YESTERDAY’S snooze-worthy Bavaria Holland Beer got me thinking. Are there any better green-bottled beers and lagers from north-west continental Europe? To answer that question, I’ve picked up bottles of Becks from Germany; Heineken from Holland and Carlsberg from Denmark. First up, is a little green bottle of Carlsberg.
Of the three green bottles I purchased today, this is the only one that didn’t say “imported” anywhere on it. I figure it’s best to get the worst out of the way first. An inverted attitude, since this is the very same Danish lager that goes by the slogan “Probably the best lager in the world…” It’s also not to be confused with its sister lager, and alcoholics favourite, Carlsberg Special Brew. You really wouldn’t want to get the two of them confused.
With no back label, the neck is where it all happens.
The front of the neck label does everything possible to make sure you recall the brand. First, it has the big Carlsberg “C” logo. The crown for the Royal Danish Court. And the words “Carlsberg Copenhagen Since 1847″ all there to remind you of this brewers name and Danish heritage.
If that fails, there’s the slogan prominently printed. If you’ve watched any commercial breaks on television over the last few years, you can’t fail to be familiar with the slogan “Probably the best lager in the world…” I like how they made a virtue of fact that it could, “probably” be the best lager in the world. Instead of definitely the best lager in the world. Incidentally, leave your nominations for the actual best lager in the world in the comments at the end of this post.
The left-hand-side of the neck label kicks off the fine print.
Next to the barcode, is the symbol telling us how many UK units of alcohol this bottle contains. And you won’t believe this. It has 1.0 UK units of alcohol. Not a decimal point more or less, but dead on 1 unit. Did that happen by accident? Or did they tweak the volume and bottle size until it reached 1.0 exactly?
The ingredients list is brief to say the least. It contains malted barley. But you knew that.
Over on the right-hand-side of the neck label, we get all the other small print details.
Most prominent of all, are this lagers vital statistics. The bottle holds the less than common 275 millilitres. And you’ll need to drink plenty of them, because the volume is a paltry 3.8%. This is not going to be a strong, premium lager. Not by a long-shot.
The side-ways text informs us that this was brewed in the EU for Carlsberg’s UJK subsidiary. And it gives their Northampton postal address. Brewed in the EU? So it could have been brewed in Denmark or elsewhere on the continent? Or, the most likely option, it wasn’t. Is it me, or is the phrase “Lager brewed and bottled in the EU for Carlsberg UK” deliberately vague?
Also written sideways are the ever present words “Enjoy Responsibly”. You really have no choice with a lager this weak. There’s a consumer helpline telephone number. The drinkaware web address. And the Carlsberg web address, which is www.carlsberg.co.uk. After having a poke around, I can see where I’ve gone wrong with this bottle. This is regular Carlsberg. What I need is their strong export version, Carlsberg Export. I’ll have to look out for a bottle. Not a can though. Cans make every beer taste of aluminium.
Down to the front label now.
And in contrast to the crowded neck label, everything is calm, peaceful and Danish. I like the green-ness. It goes well with the green bottle glass. The “Carlsberg” name and crown prominently hint at the heritage. As do those reassuring words “By Appointment To the Royal Danish Court”. Presumably, that means someone in the Danish Royal household is procuring Carlsberg’s products. But which ones? My money is on their Special Brew.
What else can I say about the front? Not much. There’s a strange looking leaf type symbol. And the words “Copenhagen Denmark”. There is nothing more to describe. Which means that it’s time to open this bottle of lager. And to answer the question… is this the best lager in the world?
Straight after opening the bottle, and before I could pour, something strange happened.
This happened. The head tried to escape from the bottle. It didn’t want to sit still when it came to pouring either.
The glass had a good thick head. Fortunately, it settled down in a couple of minutes, leaving my half-pint glass nicely brimming.
The colour is what you would expect from a lager. A pale yellow colour with lots of fizz.
The smell is barely worth describing. It smells like virtually every other lager. That is to say, it has a faint smell of a blend of malted barley and the usual lager ingredients.
How does it taste? After a couple of gulps, I’d say it tastes of lager. To see what I mean, simply try any other lager, anywhere in the world. The taste is mostly, and lightly of malted barley. And it leaves a mild, hoppy bitterness on your tongue.
Unexpectedly, there are some things that I like about Carlsberg. The taste isn’t all that bad. Certainly not as bad as some lagers. The bitterness for example, isn’t as horrible and lingering as, say, the appalling Michelob. It’s surprisingly easy to drink. Served cold, it would also be light and refreshing.
But, there is plenty to hate here too. The taste is lingering enough for it to stop being refreshing fairly quickly. The flavours, although not totally offensive, really aren’t something to get enthused about. The lightness, and refreshing-ness come from how weak and watery it is. You’d need to drink a lot of this to get a full taste of it, and to feel the effects. But you wouldn’t want to drink much of it.
Just like yesterday’s beer, and like so many lagers, drinking this is like eating mashed potato. It has a bland, yet mostly inoffensive taste. And it’s something most people consumer only because they have to. Is it the best lager in the world? No.
Have you tried Carlsberg? What did you think? Is it better or worse than Export?
Leave your corrections, opinions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions and requests with the world here please. And check back tomorrow for more green-bottled blandness.