Monday, 27 July 2015

Do We Like That One?


I'm not a drinker of own brand beers really. I kind of think they are likely to be not very good with one or two exceptions.  These exceptions are usually where a very good brewery has been commissioned to produce a particular kind of beer as part of a range.  But what about those low end "cooking lagers" which aren't brands, but are set up to compete with "brands"?  The nice people at Aldi sent me some beers for me to find out for myself.  A pretty unusual task for this writer, but I thought it might be fun and that I might learn something.

Now I'm a fan of Aldi.  I like many of their things, though like all supermarkets, you have to pick and choose. I have bought beer from them in the past, more of which later, but not their canned offerings,  competing with the big boys on taste and bettering  them on price.  On a sunny Saturday afternoon, me and E decided to give them a whirl. I set them out in order of strength and one at a time, off we went.

First up was Galahad Lager. "Crisp and Refreshing" is the claim for this four percenter. The beer itself pours a nice clear gold with a lasting white head. E picked out the metallic nose straight away. High carbonation and a thin body followed with a touch of wheat spiciness and a slight lemony taste. The verdict? You could do worse actually and it does what it says on the tin. Crisp and refreshing? Yes indeed.

No range it seems these days would be complete without a French 25cl stubby bottle. Brasserie Premium is just such an animal and displays all the usual faults of the breed. All taste and character has been brewed and filtered out to leave a thin, brasso like fizzy liquid. Buy on price only.  At 4.5% Lowenstein gives every impression of being brewed in Germany, down to the rheinheitsgebot conformation, but it is brewed yet again in France. All barley this time and you can smell it on the toasty nose, but it is let down by thinness,  lack of a hop presence or any depth or body from the malt.

Last up is St Etienne which is set to compete with Stella. So brewed in Belgium then? Sorry, no. France again.  I read up on this one on the web and it seems it used to be brewed in Belgium, but now isn't. Commentators have noted the tail off in quality.  The beer manages to be both sharp and sweet simultaneously. It has a bit of a wet dog nose, no hop presence and sort of dies in your mouth.  Pretty horrid really and not as good as the Galahad.  E chucked hers into the hedge after a few sips.

Now I pointed out above that I used to buy beer from Aldi. That beer was Wernesgruener Pils, a real classy German Pils, alas no longer stocked in the UK.  I'd recommend that Aldi find a decent German import again in 33cl bottles, or re-stock Wernesgruener. Branded German beer is cheap as chips to buy and even with UK duty added, well worth the effort.  Those of us who aspire to something better would certainly appreciate it. Those that just want a cheap quaffer could do a lot worse than buying the Galahad.

Oh and maybe don't have all your own brand beer brewed down to a price in France. 

I do know that from time to time Aldi does have branded German lagers in stock, but these tend to be offers in half litres.  

24 comments:

Barm said...

The best beer offer I ever saw in a discounter was five or six years ago when Lidl had mixed six-packs of Van Steenberge beers (Gulden Draak, Augustijn, Piraat, etc) for £9.99. To get an idea how cheap that was, I worked out that, if minimum pricing had been in force, the packs would have had to cost at least £8.50 or something like that.

Jeffrey Bell said...

Can't see why you'd want 330ml bottles rather 500ml of a lager but certainly agree with you that we need more German commodity beer in the UK. It's cheap and decent. In Tuscany some really rather good German beers are available inexpensively - even on tap. I come across Riegele from Augsburg and Herrn-Brau from Ingolstadt. Both competitive with Italian on price and a bit better truth be told (so I still love my Moretti).

Lidl have of course gone balls out on a better beer selection recently. From Portobello we have our Star listed in bottles and there are some other good beers too. Nothing particularly hip, but then with beers like that you pay for the producer's pretensions which hardly fits the budget supermarket ethos.

Tandleman said...

I just like decent 33s. Wouldn't argue with 50cl though.

kevin webster said...

The 330 mil Steinhauser bottles are genuinely German & £3.99 for a sixpack. I'm sure I read somewhere that they're brewed by Dortmund Actien Brewery.Anyway they're decent enough - You should've got them instead of the Brasserie.

kevin webster said...

Forgot to say the steinhauser isn't a special buy, it's available all the time.

Right, that's enough plugging aldi.

Cooking Lager said...

More cheap lager posts, less pongy ale in grotty pubs posts, please.

Dvorak said...

Lowenstein used to be brewed in Germany (as were Lidl's Perlenbacher and Grafenwalder, now also French brewed, and also now not as good). I was never keen on the Lowenstein, but I did like Steinhauser: however last batch did not have the crispness it should. In Scotland we get Hendry's, which could only be more Tennentsalike if it were called Tennant's. Pity about the St Etienne, it used to be on a par with Stella. Now seems to be in bottles. Aldi and Lidl both generally have Bavaria in bottles, which is passable if hardly classic: as low as 81p sometimes.

What is pretty good is Aldi's Scottish craft selection, was usually about 13 to 15 choices, now around 20. Williams Bros, Brewdog, Black Wolf, Innis and Gunn. £1.50 or £1.25 for I&G. Also McEwans Champion, at 7.3% definitely (along with Henry Weston's) the go-to choice for the more discerning jakie.

PS Asda Pilsner, 4x500ml for £2.30, that's the one.

Curmudgeon said...

"we need more German commodity beer in the UK"

It's odd how, with the exception of Beck's, German lagers have never really gone mainstream in the UK. Possibly they have too much flavour for the average lager drinker. But I agree that retailers could import some of the good but less well-known German beers and sell them at a very attractive price.

RedNev said...

It takes all sorts, I suppose, but I've never come across a bottled or tinned beer, British or continental, that could hold a candle to a decent pint of draught real ale.

Professor Pie-Tin said...

As a break from beer I'd recommend Aldi's Toro Loco Tempranillo.
It's an absolute corker that goes well with a Sunday roast.

py said...

Not entirely sure what the market for German lager is. Commodity lager drinkers simply want something they recognise, anyone with any interest in beer will simply skip the lager and pick one of the other more flavourful styles of beer now available.

Put it like this: I know plenty of people whose favourite drink is Carling, I know plenty who like something in the style of TT Landlord, and another group who would choose something like a Sierra Nevada. I don't know ANYONE whose first choice would be a premium lager. Any reason people had for purchasing Kronenbourg in the past, whether it was strength, flavour, prestige, serving temperature, has disappeared. That market sector has simply been replaced wholesale by craft beer.

Rob said...

At my local there are a number of people who drink Kronenbourg exclusively. I think you underestimate how much people are wedded to their brands.

Tandleman said...

"Any reason people had for purchasing Kronenbourg in the past, whether it was strength, flavour, prestige, serving temperature, has disappeared. That market sector has simply been replaced wholesale by craft beer."

That, even for you, is complete bollocks.

py said...

Amazing how many times you say that, amazing how often it turns out I was right all along.


Curmudgeon said...

Well, your average Spoons still seems to shift gallons of Stella, Kronenbourg, San Miguel and Heineken, so I'd say rumours of the demise of premium lager are much exaggerated.

And personally I'd much prefer a pint of, say, draught Pilsner Urquell to some murky hop soup.

Jeffrey Bell said...

I'll almost always choose a very good lager over cask ale.

py said...

Funny how every single industry forecast agrees with me, though. Premium lager, as a category, is dead and sinking fast.

kevin webster said...

In the pub I like cask bitter, at home I prefer a decentish lager - What I never want to drink is some ridiculously strong over-hopped nonsense that tastes like pine needles or grapefruit instead of tasting like beer.

Anonymous said...

where i am in sheffield the aldi's generally sell berliner kindl pils at 99p which is not a bad lager i think, until recently aswell the asda's had feldschlosschen pils (from dresden i think) bottles for 99p

Tandleman said...

I agree that the premium lager market is in decline but not so sure about this bit "That market sector has simply been replaced wholesale by craft beer"

If you take individual beers within that sector, there are large differences. Look at Peroni for example. Agree that Carlsberg Export, Kronenbourg and one or two others - even Stella - are sinking, but are they being replaced by craft? Not so sure.

Ron Pattinson said...

Never cared much for Wernesgrüner myself. Not a patch on Turmquell Pilsator.

Watches said...

Having a couple of St Ettiene's from the bottle right now. Taste alright to me.

Carl Stephenson said...

There is a nice craft lager called greene monkey brewed by joules of market drayton and they have just released bottle version

Carl Stephenson said...

There is a nice craft lager called greene monkey brewed by joules of market drayton and they have just released bottle version