Friday, May 7, 2010

Fool Me Once, Shame on Me

Sometimes, breweries just...well, fuck up. Somewhere, in their slate of beer offerings, is a monumental failure, a project that simply did not work. Even brewers with exceptional skill and craftsmanship are going to make mistakes now and then. It's not a big deal: brewing should be about experimentation and diversity, and every brewer needs to know what doesn't work so he can discover what does work. It only becomes a problem when your dud becomes the first beer a potential customer samples, and he or she bases your entire offering on that one failed attempt and decides not to risk further nausea. That's why I try to sample at least two brews from every new brewery, just in case I picked up the Stephen in their Baldwin family.

And then, of course, there are terrible breweries. With this in mind, I give you....Faxe.

Faxe, from Denmark, has been around the LCBO since before most of you started drinking. It's always there, usually accompanied with about four or five of its siblings, staring at you from underneath his Dread Helmet of Ragnarok. He seems to know that you are a teenage boy, who is just starting drinking and wants something "bad-ass" and foreign to bring over to his friend's house whose parents happen to be out of town. "Fucking eh, Viking beer!" he'll say.

This, in a nutshell, is Faxe's target demographic. Why else would their brewery boldly proclaim the awesome pwnage their brew can inflict with their unnecessarily large 10% ALCOHOL, BITCHES!! label? No other brewer does this. Alcohol content is not a selling feature for most brews; given our culture's (unjustified) obsession with light beer and (justified) concern with impaired driving, few consumers are out there with the goal to pick up the strongest beer available. Except, of course, teenagers and douchebags.

Still, I naively thought to myself, maybe there's something more to Faxe. Maybe, behind their Berzerker marketing strategy are some drinkable brews.

I was wrong.

Beer: Faxe Extra Strong
Type: strong lager
ABV: it's difficult to make out...could they have made it bigger? possibly using sparkles and neon lights?

This beer is apparently very popular for teenagers in Europe whose goal is to get completely wasted as quickly as possible. "Ask, and ye shall receive," the beer gods did proclaim...

Surprisingly, the brew doesn't look half bad. A medium- golden hue, with a good, sturdy head and lots of lacing. A great deal of visible carbonation, however. The compliments end here....

The nose is truly awful. There are two things, and two things only to be detected here: alcohol and sugar. There might, might, be some pale malts in the background, but I'd be stretching. It's like smelling a beer-flavoured jello shooter.

The taste is terribly similar. A retch-inducing combination of sugar and alcohol that has completely brushed aside any and all attempts at balance and flavour. Somewhere in the back is a bit of maltiness and fruit, but generally, all I can taste is booze. I have had 12-15% brews with far less perceptible alcohol than this. It tastes like some kid dumped half a bottle of Bacardi into his beer; that's how disgusting it is. (Michelle could barely smell this stuff, and wisely didn't deign to sample it)

Over-carbonated all to hell, all part of the plan to get you drunk as quick as possible. The body is thick and syrupy.

This beer was so revolting, I couldn't finish it. That's right kids: for the first time on this Beer Blog, I poured the rest of the beer down the sink. In the beer-hunting community, this is called a "drain pour", and it is the absolute worst insult imaginable one could heave upon a beer. I could finish Schlitz and Busch light because, though they were awful, were generally flavourless and didn't upset my stomach. This brew, however, was absolutely undrinkable. (It also currently holds the second lowest score on my beeradvocate list, just above Berthold Keller Lager, a foul abomination in the eyes of God...) (Grade: D-)

Sadly, I still had another can of Faxe rotgut in the house. Here we go....

Beer: Faxe Amber
Type: amber-red lager
ABV: not so ridiculously advertised. It's 4.6%.

Poured into a lager glass. A fine amber hue with a thin white head that dissolved completely. No ring, no lacing. And it begins...

Nose is pretty forgettable: malts, a hint of sweetness, tin. Normally, there should be some caramel, hops, maybe some spices. Nothing of the sort here.

Despite this, truth be told, it actually doesn't taste that bad. It's boring, but I can drink it. Pale malts, a bit of sweetness and spice near the end. Generally, the finish is pretty weak and the whole thing is painfully dull. There are literally dozens of amber beers available in the LCBO that I would drink before Faxe Amber, but at the very least, I could finish this brew. (Grade: C-)

So, lesson learned. I gave Faxe two attempts to please me and they failed catastrophically on both. I'm sure some of their other brews will at least be drinkable, but I only have so much patience for mediocre beer. Why waste 2 bucks to find out? I hopefully will never have to drink a Faxe again, and I encourage the rest of you to do the same....

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