24 May 2017

Summer on a budget

The German discount supermarkets are great when summer rolls around and your requirement is for things merely decent, cheap, refreshing and in quantity, for drinking outside. Normally I wouldn't look beyond Aldi's Spaten or (and) Lidl's Crafty Brewing IPA, or any of the dry Irish ciders they both carry, but during a recent sunny spell I spotted a couple of new candidates and thought it only right to give them a go.

Lidl's Perlenbacher marque has been a byword for cheap lager since time immemorial. I hadn't seen Perlenbacher Radler before, or maybe I had but passed it by because the half-litre green can resembles any old tin of budget beer. It cost €1 and is 2.5% ABV, a whole 25% stronger than Lidl's Austrian radler which I reviewed last year. I didn't think much of that one, but this is way better. The sugar level is far lower and there's the tang of real lemons front and centre. The carbonation is gentle and the overall effect is like sherbet lemon sweets, the flavour finishing mostly cleanly with only a slight residue of syrup. And the whole experience, while not exactly high-class tippling, is really aided by the large-format can. This is perfect for glugging back to quench a thirst before opening a proper beer, though it's probably not a good idea to drink more than a couple lest the sugar jitters set in.

The next one is a seasonal and came from Aldi. The season in question, according to the label, is the beginning of Spring so perhaps Schwaben Bräu's Das Frühlings Festbier has been sitting around a while. This is badged as a Märzen and certainly has that classic rich dark gold colour typical of the style. It's a full 5.7% ABV and I detected a certain thickness as it poured, the tight foam head forming slowly. And the flavour... is rather plain, unfortunately. The big texture is certainly there, and I found myself chewing past it to find nothing very much. There's a little bit of the wholesome breadiness I expected, right on the foretaste, but it disappears quickly, as does the mild golden syrup sweetness. Where a hop bite might have been installed there's just a slightly unpleasant plastic burr. This beer meets the bare minimum standards for a medium-strong pale German classic, but it feels like a rush job, a festbier that's lost its party spirit.

Back to the Spaten then. Celebrate!