Sometimes your favorite beer is everything you need. Other times you want to try something new. Heineken drinkers have lots of great options for similar beers.
Heineken is a European pale lager with a slightly sweet and bready flavor balanced by light hop bitterness and notes of fruit. Heineken drinkers will enjoy other European pale lager beers like Grolsch, Peroni, and Harp lager. For something with Heineken’s drinkability with a twist, try a Pilsner or a Blonde Ale.
Though these are some of the most popular options, there is a wide world of beer out there. Keep reading to discover what makes Heineken so good as well as many other options you might like.
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What type of beer is Heineken?
With one glance at the green bottle and red star, you know you’ve found a Heineken. However, this beer wasn’t always so iconic. During the Cold War, Heineken changed the red star to a white star with a red border. This new star remained their symbol until 1991.
Today, this beer is safe from being associated with communism. However, you may be wondering how to classify Heineken.
Heineken Premium Malt Lager is a European pale lager. This beer style is distinct from other lager styles due to its use of German noble hops. Heineken and other European pale lagers are similar to Munich Helles.
European pale lagers are not only known for the hops they use. These beers are characterized by a strong malt base, malt sweetness, and moderate bitterness.
Flavor profile and tasting notes
Most people who drink beer with any regularity have had a bottle of Heineken, but could you pick it out of a lineup by it’s flavor alone?
Heineken Lager is a decent example of a European pale lager. It tastes sweet and bready due to its malts. This flavor profile is supported by hoppy bitterness and some slight fruity notes. It is rounded out by a refreshingly crisp mouthfeel.
Ironically, the iconic green bottle is actually harmful to the flavor profile of the drink. Many Heineken bottles, especially where it is imported, have been irreversibly changed by sunlight. These lightstruck beers gain a skunk-like flavor that is off-putting to many.
For a better drinking experience, try to find Heineken on draught. You can also try canned Heineken.
To learn more about Heineken’s intended tasting notes, check out this article.
Other pale lagers similar to Heineken
Don’t let unfortunate bottling choices turn you off to pale lagers. If you like Heineken as it is supposed to be, there are a lot of other pale lagers for you to try.
Here are some of the best pale lagers to try if you like Heineken:
- Grolsch Premium Lager
- Carlsberg Danish Pilsner
- Peroni Nastro Azzurro
- Stella Artois
- Dortmunder Gold
- Kronenbourg 1664 Lager
- Harp Lager
- St. Pauli Girl
- Birra Moretti
Let’s take a look at these great beers!
Grolsch Premium Lager
You can’t go wrong with a Grolsch from Grolsch Breweries.
This Netherlands pale lager has 5% alcohol by volume and 28 International Bitterness Units (IBUs). Though the brewery is now owned by Asahi Breweries, Grolsch is still made with the same great recipe.
Brewed with Emerald and Magnum Hallertau hops, Grolsch is full of hop spiciness on a malt background. You will also taste a subtle sweetness.
You can find Grolsch in nearly every liquor store in the US.
Carlsberg Danish Pilsner
A hop, skip, and a jump away from the Netherlands and you’ll find the home of Carlsberg Danish Pilsner.
The Carlsberg Group makes this brew with a quality balance between malts and hops. Though fairly mild in most respects, it has a decent pilsner bite to it. Overall it is a clean beer with a crisp finish. This pilsner has a 5% ABV and 18 IBUs.
Carlsberg is available in most liquor stores across the continental United States.
Peroni Nastro Azzurro
You don’t have to travel to Italy with a Peroni in your hand.
This Italian pale lager has 5.1% ABV and 24 IBUs. It will make you think of an Italian summer with its slight sweetness and floral notes. As you drink it, you will also notice it is slightly bitter and dry on the finish.
Like Grolsch, the Peroni brewery is owned by Asahi Breweries. This beer is available in most liquor stores. If it is not available in your local store, there are plenty of online services for beer delivery like.
Like Heineken, this world-famous beer is a great choice for relaxing with a few drinks.
Stella Artois Lager has 5% ABV and 20 IBUs. Today, Stella Artois is owned by Anheuser-Busch. They plan to keep to the original ingredients: Saaz hops and malted barley. Stella Artois is light with notes of hop bitterness and a malt flavor base. It is a crisp beer with a dry finish.
Stella is available in basically every store that sells beer.
Learn more about what Stella Artois tastes like!
If you’re looking for something a bit smaller, Dortmunder Gold is for you.
Great Lakes Brewing Co. makes this lager in a Dortmunder style. It is brewed with Cascade and Mt. Hood hops for a total of 38 IBUs. The ABV is 5.8%. Dortmunder Gold is a smooth balance between malt sweetness and hop bitterness. The finish is crisp and smooth. While a full-bodied brew, it is not overpowering in its flavors.
You can find this beer on the East Coast in and around Ohio.
Beck’s is another beer that is owned and brewed by Anheuser-Busch. This has made some unhappy consumers, but the beer is still a good one.
This pilsner from Brauerei Beck & Co. has 5% ABV and 21 IBUs. Beck’s tastes like sweet malts and some hop flavors such as citrus. It is certainly a lighter beer, but it has a decent flavor profile.
You can find Beck’s in most beer stores across the country.
Kronenbourg 1664 Lager
This French beer from Brasseries Kronenbourg is another great European pale lager.
Kronenbourg 1664 Lager is brewed with Strisselspalt hops. The flavor profile starts sweet with malted barley. It develops into some hop bitterness and finishes clean. Overall it is mostly sweet but does have some balancing bitterness. It has an ABV of 5.5% and 20 IBUs.
You can find this brew in most but not all states in the US.
Next is a tasty beer from Ireland. No, not Guinness, but Harp Lager.
This 4.5% ABV pale lager has 21 IBUs. It is a little lighter than some of the others on this list. It tastes primarily of malt sweetness. There are some hop flavors present though they take the background.
You can find this lager nearly everywhere you can find Guinness – which is to say nearly everywhere.
St. Pauli Girl
Another classic is St. Pauli Girl.
Despite being brewed in St. Louis by Anheuser-Busch, this beer is brewed in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot. This European pale lager has 5% ABV and 20 IBUs. At first, the beer is slightly sweet from malted barley. It is also mildly bitter from the hops used. The mouthfeel is light and moderately dry.
You can find this beer in most liquor stores.
Last but not least is Birra Moretti. Thie brewery is actually owned by Heineken.
Birra Moretti is a pale lager with 4.6% ABV and 12 IBUs. It is another one of the lighter beers on this list. Because of this, it is easy to drink. The tasting notes are light malted barley and mild hop flavors. There is also a light fruity taste that doesn’t last long. It finishes fairly dry and crisp.
You can find Birra Moretti in most but not all US states.
Other beer styles you might like if you love pale lagers
If you go through the above beer recommendations and want something more, you may be interested in trying some different styles. Luckily, there are several good styles you’ll like aside from pale lagers.
Here are some beer styles you might like if you drink pale lagers:
- German-Style Helles
- Blonde Ales
Let’s see what these styles have to offer.
The Germans make some truly great beer. One of their great styles is called Helles.
This style is characterized by its focus on malt flavors. This shows itself as malt sweetness. It is moderated by some light hop flavors and bitterness. A good Helles is meant to be enjoyed on a hot day.
As I mentioned earlier, Heineken is very similar to a Helles. In general, this style will have more malt flavors to balance the hops. The ABV ranges from 4.8 to 5.6% while IBUs range from 18 to 25.
While there are a few varieties within the umbrella of Bock, the traditional Bocks are darker lagers.
Bocks will often be quite sweet from malt flavors. Though they are also expected to have some balancing roasted malt flavors. Some will have hop flavors but they are secondary.
This style is a bit more of a departure from Heineken than some of the others. Bocks are definitely sweeter than Heineken is. They are also a little stronger on average at 6-7.5% ABV. IBUs tend to be around 20 to 30.
Pilsners are a great style to try if you are a fan of hops but not to the degree of an IPA.
German-Style pilsners should have some prominent malt sweetness in addition to noticeable hop flavors. However, these flavors shouldn’t be overpowering.
Some good pilsners should be fairly close to Heineken. The difference should be apparent in the level of hop flavors. That said, it depends on the brewer. German-Style pilsners can have IBUs as low as 25 to as high as 50. The average ABV is between 4.5 and 5.3%.
One of the more popular styles of wheat beers (or Witbiers) is Hefeweizen.
This style is characterized by its cloudy yellow appearance. The primary flavor notes are bananas and cloves. There are some malt and hop flavors present, but they aren’t the focus.
Like a Bock, this style is rather different than Heineken. However, a good hefeweizen can be easy to drink and tasty like Heineken. The average IBUs are low at 10 to 15 while the ABV range is between 5% and 5.5%
A simpler beer that you may enjoy is a blonde ale.
These ales are relatively balanced when it comes to malt and hop flavors. Since this is the case, brewers can include some extra additive flavors. Sometimes this is extra spices.
Blonde ales will be generally similar to Heineken. Both are meant to be simple beers that focus on tasting good. Common IBUs range from 15 to 25. ABVs are usually between 4% and 5%.