Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Miller Chill Chelada

The first time I saw this beer was at the 2007 Great El Dorado BBQ, Brews, and Blues Festival in town a couple months ago. Miller Brewing had set up a tent that was promoting the crap out of this beer, offering free samples and various goodies for trying the beer (in a skunky beer-inducing green bottle!). I passed, not wanting to waste my tokens on beers I can get in the store everyday. Then, I recently got into a habit of wanting to review Latin-inspired beers (hence the Corona entry a couple days ago), and I wanted Miller Chill to be a part of the lineup.

The only problem was that I couldn't purchase a single bottle of the stuff. I went to five different stores in search of the single bottle. Wal-Mart had 6-pack bottles I could buy, but they wouldn't sell me one individually. (The moral: Never buy beer at Wal-Mart). The Albertsons nearby didn't even sell the brand. The Safeway nearby sold 12-pack bottles, but I didn't want to pry open the cardboard box just for one bottle. The convenience store near my house didn't sell the brand either. Finally, I ran into a Scolari's up the road from where I live, and I finally found a 6-pack they'd let me grab a single bottle from! They even said that it was their policy to allow single bottles to be sold just because other companies don't. Go to Scolari's instead to buy your beer. They usually have a good selection anyway.

The interesting thing about this beer is that it's a "new" style to America, called Chelada. It's a style of Mexican origin in the 1950's, the name being a combination of chela (slang for "beer") and helada ("iced"). It was beer served over ice with a squirt of lime in a salt-rimmed glass, the ice being integral to maximizing profits. A variation called michelada is served with tabasco and Worcestershire sauces in addition to the ingredients above. (Budweiser is currently testing a version of their Bud and Bud Light beers mixed with Clamato, lime, and salt, possibly in response to Chill; I found it at a local Hispanic store and will review it soon.) Miller decided to try an approximation of the original chelada by adding a dash of lime and salt to the beer itself and test-marketing it as Chill in several markets earlier this year. According to Miller's blog, it was so popular in those markets that they immediately took it nationally during the Summer 2007. As such, it may not be available everywhere nationally just yet. I know that it's not available in Canada yet either.

Here are the stats:

Miller Chill Chelada
BREWERY: Miller Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI, USA
CALORIES/SERVING: 110 per 12 oz. bottles
ABV: 4.2%

I got this information from the Miller Chill website (age check required). More may come from a phone call (there goes my lunch break tomorrow).

The first thing I noticed about the beer was its head, which was large and fluffy white in color atop the faint golden beer. Like the Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, the bubbles moved downward, which I thought was strange, but may not be as strange as I thought. The head also took a long time to dissipate. The smell reminded me of stale hops, not the fresh taste I normally encounter with beers. The taste, however, is its selling point; in spite of the fact that it is a light beer, it actually has some flavor to it. I could taste both the lime and salt mixed in with the beer (the salt was the harder to find), but it took getting past the over-carbonation to find them. The aftertaste was bad, bringing back the "stale hops" taste from the odor. But it didn't last, gradually fading away.

All in all, not a beer I'd drink on a regular basis, but kudos to Miller for actually developing a light beer that has a taste. If you really want to drink light mass-produced beer but want the taste (or if you're living in 2003 and still watching your carbs), drink this macrobrew.


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