18 May 2009

Fit for a prince

Yeah, just pretend you didn't already read Thom's bit on Fürstenberg last week, eh? That way, this'll all be new to you...

The first time I ever heard the word "reinheitsgebot" I would have been about eight or nine. It was in a TV ad for Fürstenberg lager, a beer which Guinness (as they were then) had recently acquired the licence to brew and were promoting heavily. By the time I was old enough to drink, it was still clinging on at the budget end of the Diageo range, next to Harp and Satzenbrau, while Bud and Carlsberg claimed the premium spots (yes, I know). Then, at some point in the late 1990s, it vanished leaving only thousands of give-away steins as evidence it had ever been here. Warsteiner now occupies then took over (see comments) the same odd place in Diageo's five-lager Irish portfolio.

In the meantime, Fürstenberg was acquired by Heineken, and has now re-appeared on the Irish market in bottled form. Perhaps the new distributors are hoping for the nostalgia factor, and that punters will dust off those long-empty steins. Tesco are stocking it at the knock-down price of €2.19, and I decided to give it a go.

There's actually quite a decent aroma from it, a proper hoppiness which is very attractive. The body was the next thing I noticed: there's enough here to lend it that almost-creamy texture that marks out quality German pilsner. But that's where the plaudits end. The actual flavour itself is rather uninteresting. Still, I was drinking this with a vindaloo, where the full body was of much greater benefit, taking on the chilli heat and dampening it. Fürstenberg, then, is a decent but ultimately boring quaffing lager. If that's your bag I'm sure there are better uses for €2.19.

While I was at it, I also picked up a bottle of Hofbräu Original, from another blue-blooded German brewery. The pour is a lovely limpid gold and the gentle carbonation gives it the smoothness characteristic of a Munich helles. Again, we have quite a big body, but here the sugary origins of it are very apparent. It's way too sweet and slides into cloying towards the end of the glass.

I'm a little surprised to find myself preferring the sharper, drier Black Forest lager to the full and malty Munich variety, but there you have it. Not that either of them was any great shakes, but I'm using the tall German bottles for the IPA I just made (à la Russian River), so it's still a win for me.

16 comments:

  1. Fürstenberg brings back memories but I do not think I ever tried it in my youth.

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  2. Bring back retro beers!

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  3. The only memory I have of drinking the Irish version was on the £2 buy-a-litre-keep-the-stein promotion in the Temple Bar in 1996.

    Now there's a fun game: count the reasons you'd never have something like that these days...

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  4. Whaddaya mean, "bring back", n1mbus? I assumed you were the one buying all the Satzenbrau. Actually, I really should get some of that for review purposes...

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  5. What's next blue nun? Given the state of the weather the return of the full 80's vibe with moving statues is imminent.

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  6. If you peel off the label on a bottle of Bulmers Pear, it says "Ritz" underneath o_O

    I'm petitioning for Tennents to bring back modestly dressed ladies with big hair on their cans.

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  7. Are you sure Guinness used to brew this under licence? The version sold in Scotland was always direct from Donaueschingen (and I spent many hours figuring out how to pronounce that).

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  8. It used to come to the pub I worked in on the Guinness truck in Guinness kegs.

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  9. Diageo have actually dropped Warsteiner or maybe should I say Warsteiner have dropped Diageo,A classic example of marketing mistake where Warsteiner fell for Diageo promises of sales ,over Noreast who were doing a great job plugging Warsteiner as a premium product cause it was their bread and butter to do so.
    Warsteiner is now with the Gleeson Group ,methinks

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  10. Does anybody remember the Furstenberg billboard advertising campaign with the parchment burning away every week slowly revealing the poster.It was a classic, I remember everyone thinking the world was going to end.The Guinness ad agency were certainly on a roll in the 80's.

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  11. Did not know that about Warsteiner. How will they survive making just four lagers..?

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  12. Laurent Mousson1:04 pm

    BTW, Hofbräuhaus / HB is state-owned, just like Weihenstephan, Rothaus, Primator and Budvar, so not really "blue blood". More like "catering for the needs of the people for basic foodstuffs"... ;o)

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  13. I meant more in historical terms. Fürstenberg's owner is a prince only of crappy lager.

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  14. Laurent Mousson10:28 am

    Indeed, historically, you're right : in medieval times, it was the local lord's job to make cater for the basic needs of his people, as he owed them protection for their allegiance to his power... in a way, a state brewery's not much different ;oD

    BTW regarding Fürstenberg, at one point the did use in Germany a slogan on the lines of "certainly one of the best beers in the world" which is a clear dig at Carlsberg.

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  15. cater for the basic needs of his people, as he owed them protection for their allegiance to his powerFoodalism.
    I crack myself up.

    I'll bet lots of breweries have used slogans along those lines and thought they were being really clever too.

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  16. Laurent Mousson1:49 pm

    Hmmm, Foodalism...
    Sums it up very nicely indeed ! :o)

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