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Hophead: Lone Star Vs. Stroh's

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The comment thread in the April 14 10 Questions with Jim Schutze, the Dallas Observer's "investigative curmudgeon," got City of Ate thinking about his hometown brew, Stroh's.

"Some people cry for the Old Country. I cry for Stroh's. Many's the Stroh, many's the Stroh. Oh, Stroh's!" Schutze wrote in a reply to Amy S's question "Schlitz, Hamm's or Stroh's?" Of course, many's the Texan with similar nostalgic feelings for Lone Star. But how do the two beers match up against each other?

The brands have a lot in common. They both started as regional brewing outfits but have each changed hands a few times since both began back in the 1800s. In fact, at one point the Stroh Brewery Company owned Lone Star beer. Currently, Lone Star and Stroh's are both owned by Pabst; the actual brewing of Lone Star is contracted out to other brewers.

Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that the two beers are all but indistinguishable in taste.

In a side-by-side comparison, Stroh's poured a slightly fuller head that took a minute or two longer to completely fade away. That's not saying much, though; the layer of bubbles neither could have measured more than a millimeter.

Lone Star had virtually no nose, while the slight whiff of Stroh's could have passed for PBR, Schlitz or Miller High Life.

Same goes with the taste. Lone Star is very smooth, with no hint of hops but perhaps a very faint hint of a white-bread note. Stroh's has a slightly crisper aftertaste, with just a hint of bitterness.

As it seemed possible that the distinction between the two beers was too fine for human perception, the Hophead K-9 unit was called into action.

Unfortunately, Max showed no preference, declining to drink either sample.

While it may be treasonous to speak out against "The National Beer of Texas," Stroh's has just a tad more flavor. But do you really want flavor from a cheap beer? These are not beers to savor. Lone Star is meant to be swallowed in huge gulps to wash down Tex-Mex, barbecue or burgers. Stroh's is probably best paired with hunks of cheddar and fried pork tenderloin.

Stroh's isn't distributed in Texas, so you'll probably never have to choose between the two. If you did, though, let your nostalgia or regional pride guide your choice. If that's not a deciding factor, though, Lone Star has brought back the puzzle bottlecaps. On the underside of each cap is a pictogram with tiny drawings that spell out a word or phrase--handy for lulls in conversations at parties or bars.

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