’d give it an 85 out of 100. It’s tasty and drinkable, but a tad more hop and a little less water would have made for a very fine beer. As it stands, it is definitely worth a taste, and well worth picking up if you can find it.