Leinenkugel: German for “Disappointing?”

Leineinkugel 1888 Bock…an unfinished malty mess.

Earlier this year I noticed that some Leinenkugel offerings were popping up at the local packy (packy is Masshole for “alcohol mart). I know that, like John Deere tractors, Leinie’s has long been a staple of Midwestern backyards. I’d heard the name before, but had been unsuccessful in my attempts to secure some for quality testing. The first Leinie’s I’d seen were all fruit disasters, and I took a pass. I’m sorry, but with very few exceptions, fruit doesn’t belong anywhere near beer. Anyway, a week or so ago, I noticed a variety of Leinie’s (1888 Bock) that wasn’t blighted with citrus or berry, so I grabbed a sixer and headed home.

I cracked one and poured it into one of my fancy, bulbous Sam Adams glasses. It poured a dark caramel colour topped by a thin, straw-coloured head. When I say thin, I mean no more than a quarter of an inch, and the entire head was gone in a flash. The beer seemed to be giving up its carbonation very quickly, almost like a glass of Coke that’s just had an ice cube dropped in it. By the time I had jotted down a couple of notes but before I had a chance to even take a sip, the whole head had dissipated. The aroma was incredibly sweet. I don’t know if any of my dear readers have homebrewing experience, but when the wort of a malty beer is first brought to a boil, it gives off almost a candy-sweet aroma, and that’s what I was smelling coming from this beer. The aroma was made up almost entirely of malt sweetness, with no secondary notes. Not surprisingly, when I took my first sip my taste buds were overwhelmed with sticky-sweet malt. The really odd thing about this beer is that despite all the malt, there’s almost no body. It has a very thin and slippery mouthfeel, rather than the thick, hearty body of some of the maltier brown ales out there. Unfortunately, all of this sweet malt wasn’t followed up by any complimentary flavours whatsoever, and I didn’t detect any hops in the finish, either. By the time I got about three-quarters finished with the glass, there was almost no remaining carbonation to speak of, and my mouth was coated by the sweetness of the malt. I actually had to have a glass of water before trying a second bottle to cut through the sweet aftertaste and cleanse my palate.

Overall, it wasn’t the worst beer I’d ever had, but it wasn’t in the top half of the class, either. I don’t know if I had a sixer from a bad batch, but the beer just seemed unfinished. It dumps sweet all over the front of your tongue, but never follows up with anything to tickle any of the other kinds of taste buds, least of all the bitter receptors. I know I usually have impossibly high standards, and can be a harsh judge, but I was really let down by this beer. Maybe Leinie’s holds up well with other Midwestern staples like Miller High Life and Milwaukee’s Best, but it’s sure a disappointment here on the East Coast. Final Grade: C

~ by schlippo on June 7, 2010.

One Response to “Leinenkugel: German for “Disappointing?””

  1. I see Leinenkugel every time I buy beer and have never picked one up. I always got the feeling that they were trying to pass off a standard brew as a craft beer so I always passed them up. Glad to see my instincts were on point.


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