The American ale flavor of OnTap in action. (Lenny Gilmore/RedEye )
Do you believe in magic?
What if there existed a small vial of liquid, a few drops of which could instantly transform your meh-tasting light beer into a flavorful craft beer? Just the promise of such a godsend would be enough to intrigue you, right? Same here.
When I first saw OnTap liquid beer enhancer hit the internet, I was skeptical. But I also knew that, hey, I couldn't knock it until I tried it. So I ordered two vials of the stuff—in Pale Ale and American Ale flavors—and enlisted my RedEye colleagues to taste them with me.
Here's the setup: I lined up three cups in front of each person. Two contained standard, not-so-great party beer, one with the pale ale flavor of OnTap and one with the American ale flavor of OnTap. The third cup contained an actual craft pale ale.
Everyone (polled anonymously) easily picked out the craft pale ale. Plus, the staff was pretty grossed out by the flavor of the OnTap-enhanced beers, which they described as overly sweet and strange-smelling.
This led to some Googling of OnTap's ingredients. The first is water, but the second is propylene glycol, an organic compound that's clear, odorless and practically tasteless. It's often used in pharmaceuticals and personal care products, as well as in electronic cigarettes and in the fluid Corexit, which was used to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has deemed the compound harmless when ingested.
Harmless? Yes. Tasty? No. Ultimately, OnTap didn't impress us with its abilities to transform "regular" beer into something better-tasting. Until the next magic liquid comes around, I'll continue spending a few extra dollars for the good stuff.
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