Friday, February 12, 2010

We have come a long way: What we were drinking 35 years ago

We as beer drinkers really have become jaded in America. The number of local, national, and international beer choices in the U.S. market today is staggering. These days we walk into a bar, or store, and almost take it for granted that we will find a beer we like. How far have we really come? Take a look at this article from Oui Magazine published in 1975. It is a nice little lesson on the history of beer, the brewing process, and what beers Americans were drinking 35 years ago. It also gives us a look at what imported beers Americans were drinking as well. Believe it or not, in the 1970's Schlitz was one of the most popular brands in America, right behind the all mighty Budweiser. This article is long but well worth reading.

The Great Gulp: A Consumer Guide's to Beer

by Robert Christgau and Carola Dibbell

Eighty percent of the beer in this country is consumed by 20 percent of the drinkers. That's why the most effective beer slogan ever conceived claims that its product is the best beer to have when you're having more than one. Oui's consumer guide to beer, presented herewith, has been devised for the 80 percent of American beer drinkers who care about that first one.

Beer has been around ever since people discovered thirst. The Mesopotamians, for example, invented a beerlike fermented beverage as early as 6000 B.C. In a porridgelike form, a mildly inebriating beer product may be as old as the Neolithic discovery of sprouted grain. This is very similar to the basic element of the beermaking process today, a porridge called wort. Strain the liquid off, ferment with sugar and yeast, flavor with hops and there you have it. Whereas wine is the product of fermenting the juice of grapes, beer is the generic term for any brewed and fermented beverage made from malted cereals.

Beermaking begins with malting--roasting germinated barley or other grain to convert its starch to fermentable sugars. The malt is thoroughly soaked in water, stirred and heated. Mashing, as this process is called, determines the fermentable and nonfermentable substances that will go into the brew. (Nonfermentable substances give body to the finished product). This process produces enzymes that further convert grain starches into fermentable sugars. When the stirring stops, the solid materials settle, and the liquid passes to a brewing kettle. Hops, which give beer its bitterness, are added and the whole thing is boiled for a couple of hours. This reduces the liquid, sterilizes the wort and darkens the brew. The hops are strained out and fermentation begins. The wort is cooled (to 37-49 degrees for beer, 50-70 degrees for ale) and brewer's yeast is added to trigger the fermentation.

More than any other substance, the yeast determines the final character of the beer. It is the secret to each beer's particular taste. Beer takes about ten days to ferment; ale takes five or six. Carbonic-acid gas, a by-product of fermentation, is given off and stored to be added later on. The young beer is then stored in a glass-lined vat, close to freezing, so that the yeast and the other solid materials sink to the bottom. This makes the beer clear and allows it to mellow and mature. The period of maturation is called lagering and takes three or four months. The beer then gets its fizz back when the carbonic-acid gas is returned (a process called krausenating) and then the beer is run through a final filter and packaged.

Beer came to America with the early settlers, who correctly believed it safer and more nutritious than the water. Early American beer was strong and flat, like English beers. The light, dry, sparkling type had to await clippers ships fast enough to transport perishable lager yeast from Germany. Lager beer, which is now the only kind brewed in America, first appeared in the 1840s and was an immediate success. In theory, the extremes of American climate demand very light, highly carbonated beers that are best served ice cold. But rising grain costs have played a less aesthetic and more important part in the increasing lightness of American beer. So has the inevitable centralization of the industry.

Since the end of Prohibition, the number of American breweries has declined from 735 to about 70, and while that means a lot of small time swill no longer greases the tubes, the oldtimers who complain about today's horse water aren't just being nostalgic. A great many small brewers who used to make wonderfully idiosyncratic beer just couldn't keep up with more profitable mass production and distribution. Under scientific conditions, none of this supposedly matters. When test-tasting from unmarked glasses, most drinkers can't even identify their favorite. But since beer actually contacts different receptors on the tongue when it is gulped than when it is sipped, maybe science doesn't matter. To assess the ratings presented below, we not only sampled beers blindfolded but tried to live with them as well. This technique had its debilitating consequences, but after months of unpremeditated naps, we had learned to distinguish some of our beers all of the time, and all of them some of the time. However, because beer is fragile, we may not have sampled all of them in optimal condition, and some beers, particularly the smaller and more westerly ones, were unobtainable.

All of the place identifications, by the way, represent the brewery from which our batch was obtained. One of our conclusions was that if you're thirsty, there's no such thing as an undrinkable beer--therefore our ratings, which ordinarily descend to E-minus, stopped at D-plus.Many of the best beers in the country are virtually unknown, but the size of the company is no clear indication of mediocrity. We like Bud and Miller's and admire the National Brewing Company of Baltimore, Detroit and Phoenix. We were surprised, however, to discover that once poured into glasses, bottled beer was rarely so superior to canned as to make a B beer as good as a B-plus.

ANCHOR STEAM BEER (San Francisco, California)

This product is the last example of America's only indigenous brewing process. The main feature of the invention is air-temperature fermentation and its mother was an ice scarcity during San Francisco Gold Rush days. The beer also contains four times the usual amount of hops, the flower that gives beer its bitterness. "Steam" just means carbonation. Our bohemian friends found it winy, but we found it one more instance of San Francisco's chronic confusion of eccentricity with quality. B

ANDEKER (Pabst, Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

The most European of the Americans, with full body and well-modulated flavor. Creamy rather than violently carbonated, sharp but not bitter. Can be sipped as well as gulped and doesn't get pissy as it sits. A MINUS


For a long time, Ballantine's main social function was sponsoring Mickey Mantle's home runs, which Mel Allen used to call Ballantine Blasts. Well, Mel Allen is gone from New York now, and P. Ballantine and his sons have left Newark. Falstaff bought their firm in 1972 and immediately excised the "overpowering aroma" that was Ballantine's last distinctive quality. Ballantine Ale, though, is metropolitan New York's only surviving contribution to the brew-master's craft, and the Indian Pale ("aged in wood") is so bitter it starts conversations at parties. C

BREW II (Horlacher, Allentown, Pennsylvania)

The label boasts, "Second to none," and we don't doubt it, since this beer seems to be its own category. While Brew II isn't malt liquor, it has the highest alcohol content of any beer in the country and is definitely the oddest one in our survey--so we liked it. Bitterer than stout, sweeter than ale and Strong. B MINUS

BUDWEISER (Anheuser-Busch, Newark, New Jersey)

Anheuser-Busch isn't the biggest beer company in America just because of its distribution. Budweiser is the Great Mean of good American beers. In blindfold tests, Bud invariably placed second or third out of four but rarely inspired much enthusiasm. It is scrupulously controlled against off-flavors and idiosyncrasies. Even the water is made to recipe in all plants, samples from two of which we taste-tested and found indistinguishable. Busch Bavarian, A-B's non-premium product, goes for 10 cents to 20 cents less per six-pack but costs only half a cent less per bottle to produce, a classic example of the "premium" concept. The concept goes back to the Thirties, when, as a means of financing long-distance shipping for some of the more successful beers, it may have borne a realistic relation to the quality differentials. In Bud's case, it's not just hype--Bud is measurably better than most "popular-priced" beers, including Busch Bavarian. Schlitz, on the other hand, isn't. B

CARLING (Natick, Massachusetts)

This beer has something of a rep. It's brewed in five locations all over the country; our batch came from a package store in Boston and was brewed in Natick, Massachusetts. We entered it in a blindfold test against two nationals and one flourishing local: it finished last. Taste: bad-bitter as opposed to good-bitter. Reputation: inflated. C MINUS

CHIPPEWA PRIDE (Jacob Leinenkugel, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin)

A clean but otherwise undistinguished Wisconsin light beer from the makers of a superb one. C PLUS

COORS (Golden, Colorado)

A cult has developed around this beer, especially in the East, where it is not available except in memory. Some cult. Coors ranks behind Bud, Schlitz and Pabst as the fourth-biggest beer in the country; it expands at ten percent per year and its only plant, in Golden, Colorado, is the largest single brewery in the world. Even so, production can still fulfill only 11 states' consumption. Coors distributes within refrigerated-car shipping distance of its "Pure Rocky Mountain Spring Water" source. For this reason, we had to smuggle our own six-pack (cans) in from San Fransisco. Possibly due to in-flight temperature conditions, Coors did poorly in our blindfold tests on avowed Coors lovers, including ourselves. A friend whose firm ships Coors in regularly for private consumption attests, however, that ours tasted like the genuine article. Despite a distinctive, sort of nutty flavor, the beer wasn't all that light and occasionally had a rotten taste. B PLUS

COUNTRY CLUB BEER (Pearl, San Antonio, Texas)

A surprising little beer, comparable in taste and color to a good dry white wine, but on the thin side. B MINUS

DIXIE (New Orleans, Louisiana)

After Pearl bought out Jax last summer, Dixie became the last of the New Orleans locals. Rumours that it caused diarrhea are supposed to have done Jax in. We went too late to test the rumour personally. A Mississippi friend tells us Jax tasted quite a lot like Dixie--somehow managing to taste dry and fruity at the same time, suggesting sweetness without actually being sweet. Dixie was one of the surprise favorites of our survey, winning several blindfold tests against a varied competition. Traditionally the white beer in New Orleans (Jax and Falstaff shared the black market), Dixie emerged from the civil rights years with a nearly four-fold increase in sales, while Falstaff's sales went down dramatically after a liberal ad campaign up North. But unbalance competition from the super nationals--the real cause of Jax's demise--makes strange alliances. Now, with Tulane students driving to Texas for a Coors, the suburbs turning to Bud and the black market gone to Schlitz, Dixie is starting a youth-oriented "Big doesn't always mean best" campaign, while cautiously slipping a few soul ads into the black radio stations. Good luck. B PLUS

FALSTAFF (Cranston, Rhode Island)

The first brewery ever to decentralize production (in the '30s; Bud and Schlitz followed in the '40s), Falstaff, a national that has been losing, like, $6,000,000 a year, currently employs the survival tactic of acquiring on-the-skids and largely mediocre breweries (including Munich, Krueger, Ballantine and fabled bad-beer Narragansett). Nevertheless, the Falstaff stock is not without strengths, similar to those of its rich St.Louis neighbor, Budweiser. Especially in bottles, Falstaff's bitterness has a certain courage; it's possible to imagine Budweiser drinkers complaining about it. Unfortunately, that's not always good. B MINUS

FYFE & DRUM (Genesee, Rochester, New York)

The brewer calls this one "a super premium beer with a taste that tells all those foreign beers--America can brew it better!" In four separate taste tests against varying competition, none of seven drinkers noticed anything at all about it except that it was full and sweet, maybe even vulgar. Handsome embossed Colonial-motif can. C

GABLINGER'S (Rheingold, New Bedford, Massachusetts)

Were our tasters' faces red when they learned that they had chosen this low-calorie, low-carbohydrate number over the average C-range beer. The explanation lies in its seltzery carbonation and the absence of distinct bad flavors; not much else is going for it. Clean as in thin. C PLUS

GENESEE (Rochester, New York)

The kindest thing to be said about this Upstate New York beer--which uses the old-fashioned "krausening" method of fermenting (rather than injecting) its CO2--is that it's nowhere near as bad as downstaters claim. Against Rheingold, it tastes clean, against Schaefer, flavorful. Undisputed winner of the tennis-ball-can look-alike contest. C

GRAIN BELT PREMIUM (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Since our survey introduced us to this Midwestern beer (number one in Minneapolis), we've discovered Grain Belt Premium admirers around the country, though not the hard-core (or hard-cash) type who get cases shipped to them on private planes. The beer has a good head, crisp body, full, brisk flavor, and it can be drunk slowly. Don't waste time on the nonpremium. B PLUS

HAMM'S (St. Paul, Minnesota)

We remember Hamm's from Midwestern bars, where we drank it from frosted bottles and thought it tasted clean as a Minnesota lake. Did our samples make a traumatic trip East or were our trips West euphoric? Good foretaste, bad aftertaste. C

HEILEMAN OLD STYLE (La Crosse, Wisconsin)

As is the case in so many brands with a true premium line, the regular is disappointing. Old Style does have a hint of Export's aftertaste--and enough richness to gain a dimension or two when it warms up. B MINUS


When we drank bottles of this "naturally krausened" beer in a Chicago bar called Jimmy's, where it went for a nickel extra and outsold its nearest competitor two to one, we thought it was the best in America, but the six-pack sent to us in New York seemed at first to betray our fond memories. Eventually, however, we adjusted to the canned version of Export's complex, slightly eccentric flavor. At Jimmy's, they used to say it tasted "green," like the bottle; its hopsy bitterness is relieved by something cooling that has nothing to do with refrigeration or literal sweetness. In bottles, an A. We had only cans. B PLUS

HORLACHER (Allentown, Pennsylvania)

This one is weird. We grew fond of its unpredictable, somewhat murky taste, but we must point out that while we use "murky" as an antonym to clean (meaning "well defined"), another taster thought this beer had overtones of sewage. Other oddities: One guy thought the can looked "evil"; someone else said, "creamy aftertaste," and when fresh the canned tasted like a totally different brew than the bottled--and it tasted better. B MINUS

KRUEGER (Falstaff, Cranston, Rhode Island)

One of the Falstaff gang. The fermentation has that faintly rotten beer taste that, depending on the quality of the beer, can be strangely attractive or understandably repulsive. C

LEINENKUGEL'S (Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin)

A few American brewers have taken the national predilection for the light to its extreme and created a specifically American fine-beer type. Leinenkugel's, made by one of the rare small breweries lucky or clever enough to survive in the face of megabrewery advantages, shares with Coors a combination of delicacy and character and is sometimes called the Coors of the East. We prefer Leinenkugel's. Sparkling at ice-cold temperatures, the beer develops shades of flavor as it sits, but not at the expense of its distinctive lightness. A MINUS

LONE STAR (San Antonio, Texas)

Another fabled local beer that sits taller in the story than in the glass. We'd rather drink Pearl, its local competition, but suggest that visitors to Texas look around for another fabled Texas beer we couldn't get hold of: Shiner. C

MICHELOB (Anheuser-Busch, Newark, New Jersey)

It beats Bud, of course, but we think you can do better. Though rich and creamy, it's so free of bad beer flavors that it's hard to remember you've been drinking it. Therefore good with meals. B PLUS

MILLER HIGH LIFE (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

This isn't the champagne of bottled beer so much as the Vichy water, which isn't bad--it's a great thirst quencher. Many people swear that this is one beer where the "bottled" of the slogan is essential--the canned is supposed to be tinny. Our blindfold test, however, revealed only that Miller's should be stored near the freezer and served very, very cold. Number five nationally. B

MUNICH (Cranston, Rhode Island)

Falstaff cheapo. Bottle label features mis-spelling. C MINUS


It definitely does not let down the good family name. It's clean and pleasant but not innocuous, with a slightly penetrating aftertaste. It generally placed high on taste tests, to discriminating judges and against stiff competition. We unfairly continue to measure it against the premium. B

NATIONAL PREMIUM (Baltimore, Maryland)

For some time, we were convinced that this European-slanted beer with the conglomerate name and the water from Baltimore's city water system was the best in America. National Premium not only scored consistently well against all American premiums, it held its own in blindfold tests against the best European labels. Dry, pleasurable to contemplate--particulary at warmer temperatures--with distinctive but not weirdo minty bitterness, and very clean and light, National Premium seemed to offer the best aspects of both European and American beer. We'd still like to think that's true. But alas, after our free samples ran out, the bottles we bought in the real world (from our local supermarket) were so stale and inferior that we felt compelled to qualify our judgment. A MINUS

OLYMPIA (Olympia, Washington)

Very clean, quenching and inoffensive, with no describable flavor to distract the drinker from his appointed round, and the next round, and the next. If Budweiser succeeds by being all beers to all men, this succeeds by being all light beers to all men. Does that mean women will like it more? B

ORTLIEB (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

A slightly better than average beer--it has a little sparkle. The bottled is creamier than the canned, the draught grainier than the regular, but on the whole, not much difference among the lot. C PLUS

PABST BLUE RIBBON (Newark, New Jersey)

Since Pabst is doing so well (number three nationally), why not support your local C beer? The only reason to drink Pabst is if you like yours sweet or can get hold of Pabst dark draught, which is delicious. C

PEARL (San Antonio, Texas)

There is definitely something fresh about this beer--after all, Pearl took Schlitz to court for crowding its market--but it has never tasted as good in our kitchen as it did when we first tried it in Big Bend National Park. C PLUS

PIELS (Willimansett, Massachusetts)

New Yorkers proudly cite Piels as the worst standard-brand beer in the country, although Bostonians opt for Narragansett (which is in the running) and San Fransiscans for Lucky Lager (which isn't). Jerry Della Femina says the one problem which those great Bert and Harry ads--which you don't see anymore--was that they encouraged people to notice the stuff, whereupon sales went down. Less of that stale balsa taste in the canned draught version but not enough to justify the price differential to anyone who can subtract. D PLUS/C MINUS

PRIOR GOLDEN LIGHT BEER (Schmidt, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

This one is rich, though with a decided middle-range tone in taste. Not so the Double Dark, a dessert-rich beer with a thick, creamy head and burnt-caramel flavor. The Double Dark is so sweet that even the old dregs are drinkable. B

RAINIER (Seattle, Washington)

We've never tasted moss but still think this tastes mossy. Otherwise, lightly palatable. Better in bottles. C PLUS

RHEINGOLD (Brooklyn, New York)

Rheingold frequently inspires a New York passion unequal to the objective demands of the blindfold test; it can taste pretty sour. But at least you're sure it's there. You can't say that much of the one other remaining New York beer, Schaefer, which the tinny flavor of cans actually improves. C

ROLLING ROCK (Latrobe, Pennsylvania)

Another beer of East Coast myth. Fresh and in bottles, it quenches with an admirable zesty bite. In cans or after a few weeks in the refrigerator, it starts to taste like a cheapo. B

ROYAL AMBER (Wiedemann/Heileman, Newport, Kentucky)

Five out of six blindfold tasters preferred Royal Amber to Carlsberg, Lowenbrau and Heineken, calling it dry, crispy, tangy, smooth. We found it almost like two beers. The light foretaste in no way prepares the palate for the bittersweet afterbite that takes over as it warms in the glass. A few other American beers hold up when the chills wears off--this one actually gets better. A

SCHAEFER (New York, New York)

Number seven nationally. See Genesee, Rheingold. C MINUS

SCHLITZ (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)

Schlitz and Anheuser-Busch have been taking turns at first place in national sales for years, but while Budweiser can boast at least respect for the great cross section to which it appeals, Schlitz just has superefficient plants. Impressively inconsistent for a product of its distribution, Schlitz won one blindfold test against Bud (out of five) and lost one to Munich. At its worst, offensive, with an aftertaste strangely like deviled ham; at best, soft and nicely bland. C

SCHMIDT'S (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

A cleaner C beer than Pabst, a less flavorful one that Schlitz. C

SHOPWELL PREMIUM (Colonial, Hammonton, New Jersey)

As with all house brands, the first virtue of supermarket beer is bulk-order economy. But whereas Ann Page jams and Jerseymaid yogurt also taste good, all the supermarket beers we've sampled are best consumed quickly, very cold and under pressure of great thirst. This one was made in a brewery in New Jersey that Shopwell refused to name and told us was in Pennsylvania, doubtless for fear of reprisals. From the taste, we figure it's economical because it uses a lot of water and we daren't imagine what kind of grain. It's called "Premium" because words are cheap. D PLUS

STEGMAIER (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania)

After an evening of good beers, we tried this Pennsylvania cheapo, currently exported to New York. Our notation: "Aftertaste something like dirt." Three days later, very thirsty, we opened another can. It was OK. C MINUS

STRAUB (St. Mary's, Pennsylvania)

At moments, we thought this was just wonderful and wrote down comments like "springy" and "soft-edged." Then at other times, like now, too drunk to know if we were more or less drunk than we had been the times before, we wondered what we could have meant. B MINUS

STROH'S (Detroit, Michigan)

The only beer in America brewed over a live flame. A friend from Detroit, who claimed it was swill, chose it blindfolded twice over both Bud and his supposed favorite. But a friend from Chicago, who had fallen in love with Stroh's during a summer in Detroit, rated it below Bud. We rank it above, one of the solidest large-circulation local beers in the country. B

TUBORG (Carling, Baltimore, Maryland)

One victim of this survey was our preference for Tuborg. When Carling first began to brew the former Danish import, we thought it held up well enough, even in cans, but it simply has not done well on blindfold tests. Not as complex as National Premium, not as full as Andeker, and rather flat-tasting generally. Seems better in bottles. B

WALTER'S (Eau Claire, Wisconsin)

This beer's immoderate delicacy evoked small cries of pleasure during blindfold tests. Even more delicate than Leinenkugel's, its local rival, Walter's is practically devoid of bitterness. Its taste--and smell--suggest honey. The result is mild enough to stay down a novice's gullet but dry and restrained enough not to embarrass the hardened. A MINUS

The Transoceanic Guzzle: A brief look at the imports

While usually more bitter and sometimes sweeter than American beer, the imports--particularly the Europeans--are best distinguished by their substantiality, a quality referring, in crudest terms, to the stuff you're left with when the chill is gone. Imported beers are liable to arrive in slightly altered condition, as shipping trauma and rumored concessions to the American market may, indeed, affect the taste. Still, one must assume that memories of superior on-location foreign beers may well have less to do with real differences than with the thirsty-traveler syndrome, which can happen anywhere.

BECK'S (Bremen, West Germany)

A weighty, bittersweet concoction that holds its flavor down through warmth but leaves you wondering whether that's a virtue. This beer is so overbearing that bad-mouthing it seems risky. There are self-appointed aficionados who swear even by its Plutonian dark version, but by normal American standards, we think it's too eccentric for unqualified approbation. B PLUS

CARLSBERG (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Carlsberg's unique, but not for the best reasons. Although interestingly dry at freezing temperatures, Carlsberg soon becomes thinner and sourer than the other Europeans. B

DOS EQUIS (Mexico)

XX, one of the two leading Mexican imports, has a deep amber color, a strong, distinctive flavor and about four times the glass life of the blond Carta Blanca. Well-tempered bitterness and substantial body. Will get you drunk. B PLUS

HEINEKEN (Holland)

Heineken is European beer in many bars and supermarkets this side of the Atlantic and, though against Lowenbrau and Wurzburger it falls somewhat short on definition, its popularity is no indication of American gullibility. This beer does what European beers are supposed to do: keeps your tongue busy. Its sharp, cool, bitter flavor is modulated with a tangy one, and its body is vibrantly light. We found, incidentally, that, serving suggestion notwithstanding (45 to 50 degrees), we liked Heineken best the way we drank it in Amsterdam, ice-cold. A MINUS

KIRIN (Japan)

Don't expect this to taste exotic just because it's made from rice--read a Budweiser label lately? It does taste zingy and refreshing and is clearly a quality beer but not one of the greats. The slight bitterness is only slightly interesting, and even Kirin admirers admit that it flirts with pissiness. B

LABATT "BLUE" (Canada)

We used to marvel mildly over Labatt "Green", which we now discover to be an ale that tastes like a beer, a not-quite-Bud-class beer at that. The "Blue" is worse. Outleagued. C PLUS

LOWENBRAU (Munich, West Germany)

People who love Lowenbrau talk about it the way mountain climbers talk about mountains. The name means "Lion's Brew," and it's an impressive, unmistakable and distracting beer. You don't just toss down a glass of Lowenbrau. Of all the European beers, which often seem less drink than food, Lowenbrau is the foodiest. It has enough bitterness to make you cringe, sunk into a heavily sweet flavor, but that flavor is also full and the body very robust. We're impressed. We'd just rather drink one of those dry Wurzburgers. A MINUS

RED STRIPE (Jamaica)

The only import in the superlight category. If you've ever gotten hot in Jamaica, where Red Stripe is sold in vending machines for about 20 cents for 12 ounces, you can understand why--this beer is so smooth, so clear, so clean that it's a better means of rapid rehydration than water. Back in the nontropical U.S.A., where the hassle of tracking the stuff down is equaled only but the shock of paying for it (10 ounces cost us $1.50 in a high-priced Jamaican restaurant), some of the charm disappears. Still, rather remarkable. B PLUS


Currently available in East Coast supermarkets at a special price, Ringnes Special is probably the best import bargain around, and plenty of people actually prefer it to the heavies because it tastes clean and crisp as well as full-bodied. The flavor does lose class as it sits, though. B PLUS

WHITBREAD (London, England)

The English, who--whatever they tell you--don't get summer, thaw out year round with strong, flat, slightly sweet, unchilled (who needs it?), bitter beer that, like the weather, takes some adjusting to. One of us had already adjusted (to the beer--even the English never adjust to the weather) and relished Whitbread as a thick, malty, slow-drinking beer. The other found Whitbread, like sourish Watney's, devoid of appeal. B PLUS

WURZBURGER (Wurzburg, West Germany)

An American's European beer. Not at all overwhelming but by no means emasculated. Dry, sharp, foamy, complex, subtle. Winner of the 1971 New York Magazine beer survey. The svelte gold-foil-topped bottle (slimmer than Lowenbrau's) is also notably lovely. A

Oui, May, 1975

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