It’s always nice when the Beer Pixies come to call. A few weeks ago I received an email from Aldi’s communications company asking if I’d like to try Aldi’s beers?
Well, as I may have reported here at The Brewclub, the last time I refused a beer was in 1975 (it was a Thursday and it was raining) so I welcomed their offer.
I’m not sure to what extent Aldi have penetrated the American market, but since first opening a store in the UK in 1990, they’re now Britain’s sixth largest supermarket, with some 550 stores and are opening a new store each week. While they were initially dismissed as a ‘down market’ discount chain, they have won the British consumer association – Which’s prestigious ‘Supermarket of the Year’ award on four occasions, including 2015.
Aldi stock a number of mainstream British brews, including Hobgoblin and Black Sheep Ale, and their prices are hard to beat, but it’s their ‘own brand’ lagers – two in cans and one in a bottle – that the Beer Pixies delivered.
Steinhauser German Lager 4.7% ABV
So, the first Aldi brew I opened was Steinhauser, brewed for Aldi by the well regarded DAB (Dortmunder Actien Brauerei) in, as the name suggests, Dortmund.
DAB have always been a well respected brewery, although their beers have traditionally been sold here in Blighty in Indian restaurants, which doesn’t encourage objective tasting.
It pours a very pale gold, with a full, foaming, loose head, it’s slow to fade, lacing down the glass as it goes.
The nose is classic Pilsner, hoppy, although the nose tends towards German ‘noble’ hops rather that the Saaz hops of a classic Czech Pilsner like Pilsner Urquell.
The flavour is dry, crisp and grassy, with a toffee/malty undertone.
Steinhauser won a bronze medal at the 2014 International Beer Challenge, ranking it alongside Krusovice Imperial, Meantime London Lager and Kirin Ichiban.
It’s a refreshing summer beer, not quite a ‘lawnmower’ beer but, at a price that equates to a U.S. Dollar for a 330ml bottle, it’s a cheap and quaffable brew.
And worthy of three and a half Brewclub Stars.
Lowenstein Pilsner 4.5% ABV
Next up was the Lowenstein Pilsner, brewed for Aldi by the massive French Saint Omer brewery. Actually, I suspect this is Saint Omer’s ‘Munsterbrau’ rebadged.
I’ve been less than impressed with Saint Omer brews in the past, they’re known for mass produced ‘supermarket’ brews that fill the French hypermarkets to satisfy British ‘booze cruisers’, usually in 25ml bottles.
Lowenstein comes in 440ml cans and pours a golden colour, classic Pilsner, a full head, but little nose to speak of.
The flavour is dry enough, there are hops in there, but not many, the overall flavour is disappointingly bland.
Like Steinhauser, it won a bronze medal at the 2014 International Beer Challenge, but in all honesty it doesn’t do it for me.
But chilled, and at the equivalent of a U.S. Dollar a can, it would go down a storm at a barbecue.
Saint Etienne Lager 4.8% ABV
Saint Etienne is the third brew that I received from the Aldi Beer Pixies. It’s brewed for Aldi, like their Lowenstein Pilsner, by France’s Saint Omer brewery.
It pours a classic pale gold with a white head, but in all honesty that should be a ‘given’ for almost all lagers – with the exception of Vienna ‘red’ lagers and Czech ‘tmave’ brews.
There’s not much nose, there are hints of cereal and biscuit, but that’s probably not the point. This is designed as, ahem, a ‘tribute’ or possibly ‘homage’ to one of Britain’s best selling premium lagers, and it would be inappropriate to name it here.
Aldi stock it, but it’s over 40% more expensive than Ste Etienne.
That said, there are hops in the taste, not great hops, and a distinct cereal sweetness, but this isn’t the sort of beer you would normally sit down and analyse.
Overall, this – like Lowenstein – is quaffable (famously described by the late Sir Terry Pratchett as ‘a lot like drinking, but your ears get wet’). Chill it down and on a sunny day it’ll go down just fine.
Don’t mistake it for a ‘quality’ brew, but it does what it sets out to, again for a dollar a can. Using our patented beer scoring system, that merits three Brewclub stars.