What would Judas Priest drink?
April 20, 2004
If you asked Judas Priest singer Rob Halford if he wanted a bottle of beer do you really think he would reply “I prefer it in the can?” No way. English rockers lived after midnight and rocked til’ the dawn so you couldn’t hand them a Keystone Light. They were raised on great English Bitters and Stouts. Guitarist K. K. Downing would probably snarl if you handed him a can of cheap american lager.
I’ve personally seen Judas Priest live in multiple venues during the 80’s. Just as important as the concert was always and will always be pounding down brews beforehand. This tailgating always included gallons of cheap yellow beer which I swilled down can after can while sitting on the hatch of my buddy’s 75’ AMC Hornet wagon.
Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Metallica have joined the throng of other 80’s bands that are dusting off their walkers to tour again this summer. I cannot imagine reliving these concerts 20 years later sitting on the back of a 75 AMC Hornet with a warm Bud. I am a little bit older and my tastes have matured. I expect a little more quality in my life especially when it comes to my beer.
As you may well know the majority of venues do not allow bottles under any circumstances and I really cannot blame them for this decision. I would think any one who has ever tailgated a rock show has seen that one drunken yahoo that smashes an empty beer can off of his forehead as he is screaming “Van Halen rules!” at the top of his lungs. God help the drunken idiot that tries this with a bottle. We are forced to drink bad beer because of these few mindless morons.
With the 80’s metal resurgence just around the corner, now was a perfect time to start researching what “quality hooch” I can bring into some of these outdoor venues. At first glance, it seems there are more choices available in cans than there are in a bottle. The trouble is most of them are the same watery lagers and pilsners your Grandpa would offer you on holidays. I stared at row after row of Schlitz, Papst Blue Ribbon, and Miller High Life.
On the brink of abandoning my quest a shiny silver can labeled ‘Steel Reserve’ shone bright on the shelf. You can’t get any more heavy metal than Steel Reserve! The beer sounds like it should be one of the warm-up acts for Ozzfest. Even better, another shiny silver vestal of brew was by its side: Sapporo Draft.
Sapporo sounds like it could be one of those glam metal bands that came out of Japan in the 80’s like Loudness. I envisioned a Japanese lead singer with long black hair and spandex shouting into a microphone in broken english “Hello Boston. We are Sapporo. Are you ready to rock and roll?”
Putting my 80’s flashbacks aside, I gathered several samples and poured the Steel Reserve into my favorite tasting glass and took a healthy swig. The Steel Reserve High Gravity was so bad it triggered a gag reflex causing me to spew it all over my computer monitor.
This skunky over-the-top-with-alcohol yellow swill was actually worse than the warm cheap american lagers I would drink in days gone past on the back of my buddy’s AMC. It has to be one of the worst beers I have ever tasted. Anything bad that can happen to beer was all in this one can.
I called over my Yellow Labrador Ginger to get her spin. Ginger loves beer foam. When I call out the word “Trappist” Ginger comes running into the room knowing I have some tasty beer foam on my finger for her. This time she sniffed the beer on my finger, looked at me like I was crazy, and walked the other way.
Congratulations go out to Steel Brewing. They have accomplished what no other brewer has been able to. They have made a beer so bad my dog wouldn’t even drink it. Ginger drinks out of the toilet so you can gage how bad Steel Reserve beer is from that.
Wiping the Steel Reserve off of my monitor, I stared at the Sapporo Draft in fear. Do I dare even try it? Should I have Ginger try it first? I then remembered the Suds With Securb credo: “I Drink The Bad Ones So You Won’t Have To”. I was definitely doing my job today and taking one for the team.
I poured the Sapporo Draft into a frozen mug. No this is not the ideal way to sample beer, but I had a feeling the Sapporo would be a little better this way. I lifted the Japanese brew to my lips and surprisingly I tasted nothing bad! The down side was I tasted nothing at all.
Sampling dragged on and yet not a trace of hops, malt, or anything surfaced. Then at the last possible moment a slightly hoppy, slightly bitter aftertaste kicked in. It tasted like someone tried to dry hop a Papst Blue Ribbon and did a real bad job at doing it.
12 hours later I sit her in discontent, my wastebasket overrun with cans that are scattered on the floor around it. I have come to one simple conclusion. With the exception of a few quality beers on the market, canned beers simply suck.
I am begging the better brewers of the world to please start rolling out some of their acclaimed and loved beers in cans. Not the whole line but give us some choices. More and more we are finding places that will not serve or allow bottles, including airlines. Usually in these venues I find myself settling for a can of Heineken, Becks or Molson.
I know beer tastes much better in a bottle. Sometimes you have to give a little to get a little. Next time I go to a heavy metal show or fly on vacation it would be nice if I could have a can of Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA or a nice16 oz can of Chimay Red. Judas Priest would want this. If only I believed it will come true.
After seemingly endless research, I have located four cans of beer that have made the cut. They are not all heavy, but they are all definitely metal, dude.
Murphy’s Pub Draught Stout
It is a bit lighter than most of the other commercial stouts which makes it a perfect dark choice for the summer months. Coming in at a meager 4% ABV you can pound these 16 ounce cans all day. The color is the textbook stout profile ultra dark mahogany body, opaque almost black with a medium lasting tan head. The aroma is all about roasted coffee and malt tones. The high point of this beer is the palette. While it is a bit thin for the style it is surprisingly creamy and very smooth. The hops are very subdued for a dry stout just enough to balance the malt and give this beer a nice dry finish.
Commercial Description: The Murphy Brewery was founded by James J. Murphy in Cork, Ireland in 1856. Since then, the brewery has been using the finest ingredients and traditional skills to produce great Irish beers. The widget, found in all draughtflow Murphy’s Irish Stout cans and bottles, contains the gas required to create the draughtflow effect when the cans or bottles are opened. This means you can enjoy a creamy smooth pint of Murphy’s Irish Stout also at home. The ingredients of Murphy’s are Malted barley, roasted material(barley & malt), hops, yeast and of course water! The blackish colour comes from a difference in process at the roasting stage.
Boddington’s Pub Ale
This beer reminds me of Def Leppard. It’s in a can so it’s metal and it’s British but it’s not really heavy – just like Def Leppard. This is real good English style ale in a 16 oz. can. Notice I didn’t say great. I would have to give this beer a solid C+. With a copper color this ale sports a thick, creamy head. It doesn’t host much aroma however I did smell some ever so slight butterscotch tones but that was about it. It has an ultra smooth palate and finish. There’s a slightly hoppy after taste that is not overly bitter. I can see this beer iced down in my cooler this summer.
Commercial Description: Boddingtons is a refreshing, smooth & sessionable beer. It is renowned for its golden colour, full bodied flavour and malty, morish taste with smooth tight creamy head. Brewed in Manchester since 1778, Boddingtons has an ABV content of 3.8% and 4.1% in cask.
When the boys from Thin Lizzy were writing Jailbreak and The Boys Are Back In Town I am fairly sure there was a Guinness sitting on an amp somewhere in the room. I think in my beer ratings I grossly overrated Guinness but simply stated it is the best “widely available” or in most cases the only “widely available” stout. Guinness pours a black opaque body and has a frothy off white head. This pairing has earned Guinness Stout the nickname “The Blond In The Black Dress”. The aroma is of roasted malt and hops; the palette is smooth and creamy. This is a perfectly made beer.
Commercial Description: Now you can enjoy the perfect pub pint at home thanks to the ingenious “widget” that is inserted in all GUINNESS Draught cans. The “widget” is actually a plastic device which sits at the bottom of the can. When the can is opened, the widget releases a mixture of beer and nitrogen that creates a surge of bubbles. When you pour it into a glass these bubbles eventually settle to form the famous tight white head creating the perfect pint experience from the pub right at home. Your GUINNESS Draught in cans should be chilled for a minimum of three hours before serving.
My number one can of beer this week is:
Young’s Oatmeal Stout
English, dark & heavy. I don’t know if I am describing Judas Priest or Young’s Oatmeal Stout. If the boys from Judas Priest want a beer that will remind them of home this is it. The ultra creamy smooth stout hosts an almost black mahogany opaque body and a generous frothy tan head. The aroma has great roasted tones and the palette is flat and dry. The hop profile is great balancing this sweet stout just right.
Commercial Description: Brewed by Young’s exclusively for sale in United States. A beautifully hand crafted beer with an exceptionally smooth palette and a fruity aroma. A dark, ruby-coloured stout, almost black from a distance, with a beautiful creamy head. Fuggles and Goldings hops. 20% Slovenian Goldings added 10 minutes before end of boil. Oatmeal Stout is available in 500ml bottles and 440ml cans. Available in the United States only. Note from the Head Brewer Best served cool, but not ice-cold.