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Column: Blind tasting 7 of America’s most popular domestic beers
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A blind tasting of America's most popular domestic beers. - photo by Kelsey Podo

Every time I leave my comfort zone, I usually return with a little more knowledge and life experience under my belt. 

I hope the same can be said for what I did this week. 

Throwing my snobbery out the window, I decided to take a break from writing about delicious craft brews and focus my energy on America’s favorite beer-flavored water. You know, the working man’s beverage: Bud Light, Coors, Miller — you get the picture. 

If you’ve been reading my column for a while, you’re probably aware of my bias toward Pabst Blue Ribbon. To eliminate my favoritism and fairly try each brew, I asked my husband to create a blind tasting of seven popular cheap domestic beers made in the U.S. He happily obliged and used a program to randomize the order of the beer, so he wouldn’t subconsciously put them in a certain order. 

After looking at several lists from national publications about America’s most popular beer, I chose the seven brew line-up: Bud Light, Miller Light, Michelob Ultra, Budweiser, Natural Light (aka Natty Light), PBR and Coors Light. 

Without me in the room, my husband poured a few ounces of each beer into different glasses, labeling them with a number. When I got to the table, I smelled and tasted the different beers and recorded my notes. 

I laughed as soon as I looked at the beer, each displaying nearly the same exact honey-colored hue. I would give you a list of “least terrible to most terrible,” but some of these are too similar in flavor to accurately distinguish from another. So here’s the breakdown.

Tasting lineup in order of consumption:

Beer No. 1: Bud Light

The first one, which I later found out to be Bud Light, tasted like someone added a packet of sugar and a tiny hint of beer flavor to water. The backend note came across as stale and slightly sour light Greek yogurt. Yeah, this one isn’t for me. 

Beer No. 2: Miller Light

Out of all the beer, this one offered a slightly darker shade of honey gold. I found it sweet and less aromatic than the first. A tiny whisper of bitterness popped up, but not enough to keep my taste buds entertained. It’s slightly palatable, I’ll give it that. 

Beer No. 3: Michelob Ultra

As soon as I took a whiff of this beer my nose crinkled. I picked up an odd apple scent that teetered on the edge of hard cider. If someone were to dunk a green apple Jolly Rancher into water for five seconds and drink the liquid, that is what Michelob Ultra tastes like. 

Beer No. 4: Budweiser

I couldn’t find any words to describe the smell of Budweiser. The only aroma I gathered from the beer was the soap used to clean the glass. I basically buried my nose in the beer, and still nothing noticeable registered. This brew went down smooth without offering any distinguishable flavor. I’d like to think that I have sensitive taste buds, but I struggled hard to find even one note to pinpoint. I even tried cleansing my palate, to no avail.

Beer No. 5: Natural Light

This one reminded me of the taste of plastic melted onto candy. It proved very, very flat — 0/10 would not drink again.

Beer No. 6: Pabst Blue Ribbon

When I smelled this brew, I knew I had found something that resembled beer. It not only offered a yeasty aroma, but to my relief, it tasted like a decent brew, too. This was the only one out of the seven that provided a wheaty, almost cereal-like flavor paired with a slight bitterness. PBR may be cheap and in the realm of Bud Light and Miller Light, but it utterly dominates. I had a feeling there would be no competition with PBR in this lineup, and I was absolutely right. The blue ribbon reigns supreme.

Beer No. 7: Coors Light

I found myself surprisingly unoffended by Coors Light. It contained a slightly bolder flavor than the others, not including PBR, and didn’t slap my tongue with sugary sweetness. If someone offers me a Coors in the future, I don’t think I’ll turn them down. 

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