Brasseries Kronenbourg – Kronenbourg 1664 (2015)


France, the land known for fine wines, also makes fine beer. This makes sense given that it overlaps with a certain amount of formerly-German territory, but Kronenbourg 1664 stands on its own and is gaining some momentum in American markets. This lager very much in the European style has its own approach to beer making and tasting.

At first, it hits the palate with a sweetness. This broadens into a grainy taste, which then turns slightly bitter and then sweet again, like a melody passing from a few high notes to a surging dark riff and then ending on a semi-ironic, positive note. Slightly skunky, its combination of Pilsner and cereal malts gives it a sturdy but elegant flavor. Grassy hops propel its flavor to take on texture and depth, and its bready taste gains a small amount of almost citrus lightness as the beer warms. It pours down the throat smoothly like a light beer, but has the alcohol and complex flavor of a more traditional beer. In short, the wine-drinking cheese-eaters have given the Germans a run for their money here.

Kronenbourg 1664 is still hard to find in many places, but it is not exotic and fully ironic enough for the hipsters, so for now it remains the province of in-the-closet beer snobs like myself. All I ask for is quality, in part because what the majority of people drink — Budweiser, Coors, Michelob, Miller and Shiner — strikes me as both utterly bad and cynically cheapened yet given an appearance of uniqueness. Each maker puts out beers like television shows, with quirky personalities or weird ingredients, but underneath is an MBA bottom line: how to make something beer-tasting enough that people with buy it if subjected to advertising, and then how to save money by cutting out everything good. Kronenbourg 1664 has cut nothing good yet, but if it gets popular it will surely get the dreaded “Heineken treatment” and be reconstituted from syrup domestically to be sold as an import. Until that happens, this delicious beer with a light personality and cryptic depths awaits you.


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7 thoughts on “Brasseries Kronenbourg – Kronenbourg 1664 (2015)”

  1. haha says:

    I can’t believe that the cheapest beer around here is highlighted as a great product out there in the States. Wow, u must be drinking some watery stuff out there – WTF people ? French beers are OK, but have some Belgian beer for a really fine drink (Leffe, Grimbergen, Delirium Tremens, etc.). “Une seize” is really a last resort beer.

  2. Balze says:

    Seriously guys. In Belgium, we laugh about this beer. Actually, this is not a beer, it’s industrial cow piss, without any flavour. Taste a true belgian trappist beer, as Orval, Rochefort 10, or Triple Westmalle. For the first time, DMU is disapointing me.

  3. OliveFox says:

    I’ve never hated 1664, it is a pleasant surprise when I come across it actually, but it doesn’t give any respectable German brew a run for anyone’s money.

  4. Flying Kites says:

    Yo Cory! Do you write on Beer Advocate?

  5. hhhhhh says:

    Don’t laugh; some people in the United States live in pretty remote, ignorance-prone places. Pretty much anywhere in the US with a predominant Irish heritage is a complete shithole (invisible where the writer lives). Remember that the Irish were a slave race not too long ago. They continued their slave culture, much like the blacks in the US do today. Point is that the author should visit a real city and try some German marzens, which he’d probably love, and some English bitters and stouts. The other commenters are not from Belgium and most likely from the US and like ‘some’ deathcore. They listed some trendy beers they’ve likely never tried that are completely unrelated to the one being reviewed. I’ll be controversial and say that Samuel Smith is the best brewery in the world(an English brewery). Germany has good beers, but many terrible ones (seriously fucking strawberries in their beer). England has maintained its beer traditions and they are of impeccable quality. I should probably stay quiet or I might ruin English beer.

  6. TCCN says:

    The 1664 is one of the better European lagers, that’s for sure. However, it can’t be that difficult, logistically speaking, to get ones hands on some decent beer to review, even in the US? I’ve stumbled across a few bottles of Chimay Blue once, in the midst of rural Vietnam. Anyways, I agree with Balze, Orval is definitely one of the best out there (try Draeckenier – brewed in the Aalst region).

    BTW, as a Belgian living in the UK, I try to stay as far away as possible from anything resembling British beer – it is as if you’re drinking a pint of someone else’s vomit.

    1. Balze says:

      Draeckenier – Thx for the tip.

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