DID you read my posts on Continental lagers in little green bottles a few days ago? Bavaria Holland Beer, Carlsberg, Heineken Imported and Beck’s Imported were all dull and about average. But, there were some gaping holes in my roundup. Specifically, a Grolsch and Carlsberg Export shaped holes. Righting that wrong, I’m delighted to have here bottles of each. Check back tomorrow for imported Grolsch, because today, I’m opening a bottle of Carlsberg Export. Will it be stronger and less bland than the domestic version? I sure hope so.
The bottle itself is identical. It’s the fetching silver labels that give it that “premium” look. A big improvement in looks at least.
There’s no back label again, so the neck is where to look for the details.
The most prominent thing on the front of the neck label is a piece of good news. This bottle of beer is 5%. Nothing that special when you remember that nearly every European lager out there is also 5%. But a welcome improvement in the woeful 3.8% of its domestic cousin.
The bit above the alcoholic volume isn’t bad either. It has all the familiar branding and details neatly placed on top of each other. The big “C” logo, picture of a crown, the “Carlsberg” and “Export” logos are all there reminding you of which heavily marketed brand of beer this is. The year 1847 is on there too, as are the immortal words “Premium Lager”.
The barcode side of the neck label has a few details. Details I think would be best placed together with the other details. But for some reason, they are orphaned by themselves out here.
Most prominent is the all important bottle capacity. This one is the less-common, but not unusual 275 millilitre size. And the ingredients are given as “water, malted barley, hops, carbon dioxide”. Dry facts, but they’ve included more than most others. Look for yourself how many willingly admit to water being the chief ingredient, and carbon dioxide having been pumped into it. You’ve got to admire the honesty.
Over on the other side of the neck label, and there’s an alarming piece of small print.
That’s because, Carlsberg are being ambiguous about just how imported this lager is. The name Carlsberg Export means that this bottle has travelled all the way from Denmark, right? You’d expect so. So what then, are they doing writing “Brewed in the UK & Denmark”? Was it brewed whilst on the ferry from Copenhagen to Felixstowe? The address they give is “Carlsberg Breweries Copenhagen, Denmark”, but can it be trusted?
The consumer helpline number is a UK number. And the website address, www.carlsberg.co.uk is plainly a UK address. For the worried, you need not worry about the number of units of alcohol, because this bottle has only 1.4 UK units.
The front label is unusually good looking. The roundels on Beck’s, Heineken and that weird Dutch Bavaria are utilitarian compared to this silver work of art.
Just look at it. The silver is eye catching and classy. The entire design is build around the big Carlsberg “C”. “1847 Premium Lager” does it’s bit to raise expectations. And in case you didn’t know, Carlsberg is “By Appointment To The Royal Danish Court”.
With no back label to whiter on about, it’s time to open the bottle and answer some questions. Does it taste as good as it look? Does it taste better than domestic Carlsberg? And is it any better than its rivals?
This lager is prone to frothy head. But a combination of patience and the laws of physics pertaining to surface tension ensured that this bottle went into my half-pint glass without too much argument. It looks quite good. The frothy head looks good. And pale yellow is good because it’s more opaque than its cheaper rivals. And it doesn’t look as fizzy.
The same can’t be said of the smell. I gave it a few good hard sniff and couldn’t detect much more than a faint blend of malted barley and hops. Better than many lagers, but not outstanding.
The taste is mildly bitter with a lightly lingering bitter aftertaste. The flavour is of a blend of malted barley and hops. Not almost invisible and not particularly strong.
There is plenty to like with Carlsberg Export. I like the softness of the flavours. The unpleasant ‘sharpness’ that causes me to loath most lagers is hard to find. The flavour it does have is neither so weak as to be a complete waste of time. Nor is it so strong as to be offensive. All of which makes Carlsberg Export is high-quality and drinkable lager beer.
This being a lager however, there are inevitably things I dislike. Calling a flavour “inoffensive” is never going to be a true compliment. Peter Mandelson is inoffensive, yet I hate him. And it’s a similar story with Carlsberg Export. You won’t necessarily hate how it tastes, but if you like good beer and ale, you won’t love it. In fact, you’ll have a hard time finding any discernable difference compared to its other green bottled rivals.
To sum up, Carlsberg Export is very good. For a lager. But again, it’s only a lager. If you enjoy this, you could buy any of its rivals and enjoy them equally as much. If I were shopping for lager, there are worse choices. This is a good example of what a quality lager should be like.
Have you tried Carlsberg Export? What did you think of it?
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