The Glow of a Golden Crown… sounds like a bad movie title really…
I dislike writing about drinks that aren’t great. For a start no-one wants to read about what’s bad, they want to read about what’s good in the booze world. Which drinks should be at the top of your list when you’re wandering through the aisle of your local, which vintages to look for on a certain wine?
But every now and again something comes along, that you think is going to be a dead set winner, but it leaves you so disappointed that you want to shout it out loud. Something that builds you up so much with hope, only to find that its well below average, and ends up being the Todd Carney of the beer world, lots of talent but often leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. During the week I laid my hands on a six pack of the newest beer to roll out of Carlton and United (CUB) breweries, Crown Golden Ale. Launched just a few weeks ago, and at time of writing is only available through Dan Murphy’s and BWS, before nationwide distribution in September this year.
Things looked good from the outset here; it should have been a bit of a wakeup call straight away. The marketing department have done a great job on this, the packaging looks fantastic. Same Crown Lager bottle, but a sexy new black label with silver writing, it has the same kind of “Ladies! I’ve had a big win at the races” look about it that Crown Lager has. The way that labelling wraps the neck like a scarf, means that your hand gets a feel of the how cold the bottle is straight away, and I like that.
That disappointment moment came when we poured this into a glass. There’s a whole lot of nothing happening. If you really work the bottle you can get a head to form, which laces away super quickly though. There’s bugger all carbonation in there, just a single fine bead of bubbles formed in the glass, in some of the glasses there was none at all. So little carbonation that I assumed there was an issue with the seals, to the point that I took the remaining beers back to the bottleo and had them replaced (thanks Dan Murphy’s).
Same issue with the new bottles a few days later, it would appear there just isn’t much carbonation happening here.
The same could be said for aroma too, not a lot happening in the glass, if you hold your nose the right way you can get some very subtle citrus and hop characters though. On the tongue there is a bit more happening, quite a bit of sweetness coming from the malts, but not much else. Not a lot to keep you interested, and definitely not a lot of hop action going on as the label alludes to. However it might be interesting enough during the warmer summer months, “might be” being the key words there, it’s definitely lighter in taste than traditional English style ales, and could appeal to a very small core of lager drinkers.
Crown have gone out on a limb here, but you think they would have learnt after launching their Crown Gold a few years ago, that died a slow horrible death. Yes the average beer drinker is willing to try new beers these days; porters, ales and stouts are quite common. Heck, have a look in the craft beer section at Dan Murphy’s and see all the Golden Ales that are there. After SAB Miller’s takeover of CUB last year there has been a push to develop new flavour profiles and satisfy tastes, but I just can’t see this new Crown catching on with the beer geeks. Even within CUB’s own brands there are better, readily available, golden ales, Matilda Bay’s Minimum Chips for example. It’s priced right up there with Crown Lager and that premium beer section, but it needs to be more interesting in its taste and body to make it worth laying down your hard earned for it.
In the end I wonder the same thing with this beer that I wondered with Todd Carney: what the heck were they thinking.
This is simply water, malted barley and hops, ok its two types of hops here, which may add to the cost, but still at $50odd for the carton, I’d like to have more happening. And if they can get it right in one area of their business, why can’t they get this right?
I personally hope that time proves me wrong here, and that this beer lives on and evolves. I’m not too big to admit that Crown have proven me wrong in the past when I sledged their Ambassador as a more of marketing gimmick than being about the beer, only to find that it aged beautifully in the bottle and is, believe it or not, worth every cent they ask for it (even if you need to eat 2 minute noodles for a week to afford it).
I hope the same happens here.