When Big Beer started snapping up craft breweries at a startling rate, I wondered—like many craft drinkers—what it would do to the industry as a whole. While the shift is still playing out, one thing is certain: There has been plenty of fuss on both sides.
Most of the consumer concern was that Big Beer investment would lead to degraded product, but that is nearly impossible to measure. Comparing pre- and post-acquisition quality of flagship beers requires a comparison to a product at two ends of the age spectrum and, as we know, time changes beer. Or, alternatively, weighing a present experience against a memory. Neither option is likely to produce a true comparison.
But will newly acquired breweries begin pushing the same kinds of macro lagers as their parent companies? The answer to that question is a resounding yes in the case of Mahou-San Miguel-staked Founders, as the brewery released its lager Solid Gold earlier this year.
Whether from the can or a glass, Solid Gold is a well-executed version of the style.”
The “Premium Lager” looks the part in the glass with a clear-yet-golden hue and tons of active, rising bubbles. A substantial frothy white head quickly disappears off the pour, leaving behind an ordinary-but-peasant-looking beer.
The aroma is much more complex than any common lager which I’ve caught a whiff of. The addition of lemondrop hops—via dry-hopping—brings a true citric brightness to an already clean and crisp nose. A lager isn’t the first style I’m reaching for on the beer store shelf but, I have to admit, the aroma of Solid Gold has me excited to take a sip.
The initial taste is light, crisp and clean—standard characteristics of a good lager. The lemon notes follow through to the taste, bringing a level of complexity not common to the style. I’ve been examining Solid Gold through the lens of a fresh pint glass, but let’s be honest, this beer is much more likely to be consumed by the can.
Quaffing from the slightly-too-retro can provides much of the same experience; though, if pressed, I’d say the lemon presents quieter and later. The aftertaste from the can is slightly more pleasant in a hard-to-pin-down kind of way. Maybe it’s a little brighter?
Whether from the can or a glass, Solid Gold is a well-executed version of the style. Crisp and easy drinking, with a low ABV and nothing to offend a new or weathered beer palate. That’s part of the design of this style and, at least for Founders, part of the appeal of producing its own take.