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The Kelce brothers invested in a light beer brand. Is it any good? We tried it.

The Ohio-based brew is popular locally, but it struggled in The Inquirer’s blind taste test.

The Inquirer put Garage Beer to the test against some popular local and national brews.
The Inquirer put Garage Beer to the test against some popular local and national brews.Read moreMonica Herndon / Staff Photographer

Everything the Kelce brothers touch turns to gold — including one of their newest ventures, Garage Beer.

“I was carrying it in February or March, when they first dropped it in PA, and I was telling people that it was going to hit soon, and no one was believing me, but I was like, just trust me, soon, soon,” said Austin D’Angelo, manager at Ridge Pike Beverage in Trooper. “Then [Jason and Travis Kelce] did it, and now it’s out of control. … I didn’t know it was gonna be like this. This is crazy.”

The Kelces announced their co-ownership of Garage Beer in June, one of Jason Kelce’s many postretirement ventures. The Ohio-based brewery is a relatively new entrant in the light-beer scene, which makes up 40% of the U.S. beer market. Its two beers — the Classic and Lime Garage — are currently available in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, West Virginia, Idaho, and Montana.

“If you like good beer, this is a good beer,” Travis Kelce said on the brothers’ New Heights podcast last month.

So, how does Garage stack up against Bud Light, the top light beer on the market, and to local craft beers when it comes to taste? We blindly taste tested Garage against four other light beers to see whether the Kelces nailed it, or if there’s still work to be done.

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Inquirer taste testers used a 25-point rating system, grading beers across five categories: appearance, smell, taste, aftertaste, and drinkability. A 1 in a given category means it’s closer to day-old leftover beer, with a 5 being the nectar of the gods. Our four-person panel featured Inquirer writers Jenn Ladd and Earl Hopkins for the grading portion as well as input from columnist Stephanie Farr and editor Sam Ruland.

Here’s a look at how each brew fared and the comments on each — before we knew what we were drinking.

Pony Boi

Average score: 18.25 out of 25

Our winner, Pony Boi, comes from Aston-based 2SP Brewing Co., with tasters universally praising the refreshing “citrusy” flavor and crisp aftertaste that doesn’t overstay its welcome — “the aftertaste is still sharp, and it has a citrus sharpness to it.”

“I would honestly take this to the Shore,” one tester said.

Another tester rated it “very smooth on the drinkability.” Pony Boi’s simple lemony sharp light beer was a clear favorite not only as a “drinkable” light beer but as one that tasters kept coming back to.

A six-pack of Pony Boi is $9.99, putting it in the mid-range of the beers we tested.

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Love City Lager

Score: 17 out of 25

Some of our tasters ranked Philly’s Love City Lager among their top favorites due to its bolder flavor. One praised the “peppery” and “tangy” taste, and another praised it for its “craft-y beer” taste, as opposed to a more traditional, mass-produced domestic light beer that’s reminiscent of water. With a beautiful golden yellow color and foamy white head, it looks as good as its distinct light lager flavor tastes.

A six-pack of Love City Lager costs $11.99, the most expensive of the beers we tested.

Bud Light

Score: 12.5 out of 25

Bud Light wasn’t the worst-rated of the beers we tried, to the surprise of the entire panel. At least one taster guessed it was Bud Light after a few sips. Its inoffensive taste kept it out of the lower tier but also prevented it from being a favorite. One tester said the beer was “mild, with like no flavor.”

“Smooth, mild, inoffensive, good effort,” said another tester.

“It’s subtle, there’s a subtlety about it, like it would give me a firm handshake,” said another.

What more can be said? It’s Bud Light, easy to drink and forget about.

Bud Light is the cheapest of the five beers we tried, with a six-pack going for $7.99.

Kenwood Original

Score: 10.25 out of 25

The panelists were also split about Kenwood, a local brew. Some testers noted the taste as bland — “It tastes like water,” one said — while another marked it as “fuller and hearty.”

A “Kenny” boasts a rich yellow that pours clear with little to no smell, and has a mild, dry flavor that barely leaves an aftertaste. The panel differed on drinkability and what might be described as crushability — the inoffensive watery taste that makes for an easy, if not enjoyable, trip down. In other words, it makes the beer easy to “crush” at a party or tailgate. But a beer’s crushability doesn’t necessarily mean folks want to drink it.

The tasters universally disliked the bitter aftertaste, with one taster only going back for more just to clear the last sip’s aftertaste.

A six-pack of Kenwood is $10.99, which is in the upper tier of the beers we tried but still competitive price-wise.

Garage Beer

Score: 9 out of 25

Sorry, Kelces. Garage Beer was polarizing for our panel of taste testers, with one marking it as their favorite but the rest putting it at or near the bottom. One tester thought it tasted like “metal, a little chemically to me.” While many found Garage’s pale golden pour to be enticing, its taste was, at best, bland, and at worst, a slightly more expensive version of Bud Light — seeing as three out of five tasters believed it to be Bud after a few sips.

“It’s almost sour, but you shouldn’t get that out of a light beer, because it’s not a sour obviously,” one tester said. “It’s almost like it’s been sitting in a garage, ironically, for a little longer than it should have.”

The panel didn’t try the lime flavor, which D’Angelo at Ridge Pike Beverage said was his favorite.

A six-pack of Garage is $8.99, and a 15-pack is $16.99, making it competitive with the low end of the beer market.