Bavaria 0.0% – The Review

bavvySince I started doing Sober for October and raising some much deserved money for Macmillan, I’ve been trying a variety of non-alcoholic beverages – as you’d expect. Even though common sense and certain experiences tell me that it’s the ‘proper’ brews readers will  be more interested in, I thought it’d be a nice way to celebrate my ABV abstinence and open up a bit of a discussion on different ways to enjoy beer.

It’s an interesting proposition for me this. I know Bavaria lager quite well. It’s not bad. It’s often quite cheap, it ticks the refreshing taste boxes and also satisfies my quiet need to realign myself with my Dutch heritage. However, I didn’t know they had a no-alcohol version. With all this in mind, I can’t even say what my expectations were, other than that I thought they had a good chance of brewing a competent beer. I’ve cracked one open now, though, so let’s have a look.

Vital Stats

 

Look Well, the head went quickly, but I couldn’t say it was any different to other lagers I’ve had. It looks nice and lively, but it’s too pale for me. Especially the way it looks almost colourless at the edges, it strikes me as watery, which is a shame because it’s not. 4/10

Aroma It’s single dimensional, to be honest, but really nice. If you’ve ever been in a brewery and smelled that wet malt smell, then this beer’ll remind you of it. It’s this simple effectiveness that exemplifies why I’m so passionate about taste experiences. It manages to smell sweet, though, so it’s not all great. 7/10

Taste Straight off you get a wonderful malty mouthful, quite bready. There’s a very slight bitterness, only very slight though. Normally I’d say the lack of balance would be a bad thing, but it’s simply an enjoyable taste as it is. There’s quite a bit of sweetness, which isn’t good for me, and the mouthfeel’s odd. I can’t decide whether to commend it for managing to be creamy, or whether to condemn the strangely thin finish. Manages to classsily avoid the tacky metallic taste of non-alc lagers like Beck’s Blue. 6/10

Value £2.50 for a pack of four seems like a great deal. Admittedly I might be guilty of judging it by regular alcoholic drink prices, but, to be honest, I don’t know how much it costs to brew both types of beverage, so I don’t know if I’m being ripped off or not haha! But no, I think for the taste and the amount, that’s a great price. 9/10

Session Well, I mean, you can fill your boots can’t you? I don’t know whether I should say this [I don’t want to put anyone off or criticise a company erroneously], but I feel a bit odd after drinking a lot of non-alcoholic beer. Almost light-headed… Anyway, I’m not going to go into all my symptoms because it’s boring to read and it might be an idiosyncrasy particular to me and no-one else. Still, I have to give it a 5/10. On paper it’s a great session drink, but not for me!

I really think you should try this, just to see what you think of the flavour. I think there’s a lot of promise, but quite a few unfortunate setbacks. I may be being a bit harsh here, but I’m giving it 62%.

Guinness Brewer’s Project ‘Golden Ale’ – The Review

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Here we go! This is it! Guinness goes light! I’m sure even non-drinkers are aware of Guinness – thanks to their bright and powerful advertising over the years – and one thing will pretty much be in common throughout all groups; when you think ‘Guinness’, you think ‘the black stuff’. How could a light beer, therefore, be any good from Dublin’s favourite brewery?

This is the third facet of the ‘brewer’s project’ gem from Guinness. They brought out a West Indies Porter [reviewed here by Paul] and a Dublin Porter [reviewed here, also by Paul], supposedly inspired from old diaries they’d found in a vault or something… I can’t say that I love ‘regular Guinness’, but the prospect of them doing a golden ale was, at least, intriguing. It was this trepidation that hung in the air as I prised off the lid to my bottle.

Vital Stats:

  • 4.5% ABV
  • Brewed in Dublin, Ireland
  • Comes in 500ml bottles

Look The bottle’s fair enough, I guess. The shield on the front is pretty boring, but it bears the Guinness Harp, a logo of quality and authenticity [or something…]. In the glass, I thought it quite odd. It’s much more of a brown colour than a gold, and I’m not even being picky. It’s not ‘golden brown’, it’s just brown. Not even that pale for crying out loud. Plus there was absolutely no head and it all looked rather thin. 4/10

Aroma Pleasant and intriguing. Smells like a brewery, a proper wet maltiness slapping your nose. I got a woody, slightly nutty note too, as if it had been barrel aged. 7/10

Taste Tastes quite like a brown ale too: a sourish fruitiness, sweet malts. There’s a bit of nut/oak, bit of fruit [something orangey?], a bit of something flowery, even [violet?]. There’s an aggressively dry finish, like cheap lager. Sorry, I meant “crisp and refreshing” like it says on the bottle… The mouthfeel is like the look – too light for my tastes. Ok, but could’ve been so much better [and it’s still not seeming like a golden ale yet…]. 6/10

Value Well you can’t grumble too much at a three for five quid deal, unless you really didn’t enjoy it. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t buy it again, but for a taster the value was alright. 5/10

Session All things considered, this started to grow on me as the session went on. The malts settled on my palate and developed in character. I couldn’t stand too much, though, because it’s a little too sweet for me. That’s nothing compared to the angry-lager-like gasssiness which was disconcerting to say the least. 6/10

Ehhh, what can I say about this beer? My overriding memory is that of tacky bubbliness, making the drink seem like a supercharged jacuzzi in my mouth [not as fun as it sounds, believe me. No supermodels were involved…]. Then I remember the promising aroma, though, and I think ‘hey, it wasn’t all bad’. Then I remember that it’s called a golden ale and is, in every way I can think of, not a golden ale. Can’t even make my mind up if this score is harsh or very generous, but here it is. Don’t get curious about this beer – try something else.

Final score: 56/100

Why we have two budweisers

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Budweiser is everywhere at the moment, i have no doubt its because of that truly awful Super Bowl advert, Myself and Martin wrote very long piece in regards to that (here), so I’m not going to retread old ground here, One of the points i brought up there was the fact that we have two companies with a claim to Budweiser name and that somehow i know the reason for that, so i thought that because I’m desperately avoiding doing any actual work at the moment i would explain that process to you.

So last year Anheuser-busch was awarded the trademark for Bud here in europe (here), i know because i read about it and several other things that day, I also wrote about it because i have no real life, It was quite a controversial claim because despite what budweiser would have you believe they are not the only producers of beer in the world, They were not the first producers of beer and they just plum stole the recipe for Budweiser for the czech republic district of Budvar. A very similar beer to modern day Budweiser has been produced and consumed in this part of the world since 1265, Now for those of you who saw that good damn awful bud advert you no doubt aware that they have been brewing beer since 1879. i’m going to spell this out for lots of people, that means Budvar is several hundred years older than budweiser, yet somehow it ended up being made in America.

The answer to why this is down to a strange quirk in early american copyright laws, i want to get one thing straight, Anheuser-busch did steal the recipe from Budvar by modern day standards, They went to the area (then part of austria-Hungary), They tasted it and took it back to America, Now the people weren’t nessacaryily happy about this but had no real recourse, this is down to copyright or lack there of as the case may be. the distance between the two helps but this stopped being an issue sometime later, the world is a lot smaller than it used it be.

Following the American war of independence there was very little economic or cultural power in america, they naturally hid this lack of anything with an open door immigration policy and successive wars because nothing makes money quite like killing a bunch of people. one of the ways the government tried to speed up cultural growth was through very lax copyright laws, and by lax i off course mean non existent. the way the law was applied was justly, if your product was manufactured in america then it was entitled to full copyright protection, if it was not manufactured there then nothing, this meant that many american companies just plain copied their international forebears, this copying was so prolific that many pieces of china from this time are manufactured in America rather than china, this is something antique dealers are very aware of, if your one of those people that watches Antiques roadshow they references this on a couple of occasions, so Budweiser is a shameless rip off and its not until the 20th century with the advent of the internet that many of us knew, so we have two budweisers, original ok budweiser and the headache in a bottle budweiser that we have all grown to hate and its all thanks to a quirk of copyright.

i’m just going to let that sink in for a moment, the reason america is such a cultural powerhouse is down to them having no copyright, the country most obsessed with copyright only got into the place to bully others about copyright was by ignoring others, so why didn’t we fix it when america started recognising foreign brands, the answer to that is a another simple one, The Soviet Union, when the world was asked to choose between the soviets or the americans most of western europe choose the americans and as a result they favoured american brands over soviet ones. this insured that any claim by Budvar would go largely unnoticed within the European union, fast forward to today and budweisers huge advertising budget has insured that they are the only bud in many peoples eyes and thats a shame for many reason, Money really can grow a brand better than actual handwork i guess.

Estrella: the review

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so here at All hail the ale i am the whipping boy, i am the poor sap who has to review the more questionable lagers and beers while my cohorts have the pleasure of drinking wonderful porters from many differing places, its a tough job but someone has to do it i suppose.

Vital stats:

  • brewed in catalonia
  • 4.6% APV
  • comes in 330Ml bottle and draft

Look:

it was Golden and very, very  still, it had no head to speak off and had very little in the way of carbonation, looked more like apple juice than a beer.

6

Aroma:

Nothing, nothing, nothing, i wrote that three times because this section was overly short for my tastes.

1

Taste:

it had the slightly bitter off taste that we have come to expect from lagers, that was all though, a rather bland experience in my opinion.

4

Value:

it will score quite low in this category due to the lack of enjoyment i got while drinking it, very little redeeming bout this lager especially in the taste department.

3

Session:

it was a rather good session beer like many lagers, this is due to the lack of flavour and i have scored it as a result because although i could drink lots of this beer, i have no desire to do so.

3

this is another disappointing lager that can be bought almost anywhere, i won’t go into a rant about this beer because I’ve done that far too often and honestly I’m getting rather bored of it. it looked ok but lacked in all other areas, this beer commits two major sins that i can’t forgive it for, its completely forgettable as a lager and i have no desire to drink it again and honestly i think thats the only thing you need to know about this beer.

34/100

Heineken: The review

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So for my first beer after Christmas and I use the word beer very loosely, I have chosen, or been saddled as the case may be with quite arguably one of the worlds most well known beers. I have been saddled with Heineken, that beer that Holland inflicted on the world and I think I may be correct in thinking that it could be Holland biggest export since New York.

Vital statistics:

  • Lager
  • Brewed in the Netherlands
  • 5% Apv

Look:

Your standard golden lager with lots of bubbles and a white substantial head, its your standard looking lager and I think it doesn’t look all that bad, these beers never do, do they?

6

Aroma:

That slightly off taste smell we have come to expect from these lagers. Although unlike some of its contemporaries it can at least hold the claim to being a Little hoppy.

3

Taste:

Slightly off, bitter taste that marrs many of these beers. when I first started drinking this beer I used to get a buzzing feeling at the front of my tongue and sadly my palletee has gotten to the point were even that’s a distant memory, its a shame i always enjoyed that aspect of this beer.

2

Value:

It can be had very cheaply in almost anywhere that sells beer, I’m sure some like it but I’d personally give it a miss now.

5

Session:

Like most beers in this mass market it’s a good session beer thanks mainly to its complete lack of flavour.

6

so here we have it, another mass market lager, i personally will never understand the obsession with lager but then I’m a massive beer snob it appears. this beer looks nice but much like anna kournikova it lacks any real substance, it fails on both aroma and taste and as a result i don’t think the value is 100% there. it is a pretty good session beer though but the only difference between this and water is that eventually this will get you drunk.

44/100

Coors light: the review

So we have a rule here at al hail the ale, you can only review a beer once and all beers are to be reviewed, it’s a simple philosophy and we took it on, its our motto, its our quest and we take it very seriously. this week I choose to review the three main American lagers, this has nothing to do with the associated untappd badge I swear.

Look:

It was Golden in colour, it was a standard middle of the road lager. A fairly standard American lager that you buy at any store. nothing special or interesting.

2

Aroma:

Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

1

Taste:

oh the taste, this is one of America’s most popular beers and much like America it promises much but fails to deliver in any way, and to think this was the place that popularised pizzas and burgers. It was very bitter with an off taste, avoid.

1

Value:

One of the few advantages of this beer is that it can be gotten almost anywhere for next to nothing, I got a six pack for less than five pound for example.

3

Session:

Say what you will about these mass market beers but their complete lack of flavour make them a pretty solid session beer, you could happily drink this all day long without ever being aware your drinking beer.

6

This gets a solid avoid from me, its complete lack of flavour and aroma will not surprise and it most definitely wont delight, its looks like you’d expect and can be procured quite cheaply but those don’t make this a good beer.

26/100

Kona Brewing Company’s ‘Longboard Island Lager’ – The Review

As y’all know, I like to mix up these posts from time to time. I know I love my hoppy beers, but it wouldn’t do to solely review them, would it? One thing I occasionally try is a lager, if I see something interesting enough, and today I’ll be reviewing one of those. Kona Brewing Company‘s ‘Longboard Island Lager’ certainly is an interesting find when you see it on the shelf, not just the label but the bottle too – vibrant paper on brown glass with raised lettering. I’ve also had some nice beers from a Hawaiian place called Maui Brewing Company, so, y’know, I was curious to see how this’d stack up.

It’s a pretty standard lager in terms of brewing, so far as I can make out, though it is aged for a few weeks (at cold temperatures, of course). It was nice to read that about the lager because that immediately sets it apart from the any old (well, young…) mass-produced stuff you can get that’ll give you a headache. All that being said, I was spending a chilled summer evening in front of the box and thought, “All that’s missing is a beer.” I was in the mood for something light, so picked this and now I’m gonna review it.

Vital Stats:

Look It’s a very cute label. My camera wasn’t working at the time, but you can see it by clicking here. It reminds me of an advert from the 50s or 60s, a vibrant beach scene cut out in the shape of cliffs. Of course, it depicts plenty of ‘longboards’ (a more traditional surfboard as I understand it) and there’s plenty of spiel about how ‘this brew pays tribute to a grand history’. It’s all very cheesy, but it doesn’t affect the flavour of the beer at least.

In the glass it’s a lovely pale straw colour with a very spirited fizz. The head’s quite loose, but there’s plenty of it and decent retention. 7/10

Aroma Yeah it’s quite nice actually, surprisingly so. A pleasant, sweet maltiness mixes with relatively expressive floral hops. It’s nowhere near as strong as others I’ve had (can’t for the life of me remember what I had this one time, a lager from somewhere in the Lake District, though not Hawkshead… It was so powerful), but far from insipid and you can definitely pick out those American hop varieties. 7/10

Taste Simply put, this doesn’t live up to the aroma. There’s a nice, refreshing, medium-creamy maltiness, and though the hops don’t have much depth of flavour, they do have a long finish. Certainly I’d say the expressiveness is surprising for such a lager, but to me it somehow tastes reserved, like they didn’t want to offend anybody with too much taste. I think the malts especially could be more adventurous. What they end up with is a nice, but not entirely confident or independent beverage (a bit too ‘samey’ in other words). 6/10

Value I payed the best part of £3 for a bottle of Longboard Island Lager. In short, when you consider the alcoholic strength and strength of flavour, it was too much. Having said that, I was genuinely surprised, and I mean in a very pleasant way, how complex the flavours were, probably owing to their use of four different hops. It wasn’t a bad experience, but a tad overpriced for me. 6/10

Session These fare pretty well on a session, if you don’t take price into account. The flavours are mid-strength so they never add up to too much, and the carbonation (which in fact may be too much for some) makes for a very refreshing beverage. Don’t chill it down too much, or you’ll not be able to taste all the complexities, but sure, it’d go down nice at a barbecue, beach bonanza or something else beginning with ‘b’, without getting you steaming. 6/10

All in all, this is the story of a lager with a great deal of potential that was too scared to go all-out and show us something truly fantastic. Good for a lager, definitely. I’d recommend any lager drinker try it (not too cold, remember), educate your palate a little on the hop varieties, but for the more seasoned ale drinker, it probably ain’t got enough taste bud tickle to interest you.

Final score: 64/100