24
Apr
07

Beers of Vancouver, vol. 6

We’re back!

Holsten Festbock is back up to $2.25 (still an outstanding bargain, and an excellent beer), but there are others in that price range to tempt me. One of them is Faxe Strong: an 8% beer in a very “strong”-looking package: black can, gold and red highlights, grim bearded Viking mascot. All it needs is some skulls and “tribal” knots to max out the “beer for badasses” marketing angle.

Does it measure up? Well, 0.5L of 8% beer for $2.25 is a lot of drunk for your dollar, so if that’s all you’re after, it’s a big win. Otherwise: packaging notwithstanding, this is a meek beer. It pours to a pleasant amber colour, without much in the way of carbonation, but it’s nowhere near as thick and sweet as you’d expect from such a strong beer. The sweet aftertaste shuffles around for a few seconds, then leaves in a hurry. It’s neither malty nor hoppy, and comes across as neither an ale nor a lager. It’s — barely — interesting enough to qualify as a decent beer, but with things like Festbock and Maudite on the shelves there’s really no good reason to buy it.

Here’s what Royal Unibrew (no, not Unibroue) has to say about Faxe Strong:

Faxe Strong is a characterful beer with 8 % alcohol.

The taste is an extraordinary experience. This beer got more bite and taste than a traditional Lager. But still it’s an easily drinkable beer with a very light colour and a light but characteristic taste.

(Two marks off for abuse of the English language — I’d have deducted three if they hadn’t spelled “colour” properly.)

This blurb — and the over-the-top packaging — supports my theory that advertisers lie about the worst features of their products rather than promoting the best features. Faxe Strong’s best feature is that it’s, well, strong. Its worst feature is that it’s profoundly unremarkable: it lacks character; its taste is utterly ordinary, certainly below average for a European lager; it has no distinguishing characteristics. (Why Royal Unibrew felt the need to lie about the beer’s colour is beyond me. Pilsner Urquell has a very light colour. Faxe Strong does not.)

It’s worth knowing about Faxe Strong on the off-chance that it’s the best beer available at a poorly-stocked liquor store, but this stuff isn’t going to give Holsten Festbock any competition.


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