(It’s Ontario Craft Beer Week and I’m still holed up at my desk – discounting last night’s appearance at the launch of “America Walks Into a Bar,” and more about that later – and reviewing a MolsonCoors beer release no less. Apologies, Ontario brewers. I’ll be turning my palate and attentions to your wares and events shortly.)
I’m not a big Rickard’s fan, that much I’ll admit straight off. I find their basic Rickard’s Red to be pallid and at best inoffensive, while I described their Rickard’s Original White line extension as having “a generally mild but notably citrusy taste, which I could see admirably suiting it to a hot summer’s day,” which lies somewhere between faint praise and ennui, I’d say. And don’t get me started on the so-called Rickard’s Pale Ale.
So here arrives Rickard’s Blonde, a new 5% alcohol line extension described as a “German-style pilsner” flavoured with “a unique blend of four different types of hops.” Also, instructions to “please let sit and refrigerate for 24 hours before enjoying.”
It’s 24 hours later – I’m Canadian and we’re great at following directions! – so let’s check it out. The colour is decidedly not Germanic, more the full gold of a Czech pilsner than the much lighter tones of the German version, and the sweet cereally notes in the aroma, admittedly accompanied by light florals, don’t have me holding out much hope.
The flavour, on the other hand, has me thinking that this would be less disappointing if they hadn’t promised something of “German-style.” I’m very fond of beers like Jever and Bitburger, and this ain’t close to them, but on the other hand, it’s not that bad in the taste department, either. The front end is sweet and malty and a little cotton candy-like, but that segues quickly to a notable hop character in the body, with a slightly tannic dryness revealing itself alongside lightly fruity and caramelly florals, all drifting towards a fairly dry and quenching finish.
German-style this most definitely is not, by even the St. Pauli Girl/Beck/Warsteiner definition, and with beers like King Pilsner, the aforementioned Bitburger, Czechvar, Pilsner Urquell and even MolsonCoors’ own Creemore Kellerbier at my disposal, neither is it a lager I plan to pick up again anytime soon. Let’s just call it an apt stable mate to the Rickard’s White, neither wonderful nor disappointing, and be done with it.