This week’s 'Beer O’Clock' by RealBeer's Neil Miller is not a recommendation. It is a warning. It first appeared in Salient (Victoria University’s student magazine), creating a bit of a stir in beer circles with one writer saying “I think this beer review by Neil Miller has to be awarded an all time best for something, but I still haven't decided exactly what.” It may have been a compliment. We're not sure.
Normally, the sight of three colourful six-packs of beer inspires joy in my very soul. This time, I was filled with dread. The beers before me were the three new Mash lagers from New Zealand Breweries.
A weekend paper had called them “ad-wanker beers” just moments after their low-profile release. The reason for that low profile quickly became clear.
As I contemplated these bottles, all that was running through my mind were the prophetic words of philosopher-poet Han Solo: “I have a bad feeling about this.” I should have listened to Han.
I try to be positive about beer so I must note that the packaging is actually very clever. When tucked inside their packs, each of the beers appears to be a different colour. Once out, it becomes clear that the illusion of colour is produced by the cardboard pack itself.
All three beers however are pale and unappealing once poured, looking like nothing so much as something whipped up with cordial in a soda stream machine.
Mash Golden Lager (5%) is an insipid beer with a slightly unpleasant flavour. This lager is also the base for the other two concoctions. It is, broadly, a style of which the Germans might call “das sehr preiswert- este Bier“, which translates as “the very cheapest beer”. There is a hint of grassiness, which suggests that the Golden Lager has had some acquaintance with the noble hop. Perhaps it was once shown a picture?
While sampling the Golden Lager, I was watching Chuck Norris (in a bulldozer) fight David Carradine (in an armoured half track). This beer was so bad that I didn’t really enjoy the scene - but it wasn't the worst.
Next up was the lemon and lime flavored Mash Citrus Lager (5%). It has the nose of a budget dishwashing liquid, but doesn’t taste nearly as good. Those who defend the human rights of fruit will be pleased to know that it is unlikely that any real lemons or limes were harmed in the making of this beer – unless they were forced to drink it. This 'beer' can kill. Syrupy and sickly sweet, the Citrus Lager is awful ... but still not the worst.
That dubious honour goes to Mash Energy Lager (5%). This beverage (I am loathe to call it beer) contains caffeine, guarana, Food Acid 330 and flavourings. Yummo. It has the nose of a plastic mug filled with raspberry raro cordial. It is so thin it makes Bud Light taste like Guinness, and it finishes with the stomach-churning kick that only good old Food Acid 330 can provide. On a (somewhat) positive note, it certainly does give your gag reflex a good workout.
For the first time ever, my unofficial tasting panel complained bitterly about getting free beer.
These beers are probably best drunk cold. Very cold. No fridge known would get it cold enough - only the coldest place in the universe will do.
Many readers will be too young to remember the awful Fruit Hopper beers, which appeared briefly some years ago. Mash marks their unwelcome return to the market.
Hopefully, Mash beer will be like Geoffrey Palmer’s stint as Prime Minister – a brief, terrible period of history which is quickly forgotten.
LINKS: Real Beer
Society for Beer Advocates
ARCHIVES: Beer & Elsewhere