Posts Tagged ‘denmark’

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.

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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: 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.


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