As my family and I were preparing for the Wisconsin Badgers/Nebraska Huskers football game the other day, my dad pointed out how many types of beer were in the cooler. We were surprised to find there were at least six, ranging from light draft beers to fancier artisan brews. I began wondering how much we actually enjoyed this stuff we’d been pouring down our throats all evening. Of course, there was only one way to find out. Blind taste test!

The contenders we chose were:

  1. Somersault (New Belgium)
  2. MGD 64
  3. Hamm’s
  4. Michelob ULTRA
  5. Red Stripe
With that nice little cross-section of Wisconsin football drinking, I poured each beer into a cup labeled with a number. My mom, dad, aunt and uncle rated them first to least favorite based on appearance and taste, then tried to guess which one was which. And the winner was…
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#1 Somersault: The Champion
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Unsurprisingly, this Colorado microbrew took home the gold. Two tasters rated it their favorite overall and even the taster who found it to be “too bitter” rated it their third favorite. What can we say? Wisconsinites will always have a soft spot in their hearts for local-type breweries and amber-colored ales.
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#2 Hamm’s: The Dark Horse
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Everyone seemed to forget about Hamm’s until the ratings actually came through, and it turned out this little brew had done quite well (it was only one point behind Somersault). “Good balance, sharp finish” one taster wrote; another wrote “hoppy” (although both thought they were writing about Red Stripe).
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#3 ULTRA: The Healthy-But-Drinkable Alternative
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Lighter-calorie beers tend to get a bad rap around serious beer drinkers. However, the 90-calorie ULTRA’s clean, well-rounded taste won over the crowd and proved that lighter beers can stand up to the competition.
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#4 Red Stripe: The Disappointment
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Iconic packaging and exotic Jamaican roots couldn’t save this brew when it was stripped of its bottle. Served in an unmarked glass, tasters thought the beer was sub-par. It wasn’t a complete disaster, but opinions about this beer ranged from “meh” to “no taste – blah.”
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#5 MGD 64: The Faker
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Again, no surprise here. Every taster rated MGD 64 his or her  second-to-least or least favorite, citing no taste and too much similarity to soda water. With this beer, less calories definitely equaled less taste. Still, there’s something kind of gratifying about being about to drink four beers for under 300 calories.
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So what did we learn? Don’t knock Hamm’s. If you’re watching your calories, ULTRA is your best bet. Packaging isn’t everything. And if you really want quality beer, microbrews are the way to go.
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My name is Sam and all I care about is food.

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4 Responses

  1. Smokin'

    I just went and bought a 18-pack of Ultra! I am not willing to go the extra 30 calories for soda water. And way to go Hamm’s!

    Reply
  2. Marilyn

    Looks like Hamm’s has maintained some of the cute advertising that I remember from the past.

    Reply
  3. Sam

    Marilyn – Sadly, Hamm’s is owned by MillerCoors now, who have done away with most of the old advertising. Hamm’s keeps a pretty low profile these days.

    Reply

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