The Halftime Pint: Kronenbourg 1664

One of the greater things about watching football in America is that most matches, especially those of the EPL, are early in the morning American time, giving people an excuse to daydrink. This is part of our series discussing exactly what to drink when you’re at the pub, presented by our resident homebrewer, Keith.  During the Euros, we’re doing things a little differently; we’re trying to find beers from the countries participating in the tourney.  We’ve covered England and Sweden, this week, it’s another eliminated nation, France!

The Beer: Kronenbourg 1664, Brasseries Kronenbourg, Obernai, France

The Pub: The Queen Vic, in Northeast DC

What You Need to Know: Euro Pale Lager is the European equivalent of American Light Lager.  Think Stella, think Heineken, think Tennent’s, think Harp.  But, as with the ALL, there’s room to do an excellent version.  Samuel Smith, for example, has an organic lager that’s quite good.  The style is highly carbonated, light in color and flavor, and has a bit more hop snap than its American cousin.  It’s actually a lot closer to the Munich Helles Lager, with just a bit less sweetness, and I’d say that Kronenbourg more closely straddles the gaps between EPL (Suck it, Barclays! . . oops, force of habit) and Helles Lager.

Kronenbourg, though now owned by the Danish giants Carslberg, is a relic of the Holy Roman Empire.  The brewery was founded my Geronimus Hatt in 1664 as the Canon Brewery in Strasbourg.  Frequent flooding in the mid-19th century led to the brewery moving to Cronenbourg, a more highly-elevated town in the Strasbourg region.  The brewery continued to operate independently until 1970, when Groupe Danone (yes, the yogurt manufacturers) bought them.  They were purchased by Scottish and Newcastle in 2000, and joined Carlsberg in the 2008 sale of Scottish and Newcastle’s  operations (as chronicled in this column before).

So, About this Beer: Pours a clear straw color with a thin white head. Bready, mineral aroma. Creamy initial flavor transitions to a crisp snap, with a little residual sweetness on the back of the palate. Surprising body in the mouthfeel; I really expected this to taste thinner. Pretty refreshing overall.

The Verdict: Listen, I’m not usually one to grab a light lager, preferring a Kolsch or a bitter if I want something less alcoholic in my glass.  But there’s a nice place for this beer, and I’d certainly recommend it over a Stella or other light lager.  Pick it up instead of your normal watery “can of brew” when you’re stocking the cooler for your next barbecue, and sit back and watch as everyone checks the can to make note of the beer.

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