Steel Reserve: I Finally Tried This Beer, and I'm Brave Enough to Admit It

Jun 7, 2006

The Bottom Line This is a below average beer but it isn't as horrible as many other convenience store brews.

Looking for a new beer to try a few days ago left me on the horns of a dilemma. I have been getting tired as of late with all of the lousy new beer products I have been forced to endure and I have been patiently awaiting a trip to a good beverage store to find some beer worthy of my money. But on this particular day, I found myself standing there, in a convenience store, with nothing new on the beer shelves to sample except for one product. I could either buy this product or spend quite a bit of valuable time driving to a beverage store to look for something better. I finally decided that it was best to save myself some time, try one more potentially bad beer, and anticipate my next visit to a good beverage store loaded with great craft beer. The convenience store product I chose was Steel Reserve, an inexpensive beer product made for non- discerning tastes.

Basic Characteristics of This Beer:

Steel Reserve pours to a golden/straw color with little foam even though there is plenty of carbonation. The body of the beer offers sparkling clarity but the aroma of this beer isn’t very pleasant. It has that weird combination of wet paper and sweet, partially stale malt that is so common with cheaper products.

Steel Reserve offers a taste that is typical of cheaper beer. It starts out with the taste of light, pale, sweet malt that is corn- like and very crisp. The finish is slightly alcoholic but only a tad bitter. There are very few hops in the finish and it switches back to a sweet flavor in the short- lived aftertaste. The body of the beer is a little on the watery side and it doesn’t leave a very positive impression.

Steel Reserve has an alcohol content of 6.0 percent (there is a stronger version that contains 8.1 percent) by volume, which is slightly stronger than the average brew. There are 13.1 grams of carbs, 1.5 grams of proteins, and 192 calories in a 12 oz. serving.

Food Compatibility:

Even though Steel Reserve is nothing memorable, it has enough taste to make it tolerable with certain snack foods. It would make a good choice of beer to drink with nachos and cheese, pretzels, hot dogs, and other foods like those commonly found at a baseball game.

Final Thoughts:

Steel Reserve is a product of the Steel Brewing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (in the past, I believe the beer label said it was brewed in Longview, Texas- now it says Milwaukee). A little research shows that this “company” is nothing more than a division of McKenzie River Corporation- the same business responsible for brewing products like St. Ides Malt Liquor.

Steel Reserve has been around for many years but I never mustered up the courage (or desperation?) to try it until now. The reasons I gave in and purchased a 24 oz. can are because of: 1. The low price, 2. The fact that it was the only beer on the shelf I hadn’t already sampled, and 3. My recent bad beer “kick”, which I hope wraps up very shortly. I can’t explain why, but I have felt a strange attraction recently to beers on the lower end of the quality scale. Even though I haven’t tried them, I already know these products have little chance of tasting good. But they have had an unexplainable grip on me lately so it makes sense that I would continue the trend by giving in and buying a bottle of Steel Reserve- a beer I have seen in the convenience stores and in grocery stores for many years but had no desire to try until now.

Comparing Steel Reserve to other cheap beer products, it seems about as good/bad as most of the products in its price range. It has an aroma that turns you off right away because it is so typical of bad beer products. It also has the typical appearance of a bad beer: clear body with a head of foam that stands tall when you pour it but fizzes away in a matter of seconds. It also has the standard bad beer flavor, with the taste of sweet cornmeal and adjuncts to help keep the taste non- offensive enough to make it sell.

This beer is sold in 40 oz. bottles, 24 oz. cans, and 12 oz. cans for sale in both six packs and twelve packs. I decided to play it safe and buy a 24 oz. can for the purpose of writing this review. It was very cheap- only 99 cents for this can, which is the equivalent of paying about $3 for a six pack. The low price is one of the main reasons this beer is as popular as it is. For those who are craving a beer and have little cash on hand, it is difficult to argue with a price like this, even if the beer is less than stellar.

Overall, I’m not impressed with Steel Reserve but I must admit that it isn’t as terrible as I expected. It does offer a crisp, clean taste that is non- offensive, even if it is a little watery. I’m going to rate Steel Reserve 2 out of 5 stars. It’s a tolerable beer that offers penny- pinchers something to buy when funds are low.

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Member: Bryan Carey
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