Posts Tagged ‘import’

Beer Review: Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer

26 April, 2010

A NEW beer turned up in the Brick Lane off-license a few months ago. Taking the spotlight from, but not replacing the colourful, mock-Bengali curry beer, Bangla Premium Beer, is another beer designed to compliment your curry. Costing a national deficit creating £2.95 pence, here is a bottle Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer.

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer bottle

Nowhere near as bright as Bangla, there’s no mistaking the India and curry connection. It might say “Premium” on the label, but it looks economy. Even so, we know better than to judge a beer by its bottle.

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer neck label

The neck-label hints at why it really is “Premium”. “Slow brewed in India” is why I hope it’s going to be worth your time.

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer front label

It’s called “Taj Mahal” and has a photo of said Indian landmark to prove it. To hammer home the point of this beer, the label background seems to be taken from the wallpaper from a curry-house.

Cosmetics aside, it does say everything you need it to say. It has the word “lager”, so you’ll know where to align your expectations. It’s a big 650ML bottle and the alcoholic volume is 4.5%. Normally I’d be moaning about it not being very high, but this is a curry beer. Trust me, the last thing you want to cool your mouth down with is Robinson’s Old Tom Strong Ale.

Then there’s the few more hints about why I’m hoping that Taj Mahal is going to turn out well. “Slow brewed in India from the finest malt & hops”. First, it’s brewed in India. Not a deceptive pretend-foreign beer like so many others. Second, fine ingredients are always good. There are still a lot of questions though. Let’s see what the back label has to say…

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer back label

Quite a lot, apparently. All of which I’d class as small-print. I know you love details so, (takes a deep breath), here goes…

Ingredients are “barley malt, adjuncts, hops for bitterness”. Some hoppiness is good for a lager. But what the heck are “adjuncts”? Leave a comment if you know.

It’s “best served chilled” and you need to “consume within day of opening”. Whether that means it’ll still be good to top-up your hangover with your Pot Noodle breakfast the next morning is unclear.

It is, I’m utterly delighted to report, “Produce of India for export”. It was even “Brewed under license from United Breweries Limited, Bangalore, India by Blossom Industries Ltd., Village Jani Vankad Nani Daman 396 210”.

Also on there are the details of the imported and exporter. The Hertfordshire based importer is SOP International Ltd, with a website at www.sopinternational.com and a homepage at http://www.sopinternational.com/d-chi467-taj-mahal-taj-mahal-premium-lager-beer/. The Indian exporter is UB Global with a website at www.ub-global.com and an interesting beer page at http://www.ub-global.com/beer.html.

And that’s all the small-print. So, what does Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer taste like? How does it compare to the other curry beers? Not just the against specialists like Bangla, Cobra and Kingfisher, but the ones that get it spot-on by accident, like Grolsch and Holsten Pils. It’s time to find out.

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer poured into a glass

This fridge cold bottle poured so easily, not even I made it glug. Much. For those of you, like me, who don’t do Euro measuring, 650 millilitres (the size of this bottle) is more than a Pint glass can hold. As I discovered.

What does Taj Mahal look like? In the glass, it’s predictably Pilsner lager yellow. Very carbonated, yet it only manages a thin, patchy layer of foam. It really is very fizzy. So much so, the fizzing is audible.

What does Taj Mahal smell like? If you’ve ever sniffed a Pilsner lager before, you’ll have a good idea. It has that familiar whiff of malted barley. At this stage, I was hoping to smell at least a some hoppiness. But alas, I can detect none.

What does Taj Mahal taste like? The first two gulps are easy ones. Being a lager, especially one for your curry, you might not expect it to have flavour. And… it doesn’t.

A good curry beer needs to be refreshing, clean and crisp, ideally with a mild, bitterness. And a few gulps in, that seems to be what Taj Mahal is. While it’s cold, it feels refreshing, clean and crisp. But does it have the bitter, hoppy finish? It is slow brewed and even mentions “hops for bitterness” on the label. Apparently, they didn’t add all that many hops. You just can’t taste them. You do get one of the gentlest, mildest bitter finishes of any lager, ever. Will that be enough to soothe your mouth from chilli agony? Only partly, I suspect.

What am I liking about Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer? While it’s cold, it is supremely easy to drink. Even not beer drinkers will be fine. It is very accessible to the curry munching masses that frequent Brick Lane every evening. If you like your lagers to be clean, crisp and refreshing, Taj Mahal fits the bill nicely. Rather surprisingly, it’s not gassy. And it’s one of the few that comes in bigger-than-a-pint 650ml bottles.

What am I disliking about Taj Mahal? That drinkability and refreshment comes at the expense of watery-ness. It is very light and watery. Normally I like that in a lager. But for something that’s “slow brewed” and so bloody expensive, you expect more than fizzy water. And that leads onto the next issue. The price. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was exclusive ale brewed with myrrh. But it’s a curry beer, to be drunk in vast quantities because your mouth is on fire. With so little in the flavour and taste department, it’s also lacking anything to differentiate it, or to add any charm. And, as it gradually reaches room temperature, which it inevitably will, it loses some of the crisp, refreshing-ness.

How can I sum up Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer? I would like to try it with a curry because it would probably do rather well. At least while it’s cold, it is crisp and refreshing enough to extinguish the inferno raging in your mouth during a curry.

Compared to my other curry favourites, it’s no failure. But neither does it win. It’s just lacking something in the taste department that the others have. Something hoppy. If you’re having a night out, need a beer for your curry and have the money to spend, Taj Mahal is perfectly fine.

Normally, I like simple, cheap, watery lagers. They’re honest and drinkable, so I rate them highly. Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer though is slow brewed and expensive. Sure, Taj Mahal is fine, but cheap lagers a third of the price are at least as good. For that, I’m rating it low.

Rating: 2.3

Have you tried Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer? What did you think of it?

Leave your comments and recommendations down here.

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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