NEXT in my look at little green bottles of cheap beers from the north-west corner of the continent is another big name. If you’ve ever looked at a shelf of beers in a shop, you’ve probably seen the name Heineken. Well, here’s a little green bottle of Heineken Imported Lager Beer.
The neck label says everything you need to choose this bottle over the domestically produced equivalent.
The most prominent word on it is “Imported”. It is perhaps the best word ever to be printed on any beer bottle, as you know you’ll be getting the genuine article. Apart from with ales. We definitely make the best ales in the world.
Back to the neck label, and it holds other positive information too. The Heineken red star name and logo help you recognise it. But I must be totally honest with you; the green-ness of the colour scheme always makes me confuse it with Carlsberg.
Again I digress. Back to the welcome information on the neck label. The date 1873 gives it some heritage. The alcoholic volume is that publicised continental 5%. But with so many other beers being at least that, this one hardly stands out from the crowd any longer.
Down to the front label, and we get a traditional green roundel.
Starting from the outside and working in, the outer-outer-outer border has some tiny words written on it. And those words are “The Original Quality” and “Brewed with Natural Ingredients”. The border inside that describes it as “Heineken Lager Beer” and “Premium Quality”. Inside that, is another border formed, I think, of French language text. This being a Dutch lager, that threw me at first. Until I realised that the text, medals and other bits of writing were referring to some awards won in Paris. Apparently, it won the “Medaille D’or Paris 1875” and the “Grans Prix Paris 1889”. Plus some other things I can’t quite interpret in 1883 and 1900. A prize is still a prize, but nothing for the last century?
The back label keeps things simple.
Around the outside is much welcome confirmation of this bottle’s origins: “Brewed and Bottled by Heineken Brouwerijen B.V., Amsterdam, Holland”. Besides the barcode, logo and 5% volume, one of the most prominent things on this side is their sponsorship deal. If you already enjoy watching a few men running up and down a field, trying not to dirty their haircuts, you probably already know that Heineken are the “Proud Sponsor of” the “UEFA Champions League”.
Also fairly prominent are this bottle’s vital statistics. This little bottle is the typical 330 millilitres in size. And because of it’s 5% volume, it has 1.7 UK units of alcohol. Thoroughly unremarkable.
The ingredients list mentions water, malted barley and hops. Little unusual there. What is unusual is that they give two different web addresses. The most prominent, and one that say “Please visit:” is at enjoyheinekenresponsibly.com“. An address that re-directs you to Heineken International homepage at http://www.heinekeninternational.com/homepage.aspx. The other address on the label, www.heineken.co.uk re-directs you to the homepage of their draught keg product at http://draughtkeg.co.uk/.
At this point, I would normally say “that’s everything on the label, now time to open it”. But something caught my eye on the Heineken International homepage. That is because, it’s big industry news. With Belgian brewing giant InBev making moves on American brewing giant Anheuser-Busch, this one slipped under the radar. It appears that Heineken recently made a successful offer on our on big brewer, Scottish & Newcastle plc. It’ll be interesting to see how this consolidation plays out. As far as I know, S&N spend most of their time making licensed versions of foreign beers. It would be nice if this deal brings more innovation to the market place. Sadly, all this consolidation can’t be good news for out numerous favourite little breweries up and down the land. How do you think it will work out?
A paragraph later than normal, it’s time now to get to the fun bit. To open this bottle and discover what Heineken Imported Lager is like. Is it better than Carlsberg or will I find their tastes as identical as their branding?
In the glass, you get a good, controllable head. No uncontrollable frothing, nor patchy bubbles here. And because it’s lager, it has a weak yellow hue. There is however, next to no smell at all. This has possibly the weakest smell of any beer of lager I’ve tried.
And the taste isn’t much stronger. It has a light tasting blend of malted barley and hops, leaving a slight, lingering hoppy bitterness. It is all very mild stuff.
There are things to like about Heineken Imported Lager. I liked how mild and inoffensive the flavours were when compared to the cheaper and nastier lagers. I liked how easy to drink it is, and how crisp and refreshing it is.
But that is all the usual faint praise you can give a premium lager. That’s because this, like every other premium quality continental lager can only ever be an average beer. The taste, though drinkable, is not one many people, myself included, would choose over something better. And, over the course of a few drinks, it would quickly stop being refreshing and start leaving a nasty taste in my mouth. It’s rather gassy too. Then there’s the question of what makes Heineken stand out. Not much as far as I can tell.
A good quality premium lager. But barely distinguishable from other premium quality continental lagers. And distinctly average as a beer.
Have you tried Heineken Imported Lager? How does it compare to regular Heineken?
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