02 March 2012

Familiar territory

Session logoHaven't we done this topic before? Matt from Hoosier Beer Geek is hosting March's Session and the topic is "What makes local beer better?" Quite an assumption, there, Matt. Plus, I'm reminded of the June 2007 Session when we were asked to go and get a beer from the nearest brewery to where we live.

I avoided my local brewery for that one, but second time round I think I'll give them a chance. So here it is, to help determine the truth or otherwise of Matt's topic title, a beer hitherto unreviewed by this blog and which, as far as I know is produced a little over 3 kilometres from my front door.

It's called Carlsberg and is one of several different beers brewed in Diageo's St. James's Gate facility. They do move production of many of their beers around between breweries in Dublin, Dundalk and Kilkenny, though that will be coming to an end in the next couple of years as all operations are consolidated in Dublin. If this particular can wasn't born over in Dublin 8 -- almost within visual range of my bedroom window -- millions exactly like it were.

The pour gives us a beer of purest gold topped by a head which is shaving-foam stiff at first, subsiding quite quickly into adolescent patches of white. An intense sugary aroma greets the nose and there's an element of white sugar on taking the first pull. There's not much else to the flavour, mind: I think I'm getting a tiny hop bite right at the very finish, but it's not much. The centre ground of the beer is dull and more than a little watery. It has me wondering what the legend "Exclusive aromatic hops" on the can is supposed to mean. What were the people at that meeting actually drinking?

Still, at least it's not super-fizzy and there are no off-flavours: bland consistency is how my local brewery measures its success.

Is their beer better, though? Well, they employ more people than any other brewery in town and their economies of scale mean that their beer is probably much more environmentally friendly compared to the vast majority of other, less local, breweries. Most things considered, this local beer probably is better, as Matt says. It's just a shame it's so lacking in taste.


  1. I cracked and had a Carlsberg in the pub a few weeks ago. It was a bit warm, everyone else was drinking it, and it *looked* like lager -- golden glow, fluffy white head... but it wasn't just bland, it was nasty. Still, got to do it once a year to remember to remind myself.

  2. Do you know the particular terroir of that Carlsberg? I think several UK breweries have licences to make it, as well as the Danish invaders themselves in Yorkshire.

  3. Tried to work it out but couldn't. All I know is that it's about as Danish as Joe Pasquale.

  4. Irish abv, fella?

    The English stuff is 3.8%. Export is 5%, more akin to the Danish stuff. I drank one in Hamburg as Carlsberg Deutschland own Holsten, Astra & hawk the Carlsberg brand through the supply chain. Twas more akin to the uk "export", there.

    As for being piss? Proper lout is piss, it is also nectar.

  5. If it's any comfort, Bailey, I've found it's no better in Copenhagen than it is here.

    Apologies, Cookie: that was very remiss. I've just scoured the Irish Carlsberg site and Diageo's own pages and I don't see the information. I'm reasonably sure it's 4.3% ABV: that's the minimum strength the Irish beer drinker will accept and most mass-market lagers are brewed to it.

  6. Wait, reading the old 2007... Surely Messrs does not still bottle?

  7. No, not since... ummm... about 2007, I think. It was literally those two batches and that was the end of it.