According to a flurry of media reports at the backend of last week, drinkers can’t tell the difference between Stella, Heineken and Budvar. Obviously this didn’t go down too well with the folks in České Budějovice and they responded by questioning whether the mere 138 participents used in the blind-taste test had “had their tongues cut out?”.
Always one for a challenge, I decided to see if I could tell the difference between the three and seeing as how I already had a bottle of Budvar in the fridge, it was just a matter of purchasing the other two from a local supermarket. Now, I don’t have proper blind tasting equipment, black glasses, rooms with red lights, etcetera, so all I could do was get my wife to pour the three of them for me so I didn’t know which one was which.
If you’re going to try this yourself, I wouldn’t recommend having all three poured and lined up like I did, as you can tell which is which just by looking at them. The Stella is anemic and the lightest of the three, while the Budvar has the deepest colour and the Heineken is the one with the most bubbles. I tried to ignore how they looked and just tried to concentrate on how they smelled and tasted.
Surprisingly there wasn’t much to differentiate them on aroma, especially the Heineken and Budvar. Taste wise it was obvious which one was the Stella, it was much thinner and didn’t taste like something you’d want to actually drink. I was surprised by the Heineken, it was actually quite drinkable and I think if I’d done a proper blind-taste, I might have struggled initially to separate it from the Budvar. Having said that, for me, Budvar has more body than the other two and doesn’t get noticeably nastier the more you drink of it.
I’m pleased to say that, while it wasn’t exactly a proper blind test, I correctly identified the three glasses that were in front of me. Did I learn anything though? Yes, Stella really is quite nasty, Heineken smells pretty much the same as Budvar and is quite nice in small quantities and that I’d much rather drink Budvar than the other two any day of the week.