A glimpse into Swiss Lager beers

Eureka, take this blog post serious if you ever encounter Swiss Lager beers. Like most of the countries on Earth, Switzerland is no exception (for once…): the most sold beers are yellow, fizzy and clear. Not much to say about the taste. Generic lager.  IMG_1415Because we are interested in beer, we simply wanted to find out if there is a Swiss Lager beer with a unique taste and how different they are compared to each others. We therefore selected some beers, sneaked in some foreign Lager beers as well and did a blind tasting. I would like to mention, the ranking below does not represent a true ranking rather than a personal ranking. In addition, we selected only some Lager beers. We simply can’t evaluate all of them side-by-side.

Canwall_resizedWe selected the following beers: Feldschlösschen Original (Feldschlösschen being the biggest brewery in Switzerland and part of Carsberg) and maybe one of the most sold beers in Switzerland, Feldschlösschen Premium, Rugenbräu Lager Hell (independent brewery), Cardinal Draft (brewery owned and closed by Feldschlösschen), Eichhof Lager (brewery owned by Heineken), Kronenbourg (French brewery owned by Carlsberg), Heineken, Falken Lagerbier hell (independent brewery), Quöllfrisch Hell (independent brewery) and finally a beer brewed for a liquor store chain in Switzerland called “Drinks of the world”. The beer landscape in Switzerland is very typical: Some big ones and a lot of small, independent ones. The big ones in Switzerland are Carlsberg and Heineken.
All the beers were evaluated without the knowledge of the beer brand.

The tasting was even harder than expected. Most of the beers taste very similar. Although some really have distinctive characters (either good or bad ones). Funny enough, we had the impression that Heineken should be the best of all (possibly due to their commercials…) and Falken Lagerbier Hell the worst. Maybe because we had a can of this beer before and it tasted really metallic. Below is the list how the beer really ended up in our ranking.

Rank

Brand/brewery

Comments

1

Falken Lagerbier Hell Rather nice smell (compared to others)

2

Eichhof Lager Even some very, very faint hop aroma

3

Feldschlösschen Original Boring but solid

3

Cardinal Draft Peanuts and apple aroma, no real head

4

Rugenbräu Lager Hell Harsh bitterness in aftertaste

5

Quöllfrisch Hell (Locher) Weird metallic taste

6

Kronenbourg Darker color (deep yellow), huge peanuts smell

7

Drinks of the World house beer Alcoholic smell, metallic

8

Feldschlösschen Premium Peanut and urine smell

9

Heineken Very pale yellow color, no head, alcoholic burning smell, weird bitterness and alcoholic and green apple, metallic finish (just awful to drink)

First of all, I don’t want to bash any breweries here. Just give my opinion about the products they sell. Lets begin with the least enjoyable one: Heineken. This beer was close to undrinkable. Simply because of its smell. The aroma on the palate was not really nice as well. The next beers, place 8 to 4 taste, smell and look really similar. With the exception of Kronenbourg which is a bit darker in color. On the third place are two beers. Simply because we could not decide which of the two is better. On second place is Eichhof’s Lager beer. Solid beer. And the first place goes to Falken’s Lagerbier Hell. This beer smelled different from all the other ones (could not even detect any off-flavors). Funny enough, the best and worse beer are exactly the opposite what we expected. That’s the power of a blind tasting.

Just don’t get me wrong. Falken’s Lager Hell is not the best nor the worst beer I ever had. It is just the best in this blind tasting event. There is something else that I would like to point out here. I can’t stand breweries who label their beers with the “Premium” tag. Traditionally, breweries put a lot of money into commercials to sell their beers with the “Premium” label. Making these beers more expensive. And what I take from the ranking above, the only two cans with the “Premium” label finished last. The “Premium” therefore can’t stand for the taste experience. Rather for the premium price you pay for less taste.

Verdict from this tasting, there are indeed some Lager beers with (minor) flavor/aroma differences. Unfortunately, most of the differences are due to off-flavors either present or absent. Putting the test in an international view, the Swiss beers are at least as good as some foreign beer brands. Cheers!

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