Posts Tagged ‘grolsch’

Beer Review: Grolsch Premium Weizen Wheat Beer

22 May, 2009

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.

Grolsch Weizen bottle

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.

Grolsch Weizen neck label

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.

Grolsch Weizen front label

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.

Grolsch Weizen back label

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…

Grolsch Weizen poured into a glass

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.

Rating: 4.4

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.

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Beer Review: Grolsch Imported Premium Lager

10 July, 2008

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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