“Microcarbonated.” Huh?

If you live in Canada or near the border in the U.S., you’ve likely heard of Molson’s new “microcarbonated” lager called M. And if you’re like me, you wonder, “What the hell is ‘microcarbonated’?”

I started my sleuthing with the Molson M website, which revealed nothing. Then I watched some online ads, which offered even less info than did the website. And finally I went to the MolsonCoors global website, where it was revealed that M is “injected with CO2 through smaller, finer bubbles with precision and consistency to attain a level of carbonation that we believe to be close to perfection.”

Uh-huh. I have no idea what that means, expect to say that, like virtually every other packaged beer on the market today, M is carbonated at the filling line. Oh, “through smaller, finer bubbles,” whatever that means when it’s at home.

But the proof is in the tasting and I have at my side a chilled bottle of M. So let us see what “microcarbonation” tastes like.

In the glass, M doesn’t look any different than other mass-produced lagers: it’s pale gold and fizzy, with a head that dies out rather quickly. And the bubbles appear to be of the same size and quantity as you’d find in any other lager.

On the nose, M is sweet and cereally, with some vaguely fruity notes and, yes, a floral note of hoppiness. I would say that the taste is drier than a typical mass-market lager, perhaps thanks to those floral hops I smelled, but still sweet at the outset, with a bit of flowery creamed corn, rather cereally in the body and off-off-dry with restrained icing sugar notes in the finish.

If it was up against Blue and Bud and Canadian in the North American Style Premium lager category at last year’s Canadian Brewing Awards, I can see how it would have won. Head-to-head against a King Pilsner or (Molson owned) Creemore Springs Premium Lager, it wouldn’t stand a chance.

And I’m still no closer to understanding “microcarbonation.”

15 Comments

Filed under beer industry, beer judging, beer reviews, blather

15 responses to ““Microcarbonated.” Huh?

  1. nicolas

    In Quebec we say “micro brewery” for craft brewer. The name looks like “micro carbonation”!

    Molson say’s that the small bubles enchances the hop taste. But the Molson M doesn’t taste hoppy. It’s weird.

  2. I wonder if “microcarbonated” means the same thing in practice as “lightly carbonated”, one of the main selling points of Bud 66:

    http://zythophile.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/budweiser-666-the-drink-of-the-beast/

  3. I assume they are referring to CO2/ N2 mix. Microcarbonation sounds much cleverer. Either that or they have developed a technique to overcome Boyle’s law.

  4. Pingback: Tasted!: Great Western Brewing Original 16 | Blogging at World of Beer

  5. Thanks for the post. Have you tried any other brews claiming this “microcarbonation”?

  6. Tyguy

    Blue makes a lager? And why would A lager be put against a pilsner?

    • stephenbeaumont

      Blue is a lager, Tyguy, and so is pilsner a kind of lager. In fact, Blue bills itself as a pilsner on the label, or at least it used to do so.

  7. Reyna

    Thanks for trying to clarify. My partner and I were sitting here asking the same question…it seems like its one of those “big techy words mean better” sales pitches.

  8. Andreas Bettin

    They were giving away free tall cans today in downtown Toronto so I’ll have to sample it tonight. I agree with Staurt that “microcarbonation” could involve a mix of N2/CO2 where to quote at http://www.byo.com:

    “In beers served with nitrogen — or, much more typically, a nitrogen-carbon dioxide blend — the nitrogen is forced along with the beer through tiny holes in the tap that create millions of nearly microscopic bubbles and a creamy, long-lasting cascading head.”

    • Marc

      I doubt nitrogen has anything to do with “microcarbonation”. Either it’s carbonated less, they’ve bent the laws of physics to shrink the overall size of CO2 bubbles, or the term is a meaningless buzz word. Nitrogen does not dissolve well in beer, that’s why we use it in a 75/25 or 50/50 mixture with CO2 to propel draught. Pure CO2 would cause draught to quickly become unpourable at the pressures required to get it from many pubs’ keg rooms to their faucets.

  9. Alex

    Hello!

    My belief is that microcarbonation is a buzz word that doesn’t really mean anything. It’s essentially a made up word invented by the advertising department of Molson-Coors to describe a completely normal beer. The advertisers at Molson-Coors probably want to use the term to associate the beer with scientific advancement, which of course it lacks. It also starts the same as the word microbrewery and so people who have no idea what this made-up word means might mistakenly associate it with them.

    It’s pure gibberish if you ask me and just as ridiculous as any other beer commercial.

    As you said though, the proof is in the tasting.

  10. E

    I don’t work for Molson, but I have done some beer promo events and I learned that Molson actually has a patent on the microcarbonation process, and they want to keep it a secret (just like the cocoacola recipe or the caramilk mystery). Thats why you wont find any information on the process itself. The thing I like about this beer is that it allows the beer to still be like a light beer (easier to drink) but has a higher percentage than many light lagers. Molson M is 4.9%. I also do find it to be less carbonated than other beers (a plus in my mind).

  11. Jordan

    It remains to be determined if small bubbles change anything during production but I can confirm your point that the beer will be exactly the same at home. That’s because under similar temperature, air pressure, and actual beer chemistry, the bubble size will be dictated by surface tension chemistry. The old beer and new beer will bubble in the same way and won’t change your physical drinking experience.

    If it manages to impart more flavour during brewing, that remains to be determined. I’m doubtful.

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