Sometimes, you just need a cookbook author who speaks your language. Pick up a copy of blogger Josh Scherer’s new collection of recipes, designed for the kitchen newbie as much as the seasoned cook who’s looking for a new spin on the classics. You’ll need beer to wash it all down, so if you’re going to pick up a can, pick up these light beer tasting notes, too.
If you’re at a place in your life where you can fit smoked milk stouts, organic maple macadamia porters and double dry-hopped XPAs into your normal day-to-day drinking habit, then by all means, you do you.
And I’ll be right there by your side, slamming one of those maple macadamia joints and probably enjoying the hell out of it before eventually slipping out the back door and grabbing a 12-pack of Busch Light. Craft beer is great — we should all be supporting small businesses — and I’ve had a few microbrews that were mindbendingly good, but there’s something about the low stakes of conglomerate-made light beer that always seems to pull me back in.
Maybe it’s just the nostalgia from college still barking at me like the junkyard dog that it is. Or maybe it’s that drinking craft beer becomes a nerve-racking pissing contest (yeah, man, I totally get that piney mouthfeel, for sure), and most times when I’m drinking beer, I just want to drink a beer. Maybe I have truly abhorrent taste and am in no way qualified to give my opinion on beers, or anything for that matter. We’ll never know.
That said, if you’re a well-trained amateur drinker with a heart of gold like myself, you can notice the subtle differences between light beers and use those to your advantage when pairing with food and/or major life events. Here’s what to look for in the perfect light beer.
Bouquet is a fancy word for “smell.” The fancier the adjective you throw at your beer, the more valuable it will be perceived by other people, and that’s a point that should never be neglected. When observing the aroma of a light beer, you need to simplify your expectations; otherwise, you’ll be off on a wild-goose chase looking for “overripe black fruit” and “mineral noses” — whatever the hell those mean. Light beer has two main smells: good and bad. Got a light beer that smells like your gym bag? No problem! Just pair it with the gnarliest, heaviest flavors you know of.
They say the best beers have such a thick, foamy head that a bottle cap will float on top without sinking. They’ve obviously never played Beer Pong. You don’t have time to deal with a foamy head: Your team’s down by three cups, you’ve used all your re-racks, and you refuse to put down your fish taco while you play the game, because fish tacos always take priority. ALWAYS. You want the least foamy head possible so you can focus on more important things. Make sure you test the head on a Solo cup and not glass, because certain beers fizz more aggressively than others while interacting with the chemical coating on the plastic.
You’re looking for anywhere between a pale, translucent yellow and a pale, translucent amber—the translucence is really key here. Personally, I always abide by the newspaper test. Take the sports page, which is the only page you should be reading in a newspaper — all your current events should come from Tweetstorms and BuzzFeed character quizzes — and hold it behind your glass of light beer. If you can read an NBA box score through your beer, then it’s light enough for you to drink. Anything darker than that and the flavor will detract from your meal.
If you ever find yourself at a wine tasting — and I hope you don’t, unless you’ve managed to sneak in your own flask of Kool-Aid and grain alcohol — you’ll learn that you’re generally asked to judge wine while stone-cold sober. This just doesn’t seem practical to me. A light beer’s smoothness isn’t crucial during the first sip; it’s crucial during the thousandth sip. You never want to be caught 14-deep and dreading the next sip because you chose an unsmooth light beer. Rookie move. The smoothest beers typically have high translucence and a “good” to “medium good” bouquet.
This is the most important bromathyou’ll ever do in your life.Take the alcohol percentage ofthe beer, divide it by cost perbeer, then multiply the productby its smoothness breakingpoint (the number of beers youcan get through without dreadingthe next one).
Let’s look at an example. Bud Light Platinum is 6 percent ABV (alcohol by volume), costs $1.23 per beer, and you can drink about 11 until the taste gets completely unbearable. That yields a drunkening coefficient (DC) of 53.6 — not a terrible score. But compare that to Natural Light, which has 4.2 percent ABV, costs $.49 per beer, and has a unique water-like taste that gives it a smoothness breaking point of 16. That yields a DC of 137.1, which is the highest currently on record.
Every recipe in this chapter is designed for you to explore your way through the nuances and complexities of light beer. For instance, harness the stankass bouquet of Miller Lite to cut through the sweetness of caramel sauce. Embrace the high drunkening coefficient of Natty to stretch your dollar even further with Grilled-Pineapple Beergria. Buy up a few 30-racks, and open your mind and kitchen to the endless culinary possibilities of light beer.