Country: The Netherlands
The first time I ever had a Grolsch was way back in 1990 while I was in my third year at uni.
Like most Arts students, I spent a fair bit (okay, most) of my time in the bar. And in the bar at Wollongong uni they had a small shelf of what were known as ‘‘boutique beers’’ back in the day.
Remember this was in a time when the idea of anything but New or VB was truly an unusual thing. From memory the beers on the shelf included Redback, San Miguel, Grolsch and six or seven others from countries across the waters.
I’d devised a ‘‘round the world in beer’’ journey that involved me having to drink my way across that shelf. The last one I needed to finish the set was the Grolsch, which seemed the height of classiness due to that swing-top bottle. But I found the beer itself to be horrible – so much so that I never touched it again.
Fast-forward to January 2012 and for my birthday, my sister buys me two four packs of Grolsh with the swing-top lid – because she knew I’d just started homebrewing and had heard that those bottles were great for homebrew.
I tried it with trepidation and was rather surprised. Clearly my palate had developed since I was 20 because I found it to be quite a tasty lager – while also being aware that the idea of lager having much in the way of taste is a bit odd. But it’s better than most other Dutch lager-type beers.
But the Grolsch I drank for the Beer Olympics didn’t have the swing-top lid – I didn’t even know they made any other sort of bottle. Also the label tricked me into thinking it was imported – the small print on the label read that it was imported by Pacific Beverages New Zealand. So I figured it came straight from the Netherlands.
It wasn’t until some time later that I noticed the small print above that other small print. The small print that said the beer was actually made in Australia by Pacific Beverages and, presumably then sent to New Zealand (perhaps meaning the NZ market can claim the Grolsch as ‘‘imported’’).
Now I was quite aware of the whole brewed under licence thing so for me to get caught out or misled just shows how easy it must be to trick Joe Blow into thinking they’re drinking an imported beer when it was actually made in Campbelltown.
Would I drink it again?: Well, the relative lack of flavour compared to other beers would mean that I wouldn’t buy a Grolsch again. But if someone gave me one I’d be okay with that.
Beer Olympics – Day 13
Country: The Netherlands