18 February 2015 - Best Beer HQ

Craft beer review: Founders 1946 Pilsner

Craft beer review: Founders 1946 Pilsener

ABV: 5%

Bottle: I love the look of the Founders craft brewery’s range of beers. Each one has a year and the label has a picture to go with that year.  In this case, the picture on the beer label is of a red-headed woman in a polka-dot bikini and the year is 1946, the year that the bikini was invented.

It’s a clever way of tracing back this Nelson craft brewery’s history and enticing nostalgic beer drinkers to give their products a try.

Blurb on the bottle: In 1946, with grandfather Sholto Duncan running the brewery in Nelson, communists took over the Czech Republic’s original Pilsen brewery. Fortunately, the Free West had another weapon up its sleeve: the bikini.

Invented by Louis Réard, an engineer and bare skin enthusiast, it was said it wasn’t a genuine bikini “unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring”, preferably without the girl attached. Our pilsner has orchard fruit and herbal pine aromas.

Like the bikini, it provides a great addition to a day at the beach.

Tastes like: Jandals, chilly bins and the bach. If that doesn’t make sense to you, then you’re obviously not from New Zealand.

Founders 1946 is very much a Kiwi take on the classic pilsner, with a pleasant summer-fruit hit – including lemon, lime, grapefruit. The bitterness is dialled back, or it might be that the hops and floral aromas hide it somewhat. Either way, it’s an easy-drinking beer.

I drank mine out of the bottle, so anything about the colour of the beer or its head would be pure speculation.

Is it the best beer ever? Yes and no. It’s not the greatest craft beer in the entire galaxy, but it might be one of the best beers at this price point. At $12 NZD for a six pack, on special at New World, you can’t go wrong.

I guess that’s one of the perks of being owned by a huge multinational. That’s right. In 2012 Nelson’s award-winning Founders craft brewery was bought out by Boundary Road Brewery, the Auckland-based craft beer division of the Independent Liquor Group, which just so happens to be owned by big-time Japanese brewer Asahi.

As well as getting a ton of money (I imagine) for the deal, the Founders range of beer got distribution in liquor shops, bars and in supermarkets up and down New Zealand. Of course, whether or not Founders is still a ‘craft brewery’ is now a matter for debate.

What else should I drink? I’ll go out on a limb and say that I quite like the Founders range of beers that I have tried – which is basically just this one, the 1981 Pale Ale and 2009 IPA.

They’re not necessarily amazing beers, but as a gateway into craft beer they’re very good – they’re tasty, they’re relatively inexpensive, and they’re everywhere. Sure, you could do better, but you could also do a heck of a lot worse.

Craft Beer New Zealand / review /

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