An artisanally crafted blog curated by Cooking Lager for discerning readers of beer bloggery

Monday, 21 February 2011

Holsten Pils


With a lack of great bargains on the big lout boxes my perusal of the smaller beer unit packages at half price went beyond trying the relatively new Bud 4%, and into the old school charm of Holsten Pils. Holsten is a beer I haven’t drank for years. I remember it being quite heavily advertised on TV when I was a child by the likes of American actor Jeff Goldblum, who succeeded in giving the impression of a rather sophisticated drink for the discerning beer swiller. I think these were replaced by a more humorous campaign involving the clever editing of old movies interspersed with scenes of a contemporary comedian. It’s all on you tube here if you fancy a bit of nostalgia.

I’d all but forgotten the beer existed until seeing the film “This is England” on TV. The presumably authentic representation of the 1980’s had many characters necking cans of Holsten Pils as an iconic 80’s brand. When a four pack turned up half price, I was only ever going to remind myself of the beer.

The can informs me on the label it is brewed in Hamburg but in the small print “the EU”

See wiki here,

Holsten is specially produced in Germany (since 1879), but it may be produced by other Carlsberg companies around the world.

The can also contains the spurious bullshit that due to an enhanced fermentation process more sugars turn to alcohol. Also that the beer is lower in Carbs than other leading lagers. Interestingly it is a Carlsberg product and in the great game of being the purest lager it lays claim to only 3 ingredients, water, malted barley & hops. There really needs to be consistency with beer ingredient labelling but heh, the grog is cheap.

An older friend tells me the beer used to far stronger than the 5% it currently is. Certainly when I last drank it, it was 5.5%. My friend informs me it used to be 6%+ but I have no way of confirming this. If it is not on Google it never happened. Further to this my memory of the beer was one of being a crisp clean pilsner lager with the crisp bitterness you expect from a pils.

In its current form the beer is a little lacking on the nose with a taste that lacks the expected bitterness. The lack of a sharp crisp bite is followed by a rounded after taste of dryness but is lacking any body. It fails to make its mark as the beer I remember or being a lout that is in any way up to the standard of current 5% louts on the market. Most of the current 5% louts from Carlsberg Export; Grolsch & Becks have more going for them than this. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t bad, just a drinkable grog that is nowt special on the market. If it stays half price I might do it again.

It is certainly a pity that Carlsberg haven’t done anything with this brand. Reducing it to 5% and reducing its flavour has put it in a category that does nothing for it. Failure to invest in marketing the brand makes it a forgotten retro brand rather than contemporary continental lout. Maybe there isn’t a market for lout above 5%, maybe that’s tramp territory, but there doesn’t appear much of a market for it at 5%

Like running into an old girlfriend. At first you might be pleased to see her, then you remember why you broke up and exchanging a few pleasantries before going your separate ways is the best possible outcome. She's put on a bit of weight since you last saw her and not really the bird you remember. You certainly don't want to hit the sack with the girl.

13 comments:

Rabidbarfly said...

a beer with no taste - I told you so ages ago cookie!
http://rabidbarfly.blogspot.com/2009/12/hi-all-got-my-writing-mojo-back-now-i.html

Darren said...

if Geoff Goldbloom vouches for this beer(or did vouch for it some time in the past)how can it be bad?

Cooking Lager said...

@Rabid. That's not always a bad thing

@Darren, The beer isn't bad. It's just that at full price there are better options among the more authentic premium grogs & at half price it no longer holds its own against the regular brands on discount. If they start giving it away for nothing I'd neck it all the time.

Mark N said...

It used to be my grog of choice when getting drunk in my youth. I'd give the old girl one, just for old times sake.

Tandleman said...

I reckon it might be brewed by Shepherd Neame. The draft version is (was). Also brewed for draft by Lees until aroung 2yrs ago, but no longer.

Neil, eatingisntcheating.blogspot.com said...

a truly terrible beer

Curmudgeon said...

My recollection is certainly that it used to be 5.5% ABV, when it was advertised as "more of the sugar turns to alcohol". They probably wouldn't be allowed to say that now.

Used to have something of an upmarket image, whereas now it's just a low-priced also-ran with nothing to distinguish it. Another example of brand equity being pissed away.

Flagon of Ale said...

And how did you like This is England? I didn't think it was very good.

arn said...

and because of the tag line "more of the sugar turns to alcohol" there was loads of diabetics who thought it was an okay beer to drink. My brother in law has drunk it for 20 years now despite plenty of doctors in our families telling him their lots of beers out there better for him.

Tyson said...

Ah, I used to make myself sick drinking this stuff. A bakers dozen or so of it always did the trick. What happy care free days those were. It definitely was stronger though and who can forget the "more of the sugar turns to alcohol" boast?

It certainly tasted its strength and a lot of my mates didn't like it because of that. I remember the bottles being brewed in Germany, but the cack canned stuff was by Courage/Fosters who, I think, owned the brand then.

I wonder if anywhere local still has it on draught...

Anonymous said...

Oh I dunno, I can't help but want shag my old girlfriends at least once whenever I run into them, a few extra pounds or not..

Anonymous said...

It's certainly lost its edge compared to how I remember it in the 1980s. I'm pretty sure it used to be 5.2% back in about 1989, and was marketed as a premium brand in much the same way as Stella Artois used to be.
Nevertheless it's still quite drinkable, and now quite a bargain at around £3.00 for 4x440ml cans in places like Tesco and Asda.

Ray Pursey said...

Holsten pils was a great beer back when I started drinking in about 1980. It was 6% abv at the time so has been seriously diminished in the intervening years. It used to be imported as the cans stated right up until the late 90s but once it eas brewed in the Uk the end eas in sight. Pity.