Saturday, October 27, 2012

Before-After Premium Lager

Ever since New York (and New Amsterdam) existed, the city has attracted, and continues to attract, immigrants from all over the world. Many neighborhoods end up as ethnic enclaves of particular immigrant groups (Little Italy, Chinatown, etc.). The East Village has been home to a substantial Ukrainian/Eastern Eurpean community since the mid- to late-1800s. There's still a strong presence there, which is why you can find so many exotic (often cheap) beers from Poland (Żywiec, Warka, Okoci), Ukraine, and the like -- beers that you won't find in any other kinds of neighborhoods.
Before drinking it.
Last week I noticed a new one in an East Village deli. "Before And After Premium Lager", from Rinkuskiai, Lithuania, caught my eye because of the illustration on the label. It was of a "pretty lady" (After) which turned into a sad old hag (Before) when the picture was turned upside down. The joke being, "this beer is so strong that after drinking it, you'll see haggard old women as attractive young gals." Slightly funny -- beer goggles, and all -- but perhaps a bit sexist. Maybe they do a "stud/old man" version for the ladies. Anyway, I typically don't let pictures on beer bottles dictate my drinking habits, but I've never tasted a Lithuanian beer, and I doubt that I've ever had a lager which was so strong -- though the $2.99 price tag for a half liter bottle sort of hinted that this might not be the Lithuanian Duvel.

The beer had a hazy copper-gold color and poured out with a reasonable head, which dissipated quickly. It had a sweet cotton-candy aroma with some malt notes -- but the main aroma was unquestionably alcohol. The first taste sensation was a sharp acidic note followed by a bitter alcohol flavor, with some sweetness underneath, though dominated by the harsh alcohol flavor. The beer becomes more bitter as it warms, but it's alcohol bitter, not hops bitter. It fades to a dull, astringent aftertaste that unpleasantly sticks on the tongue. Alcohol.

Someone had posted elsewhere on-line that this should be classified as an "imperial malt liquor", which pretty accurately nails it.
Label for their triple bock.
The bottle that I tried had a red label with both "European Beer" and "Premium Lager" displayed on it, along with the 12% abv notation. Though on-line, the importer, Aiko Importers, displays a 12% "Triple Bock" with a red label and a 4.7% "Premium Lager" with a gold/yellow label. For whatever reason, they seemed to have merged the two labels.

The importer's website states that this beer uses an all malt recipe and utilizes no adjuncts. What malts they use, I'd like to know, so that I could avoid them. The beer has no redeeming qualities. The best thing about the beer is a half-funny label that's really just a stale joke. I hate to be a hater, but there are better and less unpleasant ways to get blind drunk (though few more economical). And, really, that's all this beer is good for. Honestly, they should reverse the designation of "before" and "after". Before you drink this beer, you're youthful and full of life. Afterwards... two steps from the grave.

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