Ever since German settlers came to America in the middle 1800s, lager-style beers have been a mainstay of American culture. The light American lagers and pilsners that dominated the market since Prohibition catch a lot of flak, but they aren’t going away anytime soon.
And now the craft beer world is getting in on the chase for American taste buds, with premium lagers and pilsners beginning to trickle in package form – plenty of breweries have them in their arsenal, but now they’re beginning to be featured, core products. One such beer is the new release by Founders Brewing Co., Solid Gold.
Solid Gold is being marketed as a “premium lager” – it says as much on the can, which harkens to the beers so many of us grew up watching our parents and grandparents drink at family cookouts. The can is a nondescript tan color which reminds me of one Coors or Miller High Life might have employed, and the fonts are retro-looking.
A banner at the bottom of the can even features a hazy graphic of a building. Is that the Founders brewery? Are those clouds hovering overhead? Finally, part of the banner on either side of the graphic are the phrases “Memorable Quality” and “Legendary Taste,” which are reminiscent of the phrasings I would find on beer cans in my grandpa’s fridge back in the 1970s. Heck, even the beer’s name sounds retro.
And as I found myself marveling at the subtle brilliance of the can, I was reminded of the irony – modern microbreweries peddling light pilsners spend millions on commercials ballyhooing the pour spouts and shapes and designs of their bottles and cans.
However, it’s what’s inside that counts the most. This crisp, yellow lager features the requisite white, dissipating head. I can smell the grains in the spare aromas, and the body is light, dry and highly carbonated – just what summer begs for. And for those who like their lagers with the bite the beer deserves, Solid Gold delivers on the back of the palate.
In other words, the flavor is just what you’d expect: a better version of an American lager like the mostly watered-down versions Americans were force-fed for generations. Solid Gold is a lawnmower beer with more flavor and a bit of body to go with it, while also being ridiculously approachable at just 4.4 percent alcohol by volume.
If that isn’t enough, Solid Gold is one of the few so-called “craft” beers that has a price point that is actually somewhat competitive with the big players. At a suggested retail of $7.99 for a six-pack, it’s only a couple of bucks higher than a Corporate Light sixer. Solid Gold will also be available in 15-packs, with a recommended price point of $14.99. A buck a can is right in line with those American lagers and pilsners.
With the packaging coming off almost as a throwback parody of sorts, it leaves an even broader smile that there’s a quality product inside. An affordable one, at that. The beer isn’t special, but it’s quality, and if you’re just looking for something to quaff on a hot day, do you really want a double IPA or a barrel-aged imperial stout?
I, for one, am eager to see if this becomes the next trend in craft beer.
Kevin Gibson is a Louisville, Ky.-based free-lance writer who writes about everything from food to music to beer to bourbon to professional football. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono (pissed her off a little, too). He is author of "Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft" (2014, History Press). He published his first novel, "The Liberation of Crystal Hill" (Bearhead Publishing), in 2011; he also published "Crohn's Disease: A Memoir from the Toilet" in January 2015 and his currently working on two more book projects. He co-hosts a weekly local radio show, and also plays in a couple of bands, the Uncommon Houseflies and the Nick Peay Band. Not surprisingly, he doesn't sleep much. But when he isn't running around town chasing stories or poised at his trusty laptop writing, you can often find him at one of the local breweries and being thankful for the life he lives. That, or he'll be sitting on his couch with his trusty sidekick Darby. Check out his beer blog, 502Brews.com, or his website, KevinGibsonWriter.com, to find out more about his books and why he does what he does. Or feel free to call him names on Twitter: @kgramone.