Posts Tagged ‘super’

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: Tennent’s Super Strong Lager

24 March, 2008

AFTER some disappointments, we reach the pinnacle of strong lagers. When, in the first in this series, I talked about the anti-social, ASBO teenager’s and homeless alcoholic’s drink of choice, this is what I had in mind: Tennent’s Super Strong Lager.
Tennent's Super can

Just look at it. It shouts “cheap” “strong” lager. The blue background colour is attractive enough. And the circular Tennent’s logo isn’t bad, if simplistic.
Tennent's Super roundel

But just look below. Near the terse “Brewed in the United Kingdom”. And the to-the-point “9.0% Alc. Vol.” is a statement that says everything you need to know about this type of drink. “Please Drink Responsibly”. Only this can has it written in the biggest, capital lettering of any drink I’ve ever seen. Tennent’s seem to have, unlike their competitors, woken up to the all the bad publicity surrounding super-mega-high-strength but cheap lagers. Personally, I think the entire can could be covered in warning messages, but that it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference.
Tennent's Super warning

What do you think? Does this can get the prominence of the “responsibility” message right? Comments at the end of this post please.

Oh, and it also says “Serve Ice Cold”. So you might want to put this in the freezer compartment for a few minutes first. Just don’t forget about it and end up leaving it in there overnight. Like I did once.

Tennent’s keep all the information neatly contained on a small ‘side’ of the can. It truly is a narrow strip of small print. And it reveals some sad information. Tennent’s is not, as I had hoped, the product of generations of Scottish brewing. It is, instead a brand owned by Inbev UK and brewed in Luton. Oh dear.
Tennent's Super barcode side of can

Also on there are a tiny sub-set of the ingredients. Malted barley. That’s all we’re told that’s in there. It’s also a 500 millilitre can with the usual 4.5 UK units of alcohol. So you know you’re getting hammered with minimal effort or outlay. Important if you’re propped up next to a wall hassling passers by the change.

How good is it to drink? How bad will it be? Is it easy to drink or as rough as I’m half expecting it to be. Let’s find out.

The first thing that strikes me is the head. There’s much less of it the compared to it’s competitors. Other than that, everything looks normal. It’s gold in colour and there are bubbles briskly rising to the surface.
Tennent's Super poured into a glass

The smell is nothing to write home about either. It smells almost exactly like every other strong lager I’ve tried. And very similar to every weak lager too. In case you’ve never before had a lager, it smells faintly of barley.

It maybe because I left this can in the freezer for a few minutes before doing this test, but the first thing you notice is how refreshing it is. But, moments later, the aftertaste hits you. Just like all the other strong lagers, it’s ruined by a strong bitter and sour aftertaste. And one that stays around at the back of your tongue for a surprisingly long time.

A few gulps in, and this is looking as average as every other strong lager I’ve tested so far. A taste that’s fine, followed by a ghastly aftertaste. It is however, cheap and potent. So whether you’re a teenager or a homeless alcoholic, you’ll probably not have a problem with the pitfalls of Tennent’s Super.

Carlsberg Special Brew comes out on top of the lagers compared to Skol Super, Kestrel Super and Tennent’s Super. Most of which are as drinkable as the unusual Gold Label.

Rating: 2.5 plus 3 ASBO points and 1.5 homeless alcoholic marks.

High-strength cider such as K was the surprise of the test, being affordable, drinkable and potent. And Duvel, a high-volume Belgian beer ale was delicious and strong, but expensive.

Finally, at the climax of this series looking into super-high-strength drinks, what have we proven? Pretty much exactly what I expected. Most were horrible. Some were better than expected or good, but at a price. Those that were cheap and nasty are arguably less irresponsible than those that were cheap and easily drinkable. The reasoning being, that you’d need to be fairly determined, if you were willing to put up with the taste of the stuff to begin with. The expensive drinks are out of trouble because, they’re expensive or not available everywhere. Which leaves me wandering, is part of the problem of alcohol in this country to do with price after all? I’d always presumed it wasn’t, and just a Government scheme to raise duty on drinks. But if prices were raised, teenagers and alcoholics would start walking around with bottles of Duvel instead of Tennent’s Super. And beggars in the street would become even more aggressive.

So what can we conclude? And what can be done about the problems that the press has decided is the fault of alcoholic drinks such as these? Firstly, the problem isn’t the drinks but the drinkers. That making strong drinks harder to get, or afford won’t actually help. And to solve the problem, all the drinks should be sold in bottles. But that only bloggers can own bottle openers.

Thoughts, opinions, insults, and comments below please. There’s a lot of people reading this blog so share your thoughts with them.

Update:

A huge thanks to all the readers who’ve made this ‘review’ one of the most popular on my blog. That’s why I’ve come back nearly two years later to update it, and the other super popular super strength lager reviews with some new photos.

While I had all of 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? Not as bad. The arctic cold makes all the difference. It still tastes strong, but it also has a totally unexpected bitter hoppiness. I did not expect to find that in there. Mind you, it still has a strong, dull, long lasting malted barley bitterness too. It doesn’t say if it was made with syrup or not, but I think it had a small amount. It’s also not that far removed from normal lager, with some lightness and drinkability left in it. The can is flimsier than the competition, too.

Against the other four 9%-ers, I rank it a surprising second. As long as your can is very very cold, it’s remarkably distinctive and drinkable. But only barely so.

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 Tennent’s Super’s equally popular competitors are at Carlsberg Special Brew, Carlsberg Skol Super and Kestrel Super.


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