Beer Review: Tennent’s Super Strong Lager

AFTER some disappointments, we reach the pinnacle of strong lagers. When, in the first in this series, I talked about the anti-social, ASBO teenager’s and homeless alcoholic’s drink of choice, this is what I had in mind: Tennent’s Super Strong Lager.
Tennent's Super can

Just look at it. It shouts “cheap” “strong” lager. The blue background colour is attractive enough. And the circular Tennent’s logo isn’t bad, if simplistic.
Tennent's Super roundel

But just look below. Near the terse “Brewed in the United Kingdom”. And the to-the-point “9.0% Alc. Vol.” is a statement that says everything you need to know about this type of drink. “Please Drink Responsibly”. Only this can has it written in the biggest, capital lettering of any drink I’ve ever seen. Tennent’s seem to have, unlike their competitors, woken up to the all the bad publicity surrounding super-mega-high-strength but cheap lagers. Personally, I think the entire can could be covered in warning messages, but that it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference.
Tennent's Super warning

What do you think? Does this can get the prominence of the “responsibility” message right? Comments at the end of this post please.

Oh, and it also says “Serve Ice Cold”. So you might want to put this in the freezer compartment for a few minutes first. Just don’t forget about it and end up leaving it in there overnight. Like I did once.

Tennent’s keep all the information neatly contained on a small ‘side’ of the can. It truly is a narrow strip of small print. And it reveals some sad information. Tennent’s is not, as I had hoped, the product of generations of Scottish brewing. It is, instead a brand owned by Inbev UK and brewed in Luton. Oh dear.
Tennent's Super barcode side of can

Also on there are a tiny sub-set of the ingredients. Malted barley. That’s all we’re told that’s in there. It’s also a 500 millilitre can with the usual 4.5 UK units of alcohol. So you know you’re getting hammered with minimal effort or outlay. Important if you’re propped up next to a wall hassling passers by the change.

How good is it to drink? How bad will it be? Is it easy to drink or as rough as I’m half expecting it to be. Let’s find out.

The first thing that strikes me is the head. There’s much less of it the compared to it’s competitors. Other than that, everything looks normal. It’s gold in colour and there are bubbles briskly rising to the surface.
Tennent's Super poured into a glass

The smell is nothing to write home about either. It smells almost exactly like every other strong lager I’ve tried. And very similar to every weak lager too. In case you’ve never before had a lager, it smells faintly of barley.

It maybe because I left this can in the freezer for a few minutes before doing this test, but the first thing you notice is how refreshing it is. But, moments later, the aftertaste hits you. Just like all the other strong lagers, it’s ruined by a strong bitter and sour aftertaste. And one that stays around at the back of your tongue for a surprisingly long time.

A few gulps in, and this is looking as average as every other strong lager I’ve tested so far. A taste that’s fine, followed by a ghastly aftertaste. It is however, cheap and potent. So whether you’re a teenager or a homeless alcoholic, you’ll probably not have a problem with the pitfalls of Tennent’s Super.

Carlsberg Special Brew comes out on top of the lagers compared to Skol Super, Kestrel Super and Tennent’s Super. Most of which are as drinkable as the unusual Gold Label.

Rating: 2.5 plus 3 ASBO points and 1.5 homeless alcoholic marks.

High-strength cider such as K was the surprise of the test, being affordable, drinkable and potent. And Duvel, a high-volume Belgian beer ale was delicious and strong, but expensive.

Finally, at the climax of this series looking into super-high-strength drinks, what have we proven? Pretty much exactly what I expected. Most were horrible. Some were better than expected or good, but at a price. Those that were cheap and nasty are arguably less irresponsible than those that were cheap and easily drinkable. The reasoning being, that you’d need to be fairly determined, if you were willing to put up with the taste of the stuff to begin with. The expensive drinks are out of trouble because, they’re expensive or not available everywhere. Which leaves me wandering, is part of the problem of alcohol in this country to do with price after all? I’d always presumed it wasn’t, and just a Government scheme to raise duty on drinks. But if prices were raised, teenagers and alcoholics would start walking around with bottles of Duvel instead of Tennent’s Super. And beggars in the street would become even more aggressive.

So what can we conclude? And what can be done about the problems that the press has decided is the fault of alcoholic drinks such as these? Firstly, the problem isn’t the drinks but the drinkers. That making strong drinks harder to get, or afford won’t actually help. And to solve the problem, all the drinks should be sold in bottles. But that only bloggers can own bottle openers.

Thoughts, opinions, insults, and comments below please. There’s a lot of people reading this blog so share your thoughts with them.

Update:

A huge thanks to all the readers who’ve made this ‘review’ one of the most popular on my blog. That’s why I’ve come back nearly two years later to update it, and the other super 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? Not as bad. The arctic cold makes all the difference. It still tastes strong, but it also has a totally unexpected bitter hoppiness. I did not expect to find that in there. Mind you, it still has a strong, dull, long lasting malted barley bitterness too. It doesn’t say if it was made with syrup or not, but I think it had a small amount. It’s also not that far removed from normal lager, with some lightness and drinkability left in it. The can is flimsier than the competition, too.

Against the other four 9%-ers, I rank it a surprising second. As long as your can is very very cold, it’s remarkably distinctive and drinkable. But only barely so.

What do you think? How else can you make it taste better? Or less horrible? The comments section below is a goldmine. Add your nugget of wisdom now!

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

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21 Responses to “Beer Review: Tennent’s Super Strong Lager”

  1. sharron Says:

    this lager and all strong beers should be band

  2. Barry Donaldson Says:

    Firstly, it’s “banned”, not “band”.

    Secondly, you are talking rubbish.

  3. WR Says:

    Found this thread while googling for an image of the blue can.
    I’m with Barry.
    I’ll go further. I’m with Hywel’s ultimate paragraph even though it seems to stand alone from the rest of the muddled article.
    Let’s face it the “9% please drink responsibly” tag on the can represents two things a responsible approach *and* a marketing ploy. Tastes pretty good to me (after the first).

  4. AK Says:

    As a responsible adult in a position of responsibility, who just happens to like strong lager in moderation, I am disappointed with your review. My farther used to enjoy Carlsberg Special Brew which I am faithfully informed war brewed as a thanks for Winston Churchill after WWII. This is also a 9% larger but has an after taste which is not to my liking. Some strong larger fans will make ref to barley wine on the form of gold label, which is guaranteed to deliver a punch even in it’s stubby cans. Personally I am happy to enjoy the strong flavour delivered by TS, but without taking it to excess. Now 43, I have had this as my favourite tipple for 20 years, and I haven’t been drunk or had a hangover in all that time. Moderation does work.

  5. Stella Cheruto Says:

    Hi
    I started drink in 2005 when I was homeless. At first I only new the White star which was 50p at that time. and then I was introduced to it and within a month i became inlove with it.

    This Tennents has treribly damaged my teeth. no one ever told me about,I would’nt have listened anyway becoz effects was always fantastic.

    This days I drink drink bottled guiness which I find expensive.

    I enjoyed reading your pages and you are very funny. Thanks

    Hounslow, Middx

  6. Student_blogger Says:

    Hi.

    I battered my liver at University and found myself and everyone else often goiung out each week and way over doing it, leaving me in a bad state each day after.

    Now that i have finished i like a drink still but found that this TS made me feel rough with toxins in me the next day which i didnt get from low strength beers, even if i drank the same number of units as equivalent.

    There is something in TS that makes it as drinkable, as it is damaging.

    My own oppinion is not to over do it and drink it slowly.

  7. ganjafarmerno1 Says:

    Don’t listen to those who say this drink is the devil beacause its only a devil if the fool who’s drinking it is a decendant of satan!
    As the last blogger said, if u treat this drink with respect it is a nice lager to drink, in moderation of course!

  8. Arrow Says:

    Ah for a world free from the degenerates of the politically correct! It would seem that at the drop of a word or item (Tenants super?) these shallow mindless sheeple race to shriek BAANNNNNNN IT! In this once free and able land, where free and able people decided for their “mature adult selves” whether to do something or not, (e.g.) Go into a smokers pub, drink strong beer, tell a pc deg t fxck off, or carry a pocket knife without being surrounded by heavily armed bimbos all trying t hide their character deficiencies behind blairite/ Middleton pc language & weapons, these soup brains, are very well worth ignoring, their reckless contempt of their dignity is legendary and puts them so far down the evolutionary scale that without all the mindless sh1t that they spout, they’d be persona non grata even to the lowliest knight of the road. So pity the sad inept souls, ignore them, lest y hurt them, then use all the natural wit of yer birth t enjoy Tenants super, tobacco or anything else on the planet that y find entertaining enough t hold your interest! Normal lager is ok but very often tastes much as y might imagine piss t taste like, and you’ll probably quickly walk off the effect with far too frequent visits to the “can” to piss the results away! The pc degs want it banned to stop alcoholics from drinking it!! What is it they would prefer? That the poor buggers make a swift return t hair lacquer? Or meths? Tenants super is just fine, now let’s see, Ah time for a smoke! I could do worse, Like finding myself cycling behind a pc prxcks car spewing half burned petro chemical filth into my face while pointin its petrol soaked finger at a smoker through a cloud of its own exhaust!! So fxck em and enjoy!

  9. Tennent’s Super, Strong Lager « Barking Dog Beer Says:

    [...] homeless, teenagers and basically anyone looking to get drunk ASAP. There are some reviews online (good example here) that rip into this beer. Honestly, it wasn’t horrible. From my perspective, it was just an [...]

  10. ADRIAN LARKINS Says:

    I love strong drink.I love a smoke. Why am I classified as almost a social outcast? Yes, too much is bad for you. So what. Many things are bad when taken in excess. You should be able to make the choice yourself just as our parents did before. Most of them lived to a ripe old age, a statistic the Govt. does not like to advertise. Take my father for example. He died aged 89 having smoked and tippled in moderation throughout his life. How I hate the nanny attitude of Governments and these so called experts who are for ever on TV telling us what to eat and drink and then a year later telling us the opposite. A.W.LARKINS

    • PsandQs Says:

      To paraphrase an expression used by pro Second Amendment supporters (“the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”) here in the U.S. – Beer doesn’t kill people. People kill people!
      As a homebrewer interested in all beer styles I ordered and sampled some of the strong lagers. After reading some reviews I found some (like Tennent’s Super) that, if served very cold, can be quite flavourful.
      Although in my opinion nothing beats a good ole British / Irish ale. Especially when compared to the piss poor lagers here in the States!
      How is American beer like making love i n a canoe? They’re both fxcking near water.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    I love a good shandy… and I also hate weak beer. I’ve drunk T.S. shandys (50/50) for several years and it tastes great. I buy Special Brew only if I have to because it makes me feel groggy the next day.
    I’m pissed off the tax has been hiked up on these lagers because others can’t drink responsibly.
    Also why does the 500ml can keep disappearing with the dumpy ones in their place?
    500ml = 2 pints of decent strength shandy.
    450ml = short change for the same price.

  12. Mr E Brown Says:

    A shop keeper who sells a packet of cigarettes for £5.60 makes 40p for his books, has to provide £1.20 to the cigarette manufacturer & the rest a high £4 is given to the chancellor of the exchequer labelled as “duty tax”

    Same applies for alcoholic beverages. 7.8% belongs to the shop keepers books, 21% belongs to the manufacturer & 71.2% belongs to the chancellor of the exchequer.

    All the adverts, warnings, press articles, signs, posters, disturbing pictures are all provided on packaging, newspapers, televisions etc. for the public for one thing:

    Reverse Psychology i.e:

    Human instinct arising from a desire to rebel

    If someone says to you “don’t smoke.” or “Don’t Drink.” 9 times out of 10 people will do what they have been told not to do.

    All the smoking/ drinking helplines, AA etc. are all gimicks to feed the PC, Public, Sheeples ego etc.

    If everyone stopped drinking & if everyone stopped smoking (properly i.e. cold turkey) it would cause a catastrophic revenue loss for the Government.

    Why do you think they sell “Nicotine Patches, Nicotine Gum, Nicotine inhalers?” To sell you Nicotine to maintain your addiction… gain revenue from you to counteract the revenue loss on Cigarette sales.

    And more importantly if everyone stopped drinking & smoking cold turkey… lock, stock the f’ing lot. People would live longer, everyone would have to pay higher taxes & have more budget cuts to worry about, the population would increase dramatically which would hurt the economy & job market.

    So essentially Smokers & Drinkers of all types are in effect saving this country econimically.

    The next time you see a reprobate drinking Jippo Juice, Hobo pop, Mongy Mess & smoking… say thank you for keeping my tax as low as possible & say thank you for killing yourself to prevent over population. Say thank you for giving the government Duty Tax.

    Then you can look at how much money the government really has in terms of how much money the government makes on Duty Tax… as every reprobate pays for the drink & the smokes…

    In a free country a democratic country it is a persons choice whether to drink or smoke.

    Would you rather a reprobate live to 100 claiming benefits or would you rather allow this person to continue with the choice they made in peace however harmful it may be?

    No one forced them to drink in excess it was there choice!

  13. cockneyjohn Says:

    Mr E Brown should run for Prime MINISTER

  14. miss julie darlison Says:

    i am very unhappy with my purchases of the tennants super lager i drink this regulally.i spend good money on this beer whe i got the beers home the cans were all dented and they were all sticky some thing had been spilt all on them.the cans were all dented this is not acceptable and i will not be buying this beer again i will be buying from another shop to get my beer i would like to no what you will do about this i took them back to the shop and asked them to change them and they said they couldnt this is not good enough hope to hear from you regarding this

  15. Richard Says:

    Are you all pissed …….?????

  16. Paul Millers Says:

    In the navy…..

    You can sail the seven seas….

    Theres a place you can go.

    Young man..

    You can do whatever you want

    You can hang out with all the boys

    Theres no need to feel down

    All I had tonight was a strawberry yoghurt drink too

  17. paddy Says:

    The `made for sharing` legend on TS cans is just surreal. Anyone remember HSL?

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