Trying out Grolsch Premium Pilsner brewed in Netherlands vs brewed in Canada

Can of Grolsch (Left) Brewed in Canada under license - dating code Mar 22, 2023 (? impossible to read) / Bottle of Grolsch brewed in Netherlands - dated July 5, 2023
It's already been over two years since Labatt/AB InBev started brewing Corona in Canada instead of Mexico. Since then, we've seen a few Canadian breweries be bought up by international brewers to be able to brew the beer domestically in Canada - Amsterdam Brewing was bought by Royal Unibrew out of Denmark and now brews Faxe in Toronto. Waterloo Brewing was bought out by Carlsberg group, also of Denmark, and now brews Carlsberg in Canada, a first since 2008.

We're only going to see more and more import beers being made domestically and I just discovered the other day that Grolsch (Asahi Breweries) is now made by a brewery out of New Brunswick.. I have my assumptions on who the brewery is but as far as I know, Sleeman has the rights to the beer in Canada but as far as I know they don’t have a brewery in that province.

Today I’ll be doing a comparison review of Grolsch made in Canada (New Brunswick) vs Grolsch made in the Netherlands. Seeing that Grolsch imported from the Netherlands (for now) is still in green swing-top bottles, the taste will likely vary between the two.

Grolsch Premium Pilsner (brewed in the Netherlands)
Grolsch Premium Pilsner brewed in Canada

Appearance: Clear, light golden straw body with a good amount of carbonation in the body. The head is pretty frothy with a snow-white appearance to it, diminishes pretty quickly leaving behind a sprinkling of lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Sweet with a honey-forward profile to it. A hint of pepper-like spice that tickled the nostrils, light grassy hop profile, hint of toasted bread. Quite smooth, so far.

Taste: Mildly sweet with a honey profile to it, slight nuttiness to it, crisp malt, a bit of a tingling sensation from the hops but the hops themselves are mostly giving off a slight grassy profile to the beer. Very dry for mouthfeel. Pretty smooth, light and crisp.

Overall Thoughts: I had expectations for a skunky aroma/taste but I got none of that here. It’s an easy-to-drink Pilsner that it’s easy to see why I was drinking this regularly exactly twenty years ago. Quite dry for mouthfeel, notes of honey, a slight nuttiness and a hint of grassy hops at the end. Solid Pilsner from Netherlands. Since when have their swing-top bottles been only 450mL? I swore they were not as “chubby” and taller years ago.

Grolsh Premium Pilsner (Brewed in Canada) 
Grolsch Premium Pilsner brewed in Canada
Appearance: Pours a clear, bright, golden straw body with a very, very heavy amount of bright, snow white head on top. I have to wait a good minute or five just so the head dies down a bit. The head eventually does, leaving behind a very thick lacing on the glass as well as a bunch of “piles” of bubbles on top of the beer.

Aroma: Quite a sweet-forward Pilsner with notes of honey, wet dough, wet grain. It’s sweeter than I was hoping for but then I’m trying to remember the last time I remember this kind of aroma.. oh I do, 15 or more years ago when I had a 5L mini keg of… Grolsch!

Taste: Not as sweet as the aroma but it’s giving off notes of honey, a bit of graininess, a slight hint of hop that gives it a bit of grassiness but also a slight hint of bitterness. It’s fairly light, crisp, smooth the palate. The mouthfeel is pretty much watery and the aftertaste is a slight bitter finish at the end.

Overall Thoughts: Part way through reviewing the Canadian brewed one I was thinking I was reviewing the Dutch classic. So they have done a decent job. I hope they keep the swing-top bottles as an import because sometimes you just want to feel like you’re able to afford to travel internationally just by buying a beer.

The OG Dutch Pilsner is quite a bit drier on the palate than the Canadian, both are very easy to drink, smooth, crisp and crushable.

Price-wise as of February 2024, it's about the same - $3.79 CAD per bottle or can.. you do get more out of the Canadian can than the OG swing-top bottle but the bottle is great for home brewers/reusing.

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