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