I was definitely in the mood for something dark and hefty, so that instantly discounted Foster's and Heineken. I was quickly running out of options (since Randall's was taken over by Safeway, their beer offers have definitely gotten more banal and mainstream). But I did see one new face looking out at me... and what an ugly face it was. It was the face of Rahr & Sons' Ugly Pug Black Lager.
A good friend of mine happens to have a pug named Dexter, and the mug on this mutt on the label definitely reminded me of him. So, I decided to pay the $8 for a six pack of something new, dark, and (hopefully) not-too-ugly.
Having a six pack to play with, I decided to drink it as I would any other beer. That is to say, I poured it into a glass, took a sniff and drank it while watching TV. I didn't spend time photographing it or make more than the most cursory of observations. I did notice that I liked it and that it had a mild head coupled with a deep, dark robust flavor that really let the malt come through. In other words, I enjoyed it while catching up on my daily dose of Law & Order.
I also noticed that slightly chalky taste I sometimes get in micro brews. It's not bad, necessarily, but it is there. It's not as bad as some of the other brews I've had, though, and I definitely don't count it as a major negative to my enjoyment of this beer.
My second and third impressions (when I can, I tend to enjoy two bottles in a sitting, which runs about an hour, or the amount of time it takes to discover the crime and bring the perp to trial) were similar, but I did take more time to savor the beer, observe the head (there was almost none) and ponder what I was drinking. I also got a bit daring on the photo: note how I swapped the glass and bottle in this one (haven't done that for a while, so revel in my rebel attitude while it lasts). This particular photo does do justice to the dark, rich color of this beer. It's not the blackest beer I've ever seen, but it certainly likes to swallow up the light that tries to pass through it. I suspect that may have something to do with the hint of chocolate I detect in the beer (they mention coffee, but to be honest, I don't get that flavor from it).
Rahr & Sons: Ugly Pug
Ugly Pug is a schwarzbier, or black lager. But the real story is its name - Fritz Rahr saw his mother-in-law’s pug, Oscar, lounging on a chair and he shouted, “What an ugly pug!” Everyone laughed. You’re right, they were brewing a test batch that night. Unlike most dark beers that are often described as “heavy” or “chewy”, Rahr’s Ugly Pug has a surprisingly light body. Reviewers have been vocal about how happy they are to have a dark beer that’s easy to drink on even the hottest Texas summer days. We’ve even heard people refer to Pug as “nirvana in a bottle” because it combines their three favorite flavors, coffee, hints of chocolate, and of course BEER!
From their Website.
Alcohol content: 4.5%
Despite the short head, I really like this black lager (although it does have a decent lace). It's has a strong taste of malt and just the right amount of hops for a faint, bitter under-taste. I really like this beer and it is only the second one that I've tried so far that could find its way into my regular beer drinking habits. I can't picture it taking the place of Shiner Black, but I could definitely picture a cold winter where a three dog night would be a pleasant thing if this Ugly Pug was the dog in question.
I'm giving it 8.5 out of 10.