American beers got a bad rap for a long time. They still generally get spit on in the beer drinking world outside of a few of the up and coming smaller brands. Being a big named beer brand does let you experiment in the market a bit since your standby product is holding down the fort. It is in this spirit that I think someone at Anheuser-Busch elected to put their stamp on this new product the Lime-A-Rita canned malt beverage.
As I’ve said before, making your own margaritas is so easy you could probably still whip up a pitcher with massive head trauma. But with two very high proof liquors in them they’re not generally the kind of thing you can put in a can or bottle and sell as single serving options. The degeneration of the margarita market is such that people are willing to swill anything that is vaguely limey and has the right amount of booze in it. Observe the Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville Automated Drink Makers. They’re kitschy fun and if you’re already three sheets to the wind it might help to have a robot to mix your drinks for you but they’re generally for those making frozen drinks and not looking for classic cocktails.
Let us examine the product a bit here. An 8 ounce can was on special for about a dollar and contains 8% ABV making this in the same category as MD 20/20 for cost-to-drunk ratio.
From the label I see that this is a Bud Light product. Debatable if that means it’s like a beer or if that’s simply the header they wanted to put it under. Budweiser isn’t about to start putting the frilly chick drinks and malt beverages under their primary label, but the Bud Light brand is already kinda fru-fru from being a diet beer so a malt drink isn’t going to tarnish their image.
As a sub-header this is apparently a Bud Light Lime product. Which further confuses me, is this a beer or a malt drink? Am I expecting a beer with some kind of odd lime twist or something designed to compete with the Mike’s Hard and Smirnoff Malt drinks on the shelf? The side of the can says “Flavored Ale” but what that means in context is anyone’s guess.
The tasting did not answer any of the above questions. The can says enjoy over ice and I have to agree. I took a couple of swigs from a chilled can and was not at all impressed. The taste was chemical up front with a beer bitterness rather than an orange bitterness from triple sec. The lime taste was artificial but not the good kind like you get from lime salt or those hint of lime corn chips. This was a very strong blast of lime-ness unlike actual lime juice. None of the citrus bite, or the facial heat you get from a good sour.
I think it’s funny that in this day and age where we know everything about our food down to the gluten content of the packaging that alcohol still doesn’t have to disclose ingredients.
Sure, trade secrets and all that, but this thing is a powerful argument in the other direction. All I know about this thing is that it has alcohol in it and may have some form of natural flavoring and caramel color. Beyond that it could be made from fermented candy bars for all I know.
Once I put the drink over ice it took some of the sting out of that early bitterness but I cannot say that the flavor was improved in the least. Lacking a clear set of peers to compare this to I cannot really say if it’s a bad attempt at a flavored light beer or a disastrous attempt to compete with Zima for least missed malt beverage.