One of the most recognizable beer brands in the United States, Miller High Life is a favorite beer among bartenders, sports enthusiasts, and anyone looking for a low ABV, easy drinking lager.
Miller High Life is an American pale lager that is light and refreshing with subtle hop qualities and a slight sweet, mildly floral taste. High Life is crisp and clean with a short finish, similar to many other American lagers in its class.
Continue reading for more on Miller High Life’s tasting notes, its ingredients, what food to pair it with, and everything else you may want to know about Miller High Life.
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Tasting notes and flavors for Miller High Life
When evaluating a beer, a handful of factors have to be taken into consideration:
These sensory judgements go along with recognizing the hallmarks of the style of beer being evaluated.
In this case, Miller High Life is an American lager. It should be clear in appearance with a pale to straw golden color and a clean, slightly sweet and mildly hoppy taste. On the nose, American lagers present subtle notes of baked bread, corn, and florals. They should be light on the palate with plenty of carbonation and a crisp finish.
Miller High Life fits all the expectations of an American lager. Keep reading for details on how Miller High Life fits the profile of an American lager, as well as its own tasting notes.
Miller High Life is a clean, crisp, refreshing lager with hoppy florality and energetic carbonation, similar to many other American lagers. Miller High Life tastes slightly sweet and is reminiscent of soda crackers or corn flakes and light spices.
Made of malted barley, Galena hops, and a secret ‘Miller’ strain of yeast, High Life is refreshing and fairly simple on the palate with slight hop bitterness at the end.
Because of its approachability, Miller High Life is frequently found at gatherings like barbecues or college parties.
The malted barley used in Miller High Life lends slightly sweet, bready aromas to the beer once poured. You will also note citrus and floral notes on the nose.
Despite the clear glass of the bottles, Miller High Life does not suffer from lightstrike as many other beers in clear glass would. Therefore, Miller High Life does not get skunked.
This is because of specially developed Galena hops whose oils are light-resistant.
While Miller High Life can be bought in cans or poured from a tap, it is best known for its iconic clear glass bottles with slightly elongated necks, mimicking Champagne bottles.
It pours a golden straw color with a frothy, quickly-dissipating head and extensive lacing.
Miller High Life is crisp with kinetic effervescence on the tongue. It is light in body with a short finish.
Miller High Life recipe and ingredients
While the official recipe is a secret, Miller High Life is made from a proprietary blend of the following:
- Galena hops
- Malted barley
- Miller yeast
Brewed basically the same way since 1903, the only major difference has been due to developments in understanding hop oils and their susceptibility to light.
Miller developed Galena hops in an effort to make a light-stable hop strain. This enables Miller High Life to be sold in clear bottles, just as it has been since the early 1900’s.
As far as the Miller yeast goes, that is a closely guarded secret. It is believed to have come from Germany with founder Fred Miller in the 1850s, but not much more is known (or at least disclosed) in that regard. The same lager strain is used to make Miller High Life, Miller Lite, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller64, and Miller Fortune.
Though you can’t get your hands on the exact Miller yeast, a successful clone recipe will include Galena hops. For a 6 gallon batch at home:
- 7 lbs Rahr Standard 6-Row base malt
- 4 lbs American Pilsner base malt
- 2 lbs flaked corn
- .5 lbs acidulated malt
- 1 total oz Galena hops, divided
- White Labs American Lager Yeast WLP840
- .5 tsp Whirfloc
- Heat 3 gallons of water to 150℉.
- Add all grains and adjuncts.
- Boil for 55 minutes before adding .25 oz Galena hops.
- Add Whirfloc at 60 minutes.
- Boil another 10 minutes before adding an additional .25 oz Galena hops.
- Turn off the heat and allow wort to cool before transferring to primary fermenter.
- Pitch yeast.
- Ferment in primary between 50℉ and 55℉.
- Rack to secondary and add final 1 oz of Galena hops, dry-hopping up to 5 days.
- During that time, ferment at 48℉ for up to 12 weeks, slowly lowering the temperature 1-2 degrees a day until reaching 48℉.
- Bottle and keep cold.
Miller High Life Style
Miller High Life is an American lager. This style of beer is most often a pale gold color. It is clean, crisp, and highly effervescent.
Miller High Life ABV
Miller High Life has an ABV of 4.6%, placing it squarely within the typical ABV range of other lagers of its kind.
Most pale lagers are between 4-6% ABV.
Miller High Life calories and nutritional information
For a 12 ounce bottle, Miller provides the following nutritional information about High Life on their website:
- 4.6% ABV
- 7 IBUs
- 141 calories
With the exception of perfecting Galena hops against lightstrike, the recipe has stayed the same since 1903.
How to drink Miller High Life for the best flavor
Miller High Life is best enjoyed poured out of the bottle and at a fairly cold temperature, between 38 and 45℉. Pouring High Life into a beer-clean pilsner glass allows for the head to develop, which releases more aromas and carbonation.
Like other lagers, Miller High Life tastes best at a low of 38℉ into the mid-40’s. Drinking it too cold will mute all flavors, and drinking it too warm will elicit off-flavors of cardboard and pronounced, debatably unpleasant corn.
Bottle, can, or draft?
Miller High Life was originally made to be enjoyed out of a bottle. This was particularly revolutionary for the time, as most beer was kegged.
The High Life bottle became easily recognizable and helped propagate the Champagne of Beers moniker due to its clear color (better to show off the golden liquid inside) as well as the elongated neck.
Regardless of whether you choose to enjoy it from a bottle, can, or a keg, detailed below is the correct method for pouring a beer in each case:
When pouring Miller High Life from a tap:
- Start with a clean, dry glass.
- Tilt the glass at a 45 degree angle and pour ¾ of the way up the glass.
- Straighten the glass upright and continue to pour, allowing the head to develop and top off the beer.
When pouring Miller High Life from a can:
- Start with a clean, dry glass.
- Open the can and tilt the glass at a 45 degree angle and confidently pour. When the beer is ¾ of the way up the glass, straighten the glass so it is upright, continuing to pour.
- Allow the head to settle momentarily before taking your first sip.
When pouring Miller High Life from a bottle:
- Start with a clean, dry glass.
- Tilt the glass and the bottle toward each other, pouring confidently without touching the bottle to the glass.
- At the ¾ mark, begin to lift the glass upright to finish the pour.
Type of glass
While Miller High Life is perhaps most commonly consumed straight out of the bottle, for best results you can pour it into any beer-clean pilsner glass. The tall, tapered glass helps maintain the head and aroma of the beer.
High Life is also occasionally enjoyed out of Champagne flutes or coupes in a nod to its Champagne of Beers heritage. It is also perfectly acceptable to drink it out of a standard pint glass.
Bars and restaurants that carry Miller High Life in individual packaging will likely ask if you’d like a glass with it. They may have Miller-branded glassware, but it is not particularly prevalent.
What kind of foods pair best with Miller High Life
Miller High Life is often associated with outdoor activities, like camping, BBQs, and tailgating. It pairs really well with the kinds of foods that are also associated with those same activities:
- Hot wings: High Life is light and refreshing to counteract the heat of buffalo wings.
- Tomato or vinegar based barbecue sauce: In the same way that it plays well with the spice of hot wings, Miller High Life’s fairly simple palate lets the barbecue speak for itself, bolstered by the slight acidity of the beer.
- Grilled meats, like burgers or hotdogs: The fizzy carbonation of High Life cuts through the rich fat of cheeseburgers and provides a pleasant contrast to the smokiness of the grill.
Miller High Life can also be at home alongside pizza, a spicy seafood boil, or creamy cheeses.
Is Miller High Life a good beer to drink?
As with any beer, Miller High Life will have its strong following as well as folks who refuse to touch the stuff. Its enjoyability is all in the eye of the beer-holder, if you will.
For those that like the taste of American pale lagers, Miller High Life is a great option for tailgating, camping, casual celebrations, and cheekily serving alongside Champagne on New Year’s Eve.
Is Miller High Life really the champagne of beers?
It is a clever marketing tool, but Miller High Life is no more the ‘Champagne of beers’ than any other beer out there.
It likely gained the moniker due to a handful of factors:
- Miller High Life debuted on New Years Eve of 1903, a holiday that is often associated with popping bottles of Champagne.
- At the time, bottled beer was not as widely sold as it is today. Miller High Life was bottled, drawing similarities between it and bottled sparkling wine.
- These comparisons were further validated both by Miller High Life’s pale color and its effervescence.
- Some restaurants and bars continue this tradition by stocking the 40oz bottles of Miller High Life and serving it with Champagne flutes rather than beer glasses.
- In 2017, Miller High Life fully leaned into their marketing with a limited-edition Champagne-style bottling. Available around the holidays, these bottles have consistently sold out nationwide.
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