Old Milwaukee Ice

The other day, in a Brewer’s Retail store in Toronto, choosing my usual mishmash of craft brands, I asked the man at the cash: what do you like to drink?

He said, Old Milwaukee Ice (OMI). I said why? He replied to this effect: in general he likes the “ice” process, it seems to make for a more concentrated taste, one he likes.

Also, he likes to drink a lot of beer, meaning that most craft beer is too rich, filling. He said five OMI is no trouble, and also, the last one tastes the same as the first. Whereas, if you drink a very hoppy or malty beer, the next ones alter the first taste, even the same brand.

He said cost too is a factor but not the only factor, as some craft beer is available at or near his price point.

He said he used to drink Molson Canadian but at a certain point didn’t like it, maybe the taste changed, or his, he doesn’t know. He went through a series of ice and other beers, and fixed on Old Milwaukee Ice. He said, what do you think of it?

I said I don’t know, I’ve never had it. So I bought a can.

I did have regular Old Milwaukee many years ago in Atlanta actually. It had a brambly kind of background taste, that I liked – not very lager-like really, but that’s how I remember it. I think it’s the only time I had it except probably for a few times in the 70s.

Perhaps when Sleeman started brewing it in Ontario I tried it, but don’t remember if I did.

Old Milwaukee was the price brand of Schlitz, with roots certainly in the 1800s, as its bigger brother. It migrated to Stroh, then Pabst with brewery consolidation. Pabst makes it and the line extensions today but Sleeman (Sapporo-owned) makes it in Ontario still.

It is actually very fair, essentially a lighter Munich Helles as one would expect from the brewery’s history (all of them concerned). Adjunct there must be although I didn’t get the “hint of corn” stated in the U.S. website, here.

It’s a good taste, with German-type hopping quite evident. A touch sweet, “creamy” as the U.S. website claims.

Would I drink it again? Not really, I prefer the craft taste. But as a beer style it is no more or less valid than lambic, Chimay, sour beers, ESB, or anything else. I can see that it is better than some other beers in its class.

I preferred it to the Black Ice I had the other day (quite decent itself).

It satisfies a market segment, evidently, which from a business standpoint is all that is needed, but on its own was not so bad at all. It would go well with food, in particular.

In Germany when the immigrant brewers came over, food was expensive and beer itself often provided the office of food. In America with relative prosperity, people could afford to eat better. Maybe the beer evolved in part to accommodate a place at table with, not in lieu of, solid comestible.



9 thoughts on “Old Milwaukee Ice”

  1. Have just now finished a Canadian brewed Old Milwaukee Ice in a tall boy can.
    Brewed by Sleeman’s in Canada.
    Very reminicent of a Chech style pilsner lager I used to drink many years ago in Western Canada called ‘Old Bohemian’ with a light hoppy flavour with no aftertaste.
    Very refreshing,especially given this is listed as a price point beer.
    Alcohol of 5.5 percent,with no alcohol bite.
    Impressive,given the price!

    • Good review, thanks. It definitely has a place in the beer world, no question. It was one of the favourites of the Beer Store employee who recommended it.


  2. I agree with the Curmudgeon, Gary. One of the primary reasons I enjoy reading your blog is precisely that you quite like a ‘lager’ and appreciate it for what it is, allied to your phenomenal memory of what it may have tasted like back in the day.

    Refreshing (like a crisp Czech pilsener).


  3. Gary: Do you think regular Budweiser tastes different since it was bought by Inbev? I do and not for the better. Rumors have abounded here that they taken down the abv.

    • Tony, I think it has gotten quite worse and worse in general since the 1970s. Back then, it had a certain maltiness, a flowery hop quality, and an estery note (writers said apple, or similar). Today it tastes very poorly IMO. The Old Milwaukee Ice I had was much better. Coors and Coors Light too are disappointing compared to the 70s.

      These were never Munich-standard beers but were much better then.


      • Didn’t drink much Bud in the 70’s but I definitely noticed a decline around 2007-2008. Will try Milwaukee Ice. It would be nice to have an interesting full flavored macro made here in North America.

  4. It’s always interesting when “craft” writers taste macro brands. For all the massive sales of these products, there’s very little serious writing about them.

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