SOME rummaging through the off-licenses of Brick Lane brings me to yet another beer from the Sub-Continent. Why do I say “Sub-Continent” instead of “India”, as was the case with Kingfisher Lager Beer and Cobra Extra Smooth Premium Lager Beer? That’s because this one is from Bangladesh. Here is a little bottle of Bangla Premium Beer.
The price was reasonable. And there were big versions over 500 millilitres in case you decided you liked this obscure and hard to find beer.
The neck label sums up everything to expect from the labels wrapped around this bottle. Plenty of bright, bold yellows, oranges, greens and golds. And everything written in not only English, but also, presumably, Bengali. So, can anyone out there confirm what language it is? And if you can translate any of it, do please leave a message at the end of this post.
As far as what it says, the message is kept simple. “Bangle Premium Beer” says everything you need to know. And what’s better, it doesn’t say “Lager” anywhere on it. Good news indeed.
The front label stays with the lively, colourful style. And it’s one that I like. It’s unlike anything else I’ve seen, and gives it a fantastic and distinctive look.
The border looks like the decoration you see on the walls of curry restaurants. Normally, that would be cheesy, for this beer, it looks just right. Under the bi-lingual “Bangla Premium Beer”, there’s even a little map of Bangladesh. At the bottom of the label, the alcohol volume catches your eye first. 5.2% is the above-average volume for this beer. Either side of that, are things that look like medals. But I think they are just there for show.
It’s hard to see everything on there properly. And even harder with the photos taken by the Mesolithic era camera phone I’m using for the photos on this blog. There is one solution though; buy the bigger bottle version. Is there any demand out there for me to get the bigger version of this bottle?
The back label keeps things simple. All the details you want to know are there. And in both languages.
Besides the slightly unusual 5.2% volume, the bottle size is out of the ordinary too. No 330 millilitres here. This is 275 millilitres. Why that is, I’m not sure.
The bi-lingual blocks of text aren’t anything out of the ordinary. The first part reads like a tourist brochure for Bangladesh. The next part purports that Bangla Premium Beer is inspired by Bangladesh’s cultures and “culinary delights”. And, that it’s brewed stronger to go well with “strongly flavoured foods”. Do you think they’re hinting that this should go with a curry? What a novel concept for an Asian beer.
The UK units of alcohol are on there. This little bottle has 1.4, so you’ve got room to have at least two before the Government starts wagging its finger. Like every beer, this one contains barley malt. And they have a website. Theirs can be found at www.banglabeer.co.uk. Although there’s not exactly a world of content to be found there yet.
That’s nearly it from the small print. Apart from one small and disappointing fact. This beer wasn’t imported from Bangladesh. Instead, it was brewed and bottled in Manchester, here in the UK. Disappointed? I am a bit. It’s like going on holiday to Italy and having pizza made over here. Not necessarily bad, but not genuine.
Now though, it’s time to set aside these worries and answer some questions. Such as is Bangla Premium Beer better than other Asian beer? And how does it taste?
In the glass, the rationale behind the odd size of bottle becomes clear. It fits the half-pint glass perfectly. Fantastic. All 330 millilitre beer bottles should be replaced by proper half-pint bottles. And 500 millilitres bottles supplanted by full-pints. Who else is with me on this?
The beer itself is golden amber in colour. And the head doesn’t disappear moments after pouring. What you get is a creamy layer sitting on top. Not bad at all.
The smell is good too. It’s a blend of the usual beer smells, but it has some sort of rich quality to it. More emphasis on the malt perhaps. Whatever it is, it’s better than I expected.
All of which prepares you well for taste. Which is also rich. But also smooth and surprisingly full-flavoured. The bitterness is what you notice most. It lingers for a time, but it’s well balanced by the rest of the blend.
Amazingly, this is the most ale-like beer I’ve ever tried. The flavour is rounded out by one of the best blends of ingredients I’ve seen. Besides the tangy, hoppy bitterness, is the presence of everything else. Malted barley probably. All of which make it full-flavoured, rich, smooth and delicious. Staggering for a cheap beer brewed in this country. It’s also refreshing, not gassy at all and very drinkable.
If I had to look for downsides, it would be difficult to find many. Comparing it strictly to big, heavy ales that are full of soil and leaves, you could say that it’s rather light on strong flavours and smells. But that’s unfair, since it only ever calls itself a “Premium Beer”. What is my biggest legitimate complaint? For the time being then, that it’s not imported and that it’s so hard to find. So far, I’m only award of one shop on Brick Lane that sells it. It also doesn’t break new ground as far as flavours are concerned. There are no fruits, honeys or gherkins amongst the flavours.
To conclude Bangla Premium Beer, I recommend you try it. If you can find it. For me, this was the beer that thought it was an ale. It actually has taste and flavour, which is very welcome after the dross I’ve been trying recently. Those flavours are balanced nicely. It’s very drinkable and the whole package is quality.
All of this makes it the best Asian beer yet. It’s better than Cobra Extra Smooth and much better than Tiger and the other utterly average Asian beers on sale in Britain. So if you know a better one, leave a message
Leave a message too, if you can translate anything on there. Or if you have any opinions, corrections, ideas, suggestions or requests.