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Say Hi To Your Knee

July 15, 2012

There many things I have trouble understanding. For today let’s focus on two seemingly unrelated topics.
a) Grade school humor
b) Hatred of Heinekin

First, let’s connect them. One of my son’s playmates came up to me and said, “Say ‘hi’ to your knee.” I found this direction to be a bit perplexing. But decided to oblige the young man, so I looked down at my knee and said, “Hi.”

The youngster was visibly disappointed. It seemed I failed in the successful completion of his modest instruction. So with a bit more urgency he commands me again to, “Say ‘hi’ to your knee.” I was flummoxed. I had just done exactly that. What went wrong? What did he want me to do?

Then it clicks. He’s eight. So I say, “Hi knee.” And the boy erupts into hysterics. Get it? Heinie. All eight year old boys love a good tush joke.

Which brings us to the other incomprehensible thing I’ve discovered in my travels. People far and wide seem to hate Heineken. And I never got that either. There’s no tush joke here, but I finally had a bottle that tasted like ass.

Figuratively of course.

I guess that I’ve just had good luck in the past. Or at least in the recent past since I started paying more attention to the beers that I drink, trying to suss out what makes them good, and attempting to isolate the tastes of the malt and the hops.

Part of this beer rediscovery involved picking up an old copy of F. Paul Pacult’s The Beer Essentials. In this tome he drinks a lot of beer and provides notes in only the way he can. He’s a professional taster, and he has his tried and true methods. While his language can be a bit flowery (after all, he started off as a wine guy) his observations are typically spot on.

It was his review of Heineken that made me try it again for the first time a couple years ago:

Flaxen/gold color, moderately strong head; the sedate, distinctive, clean, grainy, mildly hoppy nose hints of barley; the satiny texture, so characteristic of Continental lagers, leaves North American lagers in the dust; on palate, it gives off an undemanding taste of soft, sweet fruit, mostly apricot, then finishes like a champ–fast, crisp, decisive, and sweet; Heineken’s sweetness element is more pronounced than either Beck’s or Grolsch’s; a really delicious, bountiful, and pleasurable beer that deserves its industry-leading position; next round’s on me; bravo. 4* Highly Recommended.

All I knew was that many among the beer cognescenti, in addition to Frank Booth, were vehemently opposed to the stuff. But how could you argue with the above.

So I went out to try some. I had it on tap at Suzie’s bar, and I totally tasted the apricots.

Well recently, Mrs. Fussy and I found ourselves at a big chain restaurant. Which one is not important. But let’s just say that I didn’t have high hopes that their taps were kept in tip top shape. And it was definitely going to be a meal that called for a beer to help wash it all down. The beer menu was abysmal.

I wanted something nicer than Budweiser (which gets a 1* rating from Mr. Pacult) and Heineken appeared to be the best thing on the menu. So I ordered a bottle of it.

Bad move.

My assumption is that skunkiness, much like corkiness in wine, can come in a broad range of degrees. The critical thing was that the true flavor of the beer wasn’t there. It didn’t taste like skunk. But it totally tasted off. It was sour and dull.

Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way. I’ve been told in the past that it’s Heineken’s green bottles people take issue with as they let in more light than brown glass, and far too often result in a diminished brew. It’s just that I’ve had some good luck with the beer in the past. Eventually it was time for my luck to run out.

Now I get it.

Mrs. Fussy did far better than me on the beer front. She went with something cheap and on tap. It wasn’t great. But it was far better than mine and almost half the price.

I’m chalking this up to a valuable lesson learned. Sometimes cheap beer from questionable taps is better than expensive beer sealed in bottles. And I will likely avoid Heineken in bottles down the road, unless that is, I’m doing a direct comparison on how it tastes from both a tap and a can. Because that sounds like it could be fun.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 15, 2012 11:51 am

    I think that, like your son’s 8 year old friend, you are assuming that all consumers have the same attitude as your own. Good thing you don’t work in advertising! I am not aware of any “heinie hatred” among beer drinkers; it’s a perfectly decent lager and when it appears in a cooler as part of an assortment at a party it goes quickly. (That’s a more objective test–what people do vs what they say.)

    Gennie Creme, now that’s another story. If I bring a six pack to a party I know I will have the opportunity to finish the entire thing by myself. (But actually that’s not true either. I brought some to a party recently, bunch of Skidmore profs and other shiftless types, and it went very quickly with people marveling at the novelty of opening a can they hadn’t touched since high school.)

    • Mr. Sunshine permalink
      July 15, 2012 1:30 pm

      As a retired Skidmore prof, LOL!

  2. July 15, 2012 12:23 pm

    Yeah, the green bottle and the shipping are the problem. I don’t drink that crap here. In Europe, especially in Greece, Heineken and Amstel (the real one, no Light), are two of my favorite beers in the world. Better than the stuff in Holland, in my opinion. It’s the Greek mountain water.

  3. July 15, 2012 1:28 pm

    I have heard from some friends that Heineken with a lime wedge is quite good – neutralizes some of the sour/skunk flavor/smell that can be common with that beer. I’ve never tried it myself, so I cannot attest personally.

    Of course, I am a beer snob, so I generally don’t touch the mass-produced stuff at all.

  4. Mike permalink
    July 16, 2012 4:14 am

    I’m wondering if you have made an attempt to gain an understanding of the beer world as a whole. I’ve read your recent posts which mention trying to pay more attention to beer as far as specific flavors go, but have you learned anything about, for instance, the large difference between craft vs. BMC (Budweiser, Miller-Coors) products? If not, (or if you have a further interest), I’d suggest the documentary “Beer Wars.” It’s not perfect, but it is a nice introductory film to demonstrate JUST how much of a grasp the few major corporations have on the beer we’re presented with (from production to distribution to consumption). It’s a fascinating industry, and I know that the more I learn the more interested I get. It might be something you’d like to check out.

  5. July 16, 2012 11:15 am

    I’ve had a few bad Heinie’s in my day. It’s usually a decent go-to when there isn’t a huge variety of beer available at a restaurant/dive bar. But skunky Heineken in the bottle is the pits. Also, NEVER get one at the Knick/Pepsi/TU. I don’t know if the lines weren’t clean or what, but it wasn’t recognizable as Heineken at all. Barf. Bad beer is right up there with bad fish or bad chicken (although probably less lethal).

  6. July 29, 2012 5:42 pm

    It’s all been said above, but I agree with the previous commentators. Heineken in Europe is almost indistinguishable from the green-glass skunk beer we get in America. The skunkiness is caused by UV penetration which oxygenates the beer causing off-flavors and aromas. This is neutralized with the addition of citric acid, which is why the lime wedge is an essential part of a Corona (clear glass, the worst possible option). The beer isn’t the problem; it’s the packaging (as with milk, but we’ve already discussed that one).

    And yes, Genny Cream does have that high nostalgia factor going for it, much as New England’s revamped Narragansett brand. Cheers to cheap regional brews!

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