Wednesday, April 30, 2014

059. Miller Fortune

A late night ice cream run for me and the wife netted a little something extra for me. I was at a CVS Pharmacy in NW Houston to pick up some Blue Bell Ice Cream (Vanilla for the wife, Rocky Road for me) and I saw a new beer on sale. Miller Fortune for only $6.49. It was a good price, so I tossed it in the basket and, after TV and ice cream were finished, I decided to end the night with a nightcap.

Even though the beer had chilled for more than an hour, when I grabbed a pair of bottles and headed upstairs, I was concerned that they weren't chilled enough. I think that initial though is correct, as when I poured my first glass the old digital thermometer read it at 60 degrees. Not bad for an English Ale, but probably too warm for this decidedly American concoction.  So I put the second bottle in the freezer to chill it for a second taste, which I'll report on shortly.

The Basics
The bottle is drop-dead sexy. Narrow at the waist, dark color (if you look through it, it is actually dark brown, but looking at it you'd swear it's black). The label just says "Miller Fortune" and has an oh-so-cool Ace of Spades on the neck with a smoking red "M" in it. If I were still young and frequenting pool halls with my buddies, this would be in my hand between shots (at the pool table, that is -- I gave up shots in bars after the night that ended in the bar fight and my broken nose). But I digress.

Popping the top, I was hit with the aroma from a few inches away. Strong, sweet, malty and more hops than would actually turn up in the glass. A closer sniff yielded hints of yeast that, thankfully, were not in the brew itself. The pour was very pleasing to the eyes. A crisp, yellow liquid with a generous bounty of fluffy white head that sprouted in abundance from the hyperactive little bubbles that filled my glass. Photo op-wise, this was everything you hope for in a lager.

Miller Fortune is a premium golden lager undistilled at 6.9% abv. It boasts a rich, malty aroma, a light body, and a crisp, clean finish. Balanced, yet unexpectedly bold. Designed for a balanced taste and smooth finish. Crafted to have a deep golden color.
-- From their Web Site

The beer being a bit warm, I was not surprised that my first sip was very strong and flavorful. Thinking back, the aroma had led me to expect some type of strong IPA experience, but that was not what I encountered. I was drinking a decent lager with a strong taste of malt, a hint of aromatic hops and a whispered promise of pepper and spices.

In short, it's an okay beer. I honestly can't say that it would remind me of Miller High Life if it weren't for the Miller name on the label, but it does so I can't help but think of this as a more robust Miller High Life, which is not a bad thing. It's just not great. There's no single taste that dominates this. Normally, I like my beers to be very balanced, but this is balanced to the point of being unremarkable, and that's not a good thing. On the other hand, it's not a bad thing, either.

A few other notes are worth mentioning. After writing my review, I check out the other reviews at sites and compare mine, mainly to correct factual errors (such as beer type, brewery info, etc.). This time around I was surprised to find that Rate Beer is listing this as Malt Liquor. That was a surprise because lists it as Golden Lager. There were also some posts mentioning that this is actually a reconfigured formula of an old malt liquor brew that they used to produce. I really don't know anything about this, but thought it interesting enough to mention.

Chilling with my Second Bottle
As noted previously, I let my second bottle chill in the freezer for about 30 minutes while I wrote down my first impressions. I expected the aroma to be smaller, but it was not. Still strong and pleasant. The head, however, was nonexistent -- barely one-finger tall and it faded in seconds. However, the lace was significantly thicker. I was very surprised by this last development.

My first taste was actually a bit bitter, but I think that may have been a reaction to the temperature affecting my taste buds, because after that, it seemed smoother than before. As people wrote elsewhere, the hops were nowhere to be found -- only the malt (and a bit more yeast) were taking center stage and making everyone else play quietly in the background chorus. In other words, malt took over and didn't leave much else.

To be honest, this is one beer that I may actually want to drink almost warm -- around 58-60 degrees. I typically like my brews a little warmer than most of my friends (they drink it ice cold and I prefer to let the hops and flavors come alive at slightly warmer temperatures), but this one really wants to wander over to the warm side of my drinking experience. A final thought at this temperature -- the alcohol taste is much more obvious when it's cold.

Closing Thoughts
Not bad, not good. A bit above average, which is why I didn't give it a 5 rating. The color and light taste seem perfect for summer by the pool or chilling with friends. It's not something I can imagine taking up permanent residence in my beer fridge, but it wouldn't be unwelcome if I found it in a cooler at a barbecue. Of course, I would let it warm up significantly before drinking it.

Thoughts from the bottom of the glass:
Type: Lager (some claim it's a malt liquor)
Color: Brilliant gold with whispers of copper
Aroma: Malt, sugar, hints of yeast and hops (at least when warm)
Hops: Mild, but present with floral after-notes
Malt: Strong, roasted -- yummy
Head: Super white and fluffy -- three fingers when warm, less when cold
Lace: Almost none
Carbonation: Heavy, but dissipates quickly
Mouthfeel:  Crisp, hints of citrus, not too much alcohol
Temeprature Sweet Spot: 58-60 degrees
ABV: 6.9%
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Summer fun in the sun

Other Reviews Worth A Sip:
Most of the guys over at did not, for the most part, like this beer. A few thought it was innocuous and mostly harmless, though... kinda like my impressions of it.