THE last Kronenbourg 1664 I tried was Blanc. It was very, very good. And the niche relation to regular 1664. I try and put off big-name beers as long as possible, but the recent television advertisements promoting it’s “smaller bubbles” and “smooth taste” got me interested. So, sooner than expected, here we are with a small bottle of Kronenbourg 1664.
What am I expecting from it? I’m expecting a good quality if rather unadventurous beer. Why? Well Blanc was very high-quality. And this being a mainstream beer, it will be aiming to offend as few people as possible. And that means no risk-taking with flavours. But after yesterday’s abysmal Bass Premium Ale, that suits me just fine.
This little one shares a lot in common with its big, Blanc stable mate. The label for one, is big and wrapped around the neck of the bottle. The shape of the bottle too, is familiar. But that’s where the similarity ends. This bottle is green. And semi-transparent.
The front of the neck-label is unmistakably Kronenbourg 1664. The large white roundel; the crests; the red banners and even the typeface tell you that this is Kronenbourg 1664. More specifically than that, it tells you this isn’t a British ale. Nor anything from our Northern-European cousins. You don’t need to understand what “La Première Bière Française” to guess that this beer hopped over the channel.
Turning the label to one side brings up one set of small-print details.
And this happens to be the side that has this bottle’s vital statistics. This little bottle is 300 millilitres in volume. And that’s odd. 330 is the norm, with some around 275. But this is the first 300 millilitre bottle I’ve seen so far.
Then comes some bad news. This, is a “Premium Lager”. Darn. I didn’t spot that while browsing the shelves of my local off-licence earlier today. I try to avoid anything that describes itself as a “lager” because they are rarely worth the time I put into writing these posts.
The uninspiring news continues with the alcoholic volume, which is 5%. Which for this small bottle, gives you 1.5 of your UK units of alcohol. The news that it contains barley and wheat won’t raise any eyebrows either.
Turning the bottle around, and the news doesn’t get any better.
Well, it does start positively enough. We get a little description of how it is made. Apparently, Kronenbourg 1664 is “brewed with a unique hop blend including aromatic hops from Alsace”. Unique hop blends are good. Aromatic hops are good. And the Alsace region of France is an interesting one.
But then the news takes a sudden turn for the worse. This wasn’t even imported from France. But, was brewed in the UK by Scottish & Newcastle in Edinburgh. Sure, it might be under agreement by Kronenbourg SAS from Strasbourg. But it’s still not genuine.
My only hope is that Scottish & Newcastle did as good a job with this one, as they did with Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc. It could be good. It could be. But my hopes are ebbing away. There’s only one way to find out how good it is. It’s time to open it up.
Frustratingly, 300 millilitres is just over half a pint. You do get a nice, reasonably consistent head on it though. The colour is the familiar amber of lager, but slightly darker than that of the cheaper lagers. There are also a great deal of bubbles in there. How big they are, it’s impossible to judge.
The smell is… lagery. It has the same aroma of barley and wheat as every other lager. Just slightly stronger.
A few gulps and sips down, and the experience is, predictably, lagery. The taste has that ‘sharp’, lingering and boring bitterness that every lager has. And that flavour is stronger than many other lagers.
Despite it being a lager, there must be something I liked about it. And there are a few things. It is smooth compared to the competition. The quality is much in evidence. It’s somewhat refreshing. And it’s admittedly, fairly drinkable.
Being a lager, it’s laden with downsides. For starters, there’s that awful lager taste. If you like lagers, you’ll like it. But if you like lagers, you won’t be on here reading about beers. So I can say, without fear of disagreement, that it is as fun as a paper cut. Then there’s the bubbles. Small or not, they make you burp. Furthermore, it’s indistinctive, watery and lacking a compelling selling point against the competition.
Conclusion? Sadly, Kronenbourg 1664 is another disappointing lager. Okay, it’s good by lager standards. But a good lager is still only an average beer. If you truly like lager, buy something that has the words “pilsner” printed somewhere on it. There’s nothing to see, or enjoy tasting, here.
Have you tried Kronenbourg 1664? What did you think of it?
Leave your opinions, thoughts, ideas and suggestions here please.
Also, do you want me to look at more lagers? Or is it a waste of time?