Before we reveal the ultimate, irrefutable countdown of the best lagers available in Britain, a few words of explanation.
This is not just an evaluation of the featured lagers per se, but of how they perform in their most ubiquitous, Summer-friendly form - that is, from a can. Their merits as bottled drinks and pints are for another list.
As well as flavour, the length of time before the lager goes flat, how it holds up when warm and how well it mingles with aluminum were all important factors. You could disagree with our findings, but you’d be wrong.
ALL PHOTOS: Sam Parker
Too bitter, too metallic, too quick to go flat - Carling, despite being one of the few British lagers on this list, limps in last. Hey, this a meritocratic process. The proliferation of this abominable dreck at music festivals over the past ten years has been nothing short of a national scandal. I don’t care if Beyonce is pulling you onto the Pyramid Stage to serenade you personally, you’re holding a tin of mouse sick and you should be ashamed.
Better than Carling by less than a koala’s thumb is Foster’s, the saccharine Aussie import which, when mingled with aluminium, tastes like a sweet you’d give to a kid that you hate.
In terms of taste, Carlsberg is the closest canned lager gets to 100% pure H2O - which is why it is always sold at roughly the same price. Not revolting, but not remotely appealing, either.
The great ambassador for American beer is like a pair of those hands by Escher, in that it tastes like someone in a factory somewhere drinks it, urinates it back into a can and repeats the process for infinity. Then somewhere along the line, millions of unnecessary bubbles are added and people who are highly susceptible to advertising buy it.
Holsten is the journeyman of canned lagers. It’s the guy at the party no one really likes, no one really hates and no one’s really heard of.
6. San Miguel.
Drinking San Miguel is like going out with someone who is really way too young for you. Fresh and exciting at first, before long things begin to fall flat and it gets annoyingly sweet and clingy, until there’s nothing left to do but throw it, weeping, into the bin.
The thing about Grolsch is that it tastes great, it just can’t sustain its performance when things heat up. Poured out into a glass you’re looking at a top three tinny, but that’s not what this test is about, so it sits in fifth.
A can of Stella is for people who consider drinking a serious business, even if it’s around a paper plate of vol-au-vents at a child’s birthday picnic. Full-bodied, strong to the end and perfectly carbonated, if only it had a little more flavour it’d be hard to beat.
3. Red Stripe.
There’s a reason off-licenses sell out of Red Stripe the second there’s a hint of sun in the sky. It’s the cocktail of canned lager: light, vaguely exotic, and most importantly, easy to drink. You wouldn’t look at it twice from a tap, but for some reason it fits a cylinder of rapidly warming metal like a Guinness fills a glass: perfectly.
The real pleasure of a can of 1664 is its delicate flavour - fruity, but not overly sweet, light, but not lightweight. In purely taste terms, it’s top of the pile. If only it stayed fresh for a little longer.
Everything about ‘Heiny’, from the slightly bobbled texture of the can to the muscular crunch of the ring pull screams quality. This is a true king amongst tinnies, pulsating with flavour, resistant to even the clammiest palm and still bubbling away nicely even when you’ve reach the dreaded ‘final fifth’. Heineken is so good from a can, it is better than the brands at the bottom of this list when they’re pulled into a cold pint glass. Cheers, Holland.
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