Archive for March 23rd, 2008

Beer Review: Kestrel Super Strength Lager

23 March, 2008

A couple of lagers in, and there’s been one disappointment and one mediocre one. Neither of which are as good as the high-strength ale or cider I tried last week. Let’s see what Kestrel Super Strength lager can deliver.
Kestrel Super front of can
First impressions of the front of the can are how similar it is to Skol Super. On a shelf from a distance, they do look equally dull and cheap. Looking a little closer however, and Kestrel Super does have its own identity. There’s the illustration of a kestrel in the logo roundel. The two pictures of barley either side of it. And… not much else.

Turning the can around, Kestrel have gone for putting the story and the details ‘sides’ next to each other. And this is the first tall can of super-strength lager to have a full story behind. Let’s see what it says…
Kestrel Super side of can

The headline of “Super Strength, Superb Quality…” is what they’ve gone with. The story below it is mostly marketing speak, but here’s my summary of the main bits: This is a gold medal award winning lager, but they fall into the trap of not saying what that award was. Nor when they won it. They go on to promise “strong character”, “distinctive taste” and bags of quality from fine ingredients. All fairly ordinary stuff. But it does make me want to get to the taste part of the review, so job done by the marketing people. The last thing it has very clearly printed on this side is a box with “Alc 9.0% Vol”.

Rotating the can a few degrees to the barcode side, and again, nothing is out of the ordinary. This one was canned and brewed in the glamorous location of Bedford, Endland. It contains malted barley. It is half a litre of drink with 4.5 UK units of alcohol. Just like every other 9%, 500 millilitre can of lager. There’s also a tiny piece of text saying “drink sensibly”, together with the Drink Aware web address. Irresponsible? Or unimportant and ignored by anyone who buys strong lagers? Leave your thoughts, if you have any, in the comments section at the end of this post.
Kestrel Super barcode side of can

In a glass, Kestrel Super looks and behaves in the right way. It has a head. It’s the right size. And the colour is the right kind of gold. The smell is also about right. It has that odour of barley. But what does it tastes like? And is it any good?
Kestrel Super poured into a glass

A couple of gulps in, and things are looking average. There’s not much distinctive about the taste. Certainly not as much as the outside of the can had promised. Where the description on the outside does ring true, is with the character which is as strong as promised. And that aftertaste is bitter, sour and rough. This is not easy to drink. Nor pleasant.

About half-way through, and Kestrel Super is becoming a chore. It doesn’t taste nice. And it’s not easy to drink. It’s not a million miles from Skol Super. You’d have to be set on getting drunk quickly and cheaply to work your way through much of this.

If you have a taste for very strong lagers, you might like this. I however, didn’t. It may be cheap, but there are tastier drinks that are the same price and equally as strong. You have been warned.

Rating: 2.1 plus 2 ASBO points

Have you tried Kestrel Super? What did you think?
Opinions, ideas, suggestions and insults in the comments please…

Update:

A huge thanks to all the readers and commenter’s who’ve made this ‘review’ one of the most popular on my blog. You have added some of the funniest and wisest comments on the entire blog. A genuine thanks to all of you. That’s why I’ve come back nearly two years later to update it, and the other incredibly popular super strength lager reviews, with some new photos.

While I had all of the 9%er cans handy, it made sense to try them all again. Only this time with the benefit of having read all of your comments beforehand. Incidentally, I’ve done the same for the other 9%-ers. Check my updates for them after you’ve finished reading this.

This time, I made sure that the can was very cold. And to drink it straight from the can to avoid accidentally smelling it. That’s why I haven’t updated the photo of it in a glass. I was also watching out for it tasting worse as it warms up.

How did it taste this time around and can I figure out why Kestrel Super is slightly more addictive than crack? Well, an arcticly cold can does help. Straight off, it’s the least offensive tasting of the lot. The cut down ingredients list doesn’t mention syrup, but I reckon it has it. More of it than the other super strength 9% competition. That’s because it’s seems a bit thicker and more syrupy. It’s not as strong and bitter, but more balanced and bittersweet. It’s not as refreshing as Carlsberg Special Brewor Tennent’s Super, but that doesn’t stop it being that bit more drinkable than they are. And it’s in a weapons grade can that’s much less flimsy than the rest.

Against the other four 9%-ers, Kestrel Super nabs first place. Unless you look at ale or cider, it’s the easiest way to imbibe 9% alcohol. As for why it has such a following, I blame syrup. It must be what makes it sweeter than the competition. Pity no one thought to research its addictive qualities first.

What do you think? How else can you make it taste better? Or less horrible? Add your contribution to the mountain of hilarity and advice below!

P.S. My ‘reviews’ of Kestrel Super’s equally popular competitors are at Carlsberg Skol Super, Tennent’s Super and Carlsberg Special Brew.


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