BEING more famous for exporting kidnaps, assassinations and cocaine, Columbia’s Aguila lager shouldn’t have been much good. Yet it thoroughly impressed me by being excellent. I’m delighted then to introduce another bottle of beer imported to Britain all the way from Colombia: Club Colombia Premium.
The bottle looks almost exactly the same as that of Aguila. Right down to the “No Retornable” embossed around the shoulder. Could this hint at their shared origins? Or a complete lack of imagination by Colombian brewers?
Just like Aguila, Club Colombia uses the screw top. What is it with Colombian beers and screw tops instead of proper bottle tops? Do they all have them? If you know the answer, leave a comment at the end of this post.
The similarities continue with the neck-label. Albeit not with the front of it.
The front of the neck-label is a classy looking thing. Partly down to the gold, partly down to the typeface. Which, of course, is Spanish. I can’t understand it, but I think it’s the usual marketing guff about finest ingredients and dedication. So you haven’t missed anything. If you can translate it though, do please leave a comment at the end of this post.
Two words that I can understand however, are two words that keep popping up all over the labels. “Extra Fina” must mean something along the lines of “Extra Fine”. Even I know that. Or do I? If you know better, you know where to leave your translations.
The back of the wrap-around neck-label is where you’ll find the small-print and barcode. Just like with Aguila.
It’s all in Spanish. But don’t worry. This bottle of Club Colombia was imported by La Casa De Jack Ltd, the same people who imported Aguila. And that means that everything you need to know is printed on the ugly white sticker that they stuck over the original label.
There’s not a lot to say about the big, white sticker stuck on by the importer. Most of it is exactly the same as it was for Aguila. Even the facts about the beer are the same. Take the bottle size and alcoholic volume. Both exactly the same at 330ml and 4%. The same with the ingredients which are “water, barley malt and deputy hops”. Whatever they are.
There’s all the contact information you could possibly want for the importer, whose website is www.lachatica.com. It’s still, and reassuringly so, a product of Colombia. It was “commercialized” by Arcas and even made by Bavaria S.A. Exactly the same brewer as Aguila. And that would explain why everything about it looks the same. Even the Spanish language warning at the bottom of the back label is the same.
Around on the front label, everything looks hunky dory. Not a roundel in sight, which makes it original and stylish too.
You can’t ignore the native South-American-style graphic. I’m not sure which ancient tribe it represents. Or who or what it is. But it looks to me like someone with two steering wheels and boomerangs attached to their head.
The “Club Colombia” name has that native South-American look too. It tells us, in Spanish of course, that it is “Desde 1889”. Something that gives it some decent heritage. At the bottom, under the words “Extra Fina”, I’m informed that it says something along the lines of “Brewed longer for a fine taste”. Translators, do please leave a comment at the end of this post.
So, will Club Colombia Premium taste the same as its Colombian cousin and join it as one of the best Latin American beers? More importantly, should you buy it? There’s only one way to find out. It’s time to unscrew the bottle and sample the contents.
It looks much the same as Aguila did, just minus the frothy head. The amber is a little deeper. And the head is much smaller and patchier. Altogether unimpressive.
Does it have a smell? Yes, it has the same smell of lagery blended malted barley. That makes it smell not just like its Colombian stable-mate, but like nearly every pilsner style lager in the world. Not strong or unpleasant, just straightforward and uncomplicated.
But what does it taste like? The first couple of gulps of this refrigerated bottle of Club Colombia Premium lager aren’t bad. But they’re not great either. Being a lager, it has no flavour whatsoever. That leaves it fighting every other lager in the world on the basis of aftertaste. Aguila was brilliant by having the least offensive aftertaste since the potato was discovered. Club Colombia Premium however does what almost every other lager in the world does: it has that lagery “bite” with a bitter aftertaste.
It’s not a bad example of lagery aftertaste. Not as unpleasant as some. Not as drinkable as others. Just sitting somewhere around the word “average”, trying not to be noticed.
What am I enjoying about this cool bottle of Club Colombia Premium “Extra Fina”? For starters, it’s refreshing, at least while cold. The bitter aftertaste “bite” is by no means the worst around. And that makes this quite drinkable by lager standards. It’s also quite well made and not a gassy experience.
There are, of course, one or two problems with Club Colombia. The way it tastes makes it almost identical to hundreds of other lagers around the world. That makes it indistinctive, unoriginal and boring. And, at a meagre 4% volume, it’s not strong enough to compete with the world’s other premium lagers.
Where does all this leave Club Colombia Premium “Extra Fina”? This will no doubt enrage the lager purists out there who would happily murder anyone who dislikes the bitter aftertaste “bite”, but, I have to say that I don’t rate it. Aguila was great because it did something different with it. Club Colombia however just did what all the competition does, and it does it weaker than they do. If you’re travelling in Colombia, I’d happily drink this. But, if you have a shop shelf filled with interesting beers from all around the globe, pick something nicer instead.
Have you tried Club Colobia Premium “Extra Fina”? Do you work for Bavaria S.A.? If so, do please leave a comment with any corrections, opinions, requests, recommendations and places to buy.