Humans seem to have an innate desire to rank and award, and the world of beer is no different. Two preeminent examples dishing out beer hardware are the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup.
These awards often tell us what we already know—just look at the historical winners for a who’s who of craft giants and top brand sellers—but what I enjoy most are the surprises. After all, these competitions are typically blind, meaning judges have no idea of the brand or brewer behind the beer. That’s the real beauty of these awards. That’s how you end up with 2018 World Beer Cup Gold Medal Winner...Old Style?
Yes, the bargain basement beer of baseball’s Chicago Cubs took home a gold medal in the American-Style Lager category. I’ve had my fair share of the classic lager—it’s typically the cheapest beer everywhere it’s sold—but with it’s new hardware in tow, I decided to give it a more discerning try.
Old Style is simple, clean and easy-drinking. It’s light-bodied and lightly flavored—a quick taste that is there and gone in an instant.”
Old Style is crystal clear with tons of tiny rising bubbles. It’s a straw yellow color, but it is a little deeper and not as light as I expected. A solid two fingers of tightly bubbled white head quickly fades, while lacing surprisingly well.
The aroma is neither surprising nor particularly noteworthy. It’s mostly malty sweetness with hints of corn and yeast, but a slight lemon note and some pilsner-esque dirtiness also creep through...I swear this is a good quality. While the aroma doesn’t have me rushing Old Style to my lips, it certainly beats that of most adjunct lagers.
The initial taste is crisp and clean. Malt and corn are immediately evident on the palate, while the hops play in the background with light pops of lemon and grassy herbal notes. The finish takes on whatever flavors are already on your tongue, so it’s best to wait a few sips before judging. It ends up lightly bitter and drying, but only if you really concentrate as the flavor fades away quickly. Somehow the balance leaves you satisfied while also parched and ready for another sip.
Old Style is simple, clean and easy-drinking. It’s light-bodied and lightly flavored—a quick taste that is there and gone in an instant. It’s got enough flavor in that moment and has just dry enough of a finish to bring you right back for more. Does it deserve a gold medal? I’ll let you be the judge.