Beer Review: Budweiser Copper Lager, Budweiser Black Lager - The Whiskey Wash

Beer Review: Budweiser Copper Lager, Budweiser Black Lager

Editor’s Note: These beers were provided to us as review samples by Budweiser. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

The boiler maker, also known as a shot and a beer, originated in the 1890’s in Butte Montana. At that time, Butte was a bustling mining town. When the whistle blew at the end of business miners would make their way to the local bars and order up a shot of whiskey and a pint of beer to soften the pain of their hard day. The basic, but elegant combination would melt away the hours spent in the frigid damp caves, carving out the mineral based fortunes for their employers.

These days the boiler maker is either the traditional shot and a beer or a whiskey dropped into a pint of beer. In England the Boiler Maker refers to the mixing of two different beers. A draft mild and a bottle of Nut Brown Ale. Being a native son having grown up a mere 80 miles from Butte, I tend to stick with the shot and a beer formula established in the grit and grime of those frost covered mountains.

For my latest Boiler Maker experience, I am reviewing two limited edition brews from Budweiser. The Budweiser Copper Lager and the Budweiser Black Lager. These brews were both conceived through a partnership with Jim Beam that saw them aged for a period of time on Jim Beam bourbon barrel staves to enhance the flavors, so the boil comes from a shot of Jim Beam to accompany each of these tasters.

Budweiser Copper Lager, Budweiser Black Lager

Budweiser Copper Lager, Budweiser Black Lager (image via Budweiser)

First Up: Budweiser Copper Lager

Packaged in the stout stature of Stubby bottles, this beer enters the scene unpretentious and unassuming. After cracking the top and tilting the sudsy liquid into my tasting glass I held my hand over the mouth of the glass. This practice allows the effervescent brew a chance to build up its notes, before introducing them to my sinuses with a gentle inhale. I lifted my hand up and breathed in. I was hit immediately by the scent of banana that was chased away by the earthy dry smell of wheat.

Expecting a Belgium style lager, I took in my first sips and let the flavors bounce around for a second while I went to work on identifying the intention of the brew masters. By itself, pre-chaser of whiskey, I noticed this beer was closer to an amber, or Scottish ale in look and in flavor. It was nutty and rich with a heavy flavor of wheat and malt. There was also the soft sweetness of dark molasses as the beer lingered. Surprisingly, the beer presented a sour after taste that hung on a bit longer than I appreciated.

After a couple of solo sips, I added the chaser of  Jim Beam. I find Jim Beam to be a velvety warm whiskey with a pleasant balance of sweetness when taken on its own. I did not feel the partnership of the whiskey added much to the flavor. But it did aid in chasing the beers bitter and sour notes from its aftertaste away, making them a solid combination in the end.

Nest up to bat: Budweiser Black Lager

Like the Copper Lager, the Black was aged on six-year Jim Beam barrel staves before bottling. I have had the luck of sampling a few black lagers over the years. I tend to be a fan of the thicker character and sharp bitter nature the variation in the brewing process provides the traditional lager notes. I ran into a similar scenario with this offering as with the Copper. The visual aesthetic and the tasting notes were much more in line with an Amber than the black lagers I have sampled before.

The nose on this beer did not carry the banana notes that the copper did. There was still a heavy maltiness to the scent along with a molasses that accompanied the grain laced smell that wafted upward. Before chasing it with the Jim Beam, this beer carried the smells through with a strong malty front accompanied by a nuttiness. The after taste was not as sharp with this one and had a subtle brown sugar note on the back of the pallet.

Once paired with the whiskey there was little, for my tastes, to grab onto for further sampling. This beer was already quite forward with its sweetness, so pairing it with a sweet whiskey did not add enough contrast in flavors for me to recommend this pairing.


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