Though many craft beer drinkers hold Busch and other macro lagers in contempt, I am willing to bet that most of us have been Busch drinkers at some point. Just admit it — I was one once, a long time ago. Though many of us eventually sought different brands and styles, others preferred to keep it simple. I respect that; we all have different preferences and sets of taste buds.
I was recently notified about Busch Signature Copper Lager, the purported “first new beer from Busch in more than 15 years,” and I decided to give it a try. Claiming to offer Busch drinkers “a slightly-more-flavorful beer for that slightly-more-special occasion,” Busch Signature Copper Lager was released in 12 Midwestern states last month. According to Edison Yu, vice president of value brands at Anheuser-Busch, “Busch Signature is the first and only copper lager in the category and a simple, approachable choice for consumers that seek a more flavorful beer without any of the pretentiousness.”
As advertised, I think that Busch Signature Copper Lager is an approachable choice for macro lager drinkers who like a little more flavor every now and then, especially for those “slightly-more-special” occasions—like kicking off a series of bi-monthly reviews on the Little Village website. (To be honest, I felt obligated to write something. Somebody contacted me about a beer for once.)
Serving type: 16-ounce can. The “born on date” written on the bottom of the can is Feb. 17, 2014.
Appearance: Poured into a nonick pint glass, the color is light bronze/caramel, reminding me of brown sugar. Two fingers of eggshell-colored head fizzles away fairly quickly, leaving a dissipating skim and thin ring around the edge.
Smell: The aroma is very light at first, but scents of toasted malts and caramel come through. So does adjunct grain, probably corn—in fact, Busch boasts that the Signature Copper Lager is proudly brewed with “grains from America’s heartland.” In that way, it is reminiscent of Busch. A little chocolate is also noticeable on the nose. The caramel starts to shine after the beer warms and is complemented by slight notes of toffee and brown sugar. Though it may sound bad, the interplay of the aromas reminds me of sitting at a wooden bar that has had a night’s worth of beer spilled all over it.
Taste: Busch Signature Copper Lager does offer much more flavor than the brand’s popular namesake. Toasted malt is prominent but it is undercut by paler malt and adjunct grain. Caramel and toffee sneak in at first and eventually become much more noticeable as the beer warms. There is a hint of brown sugar, too. The beer offers a solid and classic bite at first, but it slowly fades. Alcohol is faint, but noticeable, at the end.
Drinkability: It’s a Busch beer with flavor! That makes it notable no matter what. It has flavor—though not much—and is, as Busch beers are, very drinkable. It is definitely a step up from Busch and Busch Light, and enjoyable straight from the can.
Busch Signature Copper Lager may not be for everyone, but it is an option for those who want a little more flavor than their usual Busch. It may also eventually prove to be a stepping stone for some drinkers towards appreciating the levels of flavor and complexity that other Busch beers do not offer.