Beer Review 0021: Heineken

Oh no! Not a mass produced beer, you’re saying. Well… I like the occasional Hardees angus burger even though I know they’re not good for me and aren’t real food, so it only fits that I too enjoy a mass-marketed beer every now and again.

Heineken is an European Pale Lager, first brewed in 1873. The yeast used to brew the beer, Heineken A-yeast, was developed by Dr. H. Elion, a pupil of Louis Pasteur. While Pasteur went on to prevent diseases, Elion made a key ingredient that is still used today in Heineken. Are these causes equivalent? Outside this website, people may shake their heads and sneer, but I’m going to go with a YES.

Heineken is mass-produced; it is brewed in about 40 breweries worldwide. Most of the beer is made in the Netherlands, as proudly and boldly stated upon the bottle. The beer takes twice as long as regular macro-beer to produce, a process the company calls “lagering,” which they claim give Heineken its distinctive flavor and clarity. The liquid is also force carbonated.

A good pour on Heineken makes an average sized head that quickly diminishes, so watch carefully. The head was very thin and led into a perfectly pale straw yellow drink, just as it is supposed to be. There was no lacing to speak of and no particles or sediment in the beer itself. This just looks like clear, clean and crisp beer, no frills or excitement here.

The aromatics feature a grainy note up front followed by a twang I can only call the “Heineken twang.” I’m guessing it comes from hops, but I don’t know for sure. Also, I detected a matchstick head (sulfur) like scent, which I wouldn’t say detracted from the aromatics, but it didn’t help. Overall, the aroma was somewhat musty and disappointing, so my score of 7 points reflected that.

So the appearance and aromatics were kind of rough with Heineken, but on the palate, it’s really not all that bad. The beer is crisp and dry with those malty grains very prevalent, followed by that “Heineken twang” — the only way I can describe this flavor is to have you think of the Heineken bottle. The first thing that probably comes to mind is the fact that it’s green, and if I could pin a color on this flavor, it would be green. The finish is short and slightly bitter, but nothing too crazy.

Heineken isn’t bad for what it is, but there is one big drawback: the price. I think Heineken is too expensive for what it is, and that is a beer that you can knock back without thinking too much, a beer that refreshes you and is a good social lubricant. But at nearly sixteen US dollars for a twelve pack, there are just other beers out there that achieve much the same effect for a lot less coin. (See my review of Miller High Life.) And there are tons of beers out there that are much more complex, higher quality and tastier at that price point.

Heineken, 71 points. Price: $14.99 US for a twelve pack.

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