Dubbed “The World’s First Champagne Lager,” Krait Prestige, an 8.0% alcohol by volume beer, launched recently in the U.S. at Ono restaurant at Hotel Gansevoort in New York City.
Krait Prestige comes from U.K. brewer Cobra Beer, founded by Lord Karan Bilimoria, which began selling a premium lager—simply called Cobra Beer—in the U.K. in 1989. This beer was launched in the U.S. in 2004, but the name was changed to “Krait” because of a trademark conflict with the word “Cobra” on an American beer (Krait is Indian for “cobra”). In addition to Krait Beer, the brewer also sells Krait Free (0% alcohol) and Krait Light (low calorie/low carb) in the U.S.
Krait Prestige differs from most lagers—perhaps all lagers—in that it’s bottle-conditioned (refermented) in Champagne bottles with cork closures and wire cages. The elegant bottle design includes gold embossing on a black background with the brand’s signature elephants.
It’s not unusual for ales to be refermented in the bottle, but this may be a first for a lager—at least one brewed in Belgium. Cobra Beer brews most of its beers at Poland’s Browar Belgia, part of Belgium’s Palm Breweries, but Krait Prestige is brewed at Belgium’s famous Rodenbach brewery (best known for Rodenbach Grand Cru).
Krait Prestige is gold in color; on pouring it’s slightly cloudy because of the yeast remaining in the bottle. The aroma is sweet and light, with a trace of spicy yeast. The first sip reveals a typical sweet lager flavor, which develops into a pleasing fruitiness. The body is full and creamy, rolling around on the tongue and finishing with a sweet finish and a trace of dryness. Hop bitterness is low.
Krait Prestige will be sold across the country in high-end bars, clubs and gourmet markets in key cities. The suggested retail price for a bottle will range from $12-16.
Gregg Glaser is the editor of Yankee Brew News and the news editor of All About Beer Magazine. He writes about beer, saké, spirits, cider and mead for many other publications.
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