On his recent visit, Velky Al donated some bottles of Primátor Excluziv to a corner of the Irish beer blogosphere (me, Thom and Adeptus). It looks like a junior drinker's dream: a lager proclaiming itself, in massive Lolcat lettering, to be 16%. In ABV terms, however, it's a mere 7.5%, though that's still not to be sneezed at. It pours a lovely shade of amber and gives off heady boozy aromas. The overriding flavour is sweet -- quite bubblegummish -- malt. It puts my experience of central-to-eastern European beers to the test as I'm not sure where to place this. There's a lot of märzen character in its breadiness but there's a fair whack of Polish mocne to be found in the nearly-but-not-quite Special Brew sugariness. All I knew was that it would have to be consumed quickly, while still cold, for fear of cloying. This I duly did, appreciating its filling warmth for some time afterwards. If you're going to be drinking pale lager in the midst of winter, this is the sort of thing to go for.
With the Primátor polished off, I returned to the fridge where I found a bottle of Gösser, an Austrian lager that's been a mainstay of Irish offies for as long as I can remember. It's really very poor -- thin, vaguely dry, barely beery, in fact. At a time when yellow fizz can be bought for half nothing you have to wonder what this is still doing on the market. For sale to idiots like me, I suppose.
And speaking of cheap yellow fizz, the first beer I ever wrote about on this blog was Euroshopper lager. Back in 2005, and for some years previous, it was my dependable house beer -- the one I'd have in for times when I just wanted a lager without having to think about it. The brewer and recipe have changed since then and I've got out of the habit of drinking this style of beer: my old reliables are far more likely to be O'Hara's Stout, Hobgoblin or Schenider Weisse these days, so I've not been in any rush to try the new version. However, there are occasions, especially this time of year, when drinkers of pale lager are going to show up to the house and require refreshment. My cheap beer of choice for this purpose these days is a Belgian: Hackenberg Export.
This is brewed by Martens in Limburg and, surprisingly, bears the logo of Dundalk-based importer Noreast, the people who bring us our Erdinger, Budvar and Shepherd Neame beers. The pils is a pleasing shade of darkish gold and very full bodied, given its place on the market, with a pleasant sweetness adding to its drinkability.
At €1.50 or so a can it's a little pricier than some of the other sub-premiums, but it's far ahead of them in quality terms. And better than any of the high-cost, as-seen-on-TV, lager brands as well. If I still have stock left over on the far side of New Year I doubt you'll hear me complain.