Posts Tagged ‘white beer’

Beer Review: Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc White Beer

3 May, 2008

COULD this be my new favourite? You remember how much I adore Hoegaarden White Beer. And you remember how much I like fruit beers like Badger Golden Glory? Well this distinctive, white bottle, bought at a premium price from Tesco, promises to combine them both. So let’s see… will we have a new favourite here?

Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc White Beer bottle

The bottle top, not normally worth a mention is the only place on this bottle that you’ll find the coat of arms.

Kronenbourg Blanc bottle top

Instead of the usual neck label, front label and back label combination, this bottle surprises yet again. Instead, it has a main front label, but all the usual back label small print is on the little label around the neck of the bottle.

Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc White Beer front neck label

Here’s the front of the neck label. The Kronenbourg 1664 brand name is still here though, reminding us of its connection to it’s more mainstream sister. Above it, is what I think is French. And it reads “La Bière Blanche De” And then the Kronenbourg 1664 logo follows. Using my almost non-existent French language skills, I’d say that it means “The White Beer of…”. Is that right?

Turning the neck label clockwise takes us to the UK units of alcohol warnings.

Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc White Beer details side of neck label

This bottle has 2.5 UK units of alcohol. And the label gives a summary of the daily maximums for men and women. Four and three respectively. All very dull.

Next to that though, we get a clue as to this beer’s origin. This one was “Brewed in the EU by Scottish & Newcastle” before giving their Edinburgh postal address. Even if that is under agreement from Brasseries Kronenbourg from Strasbourg, France, this news comes as a let down. If you feel strongly about that, then you might want to contact their consumer care line or email, both of which are directly under their postal addresses. Their email is given as kronenbourg@scottish-newcastle.co.uk, although I haven’t tested it. If you give it a try, leave a comment at the end of this post to let us know if they’re any good at replying to emails.

Turning the bottle further, brings us to the barcode side of the neck label. This is the side where all those important little details are hiding.

Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc White Beer barcode side of neck label

As you would imagine, being only the little label around the neck, there’s not an awful lot of detail. It describes itself as “White Beer”. And says that it “Contains Barley & Wheat”. Hardly surprising for a beer of any type. This is a 500 millilitre bottle. And I’ve never seen it in any smaller quantities. Have you? Does it exist in can form? Lastly, this has a volume of 5%. Strong-ish, but not remarkable.

Where you would expect it, there’s the main front label. And I think it fits in rather nicely with the rest of the bottle. The text is stylised, but easy to read. And the background matches the colour of the bottle, so it has a very classy appearance.

Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc White Beer front label

The word “Blanc” is the most prominent part of it. And for the few people who don’t know that “Blanc” means white, directly under that is the description “White Beer”. But it’s the text below that in a sort of gold colour that tells us most about this beer. It describes itself as a “Refreshing”, “Fruity”, “Imported White Beer”. I’m salivating already. Are you?

With nothing else to read on the outside, it’s time to open this bottle up and see if it’s as good as I’m hoping it will be.

Poured into a glass, you’ll do well to keep the pouring slow and smooth. But even I managed to keep the head under control, so you won’t have a problem. And what a creamy head you’ll get atop your beer. And it dies down to a drinkable level within a minute or two.

Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc White Beer poured into a glass

This is also a very cloudy, nearly opaque beer. I’d guess that this is because it’s live rather than filtered, like other white beers out there. Even though it doesn’t say so anywhere on the bottle.

The smell is as gorgeous as I had hoped. The fruitiness of the aroma is the first thing you notice. And not of one particular fruit. More like what you’d smell if you were standing over a big bowl of fruit salad. Not unlike the many other fruit beers out there. Sniff a little harder, and you’ll notice the rich, yeasty maltiness. A similar yeasty maltiness to Hoegaarden White Beer and Leffe Blonde and Leffe Brown. Am I the only one who loves the way that these all smell?

After all of that, I was expecting an explosion of flavours. But did in fact find my first few gulps to be treated to some very subtle flavours. None of which really dominate or jump out at you. And that surprised me.

After some pondering and tasting a few times, I’m starting to make sense of it. The main flavours are yeasty and malty. And that’s not surprising, considering that this is a white beer. What is surprising is how much they are in hiding. The other flavours that you’ll notice are of fruits. No one fruit group stands out, but there’s definitely something citrusy in the there. Again though, it doesn’t jump out at you.

Kronenbourg Blanc is very very smooth. It has the full-bodied taste and consistency that I demand of beers and ales, so no complaints of watery-ness here. Not only is it surpremely drinkable, but the lack of bold flavours means it won’t offend anyone. And that makes it accessible. Accessible enough for it to appeal to female drinkers too, I suspect. Girls, what do you think of Blanc?

If I had to look for downsides, I’d say it’s a little bit gassy. Although my belching during this review might have been due to the kebab eaten just before posting. Also, while the lack of strong flavours might make it inoffensive, it’s not quite what I was hoping for with Kronenbourg Blanc. I was hoping for the strong flavour of Hoegaarden or Leffe, but they just weren’t there. It’s clearly not what Kronenbourg were aiming for, but I found it rather disappointing for this reason, none-the-less.

What Kronenbourg Blanc is all about, are tasty aromas and flavours, deliciously arranged in subtle, understated ways. Some of you will adore the way that nothing about it is too strong. Other, like me, will be wishing that at least of it’s many qualities were more prominent.

Rating this beer, isn’t easy.

Rating: 4.35

I’ll happily drink Kronenbourg Blanc again. And recommend it to people. But it misses out on the highest scores by failing to take a chance and stand out with its flavours. That said, it’s still a feast of smells and flavours.
Have you tried Kronenbourg Blanc? What did you think?
Got any corrections, suggestions or ideas of your own?
The leave a comment now. Go on. Do it. Now.

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Beer Review: Hoegaarden – The Original Belgian White Beer

11 March, 2008

Since I started this blog, I’ve been wanting to review this. I first tried it a month or two before I started reviewing beers here, and have been longing for the excuse of a review to try it again. This is, Hoegaarden white beer. Produced by the massive InBev, and available from every off-licence and supermarket in the UK for between £1.09 and £1.29.
Hoegaarden bottle

One of the first things you notice about this bottle are that everything on it is in three languages. Just like Leffe, another Belgian beer, this bottle repeats itself more times than an old episodes of Friends.

Forunately, it doesn’t cram in too much detail, so the third of the bottle taken up with English information is minimal. The label up by the neck gives a date of 1445. Although it doesn’t mention what that date refers to. A clue is also up there on the label hinting at what makes Hoegaarden different. That this is “Unfiltered, naturally cloudy”. And yes, if you look carefully enough at the bottle, you’ll see bits floating around in there. What the technical differences are, I don’t know. But I do know that orange juice with bits in is better than smooth orange juice. Maybe the same holds true of beer?
Hoegaarden Wit Bier neck label

Down on the main front label, all the important details are there. That this is a 330 millilitre bottle. What the heck is that in pints? And who the heck asks for 330 millilitre of drink? It is Belgian, so perhaps that explains it. Also on there is that this has a decent 4.9% alcohol volume. With a silver background, logo consisting of two arms holding staffs and very Germanic looking writing, Hoegaarden is terrific. If you want a north-west continental European beer, this looks the part.
Hoegaarden Wit Bier front label

On the back label, it takes a few moments to find the right language. With that done, the information is mostly concise and helpful. That this will be “delicious” and “refreshing”. And that it is “naturally cloudy” and brewed to a “unique recipe”. All very good. And the sort of thing you want your premium continental beer to be. They also, kindly for a continental beer, include the UK units of alcohol. I don’t know if they’re compelled to do that, so it’s good to see it on there. It’s 1.7 units by the way.
Hoegaarden Wit Bier back label

But then, on the right-hand side of the label, it all becomes a bit unusual. You see, in four little panels, it explains how Hoegaarden should be poured. That it takes four panels gives you an idea of how involved it is. First, one must rinse the glass into which Hoegaarden will be poured. Then, the first half of the bottle may be poured. Then the remainder of the bottle’s contents, swirled. Before the final half of the bottle is poured into the glass. I think it has something to do with the natural cloudiness and not wanting to leave the bits stuck at the bottom of the bottle.
Hoegaarden Wit Bier pouring instructions

For the purposes of this review, I carefully went through all those steps. The mistake I made however, was in using a half-pint glass. Those infuriating European measures left a big portion of the bottle’s contents, still in the bottle. What did make it into the glass however, did have a good head to it. And yes, it is cloudy. Cloudier and more opaque than any other beer I’ve yet tried, but not as opaque as some darker ales and stouts.
Hoegaarden Wit Bier in a glass

On the nose, how can I sum it up? Put it this way, I’d buy an air-freshener that smelled the same. It smells delicious. Rich and malty. With some other qualities I can’t quite place.

And that classiness mostly carries over to the taste. It is malty, but not to the same extent as Leffe Blond(e) Beer. Although, maybe because of it’s Belgian origins, it has some of the same qualities. Instead, it’s a little malty, but not at all heavy. It’s light and yes, refreshing too.

Also in the flavour are hints of the barley and wheat. And if you’re wandering, no, you can’t tell that there are bits in there while you’re drinking it. What makes a change is that there’s barely a hint of bitteness in the taste. I’d say it’s sweeter and creamier than almost every other beer I’ve yet tried.

Downsides? It can be somewhat gassy. Although some of that comes down to how it’s poured. And the quirky character might not be to everyone’s tastes. The bottle is also too small. If think you’ll might like this, buy the bigger bottle instead.

For me, Hoegaarden is another Belgian winner. It might be brewed by the faceless InBev, but Hoegaarden has a unique personality. It looks different to most others. It smells right. And it’s quite simply creamier, sweeter and more refreshing than almost everything else on the market.

Rating: 4.6

The biggest question for me now is, how does Hoegaarden compare to the other white beers out there? At least two other white beers are stocked by my local Tesco, so I’ll be sure to try those in coming weeks and let you know.

Have you tried Hoegaarden? What did you think?
Maybe you’ve got recommendations of your own?
Or your own ideas about what I could turn my critical eye towards. Go on. Suggest something in the Comments section below.


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