DRAFT PICKS: A good summer for the beer bluffers

In some ways, too many beer drinkers are simply naive or ... whatever.

It has been a busy summer for the beer bluffers.

Faced with an ever increasing loss of market share to craft brewers, the big industrial breweries have been forced to strike back and get innovative.

So they have.

Competing in the market with smaller, but ever so much more imaginative and creative brewers, the big guys have spent the summer not designing new and tastier beers, not in improving their recipes, but rather changing their containers.

It’s true.

Rather than take all the adjunct ingredients out of their beer; rather than give their watered-down hops flavored “beverages” some character; rather than returning to their brewing roots, all sort of “big guy” brewers are offering up the same drool in new wrappers.

The claim is, a new can or bottle shape actually makes the beer taste different ... or better ... or fresher ... or colder.

And too many consumers get all excited.

Take the exact same batch of Bud Light and put it in a different bottle or can, and suddenly it is soooooooo much better.

I just can’t figure it out.

But the big breweries have figured it out. They know the bluff works.

So ...

Budweiser comes up with the “bow tie can.” It is supposed to somehow give classic Budweiser, of which the ingredients and the process haven’t changed one iota, a more fresh taste.

Explain this to me, if you will (or can).

You change the shape of the can, and that improves the taste?


If I were to change the color of the wrapping on a Kit Kat candy bar to green instead of its iconic red, would that change the taste of the chocolate?

So why, or how, does the taste of watery beer suddenly get better because there is a ding in the shape of the can (which, by the way, will award you with less beer for a higher price)!

Then ... Bud also is jumping in the “shot-gun” market with the addition of a second punch hole that they claim will allow a smoother pour, but will actually simply allow fraternity boys to “chug” more beer faster without actually needing to taste any of the stuff going down.

They call this “innovation” a “vented can.”


Budweiser are champs at marketing. Take the same old recipe, put a black label on the bottle, and people fall all over themselves rushing to get the “new” high-end brew.

Coors also is catering to the befuddled.

They don’t even try to hide the silliness. They are now turning out “The World’s Most Refreshing Can.” That’s right! Not “The World’s Most Refreshing Beer” but rather “The World’s Most Refreshing Can.”

No change in the beer. No change in the ingredients or blending. No change in the process.

Just ... the can.

And the crowd goes wild!

Miller changes the shape of its bottle, and folks rush to the store to try it out.



Nothing has changed — except the shape of the bottle.

Sometimes I just want to cry.

Then I get a letter asking why I don’t review the Bud Light with Lime

concoction ... and I do cry!

Neapolitan Milk Stout

Saugatuck Brewing Company


It’s always great to get back to the brews I really love!

Neapolitan is a dark, dark pour with sparkling hints of deep rich garnet color flickering around the edges. There is a good half inch light brownish head — a little to the lighter side of the spectrum. This is a luxurious offering — solid and creamy and a pleasure to just observe.

My dad’s favorite ice cream (and, to wit, the only ice cream we ever had around the house) was Neapolitan — a layered blend of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.

This brew carries the aroma of that ice cream quite honestly. The nose is reminiscent of chocolate and vanilla cream with a hint of berry in the immediate background.

Very pleasing. Sweet but not overwhelmingly so.

Look, class. This smells like what is on the label — Neapolitan ice cream.

No deception!

At first sip, the creamy strawberry taste smacks the palate.

Then the chocolate and vanilla kick in. It is only later, in the back of the mouth that a sudden shot of more burnt maltiness is express. It’s something of a surprise actually.

The fruitiness is very subtle. This is not a fruit beverage at all. The strawberry taste is meant to complement, not take control.

There is a very defined vanilla taste — also carrying a certain creaminess that is expressed throughout.

While having fun with the tasting process, you won’t ever mistake this for anything other than a stout. The malty grains may not be front and center, but they are not playing second fiddle either.

Neapolitan is a wonderfully constructed brew that is absolutely velvety — smooth and very full-bodied.

Now, for the more adventurous. I wonder how this might taste as a dessert drink with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream floating in the glass?

Hmmmmmmm ...


Dogfish Head Brewery

Milton, Del.

Dogfish Head has produced an interesting brew for drinkers who may, for whatever reason, want or need to lay off or ease up on gluten consumption. As with many gluten-free beers, Tweason’ale is built around a sorghum recipe. To many purists, this may be more a gluten-free beverage than a “legitimate” beer. Whatever the case, this is categorized as a fruit/vegetable beer and has a

6 percent ABV.

Tweason’ale pours a clear, light copper color with a rather thin head of foam that simply comes and goes with no hanging around. There is a lot of carbonation in this drink.

The first and following scentings are decidedly fruity with the strawberry announced on the label certainly leading the charge. There is a most pleasant smell to this brew — almost like a homemade, summer fruit punch. The fruits carry the day. There is a lot of sweetness. It’s easy to pick up on the honey.

One might expect a pretty sweet drink after such a scenting. I was surprised at how “dry” Tweason’ale actually is.

At first wash, there is a fruity and mildly floral taste, but the strawberry that was so strong in the smelling became more muted in the tasting. Still, it is always there.


There’s a lot to think about with this beer. With every sip you’re simply left trying to figure it out. It’s an adventure. There is really very little honey taste, but the sweetness is elemental. There are occasional hints of hops — extremely occasional.

There is a degree of acidity that reminds one of a cider drink. This balances off the quiet sweetness with a muted tartness. The mix of aroma and taste keeps explorers coming back for one more sip. Tweason’ale is a complex brew, and may be a bit too “exotic” for some palates. Still, it is certainly one of the more adventurous beers I’ve tasted in this genre — the gluten-free offerings.

Tweason’ale is a little too fizzy for my taste. It’s a little bit like some of the fruity coolers on the market today.

As a gluten-free beer, however, this certainly is a good one — if not one of the best I’ve tasted. Tweason’ale shows that mindful craft brewers are taking the gluten-free market seriously, and trying to offer a mature, well-designed brew to those with gluten issues.