Is Walgreens’ new beer Big Flats any different from Old Style or PBR?
In a blind taste test, Chicago beer experts try to pick Big Flats out of a cheap-beer lineup.
By Jake Malooley|
The latest so-cheap-why-not-drink-it beer is hitting shelves at an unlikely source: Walgreens. The ubiquitous Deerfield-based drugstore chain has entered the booze market with Big Flats 1901, priced at $2.99 for a sixer. The private-brand lager—made by the Winery Exchange, which also does private-label alcohol for Trader Joe’s—has already been mined for laughs by Stephen Colbert. “Big as in the quantity you can buy with the change between your couch cushions,” he said on The Colbert Report. “And Flat for both the taste and the position it’ll put your body in.” But how does Big Flats stack up against très chic value brews Pabst Blue Ribbon and Old Style? A panel of Chicago beer cognoscenti submitted to a blind taste test of the three beers. The conclusion: Big Flats stands tall alongside the hipster faves.
Keith Stocker Qualifications Chicago Beer Society member, home brewer Mistook Big Flats for Old Style Big Flats tasting notes “You can get some adjunct malts of corn and a hint of barley. No real discernible hop. The taste kind of disappears right away. Decent carbonation. For people who drink beers in the Old Style and PBR realm, you’re really not going to be able to tell the difference.”
Heather Shouse Qualifications Time Out Chicago senior eat & drink correspondent, longtime author of TOC’s Beer Geek column Mistook Big Flats for Old Style Big Flats tasting notes “Unlike Old Style and PBR, it’s the only one that had any discernible hop to it. Definitely better than PBR, which smells like the Mutiny.”
Joe Kelly Qualifications Guitarist and vocalist for “Chicago’s most notorious party band” Beer Nuts, wrote the song “Blow Me for Beer” Mistook Big Flats for PBR Big Flats tasting notes “Not bad! It doesn’t have that piss aftertaste you get with some cheapo beers.”
Herb Rosen Qualifications Beer Nuts bassist, Liar’s Club owner Mistook Big Flats for Old Style Big Flats tasting notes “For its price range, it tastes way better than a dog’s ass! I have to drink a 12-pack first, though, to see what kind of a hangover it gives me.”
Beer Nuts plays Double Door’s St Patrick’s Day show with the Shitkickers and the Crombies March 17 at 8pm. $10–$20.