Serious Eats: Drinks
Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Bud Light Golden Wheat
On Sunday afternoon as we were walking through the sun on our way to the day's third brunch, Bottom Shelf research director Emily wrecked everything by asking a short series of horrible questions.
Her: "So, what's the prize?"
Me: "What prize?"
Her: "For the contest. What are you going to win? Is it a boat? I've always wanted a boat. Or maybe a new toaster. We could use a new toaster."
Me: "Of what contest do you speak, woman?"
Her: "The eggs benedict eating contest, silly. What's your prize going to be? Does the runner-up get a prize, too? Not that I doubt you, but there are probably some people out there more gluttonous than you. Hypothetically, I mean, big planet and all. Maybe. Anyhow, what should we name the boat? The Early Grave? The Hollandaise Death March? The Young Widow's Solace?"
Me: "Oh, I get it. You are mocking the two brunches I ate on the way to this third brunch. Let's change the subject, harpie."
Her: "Do you like my perfume?"
Me: (In a fit of pique and honesty): "Not really. I preferred the stuff you had before."
Now, it turns out that I didn't prefer the last bottle of perfume but rather the last bottle's application method. I won't bore myself with the details, but it has something to do with this new one needing to be sprayed all around the house to the extent that my snot smells like lavender for three days after application, whereas the last one had some kind of magic roller ball. (The last one may have been Secret pH Balanced Shower Fresh, come to think of it.)
With that established, we were able to work out a neat little compromise in which I would shut my muffin hole and she would continue to smell pretty. That's all well and good now, but it doesn't help reverse whatever damage I've done to my liver with six months' worth of surreptitious Chanel Chance spritzers. You see, that shit costs like a hundred bucks a nip. There was no way I could throw it out or accidentally break the bottle while cleaning; I had to slowly deplete her stash in the most responsible way possible. For the record, you can get quite the little buzz from the combination of hyacinth, alcohol, and fear of a ridiculous death.
I'm not at all glad that Emily started either conversation, but the perfume talk and the excruciating 8-minute wait for a menu at House of Brunch Number Three jumbled around in my head and got me to thinking about how makeup and perfume are basically just condiments and garnishes for humans. I've been trying to ease back on flavor adulteration in my cooking lately, because for a while there everything I made just tasted like mustard or basil or Old Crow. But I still appreciate the way a good thing can be made better with the right touch of post-production flourish.
For instance, a turkey burger is a very good piece of food, but a turkey burger with bourbon-walnut mustard is a very great piece of food. Similarly, Emily's hands are very pretty, but Emily's hands adorned with trampy green nail polish are even better. This is all pretty basic; you guys don't need me to explain how barbecue sauce and belly button rings work, right? It's not that tough to make a good thing better. The true challenge is to gussy a crappy thing up into a tolerable thing, which is what Anheuser-Busch is trying to do with Bud Light Golden Wheat.
Bud Light stinks, but it sells, so A-B is forever dreaming of new-flavored ways to force it into your fridge. I've tried most of them—Bud Lights Lime, Platinum, and Lime-a-Rita—and appreciated their attempts to mask the Bud Light flavor, but I haven't actually liked one yet. But Emily recommended the Golden Wheat, which I'd somehow managed to overlook, so let's give it a whirl.
In the Anheuser-Busch worldview, Golden Wheat needs to exist because their other wheat line, Shocktop, has 168 calories per serving; the GW's 118 is more in line with the original Light's 110. Shocktop is also 5.2 percent ABV, whereas GW's 4.1 is actually a tick lower than the flagship's 4.2. OK, math's over, now let's get to the drinking.
Bud Light Golden Wheat is a handsome glass of beer. It pours a dark straw/light orange-amber color with some authentic unfiltered haze and a respectable bright-white head. It smells intensely of wheat and lemon, with lesser notes of coriander and orange. Swear to god, even my talentless nose can distinctly identify all four scents. It's really quite something, for a Bud Light.
It tastes spicier than it smells, with the coriander getting a bit pushier once it hits your tongue. Most of the flavors fall away quickly, though, leaving a bitter and Bud Lighty aftertaste. And after the first couple of quick sips, my face was sufficiently numbed by the spice and bitterness, so I was getting more of the traditional Bud Light taste as I neared the bottom. But even though it doesn't finish as strongly as it starts, Bud Light Golden Wheat is the best Bud Light on the market...read into that however much praise you will.