21 February 2018

Losing it

Today in your super soaraway Beer Nut, THE BEERS OTHER BEER BLOGS WON'T DARE WRITE ABOUT. Mostly stuff I acquired from places, for reasons, and am now compelled to review.

The run-up to Christmas is notorious for throwing fussy beer drinkers into environments where they can't drink the sort of thing they're used to. And so it was that in December I found myself making the most of a glass of Heineken Light. I had a notebook with me and it was the only thing on the bar I hadn't tasted before. I... wouldn't recommend it. It's not awful, mind. There's actually a decent real hop aroma, and it's a session-friendly 3.3% ABV. Not so session-friendly is the overly sweet taste, like boiled sugar or donuts. I guess that qualifies as character, meaning the beer isn't as bland as one might expect, and it's certainly not thin. But once the surprise novelty that it actually smells and tastes of something wears off, it becomes a very dull experience very quickly. Clearly this one is not intended for any sort of analysis. Moving on...

I have genuinely fond memories of Holsten Pils as a beer I drank at the end of shifts in a job I no longer do, at a hotel since demolished, in a century many years past. I don't know what it was I liked about it, just that it offered more flavour than normal beer, ie Harp and Tennent's. Sadly, this return visit 24 years later didn't offer the same horizon-widening experience. I figured that was more to do with my tastes than with the beer being from England instead of Hamburg, until I noticed the ingredients listing included "glucose syrup". Holsten my love: what have they done to you!? This is sweet and appley; in a blind taste I'd probably claim it's an ersatz cider rather than a beer. Utter sugary nonsense. They should be protesting its existence on the streets of Hamburg.

That arrived to me as a freebie from Aldi, which includes it with several other UK BUL beers in a "world lager" gift pack. Also in there is Kingfisher, a beer I've referenced several times on here but never actually reviewed. Heineken UK brews it. "The finest malted barley & hops" announces the front label in stately capitals; its cheeky little brother round the back adds glucose syrup and caramel colouring to that. I assume the bottle had never been under supermarket lights or left in sunlight, but it was still skunked, the aroma mixing that intense sulphurous grass with a more pleasant honey smell. There was very little head and the carbonation is exceedingly low, which may be deliberate as I remember that being a selling point of its arch-rival Cobra. The flavour is... absent, by and large. Mineral water is about as complex as it gets, with maybe an added sugariness but pretty much nothing else. It's perfectly drinkable, and probably in quantity too, but don't expect even the basics of a beer taste.

The next one cost me €1. That's my excuse. I was browsing the off licence, Santa Cruz was in a basket on the floor, and it cost €1 a bottle. I suffer acutely from Fear Of Wondering How Awful Can It Be (FOWHACIB) so I bought a bottle. It's a lager with lemon flavour and declines to state where it comes from. Perhaps we're better not knowing. The ABV is 4.2%, so pitched as a sort of a session-Desperados, I guess. In its favour it has enough of a hop content to be skunked and I was greeted by an unpleasant pissy aroma on pouring. A closer sniff reveals the sweet lemon syrup. I braced myself for a sugar bomb that never detonated. It's actually very plain and inoffensive, with a light lemonade buzz, maybe a little on the washing-up liquid side, but really not severely. I quaffed it back and thought no more of it, either good or ill. I doubt I'll be dropping another euro on any more, though I really feel I dodged a bullet, gracias a Dios.

The conclusion? That you can make crappy lager overly sweet without needing to resort to lemon syrup? I dunno. Who'd be a beer blogger, eh? Mug's game.