Posts Tagged ‘Carlsberg’

Beer Review: Karmi Malínowa Pasja

16 April, 2009

WHILST up Stoke Newington way in North London, I was delighted to find an Eastern European shop that I hadn’t yet plundered for beer. The shop in question was Kołos Supermarket. And for £1.09 pence, one of the bottles beers I bought was this. At least I thought it was a beer at the time. Now, I’m not so sure. Whatever it is, it’s called Karmi and has the words Malínowa Pasja on it. Polish translators, I’m going to need your help again, big time. Translations at the end of this post please.

Karmi Malinowa Pasja bottle

It’s a curvy and mysterious looking bottle, isn’t it? Not quite as much as Brahma Premium Lager, but there’s something feminine about it. There’s a picture of, and colour of raspberry. Is this one of the girls beers that commenter’s warned me about in earlier Polish beer posts?

The neck-label doesn’t exactly answer any questions.

Karmi Malinowa Pasja neck wrapper and label

The bottle top is of the “Twist Off” variety. Is that a clue? I’m beginning to think this isn’t a real beer.

The front-label doesn’t help either.

Karmi Malinowa Pasja front label

If you know what Karmi or Malínowa Pasja mean, do please leave a comment. All I can glean from the front-label is that the contents might have something to do with raspberries. I may have made a huge mistake buying this bottle.

Thanks to my almost complete lack of understanding of the Polish language, the back-label, which would be helpful, isn’t. Translators, this is where I need you most.

Karmi Malinowa Pasja back label

Mind you, language has never been a barrier before with all the other Polish beers I’ve tried. So let’s press on and see what I can understand, or misunderstand.

The writing at the top says something about taste. But I’ve no idea what. The first word at the start of the ingredients list is, I think, ‘beer’. Which is a relief. Unfortunately, I think it’s telling me that it has an alcoholic volume of 0.5%. Oh dear.

It might be almost non-alcoholic, but it was made by Carlsberg Polska in Warszawa/Warsaw. And Carlsberg are a brewer. So it’s nearly a proper beer.

Elsewhere on the label, it says, I think, that it is a small 400ml bottle. And that they have a website at www.karmi.pl. A quick look reveals that it is a low-alcoholic drink for women. And that there are Karmi’s is lots of other flavours.

Okay, I admit it. I made a big mistake when I grabbed this out of the cooler in the Kołos Supermarket. It’s not a real beer at all, but a literally fruity low-alcohol drink for women. Despite this, you’ve got to be wondering… what does it taste like? Is it any good? And, if you are a woman, should you buy some? Lets find out.

Karmi Malinowa Pasja poured into a glass

The surprises start right away. That is not a coloured glass bottle. The bottle is transparent. It’s the beer that is that deep, reddish black colour. Once in the glass, the drink has a decent layer of head. If it were a real beer, I’d be impressed by it. What’s more, that head is noticeably red in colour.

What does it smell of? As you’ve guessed by now, it smells of raspberry. Not the natural sort. They don’t really smell of anything. This smells the same chemically way that it looks.

How does it taste? It tastes strange. On the back label, I saw a word that looked like the word ‘syrup’. Well, that’s what Karmi Malínowa Pasja is like. It tastes mildly of raspberry, in a synthetic and syrupy way. After that flavour, there is a tiny, slightly bitter alcoholic kick of an aftertaste. Not much. Just enough to remind you that it’s there.

What am I enjoying about Karmi Malínowa Pasja? I like how it’s unlike anything I’ve ever drank before. I like how easy it is to drink. Although it’s not got to try hard with only 0.5% alcoholic volume. I like how rich, smooth and un-gassy it is. And as a product, it looks good.

There are however, a few downsides to Karmi Malínowa Pasja. It might taste vaguely of raspberry. But it also tastes awful. It’s like drinking a concoction of chemicals that taste a little bit like a berry. Like hearing your favourite song ruined by someone doing karaoke. What it’s aiming for is admirable enough, but the ingredients are all wrong. It could get away with it if it were light and crisp. But in this heavy, thick, syrupy form it is atrocious. To cap it all off, with so little alcohol, it’s not even a real beer.

To sum up, Karmi Malínowa Pasja is a disgusting drink aimed, presumably, at women with no taste. If you see a woman drinking this stuff, avoid her. She has a terrible taste in drink. If, like me, you spot this in a shop refrigerator and hope that it will be an interesting Polish beer, you’d be right. But only just. And you’d wish you weren’t.

Rating: 2.1

Can you translate anything? What reputation does Karmi Malínowa Pasja have in Poland? Do women there actually drink this stuff? What do you think of it? Do please leave all your translations, pronunciations, corrections, opinions, requests, recommendations and places to buy here in the comments.

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Beer Review: Bosman Full

12 October, 2008

WHAT do you normally do when you feel like having a high quality bottle of ale? If you’re like me, what you actually end up with is a can of Polish lager. That’s right, I’ve done it again. This time, from a Polish shop on Cambridge Heath Road in Bethnal Green.

What can I say about the front? Well, at the top it says “Premium Quality”. But as we know, that doesn’t mean much. The roundel looks bold an interesting. There’s a picture of a ship. Which must mean something good. There are some medals at the bottom of the roundel. But I don’t think they are real medals. Below them, we learn that this has been going “Since 1948”. Which is a respectable run.

Also into the roundel are the Polish words “Browar Szszecin”. Which could be the name of the brewer. Once again, if anyone can translate or provide pronunciations, do please leave a comment at the end of the post. I for one would love to know how you’re supposed to pronounce Szszecin.

Around the can on the side that doesn’t have a barcode are some words and symbols.

Bosman Full non-barcode side of can

The symbol is familiar enough. That’s the anti-drink drive symbol you find on all Polish drinks. But the words “Od Lat Ten Sam Wyjątkowy Smak” are beyond me. “Smak” rings a bell from other cans and bottles, but translators, here is your chance to shine.

Over on the side of the can with the barcode are a few more bits and pieces.

Bosman Full barcode side of can

One of which is an information telephone line number. Another is that this is the usual 500ml size of can. Much of the rest is in Polish, but I’m going to give it a go anyway. I think it’s telling us that it has an alcoholic volume of 5.7%. Which is high. But thankfully lower than the universally revolting “Mocne” lagers.

A little further along is a word that I think is “pasteurised”. Under a line of writing that I can’t make head nor tail of are some familiar names. It transpires that this is another Polish beer produced by Carlsberg Polska. And that is comes from Warszawa. Or, as we call it, Warsaw.

There’s a web address too, which is www.bosman.pl. It all looked lovely when I visited. At least the half which I could see did. That’s because my screen resolution was too low to get any further. Which left me stranded at the front page, unable to get any further. Some tweaking of settings, and I’m in. It’s another Flash heavy corporate website with annoying background sound effects. There didn’t seem to be an English language version either.

Never mind, that final detail rounds the description part of this review off. There really is barely anything to say about the exterior of this can. Time now to sample the contents within. As a reminder, Perła and Leżajsk set the standard as my favourite Polish beers so far. The big name Tyskie, Żywiec, Okocim, Żubr and Lech were all adequate and all the “Mocne” ones were outrageously bad. Let’s see how Bosman Full compares.

Pouring is drama free. There’s no insane head to contend with. Everything looks good so far. It has a deep amber colour and a head. Albeit a rather inconsistent one.

How does it smell? It smells fresh and a bit lagery. Maybe it’s because of today’s warm weather, but I like it. Most lagers have some take on the malted barley mixture in their smell. This one is as richly malty as any lager I’ve sniffed. It deserves brownie points for that.

What does it taste like? A couple of gulps in, and I like it. It has a good, honest flavour of malted barley. Not a strong one. And it’s far from sophisticated or complex. But it is modestly pleasant. That down to earth flavour is replaced by the gentlest of bitter aftertastes. It lingers for a while. And if you piled on the pints of this stuff, it would make your mouth start to feel unpleasant. But it’s much lighter than lots of others, and the bitterness won’t bother even the squeamish drinkers out there.

So what am I enjoying about Bosman Full? In short, a surprising amount. It’s light, fresh and crisp. At least mine is after it spent the day in the fridge. It has a light, down to earth, generic beer flavour. Which, if you just want a cold beer, hits the spot nicely. It also doesn’t seem to be a Pilsner style lager. I thought it would be, and that it would be terrible. But is just isn’t. There’s no foul, lagery “bite”. It has a teeny bit of flavour. It’s smooth and not gassy at all. If, like me, you like beer and don’t much care for yet another boring lager, this is one to add to your shopping list.

What aren’t I enjoying about Bosman Full? If you’re going to compare it against European beers and British ales, it won’t match them for flavour. Nor will it match them for distinctiveness, character and complexity. It is a generic, boring, ordinary beer. If it were a haircut, it would be a side parting. It’s also hard to find in the UK, although that’s been changing.

How can I sum up Bosman Full? It’s considerably better than I expected. It’s much better than most Polish beers I’ve tried. Is it better than Perła and Leżajsk? I’d say it’s about even with them. Or just a notch below. It’s a bit like Bangla Premium Beer too by being a good all-rounder beer. If you like lager and you like it Pilsner style, you might not like Bosman Full. If you like interesting and unusual beers, ales and stouts, Bosman Full could be too boring for you. If you just want a good, ordinary beer, Bosman Full fits the bill nicely. Just drink it before it reaches room temperature. Mine has just warmed up and tastes worse for it.

Rating: 3.6

Lastly, I’ll keep a look out for Bosman Full in bottle form. Expect a quick update at the bottom of this post with photos if I find one.

Have you tried Bosman Full? What did you think of it?

Do please leave in the comments below your corrections, opinions, thoughts, requests, recommendations and places to buy this stuff overseas.

Beer Review: Carlsberg Export

9 July, 2008

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.

Carlsberg Export bottle

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.

Carlsberg Export front neck label

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.

Carlsberg Export neck label barcode side

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.

Carlsberg Export neck label details side

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.

Carlsberg Export front label

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?

Carlsberg Export poured into a glass

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.

Rating: 2.6

Have you tried Carlsberg Export? What did you think of it?
Leave your corrections, opinions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions and recommendations here for the entire world to read.

Beer Review: Carlsberg

3 July, 2008

YESTERDAY’S snooze-worthy Bavaria Holland Beer got me thinking. Are there any better green-bottled beers and lagers from north-west continental Europe? To answer that question, I’ve picked up bottles of Becks from Germany; Heineken from Holland and Carlsberg from Denmark. First up, is a little green bottle of Carlsberg.

Carlsberg bottle

Of the three green bottles I purchased today, this is the only one that didn’t say “imported” anywhere on it. I figure it’s best to get the worst out of the way first. An inverted attitude, since this is the very same Danish lager that goes by the slogan “Probably the best lager in the world…” It’s also not to be confused with its sister lager, and alcoholics favourite, Carlsberg Special Brew. You really wouldn’t want to get the two of them confused.

With no back label, the neck is where it all happens.

Carlsberg front of neck label

The front of the neck label does everything possible to make sure you recall the brand. First, it has the big Carlsberg “C” logo. The crown for the Royal Danish Court. And the words “Carlsberg Copenhagen Since 1847” all there to remind you of this brewers name and Danish heritage.

If that fails, there’s the slogan prominently printed. If you’ve watched any commercial breaks on television over the last few years, you can’t fail to be familiar with the slogan “Probably the best lager in the world…” I like how they made a virtue of fact that it could, “probably” be the best lager in the world. Instead of definitely the best lager in the world. Incidentally, leave your nominations for the actual best lager in the world in the comments at the end of this post.

The left-hand-side of the neck label kicks off the fine print.

Carlsberg left neck label

Next to the barcode, is the symbol telling us how many UK units of alcohol this bottle contains. And you won’t believe this. It has 1.0 UK units of alcohol. Not a decimal point more or less, but dead on 1 unit. Did that happen by accident? Or did they tweak the volume and bottle size until it reached 1.0 exactly?

The ingredients list is brief to say the least. It contains malted barley. But you knew that.

Over on the right-hand-side of the neck label, we get all the other small print details.

Carlsberg right neck label

Most prominent of all, are this lagers vital statistics. The bottle holds the less than common 275 millilitres. And you’ll need to drink plenty of them, because the volume is a paltry 3.8%. This is not going to be a strong, premium lager. Not by a long-shot.

The side-ways text informs us that this was brewed in the EU for Carlsberg’s UJK subsidiary. And it gives their Northampton postal address. Brewed in the EU? So it could have been brewed in Denmark or elsewhere on the continent? Or, the most likely option, it wasn’t. Is it me, or is the phrase “Lager brewed and bottled in the EU for Carlsberg UK” deliberately vague?

Also written sideways are the ever present words “Enjoy Responsibly”. You really have no choice with a lager this weak. There’s a consumer helpline telephone number. The drinkaware web address. And the Carlsberg web address, which is www.carlsberg.co.uk. After having a poke around, I can see where I’ve gone wrong with this bottle. This is regular Carlsberg. What I need is their strong export version, Carlsberg Export. I’ll have to look out for a bottle. Not a can though. Cans make every beer taste of aluminium.

Down to the front label now.

Carlsberg front label

And in contrast to the crowded neck label, everything is calm, peaceful and Danish. I like the green-ness. It goes well with the green bottle glass. The “Carlsberg” name and crown prominently hint at the heritage. As do those reassuring words “By Appointment To the Royal Danish Court”. Presumably, that means someone in the Danish Royal household is procuring Carlsberg’s products. But which ones? My money is on their Special Brew.

What else can I say about the front? Not much. There’s a strange looking leaf type symbol. And the words “Copenhagen Denmark”. There is nothing more to describe. Which means that it’s time to open this bottle of lager. And to answer the question… is this the best lager in the world?

Straight after opening the bottle, and before I could pour, something strange happened.

Carlsberg opened

This happened. The head tried to escape from the bottle. It didn’t want to sit still when it came to pouring either.

Carlsberg poured into a glass

The glass had a good thick head. Fortunately, it settled down in a couple of minutes, leaving my half-pint glass nicely brimming.

The colour is what you would expect from a lager. A pale yellow colour with lots of fizz.

The smell is barely worth describing. It smells like virtually every other lager. That is to say, it has a faint smell of a blend of malted barley and the usual lager ingredients.

How does it taste? After a couple of gulps, I’d say it tastes of lager. To see what I mean, simply try any other lager, anywhere in the world. The taste is mostly, and lightly of malted barley. And it leaves a mild, hoppy bitterness on your tongue.

Unexpectedly, there are some things that I like about Carlsberg. The taste isn’t all that bad. Certainly not as bad as some lagers. The bitterness for example, isn’t as horrible and lingering as, say, the appalling Michelob. It’s surprisingly easy to drink. Served cold, it would also be light and refreshing.

But, there is plenty to hate here too. The taste is lingering enough for it to stop being refreshing fairly quickly. The flavours, although not totally offensive, really aren’t something to get enthused about. The lightness, and refreshing-ness come from how weak and watery it is. You’d need to drink a lot of this to get a full taste of it, and to feel the effects. But you wouldn’t want to drink much of it.

Just like yesterday’s beer, and like so many lagers, drinking this is like eating mashed potato. It has a bland, yet mostly inoffensive taste. And it’s something most people consumer only because they have to. Is it the best lager in the world? No.

Rating: 2.55

Have you tried Carlsberg? What did you think? Is it better or worse than Export?
Leave your corrections, opinions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions and requests with the world here please. And check back tomorrow for more green-bottled blandness.

Beer Review: Okocim Mocne

15 May, 2008

REMEMBER my review of above-average Polish beer Okocim? Well, I’ve since found a corner shop that sells it in bottles instead of cans. And, best of all, they sell a more exciting version: Okocim Mocne

Okocim Mocne bottle

This bottle cost a premium £1.59 pence. So let’s hope it’s worth it.

The bottle and labels have a much darker and more foreboding look. My first thought was that this must be a stout or a dark ale. But after closer inspection, I think the word “Mocne” must simply mean “strong”. Or, if you’re Polish, “medium”.

The neck label kicks things off with pictures of what look like medals. But they’re much too small to read. It does start the stylish gold on black colour scheme which I like though.

Okocim Mocne neck label

The main, front label is where the imagery gets serious. An eagle symbolises one thing: power. And this label uses it to great effect.

Okocim Mocne front label

Most of the text at the top, I can’t read. Apart from the part that says “Strong Beer”. Under the Okocim Mocne logo and name, is that year again: 1845. A year that makes Okocim one of Polands most established beers.

At the bottom of the label are all the usual details. That this was brewed by Okocim in Poland. That the bottle holds 500 millilitres. And the alcohol volume. Except that little detail is worth re-reading. And that’s because it’s 7%. That brings this beer into the territory of strong ales. And nearly up to the level of the strong ciders and lagers. If it’s even moderately drinkable then, it will be doing very well indeed compared to its UK counterparts.

Just like the can, the back label doesn’t give up many details.

Okocim Mocne back label

There’s a UK consumer helpline number. And a Polish Infolinia number. There is also a set of ingredients in both Polish and English. For the very curious, the ingredients are water, hops, malt and yeast. Just like the can, the Polish side of the ingredients mentions the name of European brewing colossus, Carlsberg. Plus, there’s a mention of the town, or city, I really don’t know, called Brzesko. What is that place like? It sounds delightful. Lastly, there’s a web address of www.okocim.pl, but you might need to look for links to the English language pages.

In the glass, I’m a little disappointed to see that it’s not as black as crude oil. But rather, it’s light shade of amber. It’s also big-headed. But wait a few moments, and it settles down to a reasonable, creamy layer. There are a lot of bubbles in there, so I’m preparing myself for a lot of burping.

Okocim Mocne poured into a glass

The smell is not exactly distinctive. Yeast, hops and malted barley are the order of the day. But its strength makes it slightly more pungent than usual.

Three gulps in, and I’m already burping. This is a gassy beer. It’s also surprisingly full-bodied. No wateriness at all. The strong flavour that hit me was familiar. It reminded me of the mega-strong lagers. It’s a sharp, tangy bitterness. And it lingers on the back of your tongue. Different in character to the hoppy bitterness of ales. I don’t like the taste, but at least you get a lot of it.

It could be refreshing if you serve it cold. And, for the strength, it’s easy to drink. At least compared to the super-high-strength lagers on the market.

But it’s hard to see past the downsides. Okocim Mocne will make you burp. And the taste is as pleasant as blue tongue disease. If getting drunk is your aim, then there’s no reason to choose this, over the cheaper, and more potent lagers (9% vol.) and ciders (7.5% – 8.4% vol.) on the market.

I truly wanted to like Okocim Mocne. Especially after enjoying Okocim Beer. But there is simply no reason for you to spend your money on this beer.

Rating: 1.8

Have you tried Okocim Mocne? What did you think?
What does “Mocne” mean? Can you translate anything else from the labels? What reputation does it have in Poland? Are other strong Polish beers better? Or worse? If you have any corrections, additions, opinions, suggestions or ideas, do please leave them in the comments.

Beer Review: Okocim

11 May, 2008

EXCELLENT news, chaps. I’ve found another Polish beer on sale at a local shop. And this one is a can of Okocim.

Okocim can

Okacim faces a competition of mediocrity. The other Polish beers of Tyskie, Zywiec, Lech and Żubr weren’t bad. Some were slightly better than others, but all we

re simply vehicles for the consumption of alcohol cheaply and easily. And nothing more. Will Okocim buck the trend? Somehow, I doubt it.

Okocim looks more like Żubr or Lech than it does Tyskie or Zywiec. On it’s green background, the gold coloured text and smattering of red afford it a premium and traditional quality.

The top of the roundel has the English text “Traditional Polish Taste”. That’s’ unusual. Why is it written in English instead of Polish?

The logo is unintentionally hilarious. It features a goat and a huge glass of beer. It’s not clear if the goat wants to drink the glass, or hump it. Either outcome would make me laugh.

The large banner cutting through the roundel has the name “OKOCIM”. No unusual Polish text this time. Above it are the words “Polish Tradition” and below it “A.D. 1845”. That’s good. It gives it heritage. More established than Zywiec and the rest, but not as established as Tyskie.

Under that, is the word “Beer”. Rather obvious. But I’m just glad it doesn’t say “Lager”. Under that, in very small writing are some important details. Namely, that this is 500 millilitres. And that is has a volume of 5.5%. Okocim, then, is going to be strong stuff.

Below that are what look like medals. Does anyone know if they actually are? Did Okocim win any prizes, or are they just there to look like medals?

Running around the bottom of the roundel, we can spot the name of the brewery. The unimaginative Okocim Brewery, Poland. Again though, why is this all in English? Especially when the big, prominent word at the bottom of the can proudly announces “IMPORTED”.

On the barcode side of the can, the puzzle continues. There is both a Polish “Infolinia” phone number. And a UK telephone number for a “Consumer Helpline”. This particular can doesn’t know if it’s Polish or British. Time to read on for more clues.

Okocim barcode side of can

The ingredients side of the can has everything, but in only two languages: Polish and English.

Okocim ingredients side of can

If you happen to be interested in such things, the ingredients are water, malted barley and hops. Absolutely nothing unusual there.

The address of the brewer tells us that this was brewed somewhere called Brzesko in Poland. Sounds delightful. The web address is given as www.okocim.pl. Which, as you’d expect from a website ending in “.pl”, takes you to a Polish language website. Some clever navigations however, does led us to http://www.okocim.pl/okocim.htm. Which even I can understand.

The English ingredients text doesn’t solve the riddle of why this Polish beer has everything written in English. Reading the Polish language ingredients list does give us a clue. You see, this seems to have been produced by Carlsberg Polska. The Polish part of the brewing goliath, Carlsberg. And that would explain why this can is more international than, say, Żubr.

In the glass, Okocim has a thick, frothy head. It also has a light amber colour. An lots and lots of bubbles rising to the surface.

Okocim poured into a glass

The smell is a blend of malted barley and hops. Yes, I know, that how nearly every beer smells. This one does have a blend that is, in some way, different to most others. I like it. It’s got a rich and premium quality to the way it smells.

The taste is not bad. But not great either. The main taste you’ll notice, is the dry bitterness. That bitterness lingers briefly, but doesn’t stick around for long. The malted barley is barely noticeable.

The positives are that Okocim is very easy to drink. And that the blend of tastes and flavours is pretty good quality. You’d have to be very sensitive indeed to find any of it offensive to your palate. Served chilled, Okocim could also be quite refreshing. There’s also a couple of things that are different about it, when compared to it’s Polish counterparts. The blend of flavours being one. And the higher strength being another.

The negatives, though, are that Okocim is cheap and watery. It’s easy to drink because it has the consistency of water. And water that is too sparkling at that. Which means that it’s rather gassy. It’s also lacking much real flavour, but that could be down to my preference from strong ales from the around Britain.

How can I sum up Okocim? Simply, it’s stronger and marginally better tasting than the other Polish beers on sale here in the UK. If you want taste and flavour, it’s not much better than the other Polish beers. But if you want a strong, drinkable beer, this fits the bill nicely.

Rating: 3.6

Have you tried Okocim? Are you Polish? How do you pronounce the name Okocim? What sort of reputation does it have in Poland?
If you have any corrections, opinions, suggestions, ideas or insults, then leave them in the comments box below.

UPDATE: And this is the rather more handsome looking bottle of Okocim. The only difference as far as the label is concerned is the English language paragraph proclaiming its 160 year heritage, fine ingredients and Polish recipe.

Okocim bottleOkocim back of bottle

Beer Review: Carlsberg Special Brew

22 March, 2008

THIS instalment brings us to the second strong lager in this series on the subject of high-strength beers. And this one looks at Carlsberg Special Brew. Why am I looking at this one next? Well the last one I tried was Skol Super, and that was brewed by Carlsberg UK. This is the same size and strength as Skol Super, but from Carlsberg’s Danish parent. And that sets this review up for an interesting comparison…

Like most other can’s I’ve looked at in this series, Carlsberg Special Brew is cheap and available from most corner shops. It does have a unique look about it however. The beige background adds some extra respectability compared to the cheaply printed cans of its competition.

Something else I like about the ‘front’ of the can is the Danish connection. Above the ‘Special Brew’ banner is the text “By Appointment to the Royal Danish Court”. If that means the same as it does here in Britain, it means that someone in, or who works for the Danish Royal Family, drinks this stuff. And that raises expectations considerably. This is reinforced with references to “Carlsberg Copenhagen” and around a graphic of the Danish crown, the words “The Original Strong Lager”. Original anything is good in the beer world, so this is setting the expectations high. At least higher than with Skol Super.

Have a look at the bottom of the ‘front’ of the can. The words “Enjoy Responsibly” are more prominent than on any strong beer/cider/lager I’ve seen so far. A small acknowledgement of how controversial this type of drink has become perhaps. You could say that they are finally taking social responsibility. Or completely failing to do so by having it in such small writing.

Again, the details and small print are spread between two opposite ‘sides’ of the can. Here’s a photo of the side without the barcode.

Annoyingly, most of the text is at a 90 degree angle if you have the can upright. So you either need to tilt your head or the can to read this side properly. If you do decide to read it, you’ll see the 9% and 4.5 UK units of alcohol most prominent on the white band. The obligatory address of the drink aware website, and consumer helpline are there. As is a nearly complete list of ingredients. Which in this instance, are water, malted barley, syrup, hops and carbon dioxide. None of which really tell us what to expect from the taste of Special Brew.

Over on the ‘side’ of the can where the barcode lives, the writing is thankfully the right way up again. The tiny sentence of the story behind the drink doesn’t need to be summarised for the review, because here it is: “Brewed since 1950, Carlsberg Special Brew is the original strong lager”. What more is there to say?

Also on this ‘side’ is the message “Best shared well chilled”. A nice different to the usual ‘best served well chilled’. Clearly the people of Denmark are more responsible than those here, in that they share a strong can instead of downing it by themselves. It’s a nice suggestion that I doubt anyone will follow. If you’ve ever shared a can of Special Brew or anything similar, leave a comment, because I find it hard to imagine anyone doing that.

Annoyingly, this ‘side’ doesn’t actually confirm that Special Brew is imported from the continent. All we get is a “brewed and canned in the EU for Carlsberg UK Ltd”. That could mean it was churned out of a cheap factory in Eastern Europe. Come on Carlsberg. I want to know where it came from. And so does everyone else who buys your drinks.

And that’s it from the outside of the can. But what does it taste like? Time to find out.

Once out of the can, and into my big Continental style glass, everything looks in order. There’s a big frothy head. The liquid is gold in colour. And there’s plenty of gas bubbles making their way to the top.

The smell is good too. Definitely better than Skol Super. The soft smell of barley and hops seems somehow, to have that ‘premium’ quality. But will that carry across to the taste?

A few gulps down, and so far, the answer is yes. It doesn’t taste cheap either. It holds on to that bitter/sour taste and aftertaste that lager suffers from, but this is a big improvement over Carlsberg’s Skol Super. That aftertaste simply isn’t as strong and doesn’t linger as badly. And that makes Special Brew the most drinkable strong lager I’ve yet tested.

Working my way through the can, I was delighted to find it not as gassy as I had been afraid of. And the alcohol didn’t go straight to my head. Although that could have more to do with my doing this review straight after dinner than anything else.

How to sum up Carlsberg Special Brew? It’s a super-high-strength lager that comes cheaply in very tall cans. Yet it’s also pretty good quality, for a lager. And surprisingly drinkable, for a lager. The can promised a lot with its mentions of the Danish Court. And, amazingly, it actually delivered. That surprised and impressed me. No wander alcoholics love this drink.

Rating: 3.4 plus two ASBO points and one homeless alcoholic mark.

Have you tried Carlsberg Special Brew? What did you think?
Any suggestions for what I should review next?
Comments below please…

Update:

A huge thanks to all the readers and commenter’s who’ve made this ‘review’ one of the most popular on my blog. Your comments are brilliant. There’s no other way to describe them. That’s why I’ve come back nearly two years later to update it, and the other unexpectedly popular super strength lager reviews, with some new photos.

While I had all the 9%er cans handy, it made sense to try them all again. Only this time with the benefit of having read all of your comments beforehand. Incidentally, I’ve done the same for the other 9%-ers. Check my updates for them after you’ve finished reading this.

This time, I made sure that the can was very cold. And to drink it straight from the can to avoid accidentally smelling it. That’s why I haven’t updated the photo of it in a glass. I was also, watching out for it tasting worse as it warms up.

How did it taste this time around? It’s definitely more drinkable. But drink quickly before it warms up. It contains syrup which makes it weightier than normal lager. It also makes it more bittersweet than without it. It’s a strong, bland, slightly sour and syrupy malted barley tasting lager in flimsy can.

How did it compare to the other 9%-ers I re-‘reviewed’ it against? Against Tennent’s Super, Carlsberg Skol Super and Ketral Super, It ended up 3rd. Above the ghastly at any temperature Skol Super, but without the surprising hoppiness of Tennent’s Super and instant addiction to Kestral Super.

What do you think? How else can you make it taste better? Or less horrible? The comments section below is a goldmine. Add your nugget of wisdom now!

P.S. My ‘reviews’ of Carlsberg Special Brew’s equally popular competitors are at Carlsberg Skol Super, Tennent’s Super and Kestrel Super.

Beer Review: Skol Super strong lager

21 March, 2008

AFTER trying super-high-strength Duvel ale, Gold Label beer and K cider, we’ve finally reached the first of the notorious tall cans of lager: Super Skol.

At the 9% volume, prominently displayed in the front roundel, this is the strongest brew I’ll have yet tested. But this is not unusual, with many lagers out there also 9%. The wording around the top of the logo reads “a very strong lager of the highest quality”. If it is as strong as I’m expecting, it better had be high quality. A strong and unpleasant drink wouldn’t be good.

Around the bottom of the circular logo is the name of the brewer. In this case Carlsberg UK Ltd. Not as well hidden as K, but still hidden enough to help distance themselves from this alcoholics choice of beverage. Also prominent at the bottom of the can are the instructions to “serve cool”.

On one of the two ‘sides’ that isn’t full of logo, we get some text and other information.

On this side, they tell us what to expect from the drink. And I must, say, it sounds very appetising indeed. And you would too, going by the mentions of “full bodied” and “fruity aroma”. All of which make this strong lager sound more like an ale.

On the other ‘side’ things are a little more boring. There’s the barcode. The Drink Aware website address, which, lets face it, is probably needed by the sort of people who buy this stuff. The Carlsberg web address and their Northampton address are also on there if you need to write them a letter.

The best thing about that ‘side’ of the can is the full list of ingredients. Most ingredients lists are mere summaries, so it’s good to see one that it a little more complete. This one mentions water, malted barley, syrup, hops, carbon dioxide and caramel. How many are noticeable we’ll find out soon enough.

Compared to K, I’m not such a fan of the Skol Super can. It’s messy with likes and colours everywhere. And the information is split between two ‘sides’ of the can. For me, K has set the standard for design of the tall cans of high-strength drink. And Super Skol doesn’t quite reach it. But that’s all secondary to what it’s like to drink. So here goes with the strongest lager I’ve ever tried…

Once in a glass, it was good to see a good thick head. Not that that will bother most drinkers of Super Skol. The colour also looks about right for lager. Nothing notable there. What about the smell? Nothing special there either. It smells faintly of barley and hops. But it’s barely noticeable.

Now the most important part. What does it taste like and how drinkable is it? A couple of gulps down and It’s not as bad as I expected. It really is fuller bodied than most lagers out there. Especially the cheap ones. The taste is still bitter and sour so if you can’t stand lager anyway, you’re not going to like this one. I’m not sure what to make of their promise of fruity aroma at this point. Or to put it another way, there doesn’t appear to be any fruitiness at all.

A few more gulps down, and I’m not enjoying this as much as K. Yes this is fairly drinkable. But it is rather gassy. And that aftertaste awful. Maybe that’s something lager drinkers get used to. But I’m not. And predictably, I’m beginning to think this is an unpleasant experience. It certainly is going to my head quickly however. And that is probably the point of Super Skol.

And there you have it. Super Skol is affordable and strong. If you like strong lager, you might like this. If you don’t like lager, you probably won’t like it. If you want to get drink quickly and cheaply, you’ll put up with it. In addition to my rating, I also award Super Skol two and a half ASBO points.

Rating: 2.9

Have you tried Super Skol? Or any other strong lagers? What did you think?
And what do you want me to review next?
Comments below please…

Update:

A huge thanks to all the readers and commenter’s who’ve made this ‘review’ one of the most popular on my blog. Your comments are brilliant. That’s why I’ve come back nearly two years later to update it, and the other super popular super strength lager reviews with some new photos.

While I had all the 9%er cans handy, it made sense to try them all again. Only this time with the benefit of having read all of your comments beforehand. Incidentally, I’ve done the same for the other 9%-ers. Check my updates for them after you’ve finished reading this.

This time, I made sure that the can was very cold. And to drink it straight from the can to avoid accidentally smelling it. That’s why I haven’t updated the photo of it in a glass. I was also watching out for it tasting worse as you go on, while it warms up in your hand.

How did it taste this time around? Almost as bad as it did originally. Sure, the cold helps. But it’s still incredibly strong tasting. Like the other 9%-ers, it contains syrup. Yet it’s still not as sweet or balanced as they are. Does this mean it has less syrup than the others? Possibly. The taste was a long malted barley finish. Like a normal lager, but bigger. Maybe a Carlsberg response to Crest Super. It definitely seemed less syrupy, less refreshing and less drinkable than the competition.

Against the other four 9%-ers, I rank it fourth. The worst of a bad bunch. Think about that for a second. How bad does a beer need to be for Carlsberg Special Brew, Tennent’s Super and Kestrel Super to be better?

What do you think? How else can you make it taste better? Or less horrible? Add your comment now!

P.S. My ‘reviews’ of Carlsberg Skol Super’s equally popular competitors are at Carlsberg Special Brew, Tennent’s Super and Kestrel Super.


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