Posts Tagged ‘Heineken’

Beer Review: Amstel Bier Lager

5 September, 2008

HOW do you follow up two, fine bottled ales? With some big name lager of course! Here is a small bottle of Amstel Bier Lager. Let’s get this over with.

Amstel is a name I remember being aware of for years. Then not seeing for years. And just recently seeing advertised on posters again before finding this bottle being sold in a local shop. If it really has been resurrected here in Britain, then that is good to see. If anyone can shed some light on what happened to Amstel, do please leave a comment at the end of the post.

In fairness, it doesn’t look at all bad. It certainly makes a change from all the green-glass bottles from its competitors.

The neck label doe what you expect of a neck label. It has a coat of arms featuring two horses, hops and barley. And the year 1870. Not bad. Not great either.

Amstel Bier Lager front label

The big roundel stuck to the front of the bottle does roughly the same thing. Inside the roundel, they helpfully describe it as “Quality Product”. That’s good to know. Around the border, the place of origin becomes the centre of attention. Amstel Bier hails from the “Amstel Brouwerij B.V. Amsterdam Holland”. Time now to check the back to see if this is the real thing, or in fact made over here.

Amstel Bier Lager back label

They certainly keep things simple on this side of the bottle. This should take all of two-minutes to read. Which makes a change from the four hours it took to read everything yesterday.

From the very top, my big question was answered. That’s because this was “brewed and bottled by Amstel Brouwerij B.V. for Heineken (UK) Ltd.” It then goes on to give Heiniken’s south-west London address. So… This was brewed in the Netherlands. Excellent.

Ingredients are the next thing they get to. This one lists water, malted barley and hops. No surprises there. Under some of the usual small print, the web address they give is www.ChilledfromAmsterdam.com. At first I hated their website for being slow and Flash heavy, but stick with it. It’s quirky in a Dutch way and has some personality. Not something you find with most big, continental lagers.

Under the barcode are the vital statistics. This tiny bottle is 330 millilitres. And it has huge 4.1% alcoholic volume. Hang on, ‘huge’ was the wrong word. ‘Moderate’ is the one I’m looking for.

There. That’s it. There’s nothing more to say about the outside. Time now to open this bottle and see what it’s like. How will it compare to the lacklustre competition I tried out a while back?

Watch out pourers, this is a head happy bottle. It dies down soon enough, but you’ll still have a thick layer of froth to contend with.

Like nearly every lager, this one is pale yellow. And fizzy. No surprises there.

What about the smell? It has that small of a blend of malted barley and hops that all lagers have. The Amstel take on it is pretty good. It smells light and fresh somehow.

How does it taste? A couple of gulps in, and first impressions are ok. Just keep your expectations low. It has an almost invisible malted barley flavour. And it leaves you with a lingering bitter aftertaste. That bitter aftertaste rolls in, and leaves a semi-harsh, slightly tangy bite in your mouth.

What is there to like here? As someone who likes ales, not a lot. But if I imagine for a moment, that I loved lager, there are a few things to like. For one, it is very light and drinkable. It’s quite refreshing too. The flavours won’t offend anyone. And that lagery “bite” that lager drinkers seem to adore is there and doing its job perfectly well. The whole drink does what a lager should do, very well indeed.

If you’re guessing that there are things I don’t like, you’d be right. The reason it’s so light and drinkable, is because it’s got the consistency of water. Flavour is almost totally absent. And that bitter “bite” doesn’t sit well with me at all. It’s unsophisticated and unnecessarily rough. It’s also a tiny bit gassy. But then it is a lager. So all this criticisms don’t really apply.

If you compare it to all the other lagers out there, especially the other Dutch or northern-European ones, the picture changes. Amstel Bier suddenly looks light, drinkable and good.

So there you have it. If you like continental lagers, you should try Amstel Bier Lager. It’s a fully competent lager. Compare it to a real ale, and it looks laughable. Compare it to other lagers, and it looks respectable. The rating then, becomes meaningless. But, here it is anyway.

Rating: 2.25

Have you tried Amstel Bier Lager? What did you think of it? What reputation does it have in the Netherlands?

Leave your corrections, opinions, insights, requests and recommendations in the boxes below.

Coming next, another bottled lager I don’t expect to enjoy!

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Beer Review: Heineken Imported Lager Beer

4 July, 2008

NEXT in my look at little green bottles of cheap beers from the north-west corner of the continent is another big name. If you’ve ever looked at a shelf of beers in a shop, you’ve probably seen the name Heineken. Well, here’s a little green bottle of Heineken Imported Lager Beer.

Heineken Imported Lager Beer bottle

The neck label says everything you need to choose this bottle over the domestically produced equivalent.

Heineken Imported Lager Beer neck label

The most prominent word on it is “Imported”. It is perhaps the best word ever to be printed on any beer bottle, as you know you’ll be getting the genuine article. Apart from with ales. We definitely make the best ales in the world.

Back to the neck label, and it holds other positive information too. The Heineken red star name and logo help you recognise it. But I must be totally honest with you; the green-ness of the colour scheme always makes me confuse it with Carlsberg.

Again I digress. Back to the welcome information on the neck label. The date 1873 gives it some heritage. The alcoholic volume is that publicised continental 5%. But with so many other beers being at least that, this one hardly stands out from the crowd any longer.

Down to the front label, and we get a traditional green roundel.

Heineken Imported Lager Beer front label

Starting from the outside and working in, the outer-outer-outer border has some tiny words written on it. And those words are “The Original Quality” and “Brewed with Natural Ingredients”. The border inside that describes it as “Heineken Lager Beer” and “Premium Quality”. Inside that, is another border formed, I think, of French language text. This being a Dutch lager, that threw me at first. Until I realised that the text, medals and other bits of writing were referring to some awards won in Paris. Apparently, it won the “Medaille D’or Paris 1875” and the “Grans Prix Paris 1889”. Plus some other things I can’t quite interpret in 1883 and 1900. A prize is still a prize, but nothing for the last century?

The back label keeps things simple.

Heineken Imported Lager Beer back label

Around the outside is much welcome confirmation of this bottle’s origins: “Brewed and Bottled by Heineken Brouwerijen B.V., Amsterdam, Holland”. Besides the barcode, logo and 5% volume, one of the most prominent things on this side is their sponsorship deal. If you already enjoy watching a few men running up and down a field, trying not to dirty their haircuts, you probably already know that Heineken are the “Proud Sponsor of” the “UEFA Champions League”.

Also fairly prominent are this bottle’s vital statistics. This little bottle is the typical 330 millilitres in size. And because of it’s 5% volume, it has 1.7 UK units of alcohol. Thoroughly unremarkable.

The ingredients list mentions water, malted barley and hops. Little unusual there. What is unusual is that they give two different web addresses. The most prominent, and one that say “Please visit:” is at enjoyheinekenresponsibly.com“. An address that re-directs you to Heineken International homepage at http://www.heinekeninternational.com/homepage.aspx. The other address on the label, www.heineken.co.uk re-directs you to the homepage of their draught keg product at http://draughtkeg.co.uk/.

At this point, I would normally say “that’s everything on the label, now time to open it”. But something caught my eye on the Heineken International homepage. That is because, it’s big industry news. With Belgian brewing giant InBev making moves on American brewing giant Anheuser-Busch, this one slipped under the radar. It appears that Heineken recently made a successful offer on our on big brewer, Scottish & Newcastle plc. It’ll be interesting to see how this consolidation plays out. As far as I know, S&N spend most of their time making licensed versions of foreign beers. It would be nice if this deal brings more innovation to the market place. Sadly, all this consolidation can’t be good news for out numerous favourite little breweries up and down the land. How do you think it will work out?

A paragraph later than normal, it’s time now to get to the fun bit. To open this bottle and discover what Heineken Imported Lager is like. Is it better than Carlsberg or will I find their tastes as identical as their branding?

Heineken Imported Lager Beer poured into a glass

In the glass, you get a good, controllable head. No uncontrollable frothing, nor patchy bubbles here. And because it’s lager, it has a weak yellow hue. There is however, next to no smell at all. This has possibly the weakest smell of any beer of lager I’ve tried.

And the taste isn’t much stronger. It has a light tasting blend of malted barley and hops, leaving a slight, lingering hoppy bitterness. It is all very mild stuff.

There are things to like about Heineken Imported Lager. I liked how mild and inoffensive the flavours were when compared to the cheaper and nastier lagers. I liked how easy to drink it is, and how crisp and refreshing it is.

But that is all the usual faint praise you can give a premium lager. That’s because this, like every other premium quality continental lager can only ever be an average beer. The taste, though drinkable, is not one many people, myself included, would choose over something better. And, over the course of a few drinks, it would quickly stop being refreshing and start leaving a nasty taste in my mouth. It’s rather gassy too. Then there’s the question of what makes Heineken stand out. Not much as far as I can tell.

Rating: 2.55

A good quality premium lager. But barely distinguishable from other premium quality continental lagers. And distinctly average as a beer.

Have you tried Heineken Imported Lager? How does it compare to regular Heineken?
Leave your corrections, opinions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions and recommendations with the world here please.


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