How many people knew that Heineken even had a dark beer, raise their hands. OK, that’s what I thought. [UPDATE: Looks like Heineken discontinued this in the U.S. Nope, saw it on shelves February, 2011]
While strolling down my local beermongers isle the other day, I noticed the cases of Heineken Special Dark hidden just under the regular Heineken stack. This was one of those amazing moments you have when you think “Wow! A new beer I’d like to drink.”
A sip of the Special Dark caught me by surprise at first. That is to say, I didn’t care for it. But I have to say, it grew on me- and by my second beer I enjoyed it. They always say don’t judge a beer by it’s cover… I finally know why.
Heineken Special Dark would make a great Heineken Dark, but I found nothing special about it. Just because those jokers in Holland call it special doesn’t mean we have to think it’s special. Heineken, in general, is one of my imported “fall-back” beers… I order it when I’m not sure what I want yet and someone is pointing at me waiting for an order. Who am I to interrupt someone else’s binge?
Let me be clear… this does not taste like a Heineken with more bite. It has a thicker, maltier taste with a hint of caramel. It actually has a flavor not unlike some amber brews such as Abita Amber, but definitely without the bitterness. It is darker in the glass, and has a richer head than it’s lighter brethren.
The Heineken website has a rather extensive timeline of what the brewery has been doing oh, these 400 years… with what seems like a day by day update. Here are the embellished highlights for those of you who have better things to do:
- 1592 – 1873: The birth of the Heineken company in the city of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
1874: 22-year old businessman Gerard Adriaan Heineken purchases the brewery, now almost three hundred years old, for NLG 48,000 ($8 US).
1900: Sales of beer brewed under the supervision of Heineken: 200,000 hectoliters.
1914: Doctor “Doc” Henry Pierre Heineken, son of Gerard Adriaan Heineken, obtains a seat on the Executive Board. On April 1, 1917, he is appointed Chairman. The boys in the boardroom get nicely toasted.
1933: First Heineken beer consignment is exported to the United States after the lifting of prohibition.
1939: The great success of the pavilion “Heineken on the Zuyderzee” at the World Expo in New York has strongly contributed to the U.S. acceptance. Dr. Heineken prescribes not less than 10,000 hectoliters of Heineken beer to the fair-goers.
1960: Record sales over one million cartons Heineken beer in the U.S.A. Sales of beer brewed under the supervision of Heineken: 3,800,000 hectoliters. Go U.S.A!
1971: On May 3 Dr. H.P. Heineken dies. The boys in the boardroom get nicely toasted in his honor.
1990 – 1998: Heineken the second largest brewer in the world, with sales in over 170 countries, the most international beer brand in the world.
1996: Sales of beer brewed under the supervision of Heineken: 70.7 million hectoliters. Crap, we drink a lot.
Special Dark is a tough call for me. I can’t HIGHLY recommend this beer based solely on the history of Heineken- if you don’t try it, you won’t be missing out on that much. But if you enjoy amber beers, then it’s a good bet you’ll enjoy this brew.
I will happily finish my case without hesitation or incident. The boys in our boardroom get nicely toasted.