Heinken

Tasting: December 6, 2011
Style: Lager

Heineken in cooler

For a few years now, my family has been celebrating major holidays like Thanksgiving at a rental hall. Everyone volunteers a dish or other item for the event — as you’d guess — I volunteer to bring the beer and wine. Knowing that most people aren’t that adventurous, I pick a safe beer for the crowd and a couple of beers that I would enjoy. For Thanksgiving this year my safe pick was Heineken and I also packed a few Sierra Nevada Celebrations and a couple of Theakston XBs. My English father-in-law and I enjoyed the XB’s — and I ended up bringing home all twelve Heinekens that I brought in my cooler. As you can see, someone defiled my cooler by adding a few Coors Light. I think they did it just to get under my skin. Well, if I have twelve Heinekens and a couple of Coors Light — I probably should jot a few notes on each, right?

I’ve probably had a thousand Heineken’s in my life. About twenty five years ago, in the barren beer landscape, it was definitely a “status” upgrade over the ordinary offerings of the day. We drank it even though the common complaint about Heineken was that it got “skunked”. That skunked flavor isn’t caused by exposing beer to heat — but rather it is comes from exposure to light. Brown glass minimizes the effect – yet European breweries continue to use green glass bottles. The light reacts with the hops in the beer and causes a reaction that produces a chemical that is actually related to the chemical produced by skunks. It also doesn’t take much of this chemical in beer for some people to taste the skunk — like one-billionth of a gram in a single bottle. Well skunks use it as a way to drive enemies away — so, what’s a breweries motive? – to drive customers away?

From Holland, this lager checks in at 5.0% ABV. Not much of an aroma. Flavors right off the bat are a very subtle caramel you’d find in a german pilsner — but its ever so faint. It’s easily overrun by some bready malts and fruit from the yeast. Not much in the way of hops and it finishes with a clunky off-flavor. No major “skunky” flavor in this one – but its present in the background. Looks still – but each sip is a fizzy mouthful. A lot of beer enthusiasts will say, “I’d drink one after mowing the lawn on a hot day” and that probably applies here. I’d put it at 70 points.

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