If we’ve said it once on this site we’ve said it a thousand times, Detroiters are a prideful bunch. It’s been over 30 years since Stroh’s Brewing Company had brewed their iconic beer in Detroit and recently the news was dropped that the classic Bohemian Style Pilsner would once again be produced in the Motor City at Brew Detroit. Since Sommbeer has some pretty strong Detroit and Michigan roots Don Manfredi pitched the idea that he, David, and myself (John) should dive in and review this newly reborn and rebooted golden brew.
Stroh’s Reboot Review
Sommbeer readers know that I tend to go towards strong stouts, Belgians and super hoppy beers. I refuse to classify myself as a beer snob because my beer fridge (which I agreed to renovate my entire kitchen just to get) has Hamm’s, Old Style, and PBR in it as we speak. Now it has Stroh’s too but not the stuff in the blue labeled long neck, it has the true Bohemian-style Pilsner that was made in Detroit for years. Stroh’s is a nostalgia beer for me even though it was not mentioned in my alcohol fueled trip down memory lane “The Beers that Shaped Me”, the flashback I got when I took my first sip makes me feel bad that I ignored this childhood friend in that post about my past, but not that bad.
Being from the U.P. I grew up a “volume” drinker (binge drinker classification had not been invented yet) so Stroh’s innovations like the thirty pack (pronounce turty pack in the U.P.) made Stroh’s a staple. You got a whole extra sixer for the price of a case. An epic no brainer. Of course when you spell Stroh’s backwards you get shorts, so there was a lot of joking about what was stained the morning after when you killed a turty pack with your buddies. The other thing that helped was snow banks so you could get the stuff so cold that it killed your taste buds when it touched them making it easier to drink.
The other thing I want to mention is that I am susceptible to good marketing campaigns. For example, I bit hard when Schlitz announced that they were brewing using the “original 60’s formula”. Thing is, I only drank Schlitz when I ran out of rubbing alcohol or bread to filter the rubbing alcohol so why was I so eager to buy the new formula? When I did I had to admit it was not bad. In fact, I silently hoped that Blatz would make a comeback.
Anyway back to Stroh’s. Great bottle, Detroit Pride, beer. What could go wrong? Well nothing really if you like mower beer, which I do. Since I will drink anything too thin to chew I am an easy mark for this type of beer rebirth. The Stroh’s reboot is what I would call a “choker” but not a “dumper”. The beer confused me like a bad romance because most of the time I hated it but then there was this aftertaste that wasn’t half bad, so just when I thought I would dump it the little bit of goodness kept me choking it down.
This beer did remind me of my childhood but I did not remember nostalgia being this hard to swallow. Would I drink another one, yes I would (not tonight though); am I glad I do not have a turty pack, yup. I may put the second one in the freezer to see if that old taste bud trick works now like it did when I was younger.
This is not good, don’t drink it.
I have a soft spot for Stroh’s as it was, in fact, my first beer. I still remember sneaking into the garage where the old mans beer fridge was and selecting that royal blue can with the lion on the crest and thinking “It has a Lion on it, that means it’s probably good!” Looking back on it now I realize that there area very few things from Detroit that adorn a lion as part of their logo that can truly be classified as good. What I always found interesting about Stroh’s is that I would still find myself buying it with some regularity even after discovering craft. Call it a guilty pleasure but I had a real love affair with the stuff, it was dirt cheap and the perfect beer to accompany an afternoon of yard work or an evening of bonfire shenanigans. Was it crappy beer? Yeah, it kinda was but it was my crappy beer. Still I’m a fan of anything that’s good for Detroit and I do think bringing a brand like Stroh’s back home is good, at least in the short-term.
So how is the rebooted beer? Well, it’s a super light bodied mower beer that tastes like a pilsner. To quote my buddy Scott “that tastes like beer”. Scott is a man of many words. When I purchased a 6 pack of the reinvented Stroh’s I didn’t exactly go into it expecting it to deliver a pilsner experience on par with that of Dissenter. That’s not what Stroh’s is, and frankly it’s not what I want Stroh’s to be. Stroh’s is a down and dirty beer. It is to beer what throwing on a Motorhead album at earsplitting volume and going mudding in a Jeep is to music and driving. It’s a beer that you buy 6 of and pound all 6 by half time because you misinterpreted advice as a challenge (don’t listen to David, that was totally a great idea). This beer probably isn’t going to blow anyone away and become some sought after whale of a beer, and that’s fine. The rebooted Stroh’s Bohemian Pilsner is something I would simply classify as a beer.
David’s closing thoughts:
I have Stroh’s cred. I grew up on the stuff. It wasn’t my first beer but was likely my 2nd. When I was young my dad would take me to the downtown Detroit brewery. Somehow he timed it perfectly so we arrived just when the tour had already started and he was forced to drink an hour’s worth of free beer before the next tour started (Faygo pop and Better-Made chips for me). A few years later, my uncle Tim and I would steal Stroh’s from the cooler at family gatherings. Before we quietly closed the lid, we always shook a few cans vigorously – then put them back. Drinking our beers from afar we would hear family members yell out “Tim and David!!!” when the cans exploded in their hands. Ah yes great family memories. Strohs was important then it’s not now. Beer has improved. I don’t know what to make of the stuff in this bottle with the “Stroh’s” name on it but I wouldn’t even drink it for free before a brewery tour. That’s ok, I still have the memories.