Thursday, December 24, 2020

Aldi Beer Advent Calendar 2020 Review Beers 17-24

This is the third and final part of my review, part 1 and part 2 linked here. It's finally over. Twenty-four beers and days later and here I am putting my final thoughts to paper. I learned a very valuable lesson doing this process: I don't like being obligated to drink beers every day. It is almost like being forced to grab a beer with that one coworker you are cool with at work but never want to see outside of work. No other word really sums it up quite like obligation. Below are the reviews for the last 8 beers, some wildly impressive breakdowns, and the thing every Advent Calendar review needs: a power ranking.

Day 17: O’Shea’s Double IPA

Origin: Ireland
Best by date: 28 AUG 2021

What is surprising is how much malt I am getting. It’s sweet, oh so sweet. The bottle says “generous malt backbone”, and that is an understatement. If I were to come up with an analogy, it is what is leftover after Sub-Zero does his fatality. Maybe there are notes of citrus? The finish is just mildly bitter and herby. This just tastes like a very old IPA where the hops have totally fallen off. It’s not bad, it’s not good; it’s totally fine. Rating: 3/5

Day 18: Kinroo Blue

Origin: Belgium
Best by date: 09/07/2021

This used to be the Blue Moon knockoff that was available year-round at my local Aldi, but it looks like this is getting phased out for White Tide (see day 23). This is shockingly similar to the Kristoffel Belgian White from part 2. It’s just so much orange peel. A touch of wheaty sweetness, no real bitterness to speak of. Then even more orange peel. A bit heavy handed but a pretty tasty Witbier. Rating: 4/5

Day 19: Bacher

Origin: Belgium
Best by date: 10/12/2021

This is the last green bottle pale European lager of the bunch and what a dud it is. It’s lacking everything you want from a crisp clean lager: refreshment. This has a sweetness that just lingers. There is no crisp, tight, bitter finish to make you want to take another sip. To top it all off, it has some aggressive paper going on indicating it’s old. For a green bottle, surprisingly no skunking. I also don’t know if this is also supposed to be a Becks rip off? It looks eerily similar to the Brens. I think if this were fresh it would have a shot but as is, this is a clunky stinker. Rating: 2/5

Day 20: O’Shea’s Hazy India Pale Ale

Origin: Ireland
Best by date: 28 AUG 2021

I think I am just going to write an unchecked rant. For those who don’t know, hazy IPAs originally got their unique opaque coloring by aggressive hop additions that were left unfiltered. This allowed for aromas and tastes that have all the vibrant hop character such as citrus or resin without any of the bitterness. Hazy IPA, by design, are to be consumed fresh. Hops overtime die and leave a beer with less character. I have no idea when the boxes are packed nor when it was brewed but I bought this in the beginning of November. I can assure you this is not the level of freshness I prefer for my IPA. As for the beer itself, it’s barely hazy. Unfiltered definitely. When you start tasting it, it’s fairly light overall. You get some nice citrus with a mild pithy bitterness on the back. But the whole thing tastes like just a mediocre citrus pale ale. Nothing wrong with that but using hazy IPA as marketing drives me up a fucking wall. As a Hazy IPA, this is a straight 2/5, as a beer it gets bumped up. Rating: 3/5

Day 21: Kristoffel Belgian Blonde

Origin: Belgium
Best by date: 01/27/2022

This beer is so fruity, everything else is completely lost. Mild bready malt character with a touch of sweetness plays the canvas to this aggressive yeast character: loads of clove with notes of bubblegum and pear fruitiness. Minimal bitterness. I assume this is supposed to be a knockoff Leffe blonde; I haven’t had a Leffe in a very long time but I remember it being a bit more balanced. I just wish the yeast character wasn’t as dominating. Unrelated, it took me 21 days to realize all of the Kristoffel beers are just knockoff Leffe: they have the exact same 3 styles. Sometimes I am rather dense. Rating: 3/5

Day 22: O’Shea’s Irish Stout

Origin: Ireland
Best by date: 28 AUG 2021

Based on the first dark beer offering from O’Shea’s I was worried this was going to be another mess. Shit, this label even says it has licorice notes which is what overwhelmed the first one. So imagine my surprise when this was not only true to style, but actually tasty. Guinness or the quintessential Irish style stout known for nice amount of roast flavor without being heavy or aggressive. Roast brings that French roast coffee and slight touch of baker’s chocolate, mild esters from the yeast hanging around but it’s a reach. Finish is crisp but has a very slight acidity, like when you have a pour over. I am seriously shocked to say this is a well-made Irish stout; great Guinness replacement. Rating 5/5

Day 23: White Tide

Origin: Belgium
Best by date: 09/30/2021

Per internet sleuthing, this is the year-round replacement for Kinroo Blue at Aldi. It’s pretty obvious what this is supposed to be as they directly copied Blue Moon’s label, it is shockingly similar. The beer itself isn’t far off Blue Moon either. Mild bread wheaty note before a nice blend of both dried citrus and a tiny bit of coriander with minimal bitterness. This beer is by far the best Witbier of the bunch since it’s not completely dominated by the orange peel. I am having a hard time articulating this but this beer has all the components but they just don’t come together to make a Witbier I want to buy. If I could give it a 4.5 I would but I think I am stuck sticking with the lower score. Rating: 4/5

Day 24: O’Shea’s Winter Ale

Origin: Ireland
Best by date: 28 AUG 2021

Serious bummer ending this calendar on such a low note. This beer has a very sweet malty note giving it a canned peaches syrup kind of thing. There are clove characters from the yeast that become overwhelming and impart a plastic taste to the beer. Hops don’t play much of a role in this. The sweetness and clove notes could have been great but the synthetic plastic taste is just miserable. This one was really tough to get through. Rating: 1/5

After being "forced" to drink 24 generic beers for 24 days, I shockingly have way too many thoughts. In an attempt to make the digestible, I thought the best way to do it was the same way we look at our peers in high school: superlatives.

How is this not copyright infringement?

Look at the bottle for White Tide. The colors, the shapes, the whole bottle design scream Blue Moon. It definitely feels like just a matter of time before Coors hits them with a cease and desist.

Biggest Surprise

By far the biggest shock was the O’Shea’s Irish Stout. O’Shea’s made very questionable beers in this package and the robust porter, the only other dark beer, was awful. So imagine my genuine surprise when they made a true to style Irish stout. This is a perfectly good replacement for Guinness.

Best Green Bottle

To my surprise, 4 of the 24 beers were pale European lagers in green bottles. I am a big fan of these beers for just sitting back and relaxing. Fortunately, none of them were skunked since they were shielded in the box. Unfortunately, the actual liquid was not created equally. Multiple beers appeared to be Becks dupes, but Brens did the best job. Just a good clean light lager that was easy drinking.

Strongest Showing

This fucking box was built too well. Look at the photo at the beginning of the article. At some point I had destroyed the top so well it was easier to open the whole thing like it was a hinge. Whoever’s job it was to put the perforations in these boxes should be fired.

So maybe not so surprisingly superlatives only let me explore things so far. Let me approach this like a shitty Powerpoint instead.

Below is a table indicating the average score by country of production with the standard deviation. Germany had an incredible showing with all of the beers being solid 5's, but there were only 2 German beers. Meanwhile, both Ireland and Belgium are both hovering around a 3 average, but Ireland has a slightly larger deviation. I think a lot of this rests on the fact that O'Shea's Irish Stout really rocked my world. Looking at the standard deviation, it proves that O'Shea's was the most inconsistent. It was the only brewery/region to have every score represented.

Standard Deviation1.140.000.79
Number of Beers11211

Looking at the distribution of scores, you see a solid bell curve. Unfortunately, this means the bulk of the beers are stuck in mediocrity.

Alright, let’s take at the score versus day graph. Interestingly, they did a good job of spreading out the good beers amongst the mediocre and trash. There is never longer than a 2 day period where the beers are at least a 4 or 5. It's almost like when you are lulled into a sense of good beers, they wake you up with ice cold water to remind you they are not all good.

Turns out shitty PowerPoint didn't work for me either. Alright here is a power ranking of all of the beers:

  1. Licher Hefeweizen
  2. Wernesgruner
  3. O'Shea's Irish Stout
  4. Brens
  5. Rising Tide
  6. Kristoffel Belgian White
  7. O'Shea's Irish Red
  8. 1758 Belgian IPA
  9. Kinroo Blue
  10. O'Shea's Grapefruit IPA
  11. Kristoffel Bruin
  12. Sezoens Belgian Blonde
  13. O'Shea's Hoppy Lager
  14. O'Shea's Session IPA
  15. O'Shea's Hazy IPA
  16. O'Shea's Double IPA
  17. Kristoffel Belgian Blonde
  18. Imperium
  19. Saint Alena
  20. O'Shea's Irish Lager
  21. Bacher
  22. O'Shea's Celtic Wheat
  23. O'Shea's Robust Porter
  24. O'Shea's Winter Ale

So, you have either read all of those posts or skimmed to find my verdict, both of which are great options. When it comes down to it, these are 24 beers that range from solid to awful. Nothing in here will have you crying out for more. If you’re curious about this for yourself and the beers sound interesting, I would say buy it. For $50, it’s just over $2 per beer, so if you’re looking to try 24 new beers this is a solid option. However, I would discourage giving this as a gift to your craft beer enthusiast friends. It comes back to that idea that if a friend has a hobby, they likely know more than you will ever know. Scrolling through the top 10 gifts lists on Google doesn’t make you an expert (almost all of those lists are the hottest of garbage anyways). You’d be better off spending that $50 on a gift card to a local brewery or even buying 4 mix six packs and making your own calendar.

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