I have mixed feelings about Batch 19, Coors Brewing Company’s Pre-Prohibition Style Lager. On one hand it’s good to see the big beer companies making an effort to make good, flavorful beer. On the other hand I personally don’t want to support the big beer companies at the expense of smaller craft beer companies. If I have the choice of two similar quality beers, one made by a big beer company and the other made by a small, independent craft brewer, I’ll pick the one made by the craft brewer every time.
That being said, I was pretty interested in trying Batch 19 when a PR company offered to send me a sample. While beers within the style can vary widely, I’ve enjoyed many of the “Pre-Prohibition” lagers I’ve tasted. Craftsman Brewing Company’s 1903 Lager is one of my favorite beers when I’m in the mood for something on the light and refreshing side.
Batch 19 is said to be a variation (due to changes in brewing techniques and availability of ingredients) of a recipe Coors was brewing before Prohibition. Batch 19 certainly isn’t the best beer around, but when compared to the other beers Coors produces now it certainly stands out. It has a toasty malt sweetness with a crispness that makes it easy to drink. At 26 IBU the hops don’t really stand out, but they do restrain the sweetness a bit.
That being said, I wouldn’t recommend it over any of the craft beers in the same style, and I’d urge people to support craft brewers over the big breweries when ever possible. Try it if your interest is piqued, but be mindful of who your beer purchases are supporting: a company that has been making bland beer for years and is now trying to capitalize on the popularity of craft beer; or those companies that are making craft beer because it’s their passion and are part of the reason for it’s popularity. Batch 19 isn’t bad, but there are plenty of Pre-Prohibition style lagers made by craft brewers that are better (the aforementioned 1903 Lager being one of them).
Batch 19 has been around for a little over a year in a few test markets, and Coors recently expanded distribution into a handful of new markets, San Diego being one of them where if can be found on draft at a few local watering holes (see the Batch 19 beer locator here).
While Batch 19 is far ahead of many of Coors other beers in taste, it’s a pretty good beer, not great, but not terrible, it has an off putting marketing feel to it reminiscent of big beer advertising. There’s a romantic story and a fancy website. I was surprised with the bottle the beer came in, for being a draft only release (although bottles may be available in the gift shop at the Coors brewery in Golden, CO) it was pretty fancy with a well designed label, branded cap and what appears to be a custom bottle with “1919” embossed on the neck.