Cons: Lousy beer, lousy ads...
It's about taste -- or lack thereof. It's about character -- and total absence thereof. It's about image -- specifically, the thin lies meant to create the smoke and mirrors of image. It's about corporate greed -- and lots of it. It's about a lot of things, but the one thing that Zeigenbock is most certainly not all about is making good honest beer to slake the thirsts of good, honest, hard-working Texans (and I say Texans here because Zeigenbock is not marketed outside the Lone Star State).
I gotta tell you, I have zero respect for Anheuser Busch when it comes to the marketing of Zeigenbock. Zero. Absolute zero (which those of you who didn't sleep through basic science classes may recall, works out to about -459). That's a pretty low number, and it accurately reflects how low I think the scumballs at Anheuser Busch have sunk.
To understand why I hold A-B in such abyssmal esteem, you need to know where I'm coming from. I'm a guy who truly and honestly loves beer. I love great tasting beers, and I love great breweries filled with tradition and guts and glory. I don't suffer fools who brew lousy beers and then pretend to be something they're not. And what Zeigenbock is NOT, is an honest Texas bock beer, which is what it so desperately wants to be.
Let me explain about Texas and bock...
Texas is one of the few places in the United States where there has developed, over decades, a marketable and enduring local preference for dark lagers based (very) loosely on the big, malty dark lagers of Munich.
Back in the 1800s, American brewers started with German bock beers as their model, but over the years, have lightened them down to the point where they are usually acknowledged to be a separate style that shares more in common with American light lagers than with the classic bock beers that contribute to Germany's justifiable reputation for brewing prowess.
A long time ago (defined by me as being the late 19th century), German immigrants began brewing characterful beers following the styles that were popular in Germany at the time. One such brewery is the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner Texas -- one of the very few remaining mainstream regional breweries in the United States.
Spoetzl's claim to fame is their dedication to their flagship beer, Shiner Bock, and its extremely loyal cadre of drinkers across the Lone Star State. Shiner Bock shares some similarity to other American bocks, like Genny Bock or Point Bock, but at the same time, it distinguishes itself with a little more body and a bit drier flavor profile. Some beer drinkers claim that Shiner is its own style -- Texas bock -- separate from the American bock style of other regional bock brands. I don't ascribe to that philosophy because I think the differences are minor, but they are important in understanding Shiner.
For some reason, Anheuser-Busch has decided to target Shiner for extinction. Their weapon of choice: Zeigenbock.
Zeigenbock is excessively advertised throughout Texas, always with blatant lies about its Texan heritage. That a St. Louis company would even think of trying to sell itself to Shiner drinkers as a "Texan" product is, in my view, just blatant B.S. Blatant. Unethical. Low-down. Sneaky.
There's a saying in Texas: "He's all hat and no cattle." That's Zeigenbock for ya!
Zeigenbock talks a big talk, but in the end, it's just yet another sorryass Anheuser-Busch mainstream lager with a dash of brown color in it, but not an ounce of substance behind it.
"Now hold on," I hear you saying, "shouldn't you at least taste the stuff before you rag on it?"
Right you are, and I'm glad you're keeping me honest, even if most beer drinkers don't hold corporate brewers to the same standards of honesty and integrity.
Up until now I've steadfastly refused to part with good honest U.S. currency just for the sake of knowledge, but I was at a business dinner the other night and the low-lifes in the hotel catering department couldn't be bothered to provide anything better than Anheuser-Busch crud, so I was about to do my usual routine of asking for water in preference, when I spotted a few bottles of Zeigenbock.
"No charge to the guests, right?" I confirmed with the bartender. "Nope, it's on the house," he said. Good. I have no qualms about letting OTHER people waste money on bad beer, so I took the Zeigenbock.
A Cool Glass of Zeigenbock
The beer pours with a deep copper to light brown color with some red highlights at the edges. It kicks up a good creamy head. Appearance-wise, it's just about a dead ringer for Shiner.
The initial aroma is very light and elusive with just a trace of light caramel. There's really no hop aroma to speak of.
The flavor is light and uninspired without the somewhat light toasty edge that Shiner delivers and without much in the way of complexity. It's a one-dimensional industrial lager that lacks the crispness of a good glass of Shiner. People have said that Zeigenbock is "refreshing", and I suppose it would be -- maybe not so much as a nice glass of water, but to each his own.
In short, Zeigenbock is typical of corporate-brewed industrial beers -- it's too light and too insubstantial to offer any real flavor or character. It's light aroma is inoffensive and does not show any apparent flaws, but neither does it hold out the promise of complexity or character.
It's an average beer for undemanding palates.
In terms of the beer itself, I'd probably rate it as 2 stars, but given the sleaze factor, I have to drop one star minimum, and preferably 2, but that puts me at zero stars, which Epinions doesn't allow, no matter how richly a product deserves it.
Zeigenbock: It's Whats for Dinner...
I'm not a huge fan of pairing food with beer. It's generally just a lot of bull, but in this case, I think I'd pair Zeigenbock with something that's just as phony as it is. How about a cool glass of Zeigenbock with tofu burgers topped with Velveeta brand imitation cheese-like wax substance, imitation crab-like wax substance salad with plastic vegetables, and for dessert, a big bowl of frozen yogurt topped with carob-based imitation chocolate wax substance. Yum yum.
What's the point? Well, where Zeigenbock is concerned, there is none. There is no good reason for this beer to exist other than as an ungainly weapon designed to destroy a bona fide Texas tradition: Shiner Bock.
Zeigenbock stinks. It's lousy beer to begin with brewed by uncaring corporate minions and marketed by guys wearing suits in St. Louis -- guys who think all Texans are cowboy-hat-wearing saps who drive pickups when we're not out ridin' the plains. Well, we do drive pickups, but we're not saps, and one or two of us don't even wear cowboy hats on a daily basis. (Better to have the cattle than just the hat).
Next time you're thinking of grabbing a Zeigenbock, STOP! THINK! ...and then grab a six of Shiner -- a REAL, HONEST Texas beer.
Don't Mess with Texas!