Flying Dog Agave Cerveza: King of the Beach?

Flying Dog Brewery recently sent me a bottle of their newest Brewhouse Rarities: Agave Cerveza. Now at first glance, I thought to myself, “What is so rare about a beer that wants to be a good version of Corona?”

But there is a flip side to this. Why WOULDN’T you want to be a good version of Corona? I don’t want to say I enjoy Corona at the beach, but I have found it in my hand from time to time when at the beach. And there’s a huge market for making that GOOD.

But just that didn’t explain the rarity part to me. But I think Flying Dog succinctly described their Brewhouse Rarities series better than I could attempt:

The only criteria for our Brewhouse Rarities series of small-batch releases lie in the immortal words of the Good Doctor: “Too weird to live, too rare to die” – Hunter S.Thompson

AgaveCervezaBottleThat statement made this beer make a lot more sense to me. In fact, it made their whole rarity series come into focus a little better. At least in my eyes.

So what to do with this sample? Drink it, and write some obligatory tweet or blog about it? Nah. Considering, this was the type of beer that was destined for the beach, or at least a more social setting, I needed a new plan.

At first I thought about taking it to my homebrew club meeting to share and seeing what they thought of it. But that didn’t seem to feel right.

So then, as many things do, the perfect place to audition such a beer appeared. Some friends of mine were having people over to watch the USA vs Portugal World Cup match. This was a really good crowd to try it out on. Some Coors Light drinkers, some beer occasionalists (aka wine drinkers), and a few beer enthusiasts, but no connoisseurs. What a good mix, and great way to see how this beer is perceived.

So then to mix it up a little more, I thought I would pit the Agave Cerveza against some of its beach going peers and an Agave peer in a blind taste test.

Flying Dog Agave Cerveza vs. Pacifico Clara, Corona Extra, and Breckenridge Agave Wheat.

Rogues Gallery of Condenders

While I thought about giving everyone a little primer about style guidelines and giving them access to style sheets and BJCP guidelines. I decided to throw that out the window and just let them score them as best they could, and I’d answer any questions along the way.

I of course had some preconceived thought about how this little competition would go. Or I guess *hopes* would be a better description. I certainly was hoping Corona Extra would not be the top choice.

Before I get to the results let me tell you my thoughts about this beer. It certainly isn’t going to blow anyone’s minds, but I don’t think blowing minds was a goal of the brewers at Flying Dog with this one. I think the goal was to create a crisp, refreshing beach drinker. Goal achieved.

The taste is certainly drinkable. If given a bottomless cup, you could easily drink a six pack without realizing it. It’s that easy to drink. On the nose, you might get the faintest citrus scent, but overall, there is little to no nose on this beer. The taste is a bit of citrus with sweetness from the corn and agave. The agave is certainly a much cleaner more neutral sweetness than the GMO Corn Syrup used in Corona.

I haven’t seen the price point on Agave Cerveza yet, but I am hoping it’s $8.99 tops. I certainly would have trouble paying any more than that for this beer. While it was enjoyable, and certainly a good choice for a lawnmower/beach beer, I am not going to break the bank to buy it.

Back to the competition.

Reactions were fun to watch as people tried to guess what beer it was they were drinking. And scoring was also amusing. Pacifico Clara clearly got a bump in scores being the first beer served, but things leveled off as people scored more.

When many of the panelists were drinking Pacifico Clara, I heard many say, this has to be Corona. Citing sweetness, banana esters, and mouthfeel consistent with their memory of Corona.

Next up was Breckenridge’s Agave Wheat. This was a little different than the others, which may have been unfair to the rest of the group. The wheat made this beer stand out from the crowd, especially right after drinking the Pacifico Clara.

Flying Dog was next. This was the reaction I was looking forward to the most. And it was my first taste as well. We all seemed to have difficulty finding the nose on the beer, but the tasting glasses we were using weren’t the best for capturing scents either. The most common reaction about the taste is that is was completely un-offensive. There was nothing particularly great about it, but there was absolutely no flavors that anyone found displeasing either. As a homebrewer, I certainly don’t brew to be un-offensive, but I have never attempted to brew a true beach beer either. So while it didn’t wow, it was deemed pretty good.

Then it was time for the second most anticipated reaction of the day. Corona Extra. People are funny, especially people in my upper 30s/low 40s age range. We began drinking beer when the craft beer scene was scant. And when we went to the beach, Corona Extra was always what was consumed. Every beach bar was filled with Corona and little else, and we all have great memories of those trips to the beach. I really think that nostalgia is what fuels much of Corona’s sales, because it certainly isn’t the taste of the beer.

Many of panelists said it tasted of sweet urine. Now I did not inquire how they came upon that knowledge, but I couldn’t disagree. And the look on everyone’s faces was priceless. Glad I saved this for last, because it looked as if I was torturing them. Without the lime it was truly horrible. And all of the panelists agreed – it was just plain bad. And to think I when I purchased beer for this tasting a six pack of Corona Extra was selling for $9.49 (I bought a 24oz can instead).

So what were the results?

First place went to Breckenridge Agave Wheat, followed by Flying Dog Agave Cerveza. Pacifico Clara solidly took third, with Corona Extra coming in a very distant last.

A special shout out to my panel, who did a great service for the beach beer challenge. While Breckenridge took first, it’s hard to crown it King of the Beach Beers they had the highest score. But if I were going to the beach, and had my choice from this group I’d grab a sixer of the Agave Cerveza.