The European standard it seems these days is to have two beers with the same name but of different strengths. We are not unused to this in the UK, pace Carlsberg and Carlsberg Export after all. Even Fosters made a brief foray into these murky waters. But the idea of Export lagers (and the odd phrase Export Strength) always confused me a touch. Surely Carlsberg was Danish too ? so it was also exported by the strict meaning of the word. A further understanding of the murky brewing world explained to me that Carlsberg may be made to a Danish recipe but was sloshed out buy the barrel load in Wrexham did not help. Because it turned out that so was Carlsberg Export. In the end the main difference was strength.
We now live in a premium lager UK. If it isn’t 5% then we are not supposed to want it. The same is not true of Europe where the “Export” battle is played out under a different name. Take Mahou, a very nice Spanish beer. I categorize the two as Mahou Green and Mahou Red. The actual difference in strength is about 0.5%. But Mahou Classic (Green) is more usual on draught and tastier than its red, stronger sibling. Mahou Green is particularly good with olives, and has a slight hint of vanilla in the aftertaste. Mahou Especial (Red) has, in common with many premium lagers over 5%, a less pleasant metallic aftertaste. A similar comparison can be made with Litovel, lager king of the Swimmer and its siblings. One thing to look out for though with a number of these European twofers, it is not always obvious which of the pair of beers is actually the stronger. Perhaps they should all go the way of Heineken and slim the brand to just one lager. But the fear is that if premium lager UK spreads to a premium lager world, we lose the beers that taste nice, in response to a world of strong, but slightly metallic tasting, 5.3% beers