William K. Busch's Kräftig Lager: "Better Than Bud Select!"

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As the comments on our first Kräftig post prove, there's no consensus on the new lager from William K. Busch. Opinions range from:

I just sat down and had the two beers, both equally horrible. They taste bland and smell like a watery pilsner. They should just stay at home and realize that disposable income cannot buy a good beer. Get original.

to:

Tried Kraftig Lager today and found it to be robust, flavorful, and very smooth and drinkable for an American Lager. I'm spoiled after living in Germany for 21 years....This Lager puts Budweiser to shame. Best American Lager I've had here.

Sly old Gut Check knows from long experience that when presented with conflicting opinions regarding alcoholic beverages, the proper course of action is as plain as "that thing" on Assistant Principal Hogarth's face: Raid the Gut Check International HQ petty cash stash, round up a colleague or three and get our drink on.

As fate would have it, we wound up tasting Kräftig on two separate occasions. The first was a previously scheduled meeting that had nothing to do with beer and thus stood to be greatly improved by the addition thereof.

As tastings go, this first one was utterly informal. We rustled up a few cold six-packs, including but not limited to Kräftig, and plopped 'em in the middle of the table in RFT's conference room along with a bottle opener. Dunno about your office, but around here that's pretty much all the encouragement necessary.

Simple enough, but the results of this first tasting were, well...inconclusive. As in: When the meeting ended -- and it wasn't a short one -- there were still some beers left on the table.

Kräftig beers.

In unopened bottles.

Like we said, though, this wasn't a beer tasting in the strictest sense; it was a meeting at which people were free to 1) drink Kräftig and/or 2) drink something other than Kräftig, or 3) skip drinking altogether.

So we devised a more rigorous process involving six willing participants who'd do a blind-tasting of W.K. Busch's beer out of plastic cups alongside four other malt beverages, selected virtually at random and presented in similar fashion.

The lineup: Bud Select Schlafly Kölsch Stag Pabst Blue Ribbon Kräftig

Participants knew that one of their cups contained Kraftig, but they did not know which, nor did they know what kind of beer had been poured into the remaining four cups. They were instructed to sniff, swirl, sip, slug, chug or otherwise ingest a sufficient quantity of each beer to form an opinion, to translate those opinions into tasting notes and, finally, to rank the beers, in order of the taster's own personal preference.

Later in the day, we dropped off the unopened bottles (and cans) that remained at an RFTmusic meeting. They seemed uncharacteristically (for music writers) happy to see us, until we realized that it was because we were carrying a sizable quantity of beer.

By and large, they liked the Kräftig. Of course, they knew it was Kräftig they were drinking, having chosen it themselves over Stag, PBR, and Bud Select. (The Kölsch was all gone.)

Observed one member of the pro-Kräftig camp: "It's better than Bud Select."

That's damned succinct stuff, particularly coming from a music writer. In fact, we were about to suggest that this writer deserves a raise, but we caught ourselves just in time, as it dawned on us that William K. Busch, not RFT, should be opening the wallet.

Can you imagine a more fitting tagline? Blows "From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe" out of the frickin' water!

While Gut Check checks the mailbox for that big fat check William K.'s gonna send us for supplying him with the killer slogan (we'll share with our music writer, of course), we invite you to peruse our findings... KRÄFTIG TASTING RESULTS: Rated #1 Overall: Schlafly Kölsch - Bitter, weird odor. Nice amber color, nutty. Microbrew, but kinda strange. Needs food. - Citrus. - Skunky, bitter. - "Craft" taste -- balanced, though bland. - I'd watch football to this. - Light, no aftertaste other than mild citrus. Not good but not offensive either. Probably wouldn't buy, but would drink at a party if in the cooler and the other options weren't better.

Rated #2 Overall: Kräftig - Smells a little off. A little sweet. Aftertaste is off. Foul. - Bitter. Yes. - Bland. Darker. - Oddly sweet. Hoppy finish. - Only acceptable at keg party at 3 a.m. - Hoppier, still light. A bit of fruit at the end. Kind of like Blue Moon. Might buy in summertime if it's on sale.

From tasters who knew they were drinking Kräftig: - Doesn't taste bad, just doesn't really taste. There seems to be a bit of an identity crisis: "We're not a craft beer" but please try to pronounce our name correctly. Seems peculiar to unveil this during winter. It's a perfectly serviceable beer for a brutal summer, backyard party. - A bit of an aftertaste, but it was OK. Reminds me of Rolling Rock.

Rated #3 Overall: Bud Select - Lite. As in, lite. - Light. No. - Watery. - Eh. Good for those who like extra milk in their coffee. - Soft, sweet, watery. - Dirty aftertaste, maybe like Bud Select. Would never buy, but if at a barbecue and only that offered, might be okay.

Rated #4 Overall: PBR - Après lawnmowing! - Yes. - Marginally hoppy. - Not bad for a malt liquor. This is a malt liquor, right? - Crisp, bit more plain. - More of an ale. Dirty tasting. Would not buy.

Rated #5 Overall: Stag - Stag? Utterly unobjectionable. A beer drinker's beer. - Water. No. - Clean. - Watery, but with bitter, hoppy edge. - Just dark enough to make you feel manly. - Very light. Like Bud Light, pilsnery, maybe. Natty Light? Would never buy.

Abridged version: Stag's watery, PBR tastes like malt liquor, Bud Select is mediocre, Kräftig is probably better in the summertime and Schlafly's Kölsch is complex. Oh, and when you drink five beers back to back in one sitting, they all start to taste alike.

For the record, the blind-taster who correctly identified the Stag rated it #1 overall.

Have you tried Kräftig? By all means share your tasting notes in the comments thread.

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