TheBeerNut scuttles past me whispering 'cops' and I'm 16 again, hanging round with my mates in a world where having a beer is an adventure. I was just about to open the first bottle for an al fresco taste test when the guy who minds the park came in to close for the evening. I hastily closed up the bag and scurried off. Why were a bunch of adults being chased around the parks of Dublin? I should probably explain the original post that started this all.
"It is that time of year again when a young man's fancy turns to knacker drinking lager on a park bench. So who is up for joining me in 'The great hobo lager challenge 2010'? The idea is to see what you can say about lager tasted blind in its natural environment."
TheBeerNut suggested we choose one example from each of five styles of lager. Participants were aware of the five genres, though not the five brands. They were asked to identify the genres, and rank the beers in order of preference.
The style and the hidden brands were:
1. "Premium" Lager - This is a beer that sponsors a sporting event and whose ads are on the telly. I went for Heineken (4.3% ABV) to represent this group. €1.78 a 500ml can.
2. Good Lager - A lager that even beer nerds will give some respect to. I went for Budvar (5% ABV). €2.50 a 500ml bottle.
3. Crap Cheapo Lager - Something you drank when you really didn't know any better. Dutch Gold or Bavaria type beers. I went for Tesco Premium Export Strength Lager (5% ABV) at 50c a 400ml can.
4. German Cheapo Lager - Something you get in Lidl or Aldi. Séan wanted this to be an obviously German name but one that would make no sense to a German. I went for Grafenwalder (4.8% ABV) at 99 cent a 500ml can.
5. An Irish Craft Lager - I went for Hersbrucker (5% ABV). €2.25 for a 330ml bottle.
The general consensus was that the Good or the Irish Craft Lager would win and that the German Cheapo Lager would come third. Crap Cheapo Lager and "Premium" Lager would fight it out for last.
Séan won the competition solely with the power of his outfit.
MrsBeerNut saw the hoodied figure come into the pub there was a brief moment of fear. The Lucozade bottle to hold the beer really set off the tracksuit and runners look.
This looks like the worlds worst 1980's album cover:
We eventually found a spot in Stephen's Green and yet another classy beer science experiment began. The beers were fridge cold and served in the order Irish, Good, Premium, German Cheap, Crap Cheap.
The first prejudice I had was that lager was bland. Myth confirmed. Four people described some of the beers as bland. Budvar from the Good style was the favoured beer of 4 of the 5 testers and second favourite of the other. Hersbrucker, the Irish Craft Lager, was second by 3 people and top by one. So these two beers were the best by a country mile.
Could people spot what genre of beer they were trying?
5 out of 5 spotted the good beer. 3 out of 5 spotted the "Premium". No one spotted the cheap German (Grafenwalder). This beer seems to have been the least favourite. So there was one surprise. Not all German beers are good. The Tesco Premium Lager was third favourite and considered bland but nearly everyone thought it was better than the "Premium" Heineken and the cheap German. People mixed up these two beers as they assumed the bad beer would be the Cheap and the OK beer the German cheap one.
So what did I learn?
1. Drinking lager in a park is not a great idea. The parks were full of junkies and general scobes. If I were 16 again I would prefer be off talking to girls rather than waste my time drinking Dutch Gold in the rain.
2. Lager is pretty bland.
3. The good lagers beer nerds like really are better.
4. The really cheap ones can be much better than the "premium" ones you see advertised everywhere.
If you have any comment please add them here or even better go out and try put your beer prejudices to the test with a blind tasting and tell us how you got on.
Thanks to MrsBeerNut, Sbilllings, TheBeerNut, Bighair and IrishPartyAle for coming along for the lager test.