Beer Review: Grolsch Imported Premium Lager

THE final leg of my tour of green-bottled lagers from North-West Europe (until I find more) brings me to Grolsch Imported Premium Lager. A bottle you probably know better as “the one with the funny top”. There was no way I could look at bottles of beer without this one. The traditional “Swingtop” give it style points right out of the starting blocks. A normal bottle top trumps a screw top. This trumps a normal bottle top. But a traditional “Swingtop” is top of the pile… until someone mass produces beer with wine bottle style corks.

Grolsch bottle with swingtop

Of course you can get regular size and shape Grolsch bottles with normal tops. But they aren’t imported. And don’t have the novelty opening mechanism. First impressions then, are outstanding. The downside is that the off-license where I bought this were charging £1.99 pence for the privilege.

Apart from the bung and metalwork up top, there is much more to admire. The bottle is larger than its rivals. It dispenses with front and back labels, favouring instead elaborate embossment. There’s the large “Grolsch” name embossed on two flatter sides. There are what look like grips on the other two sides to help you to grab hold of the bottle.

Grolsch Imported Premium Lager 3/4 bottle view

And there’s the “G B” crest. The one that features the G and B initials and hops, with the year 1815 either side. A date that gives it competitive levels of heritage of its rivals.

With most of the bottle dedicated to style, the neck label is where it all happens.

Grolsch Imported Premium Lager neck and top

And it all looks very nice. The familiar “Grolsch” logo is there, helpfully reminding you of all the advertising they have. At this point, I must say that I do like the name “Grolsch”. It’s impossible to say out loud without making you sound Dutch. Try it yourself. Unless you are a native Dutch speaker, in which case you’ll sound perfectly normal when you say it.

Back to the label, and I’m glad to see the words “Premium Lager” standing out for all to see. Look a little closer though, and the crest above it is different to the crest embossed on the bottle. Why is that?

Squint even harder and you can make out some interesting words around it. The top says “Royal Grolsch Holland”. Does that make it as royally approved as Carlsberg, which is famously by “appointment to the Royal Danish Court”? Sadly, the writing around the bottom doesn’t answer any questions. Can someone out there translate “Vakmanschap Meesterschap” please?

I like the strip of label that extends upwards displaying the text “The Original Swingtop” and “Imported”. But, isn’t it in the way of the swinging metalwork? We’ll see how it fares later on.

As you would expect, the neck label wraps around the bottle and is crammed full of details. Here is just the left-hand-side of it.

Grolsch left neck swingtop label

The only details worth noting on there are some of the most important. That is to say, the vital statistics. This bottle is the ever so unusual 450 millilitres (45 cl) capacity. So, be ready with a pint glass, but don’t expect it to be filled. The alcoholic volume is sadly rather less interesting. You could tell before you even picked this bottle up in the shop that it would be the continental favourite of 5%. On the plus side, at least it isn’t a weak, domestically produced lager. A fact reinforced on the other side of the label.

Grolsch right neck label swingtop

That is because, buried deep in a multi-lingual morass of text are the words “Brewed and Bottled by Grolsche  Bierbrouwerij, Enschede – Holland”. The other small-print on this side is the ingredients list. For the curious, they are “water, malted barley, hops”. Nothing you wouldn’t expect.

With that done, it’s time to delight in the unusual opening of this bottle and sample the contents within. Not forgetting of course to answer the big questions of our time. Questions such as what it Grolsch Imported Premium Lager like? And how does it compare to Bavaria Holland Beer, Heineken Imported Lager Beer, Beck’s Imported and Carlsberg Export?

Grolsch swingtop bottle poured

That was exciting. The neck label duly gave way to the swinging metal work. And the bung unbunged itself with a loud pop. That’s an experience every beer and ale should give you.

Grolsch Premium Lager poured into a glass

Grolsch Imported Premium Lager is head happy, so you have been warned. Fortunately it does settle down fast enough so as to not leave you waiting for long. And some careful pouring on your part could mean you don’t have to stop at all.

So it has a good thick head. But what about everything else? The colour is a pale amber. But better looking than the anaemic yellow of most other lagers. Although this ones does look very fizzy.

The smell is weak. There isn’t much smell, but sniff hard enough and you can detect a whiff of malted barley and hops. The best way I can describe the smell to you is with the word “clean”.

This is a lager with flavour. And that flavour is… well… lagery. Much stronger and more prominent than I was expecting. I didn’t expect it to taste any different to its rivals, but it does. It tastes as different as it looks.

The overwhelming taste is bitter. From the first taste to the lingering aftertaste. It’s not as “sharp” as some cheaper and nastier lagers. More full and, relatively for a lager, intense. What about the flavours within that taste? They are the usual lager flavours of malted barley and hops. Probably. I can’t actually detect much beyond Grolsch Imported Premium Lager’s bitterness.

What do I like about Grolsch Imported Premium Lager? It’s not as gassy as I feared. Three quarters of the way through the bottle and I still haven’t burped. This is a lager with flavour which is unusual in itself. And, even more unusual, that flavour is one you can grow used to. Its high-quality, and drinkable. And, it comes in a fun bottle.

What don’t I like about Grolsch Imported Premium Lager? I’ve been here before. With a good quality lager trying to scoot around the fact that I don’t like lager. So yet again, the taste and flavour that is has, is off-putting to anyone who isn’t already a fan of lager. It’s also quite expensive.

Where does all of this leave Grolsch Imported Premium Lager compared to the competition? Unlike with other green-bottled Continental lagers, you can tell it apart from the competition. Unlike other strongly flavoured lagers such as, say, Michaelob Lager, it’s made well enough for you to get to used to the taste without pouring it down the drain in disgust.

If you like your lagers strongly flavoured or with an interesting bottle, then this is the lager for you. Recommended for the “Swingtop” if nothing else. Good lager too.

Rating: 2.7

Have you tried Grolsch Imported Premium Lager? What did you think of it?
Share your corrections, opinions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions and recommendations with the world in the little box below.

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16 Responses to “Beer Review: Grolsch Imported Premium Lager”

  1. kanadianbakin Says:

    This is offered in Ontario Canada in a 1.5 litre bottle, same ceramic swing top. It only comes out at Christmas and is quickly scooped up. Makes a great gift. Cheers.

    • richie79 Says:

      yeh, ive seen those here in Ireland at xmas too. Pretty cool alright. Grolsch is ok for me, thats it though. Not a great beer. Over-priced

  2. Tandleman Says:

    Vakmanschap Meesterschap is literally “Craftsmanship is Mastery” Something like craftmanship is top or supreme.

    • CN01 Says:

      Yes thats right,
      Vakmanschap Meesterschap means Craftsmanship Mastership,
      Which stands for that the craftsmanship of how they made the beer is the best of the best.
      I’m Dutch and the Brewery of Grolsch is in my town.

  3. B. J. Hubbard Says:

    I have two old bottles with the ceramic to but they are both brown one has embossed circular embossing with GB and sort of a tree in the middle . Grolsch is embossed in script about an inch above four times around the bottle. One has most of the green labels on it, at the top of the neck the label says Grolsch Lager Beer with a leaf design below, at the base of the neck is a fancier label with a picture of a man leafing though pages(he is dressed in old attire, a beard and long hair). That label says contens 17 fl oz 47.3 cl, brewed and bottled by Grolsch E bierbrouwerij b v . Groenlo Holland. The second is the same but without the paper labels. Are these of any value? When were they produced?

  4. Wm van Druten Says:

    For me Grolsch is top of the lager list and very much like Pilsner Urquell. I agree that ‘clean’ is a good descriptor and I would add ‘crisp’. I like to alternate with great ales great lagers. I am an American Dutchman but can’t speak Dutch. Wish I could pronounce Grolsch.

  5. chris Says:

    I’m sitting here now with one,… most wonderful…

  6. George Says:

    Luvly with a good dash of ice cold Roses LIME juice

  7. Tom Says:

    I used to drink standard unimported Grolsch quite often but have not had any in a while. I’m definitely going to pick one or two of these swingtops up next time I am at the supermarket as I saw them tonight while I was there and they were charging only £1.68

    I’ll let you know my score when I try it 🙂

    • Sniya Says:

      Never been here before but I’d only heard negtviae reviews so have steered clear – I’m glad I did.If I’m in that neck of the woods, I just stick to the Pembury and Chesham Arms.

  8. Ken Says:

    Hi, any details about those beers that dont have regular bottle tops and so you do not have to use an opener. Just bare hands

  9. lizzy Says:

    you a twat

  10. Ana Bolanos Says:

    Grolsch is the best beer I ever tried!!!!!

  11. Anonymous Says:

    I have 10 empty bottles of the green grolsch premium lager [ imported with ceramic lock tops. are they worth anything?

  12. Chelle Says:

    Very smooth lager with just enough flavor. If you are looking for a flavorful 5% beer, than this beer does it’s justice. It doesn’t have a strong bitter taste for a lager and if it does it goes down so smoothly its hard to tell. I think this is a quality beer maybe overpriced but it’s made to perfection.

  13. Da Says:

    Luv Grolsh lager, and especially when I can get it unpasteurized. Grolsh Ale is also like a dog howling at the moon on a starry night.
    Hope they go organic.

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