The beer spectrum — from boring to beautiful

There are delicious, idiosyncratic beers that belt you over the head (like Matilda Bay’s Long Shot, reviewed below), beers that beguile and seduce with subtlety (like Asahi Super Dry reviewed last month) and beers that just don’t register on the flavour meter, but succeed anyway.

The new Carlton Natural Super Dry Lager might fall into the latter category. The sample bottle arrived with the obligatory cliché, jargon-riddled press release. And the beer, to my taste, seemed low on flavour and bitterness, albeit with a trace of pleasant hops character.
It’s a low carb beer – achieved by extending the “brewing process to break down the complex sugars”. But unfermented sugars contribute much to the flavour and body of traditional beers. Take them out and there’s a hole to fill. Brewers achieve this to some extent with clever use of hops.

To me, though, low-carb beers seem made for a neurotic market. And clichés like “the finest natural ingredients are brewed” and “Carlton Natural hits the flavour and style bulls-eye for 25 to 30 year old guys” simply don’t gel in the face of such bland flavours.

What’s marvellous, though, is that a brewer as big as Fosters has the ability to produce both a large volume, market-driven style like Carlton Natural and the idiosyncratic Matilda Bay Long Shot.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010