Cervecería Regional Zulia

Total Score:  3.8/10 Corn1Barley1CutGrass1Stein1

If you’re wondering: I got this bottle of Cervecería Regional Zulia for free, it looks ripe for a total slam review by moi, however as always I will try to find merits in this Venezuelan Lager wherever they reside. That said: Green bottles are never a great idea for any brew (though they’re a bit better than clear bottles in preventing lightstruck beer IIRC). Hmmm, I think, yes it is – this is the first Venezuelan beer I’ve ever reviewed, not exactly a brewing powerhouse those Venezuelans, not a hell of a lot of competition going up against Zulia as far as I can tell. Guess Rum is the Venezuelan drink de choix.

Poured from a 330ml green bottle into a stein.

A: Clear pale yellow, like the colour of reasonably healthy urine – they should put that on a slogan – body with a white sea foam 1 centimetre head that sticks around reasonably well. Looks OK, smells – even with the glass sitting 30 centimetres away from me – foul (but we’ll get to that soon). 6/10.

S: Vegetal matter, DMS (rotting cabbage) aromas upfront and about as offensive as they can get. Paring with this belligerent reek is an odd and misplaced cotton candy sweetness. Typical of Latin American beers the primary problem is the result of being lightstruck (although that can be a stylistic choice – look at Corona for example). Overall it’s not great here. 2/10.

T: As per most equatorial brews – the closer you are to that line the less you want your beer to taste like a beer and more like a glass of soda water. Zulia is a living/breathing example of that equatorial ethos, being that it tastes 95% like a glass of soda water. Sadly the other 5% is a mixture of the above with corn and grainy notes. At least it isn’t as offensive as I was expecting, almost drinkable, if a tad boring. 4/10.

M: Light bodied with a decently fizzy carbonation to back it up. 5/10.

D: It’s not as terrible as I was expecting… though that was probably the lowest bar I set for a beer so the fact that it was able to make it as barely passable at all should come as no surprise. It is what it is: A cheap, boring, slightly inoffensive, corny, vegetable water – which you may as well pass up for any other drink you can get your hands on if you’re traveling through Venezuela and one which you would outright avoid as a waste of time if you’re not traveling through Venezuela. Yes, I drain poured the remainder. 4/10.

Food match: One of those meat pocket things they do so well over there.

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Cerveza Tecate

Total Score: 5.05/10 Corn1 GreenApple1 Barley1 PokalStange1

Corona’s had it easy with stablemates such as Sol and that-other-cheap-one-I-see-everywhere-but-whose-name-escapes-me, at least you can put a wedge of lime in the bottle and add some flavour to non-existent nothing Lager it is. Now it’s time for Tecate – which I hear tell is also salvaged by the addition of lime… “It’s times like this I wonder why I even review beer” he said knowingly to glass of amber soda pop in front of him.

Poured from a 355ml can into the cheapest, plainest drinking glass I could find.

A: Clear straw yellow body with a wispy 1 cm white head which soon reduces to a light sea foam covering. Not a bad looking Adjunct Lager… not fantastic either, but then again we never expected it to be did we Steve? Damn straight. 6/10.

S: Cabbage and cider apples with a cereal grain backing… wow this really suffers without a lime even in the aroma – there is little redeeming Tecate at this stage. The cabbage note increases as the beer warms so plug your nose and drink it quick is what the Dr recommends. 4/10.

T: Cider apples, corn with a hint of HFCS (Americans know this one well: High Fructose Corn Syrup – which for unfamiliar Australian readers has a refined sugar syrup taste). Finish is ever slightly dry and granular. Aftertaste is quickly forgotten with a trace of metal. Look overall the flavour isn’t as shit as expected. 5/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a fizzy carbonation that goes flat surprisingly quick. 5/10.

D: I’ve certainly had worse Lagers than this, and I could imagine the chilled brew/hot day dichotomy working in the favour of Tecate… and ‘yes’ a lime would factor into the equation too. Will it ever replace Corona as my “It’s bloody hot on this beach – drinking beer is a good idea right now” Lager? No, but the scores are very close indeed – Corona just edges this brew out as my middle of summer Lager*. 6/10.

Food match: Nachos… or something else Mexican… and yes I am getting lazy with these suggestions, shuddup.

*Bear in mind [quick if it’s a brown bear: play dead] an Australian summer makes most summers feel tame by comparison (with highs of +38 Celsius/+100 Fahrenheit not uncommon) and a cold Adjunct Lager goes down a treat in this climate.

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Pabst Blue Ribbon

Total Score: 5.5/10 Corn1 Barley1 CutGrass1 Stein1

Pabst Blue Ribbon or “PBR” is one of the last big macros I am yet to wrap my gob around and also infamously known as a hipster beer – I am the actually the original hipster before being a hipster was pseudo-cool and then not cool again, i.e. the rise and fall of hipsterism. So it is only natural that I should be reviewing this brew with the various hipster powers at my disposal [hipster powers include: wearing an op-shop trilby and blazer from the 1940’s, knowing where all the best cafés with free Wi-Fi are, and hipster vision: the ability to spot the best value for money meal at any restaurant… essentially it means being cheap]. Let’s do this thing!

Poured from a 473ml (WTF kind of size is that???) can into a Stein.

A: Pale clear, dare I say: urine yellow, with a huge 2 inch foamy white head that doesn’t seem to want to recede. It’s very light coloured, lighter than most Lagers – and they’re one of the lightest of styles. 7/10.

S: Quite adjuncty with corn notes to the fore, hints of grain, cut grass, faint hops (in a Lager?! *spits*) and that classic metallic cheap Lager character which shines on through the aroma. It’s not the worst cheap Lager I’ve ever whiffed but likewise it ain’t winning any awards. 5/10.

T: Grainy up front on the palate, bit of dirty vegetal and cut grass hops, some sweet corn to balance it out… actually tastes more like an Aussie macro Lager than an American one (Carlton Draught springs to mind)… in that respect I’m not impressed and would easily take a cheap German Lager like Oettinger Pils over this. Finish is dry and the aftertaste has a slight cloying corn sweetness that reconfirms its status as a cheap Adjunct Lager pas cher. 5/10.

M: Mid to light body with that aforementioned slight cloying and a medium carbonation. 7/10.

D: PBR is one of the OK crap beers – a gold turd if you will. The cloy from the sweet corn is a tad overdone and it could be a bit crisper, otherwise this is one of those beers you’ll see in the cooler at a party [possibly a hipster party] and your mate bro says “help yourself to a beer” and it’s PBR, Miller Draft, Coors or any light beer (this is a party in the US BTW)… in this situation go with PBR. What if you want a decent Lager to drink at home? Kozel Premium, Löwenbräu and Stella Artois have you covered. 6/10.

Food match: Hot dogs and hamburgers – US style!

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Pistonhead Kustom Lager

Total Score: 6.1/10 Barley1 CutGrass1 Corn1 PokalStange1

Because, you know, I like my kustom Lagers bespoke I decided to give the old Pistonhead Kustom Lager a go. Ok, first question – what exactly is a “Kustom Lager” and why is it spelled with a “K”? [that’s two questions… I know] A Foogle search (because we’re doing the whole replacing the first letter of words with another letter now) revealed nothing useful so I went to Bikipeda, the top option was a link to the Shandy page, which I guess in a sense is a “custom Lager”. Anyway Pistonhead hails from Spendrups Bryggeri in Sweden. They produce many Lagers. Lager being a popular style in Sweden it seems. Along with cider. And Vikings.

Poured from a 330ml can into a Pokal.

A: A nice hard pour produces a Lager with some fine characteristics; hazy golden body with a white 2cm cappuccino froth head that reduces to a half centimetre. Good head proteins as well, noice! 8/10.

S: Fresh spring water, cut grass, light malt grains and tinned sweet corn. I say “tinned” to denote a metallic tinge. Not bad. Not fantastic. Not shit. Not above mediocrity but below average. A hint above average is my final answer. 6/10.

T: Malty and a bit bland. If this is a Kustom Lager then I’ll be happy with my next Lager being non-customised thank you. The overall flavour profile is heavily muted with the above noted hints throughout (spring water, cut grass, malt grains and sweet corn) followed by the lightest citric bitter finish you ever tasted. Nothing wows me about the flavour of this Lager. 6/10.

M: Mid to light body, a tad aggressively over-carbonated, but that could be due to how cold the beer is (getting on winter here and everything is a little chilly thank you Captain Canberra Winters). 6/10.

D: Mmmmmmmmmmmehhhhhhhh. I could see this beer going down easy on a hot Australian summers day, but I could see a great deal of beers going down easy on a hot Australian summers day. We have hot summers in Australia. Cold Lagers go down left right and centre here mid-January. It doesn’t take much to impress me beerwise on a hot summers day. Spendrups Bryggeri had the chance to impress me with their Kustom Lager but it doesn’t particularly FEEL customised in any sense of the word, another ordinary Lager then. 6/10.

Food match: I normally say something silly for beers lacking flavour like “water crackers” or “rice cakes” but really it doesn’t make any difference what you have with this brew – you will be disappointed regardless.

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Tsingtao Lager

Total Score: 5.65/10 Corn1 CutGrass1 Barley1 PokalStange1

Another Lager in my quest for supreme Lager happiness… and by chance it is a Chinese Lager, I believe Confucius said something about that. In any case I wanted to go Asian for a change, and considering Australia is next door to Asia I reckon it’s about time I visited one of their brews.

Poured from a 640ml “tallie” into a 500ml Stein (using some unbelievable quantum physics!).

A: First thing that struck me was how Pale and clear the body is, almost (dare I say it) a urine colour. The plain white head started out fizzy but dropped back to pretty much nothing which would suggest to me that the Chinese don’t like good head (no pun intended). 5/10.

S: Sharp, citric and grassy with a hint of rubber… yes rubber (I kid you not!). It does smell quite fresh but the aroma of rubber is slightly concerning. 4/10.

T: Sweet! With an ever-present corn flavour that is not bad in this instance (it reminds me of eating juicy sweet corn straight from the can as a kid… yeah I was a weird kid). Apart from the sweet corn taste there is very little to it. The crispy/clean Lager flavour is a standard here. 6/10.

M: The usual Lager carbonation is present, maybe not quite as big as other Lagers though. Overall texture is mildly creamy. 5/10.

D: Easy to drink. The sweet corn adds a dimension to this beer that I’m not used to. It’s not a bad thing but it did throw me off a little during my first taste. As far as Lagers go it’s actually not bad. I can see why it’s managed to appeal to the 3 odd billion people in China. The only major point against it for me is the weakness of flavour, yeah it’s a Lager but it could still have a stronger balance of flavour without being ruined. 7/10.

Food match: I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say “Chinese food”. Of course that probably means nothing to someone who is actually Chinese – “Chinese food” as seen by Western eyes is a mixed bag of what is a large and diverse cuisine no doubt, but you get what I mean.

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Oranjeboom Premium Lager

Total Score: 5.15/10 Barley1 CutGrass1 Honeycomb1 PokalStange1

What is the deal with cheap beers having the word “premium” in their name? It’s like making a mediocre beer that you’re actually proud of. Why do brewers do this? Obviously it would be difficult selling a beer called “Jim’s Cheap-ass Lager”, but at least they might think about dropping the “premium” from the name and saving it for their best beer… unless of course it is their best beer (in that case, my apologies).

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a tulip pint.

A: Fluffy white head… dissipates to a spider web lacing. The body is a light amber hue… very Lager-ish characteristics here. 6/10.

S: Cut grass, light honey and a hint of mint (interesting). The aroma suggests a clean, sharp Lager. 7/10.

T: First thing I noticed was how dull this Lager is… there is nothing exciting here, “yes” it’s crisp, “yes” it’s clean, “yes” it has a slight dry aftertaste (all typical of Lagers), but that’s it: there’s no draw card with this beer. Why drink this when you could quite easily settle for one of the other billion boring Lagers out there? Of course this is semantics. In relation to the actual flavour: its malt grains and light bitterness with that unmistakable hint of honey found in the aroma. 5/10.

M: The beer I was tasting seemed a bit flat, not sure if this is intentional or just the bottle I was drinking. Also watery, like any other Lager. 4/10.

D: Easy to drink, but not necessarily a good thing in this case. This beer is so boring I nearly fell asleep while drinking it. A big slice of average pie here. These are not the droids you’re looking for… it’s not even the beer you’re looking for. 4/10.

Food match: Boring food… steamed vegetables and plain white rice. The hint of honey I found might make it go well with dessert, but who drinks beer with desserts? [turns out I do when I’ve got an over-sweet Belgian brew or a heady Barleywine]

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Bucanero Fuerte

Total Score: 4.65/10 Corn1 Lemon1 Bread1 PokalStange1

Big WOW for Doc’s first Cuban beer: Bucanero Fuerte. I have a sense that it will taste absolutely rank however I am hoping for a Mojito-like experience… “hoping” being the key word. Let’s look at some of the shit beer warning signs that can appear on a label: Sugar is an ingredient (unless your beer was brewed in Belgium this is a bad sign), there is a pirate on the label (again if your beer is called “Piraat” and brewed in Belgium you are safe), there are medals on the label you’ve never heard of and probably don’t exist… pray for me reader.

Poured from an odd 350ml into a pokal.

A: Clear golden body with a half centimetre white head, this was hard-poured too, just fizzled away to a thin blanket thank-you-very-much Bucanero (which sounds like a new SUV model btw). 6/10.

S: So much like Corona it isn’t funny, no really – it’s not funny. Corn husk followed by stewed cabbage and white bread. With an added hint of Cuban dark rum. Obviously this a brew that would benefit from a lime wedge being stuffed in the bottle, not a good aroma at all. 3/10.

T: The flavour really peels everything back and it isn’t quite as bad as expected. Yes it is another corn derivative Adjunct Lager but it’s light on the skunk and I imagine if it was colder, like around -4 Celsius, it would be a refreshing summer beer. The citric and bread notes give it a Euro Pale Lager dimension too. 5/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a light carbonation. 5/10.

D: Look it’s not dreadful (which is big praise for almost any Central American brew), but by another token I won’t be asking Santa to fill my stocking with this, and will be disappointed if Santa decides to do so (bad Santa!). It’s around the below average mark, and it is definitely one of those “sitting-on-the-beach-with-an-ice-cold-one-of-these” beers. No more, no less. 5/10.

Food match: Cuban food is what I imagine this would go with. I’ve never had Cuban food. I don’t know what Cuban food is. I imagine Cuban food to involve cigars and Mojitos somehow.

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