Shoppers browsing the artisanal stalls at London’s famous Spitalfields Market in February may have spotted a new pop-up, offering free tasting in exchange for a candid review of their brew.
Another up-and-coming craft brewery from Clapton? Or perhaps a microbrewer planning to take on the big boys? Both are good guesses – but not quite.
On a mini blackboard at the end of the bar, “Premium Danish Lager” is chalked in capitals.
Any ideas? Yes, that’s right, it’s the Danish brewer Carlsberg. So why would a multinational brewery be carrying out taste testing in an East London market?
Relaunching Carlsberg Export
The answer is they really love the beer. Last year, they relaunched Carlsberg Danish Pilsner, “completely rebrewed from head to hop”, alongside a clever ad campaign. This year, in addition to pilsner, they want drinkers to try Carlsberg Export.
Independent research commissioned by Carlsberg shows that they have a great beer which drinkers like. And they really want to hear it for themselves – hence the Saturday afternoon tasting session in Spitalfields.
Stavros Photiou, pictured above, is a Carlsberg brewer. He is so passionate about Export that he has travelled down from Northampton, home of Carlsberg in the UK, early on a Saturday to carry out the taste test himself. Why? He wants to hear genuine, unbiased feedback from a cross section of beer drinkers.
Tasting notes from a Carlsberg brewer
With over 12 years in the industry, Stavros has a Masters degree in brewing from the University of Nottingham. He has also brewed all over the world. “I am proud of brewing a beer for Carlsberg because of their culture and approach to brewing,” he says. So what makes Export so special? “Good malts, quality hops and Danish yeast,” he adds.
The beer landscape has changed considerably over the past decade: today’s drinkers are savvy to hops and grains, mouthfeel and fermentation, and the myriad of different styles on supermarket shelves.
So how would Stavros describe Export? “It’s a well-balanced, crisp, premium pilsner, with a good base bitterness, maltiness, good hop aroma and well-fermented. There’s a good foam, the hop laces the glass very well and it has a golden colour.”
Rather than drinking from a straight glass, Stavros recommends a stemmed tulip glass. “Hold it from the stem so you don’t warm up your beer,” he says. “The angle of the tulip glass, because of the way it is produced, every time you drink it the turbulence produces enough aroma that hits your nose every time you take a sip.” The optimum temperature is 4C.
Stavros is also proud to be beer sommelier. So, what’s the perfect pairing for Export? “I would pair it with dishes that have a small amount of spice like a pasta or chicken with pesto,” he says. “Basil can pair very well with hop aromas.”
Export is also an ideal partner for cheese: “A good pilsner like this will go very well with a mild cheddar, a brie, spreadable cheeses, anari from Cyprus, or a provolone.”
Maybe it’s time to ditch the soft red and reach for a stemmed glass of Export instead.
Find out more about Carlsberg Export here