WHEN I go exploring London, I like to pop into a local shop. Usually an Eastern European or Caribbean store, where I buy one or two new beers from someone who can serve change and bag my bottles whilst typing a text message. This time, in the East End’s Docklands, the local shop closest to hand was Crossharbour ASDA. Expecting maybe two or three unfamiliar bottles, what I found was astonishing. First of all, Crossharbour ASDA is the size of a medium sized village. Second, their beer aisle was the length of a runway. Making a mental note to come back as soon as possible, I faced a new challenge. Where to start?
With limited funds and only a small back-pack to carry them in, I started with the three bottles that I figured would be hardest to find elsewhere. And those which I would enjoy the most. So, here is the first of the three cloudiest, wheatiest, European bottled beers I could carry out of Crossharbour ASDA. Here is Grolsch Premium Weizen Wheat Beer.
Why starts with cloudy wheat beers? Simple. They are the best. And by best, I mean my personal favourites. Hoegaarden White Beer addicted me to them and Erdinger Weißbier, among others, have kept me hooked ever since. And, judging by the comments from other people who agree with those posts, I’m part of a big club of other intelligent and handsome people. If you’re not, then you have our sympathies.
Back to the Grolsch Premium Weizen Wheat Beer, and here is what it looks like.
The only Grolsch you can find here in the UK is their Premium Lager. The one with the swing-top that tastes okay but not special. Presumably, in the Netherlands, they have a whole range of beers, of which this and that are only two. And Weizen is not the big volume export one. Not very shouty looking, and that’s good.
The neck label is all about celebrating an award they won. Specifically, Weizen won “World’s Best Wheat Beer 2007” at the “World Beer Awards”. And that is a big, prestigious award. That is a genuine achievement on the part of Grolsch. It also brings expectations for Weizen right up.
Furthermore, it is “Brewed according to the German Reinheitsgebot”. I didn’t know what it meant either, until finding a Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinheitsgebot. Apparently, it has something to do with obsolete purity laws. Readers, if you have a strong opinion on this, feel free to vent it in the comments at the end of this post.
The front label is a roundel picture of European restraint. The borders have the words “Royal Grolsch Holland” and “Natuurlijk Gerijpt Bier”. Inside the roundel are nothing but the simple imagery and bare minimum of text that you can read in the photograph. Still, it would be nice to at least have the alcoholic volume printed on it.
The back label is a narrow strip with only the most important details on it. No stories about ancient traditions or monasteries, sadly. The English language ingredients list includes “water, malted wheat, malted barley, yeast & hops”.
Further down, they advise you to “Store upright, cool & dark”. Only on live wheat beers will you read that sort of thing.
Further down again are this beers vital statistics. The bottle size is, unsurprisingly, 500ML. And the alcoholic volume is a slightly above average 5.3%.
Besides those small facts, that is it. There is nothing else to read on what is promising to be a delicious bottle of beer. But just how delicious is it? What will it taste of? Let’s find out…
First of all, the glass. I don’t own the right sort. Until I do, this one will have to do.
If you’ve enjoyed yummy wheat beer before, you’ll know to expect a gigantic head. If not, then be prepared or you’ll end up with a table covered in foam. Other than that, look how cloudy it is! What a refreshing change to the usual pale yellow water that calls itself beer.
And the smell is even better. Strong too. It is, in fact, the first thing that struck me as soon as the top popped off. How can I describe it? It is the closest to the smell of Hoegaarden White Beer I’ve smelt so far. It smells rich, malty, citric and fruity. The blend of odours is gorgeous. It puts Grolsch Weizen into the small group of beers that I would happily use as air fresheners around the home.
What does Grolsch Premium Weizen Wheat Beer taste of? The first couple of sips are outstanding. This is indeed turning out to be an exceptional beer. The flavour is malty and wheaty. Smooth, rich and full-bodied, the way you hope it would be. That taste then effortlessly turns into the aftertaste.
The aftertaste is like a bigger lump of the initial flavour. Delivered in a more intense, but not unpleasant lump of taste that lingers for a while afterwards. A few more sips, and you realise that it is more complex than you first thought. You start to notice all sorts of traces of arable crops and fruits you didn’t notice at first.
More than half-way through already, so what am I enjoying about Grolsch Premium Weizen Wheat Beer? I like the smell, the taste and experience that you get with this kind of wheat beer. I love it partly because it’s not mainstream. You feel like you want to keep it a secret from the dimwits who only drink big name lager.
I like how it didn’t disappoint, even with expectations as high as Everest. If you came to Grolsch Weizen wanting a tasty wheat beer, it will deliver. I like the complexity in the flavours and taste, even if you don’t notice them at the start. Besides those things, it is immensely well made, tasty, refreshing, original tasting, clean, crisp and very, very drinkable.
What don’t I like about Grolsch Premium Weizen Wheat Beer? There are one or two issues. For a start, that taste isn’t quite as well balanced, roundel or colourful as, say, Hoegaarden White Beer. It’s not far off, but the lumpy aftertaste could be sanded down to make it a little easier to drink. Mind you, you do quickly get used to it. Besides that, Grolsch Weizen, at £1.50 pence, is expensive and hard to find. If it were on more shop shelves, it would have a big following by now.
How can I sum up Grolsch Premium Weizen Wheat Beer? Admittedly, I’ve not had many wheat beers to compare it to. And I’ve had even fewer live, cloudy wheat beers. Grolsch Weizen sits between Erdinger Weißbier and the sublime Hoegaarden White Beer in my humble estimation. Whether you are an aficionado or casual beer fan, I think you will be highly impressed with Grolsch Premium Weizen Wheat Beer. This is one of the very best.
Have you tried Grolsch Premium Weizen Wheat Beer? What did you think of it?
Do please leave your translations, corrections, opinions, requests, recommendations and places to buy here in the comments. And yes, I do read every single comment. Even the abusive ones.