Posts Tagged ‘strong’

Beer Review: Crest Super 10% Super Strength Premium Lager

14 April, 2009

A YEAR ago, I tried all the super strength lagers I could lay my hands on. This meant subjecting myself to Tennent’s Super Strong Lager, Kestrel Super Strength Lager, Carlsberg Special Brew and Skol Super Strong Lager. They were universally awful means of alcohol consumption. Not surprisingly then, they’re a favourite of homeless alcoholics, which is why they’ve acquired the nick-name “tramp juice”.

Besides being revolting to anyone who drinks less than eight each day, there was one other commonality. They were all 9% alcoholic volume. For whatever reason; fear of regulation, corporate social responsibility or a gentlemen’s agreement, there were none above 9% this side of the English channel. That’s what I thought, until I found this. From an off-license in Kennington, South London, here is a can of Crest Super 10% Super Strength Premium Lager.

Crest Super front of can

At first sight, everything looks promising. For a start, this has a classy purple exterior, unlike the stripy competition. It has pictures of hops and a “Master Brewers” ‘seal, all adding to the sense that this is a real beer.

It even has a proper roundel. With two bears at the top, the upper border says “Brewed With Best Quality Barley Malt”. And the lower border has words continuing with “And The Finest German Aroma Hops”. So this is German is it? If you’re going to have a strong beer, Germany is one of the places you want it to be from. This is shaping up very well indeed.

Crest Super join side of the can

Turning the can around, you won’t find much on this side. There’s a join. And the words “Serve Cool”. Advice I intend to pay heed to when it comes to tasting this mysterious, yet probably explosive beverage.

Crest Super barcode side of can

Ah good. This side has some writing. Lets read it. Maybe it says from where in Germany it came?

No. No it doesn’t say that. Right at the top, it says “Brewed And Canned By: The Crest Brewing Co. A Division of Wells & Young’s Brewing Company Ltd, Havelock Street, Bedford UK, MK40 4LU”. Regular readers will know that any beer that pretends to be imported when it isn’t immediately gets docked points. Would you rather try something from Bavaria or Bedfordshire?

It’s not necessarily bad news though. That is the same Wells & Young’s who brought us Bombardier Burning Gold, Luxury Double Chocolate Stout, Banana Bread Beer and the magnificent Bombardier Satanic Mills bottled ales. Yet they seem intent on hurting their name with licensed beers like Kirin Ichiban and this can of Crest Super.

Back to what the can says, and next up come the vital statistics. This is a big 500ml can. Oddly, for a UK produced can with a 10% alcoholic volume, I can’t find any UK units of alcohol rating. An intentional regulatory and moral dodge? Or an innocent omission? Your opinions at the end of this post please.

Another oddity is that the only English language in that big block of sideways text is telling you to look under the can for the best before end date. It has a full list of ingredients, but in German. Not English. Luckily, our language is similar enough to German for me to make sense of what it says. If you’re expecting the ingredients to be of typical beer ingredients plus some chemicals, you’d be spot-on.

Right then. I was hoping to drag out the descriptive part of this review as long as possible. But I’ve run out of things to read on the can. I’m going to have to drink this stuff and try to describe what it’s like. A task I’ve been putting off for weeks already.

What does Crest Super 10% Super Strength Premium Lager, the strongest beer I’ve ever tried taste like? Will be as drinkable as I’m hoping? Or as vomit inducing as I’m fearing? Curiosity is getting the better of me as it’s time to find out…

Crest Super poured into a glass

There’s some head. But not much. After a few moments, you’re left with a patch of foam. But what get’s me is the colour. That bright orange-amber colour would look more at home on a cider. It looks as natural as Jordan.

Does it smell as synthetic as it looks? The roundel promised the “Finest German Aroma Hops”. I’d say that it smells like the other super strength lagers. But maybe slightly more delicate. Whatever the case, you can’t hide from the distinctly un-beery smell of this and other super strength lagers. It reminds me of the smell of gobstoppers or other such sweets. Not a natural and tasty beer.

How does it taste? I’m going into this with a totally open mind, by the way. No prejudice whatsoever. So what does it taste like?

Two gulps in and I realise that gulps are the wrong way to go. If I’m to avoid seeing my dinner again, sips over the course of the night are the only way to go.

How can I describe it? Not easily. My entire digestive system is currently telling me not to consume any more. The rest of this review might be a bit shorter than normal.

A few minutes later, and I gingerly attempt a few sips. Unusually for a lager, it does have a hit of flavour. A flavour of hops and chemicals and think. It’s hard to pin down because of the massive aftertaste that swamps you. You get hit with a gigantic wave of bitterness, alcohol and chemicals. Unsurprisingly, it lingers for a good long time.

Nearly a quarter of the way through now, so what am I enjoying about Crest Super? I like that does something a little different to the other super strength lagers. I like that it’s 1% stronger. If I were an alcoholic or someone who enjoying drinking many cans of super strength each day, I would be delighted with Crest Super.

What am I not enjoying about Crest Super? Nearly everything. It is the most undrinkable beer I’ve had in more than a year of doing this blog. I doubt I’m going to finish this beer tonight, and it’s the first time that’s ever happened. It’s as if my body is shouting “no more! Please no more!” after every sip. This literally gut wrenching effect means I can’t even start to enjoy the flavour and taste.

How can I sum up Crest Super? It is the most extreme beer I have ever tried. It is the strongest. And the most undrinkable. Slightly different to the other super strength lagers, but not necessarily better. If you are an alcoholic, or if you enjoying drinking many cans of super strength lager each day, then you will love Crest Super. If however, you’re a normal person, then you probably won’t. It will either send you to drunken oblivion or to the toiler to throw up. But maybe I’m looking at it all wrong. Maybe you should treat it not as a beer, but as a spirit. It certainly tastes like one.

Rating: I’ll leave that up to you.

Have you tried Crest Super? Draught or out of a can? What did you think of it?

Do please leave your opinions, corrections, thoughts, requests, recommendations and places to buy.

Update:

Armed with experience from my first can, and from the comments sections from the other super strength lagers, my second can of Crest Super was much better. I can confirm that it’s absolutely essential to drink it only while it’s very very cold. Even if this means leaving the dregs at the bottom, because the contents will have warmed up too much in your hand. And don’t do what I did and pour it out. Drink it from the can to make sure you don’t accidentally smell it.

With this in mind, you can nearly enjoy it. At Arctic temperatures, it really does have a long, hoppy finish. And yes, the can is more solid than others. But there’s still better ways to get wasted than this.

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Beer Review: Warka Strong

22 May, 2008

REMEMBER yesterday’s look at the surprisingly just-above-average Warka? This time, I’m testing its stronger stable mate. The appropriately named Warka Strong.

Warka Strong can

This can looks completely different. The gold, black and red colour scheme looks just like Strongbow Cider. But whatever lurks inside this can, isn’t going to be cider.

The front of the can has words such as “Unikalny Smak” and “Najwyższa Jakość”. To the translators out there, any help with this can, would be great. On that subject, thank you to everyone who has been commenting and translating the last few Polish beers I’ve had a look at. It’s good to hear from people who actually know what they’re talking about.

Back to the can, the top has a picture of someone. Presumably named “Kazimierez Pułaski”. Not the creator of this beer, nor the head brewer. According to Wikipedia, Kazimierez Pułaski was a member of Poland’s nobility, and a military commander in the 18th century. Not an obvious choice for the front of a beer can. And not the first. Broughton put an Old Jock on their strong Scottish ale.

Also on the front, is the proudly displayed “Warka” name. And the 1478 date. As that predates even Kazimierez Pułaski by a few hundred years, its doubtful Poland’s medieval population enjoyed Strong. What is undeniable on the front of the can is the alcoholic volume. 7% puts it in “Mocneterritory. Hopefully, Strong won’t be as appalling as other strong Polish beers.

Just like Warka, there’s a side dedicated to a big, sideways logo. Useful if you like to store your cans on their sides. Presumably.

Warka Strong other side of can

Whilst the barcode and ingredients are thrown together on their own ‘side’ of the can.

Warka Strong barcode side of can

I say thrown, because some text is orientated one way. While other bits of text are at 90-degrees. Would it be so hard to put them all the same way around?

Don’t bother trying to read it from the photo. My six year-old camera phone is as useless at seeing the mess in front of it, as a Burmese dictatorship.

Starting with the ingredients list… I can’t understand any of it. But the Grupa Żywiec name is still there. Reminding us that this beer comes from good stock. There’s also a consumer telephone line and an email address. So that you can tell them what you think of Strong. If you do do that, just remember to leave a comment at the end of this post, as I’d be interested to know what you think of this too.

Also on there are some other bits and pieces. There’s the usual “500 ml”. And a web address, which is www.strong.com.pl. A nice, but completely Polish language website.

Now it’s time to see. Is Strong any good? And is it better than what I’m expecting? Which isn’t very much at all.

In a glass, Strong is a darker shade of yellow than I was expecting. It also has practically no head. Just a few bubbles here and there. Nothing like Warka.

Warka Strong poured into a glass

The smell is different too. But equally indistinctive. Just a bland blend of malted barley and some other unidentifiable things. And it smells as natural as energy drink.

After a few gulps, the taste is… nearly as bad as I feared. It’s dominated by an awful, synthetic bitter taste. Similar to the “Mocne” beers of a few days ago. But it’s not quite as undrinkable as they were. Strong tones it down almost enough to be bearable.

Even though I’d rather taste the flavours of the river Thames, you can’t accuse Strong of lacking flavour. The Strong name is true in every sense with this beer. And if you serve it cold enough, and I mean ice-cold, the horrendous taste is hidden enough for you to call this beer clean, crisp and refreshing.

The downsides, start with the taste and flavour. You can’t escape the fact that Strong tastes like a blend of chemicals. And what’s more, that taste lingers at the back of your tongue. On top of that, it’s gassy.

Strong is not an easily drinkable, sophisticated beer. It’s the disappointing black sheep of the Warka and Żywiec family. But, it is marginally better than those other Polish strong beers. If you live in the Britain, there are better, stronger and cheaper lagers with which to get sozzled. If you live in Poland, try Strong before deciding which strong beer is your favourite.

Rating: 1.9

UPDATE: Better than the other Polish strong/mocne beers? What was I thinking? A few hours after posting, and sanity has (partly) returned. This chemistry set inspired flavour is much worse than either “Mocne”. Hence…
New Rating: 0.5

Have you tried Warka Strong? Can you help translate or explain anything?
What did you think of Strong? Is there anyone out there who actually likes this stuff?
Corrections, comments, thoughts, opinions, ideas, suggestions and information in the usual place please.

Beer Review: Maximus Strong Premium Ale

19 April, 2008

I like strong ales. They keep their aims simple. And they usually deliver. But there’s always something to distinguish one over another. It could be drinkability or flavour or any other characteristic. So, how will Maximus fare against the competition?

Maximus Strong Premium Ale bottle

The neck label starts off promising enough.

Maximus Strong Premium Ale neck label

“National Award Winner” keeps the message simple. And is usually a good sign. Hopefully, we’ll learn what award it actually won, elsewhere on the bottle.

The front label doesn’t give much away, either.
Maximus Strong Premium Ale front label

In front of what looks like a shield, is a sword. On front of that is the stylised name of Maximus and the words “Strong Premium Ale”. Maximus sounds Latin to me, but do the illustrations of the shield and sword match the era?

Something else on there too is the volume. Which for this 500 millilitre bottle from Tesco, is 6.5%. Not that high for a strong ale, but strong enough for it to qualify as one.

Another thing that’s noticeable about this bottle is that you can see the drink inside. And more clearly than you can with most others. Without a vast wrap around label stuck on, or a dark shade of glass bottle, you can see the liquid within. Which in this case, is a very dark brown.

Over on the back label, we learn a little bit more. But not very much more. This is clearly a bottle of few words. It doesn’t say which national award it won. But it does describe it as being “strong”, “warming”, “smooth” and “easy to drink”. All the right things, but I’ll be the judge of that, thank you very much.

Maximus Strong Premium Ale back label

The label goes on the say that the Maximus name comes from the name of it’s sister beer, “Double Maxim”. And that it, not Maximus, has been brewed and sold since 1901. They also suggest serving slightly chilled at 12 degrees C. Whether that’s what my fridge is set to is anyone’s guess.

In the small print, we learn that the brewer is Double Maxim Beer Company Ltd. They kept that fact surprisingly hidden. Most bottled beers advertise their brewery quite prominently. But not this one. For the curious, their Wearfield, Sunderland address is on there. As is their web address at www.dmbc.co.uk. Which, doesn’t link to their website at all. Not again. This is another bottle that has printed on it, a web address that doesn’t work. Come on guy, your beer is being sold at Tesco now. These things need to be right. A Google search reveals their website to be hiding at www.dmbc.org.uk.

Enough prattle. Time to find out if Maximus deserves its national award. Whatever that award happened to be.

Shortly after pouring, I remember that Young’s Champion was passed its best before date. So I decide to double check this one. And cripes. This one passed its best before date on the 28th of January this year. Oh well. I’m still here after Young’s Champion, so I’ll give this a try as well. Plus I really really want a drink, so nothing is going to stop me.

In the glass, Maximus is very dark brown indeed. It’s nearly as opaque as a stout. It is also topped off by a reasonable head.
Maximus Strong Premium Ale in a glass

It has a stouty smell to it as well. You know the one. That rich malty smell. But in a strong ale, that’s nothing to be afraid of.

The first gulp down, and you can tell that this is another good, strong ale. It is very smooth and about as bubbly as Gordon Brown. The taste is rich, but not so strong as to scare off the timid drinker. And, predictably, it tastes of malt and barley. Not surprising, when the chief listed ingredient is “malted barley”.

What is mildly surprising me is that it has apparently no bitterness at all. Which I warmly welcome. The aftertaste is a slightly sour one of hops. But it’s not very hoppy.

Other pluses are that Maximus is easy to drink. And that it is full-bodied, with plenty of flavour.

The minuses are that it’s not in any way light and refreshing. Although, having never described itself as such, that may be unfair on it. It does however, leave you with a not too pleasant wheaty aftertaste that lingers on an on. The heaviness might put women and lager drinkers off. And there’s not exactly a complex bouquet of aromas or flavours. Which will put off the real-ale fans. It also doesn’t leave any room for character and originality which I qualities I respect and give high marks for. Again though, that’s not point of strong ale.

What Maximus is all about, is the basics of ale, but done well. And done strongly. It’s strong. Easy to drink. And there is a lot to like about it. But there are one or two drawbacks that keep it from troubling the most outstanding beers and ales. Despite these, I enjoyed this bottle. And it deserves whatever award it won. Give it a try if you like your ale strong.

Rating: 4.05

Have you tried Maximus Strong Premium Ale? Do you think I should try their Double Maxim?

Leave your thoughts, comments, suggestions, ramblings and insults in the comments box below.


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