Beer like Heineken: 8 Similar Crisp Pale Brews to Try

Love Heineken and want a recommendation for another beer like it? You're in the right place.

Heineken is a Dutch lager with pretty moderate 5% ABV (the alcohol content). It's brewed according to German purity laws, which means the only ingredients are yeast, water, malted barley, and hops. Chances are you will like other beers that are similarly crisp and simple, so here are some new brews for you to try.

First things first, what do you like about Heineken?

Do you like the crisp, lightly hopped flavor and clean finish that is typical of a pale lager? Not too bitter, not too sweet, ABV that’s not too boozy, which is very drinkable and refreshing on a hot day?

Or are you interested in chasing after that more coppery aroma and flavor, known as “skunky” to beer enthusiasts, caused by the lightstruck hops in green or clear bottles? Heineken, with its iconic green bottle, is famous for this off-flavor (which is strangely absent in the cans).

Heineken is a pilsner, which is a very balanced European style of lager, but some Kolschs, Helles, and even a blonde ale are similar enough to make those styles great suggestions for fans of this Dutch classic.

Grolsch Premium Pilsner

For skunk lovers, Grolsch Premium Pilsner in the green swing-top bottle is a great substitute for a Heineken. At 5% ABV, this Dutch classic has the same refreshing, light body and flavor, crisp hop bite that isn’t too bitter, and a malt character that isn’t too heavy.

You can also find pints of Grolsch at your local pub if you prefer that skunk-free flavor that is similar to Heineken. Without the light contamination, the slight grassy notes and a more caramel nose are easier to notice.

Spaten Premium Lager

Spaten Premium Lager in the green bottle is another pick for Heineken fans who want that skunky flavor in a widely-distributed beer. This 5.2% ABV beer is actually a Dortmunder Helles style lager brewed in Germany, which has the same light body and balanced characteristics that Heineken boasts.

This beer has “bready” notes, characteristic of the Dortmunder, with a clean malt finish and light noble hop bitterness.

Carlsberg Pilsner

Just like Heineken, this beer is available in both cans and green bottles, so skunky Heineken fans and non-skunky fans alike can enjoy this Danish lager. It’s not as widely distributed, though, so you may need to head to a liquor store to give this one a try.

Carlsberg is a 5.2% ABV lager with more citrusy hop notes than Heineken, but with similar malt and body. Some claim that this pilsner tastes the most similar to Heineken, with its thinner head and very floral, hop-forward nose.

Pilsner Urquell

This time-honored Czech beer boasts that it was the first commercially produced lager in Europe. This pilsner has a denser head and a crisper hop character than Heineken, which some claim is even more refreshing.

Pilsner Urquell uses only Saaz hops in its brewing, which gives it a unique, earthy, and herbal light bitterness. This is the same hop used in Stella Artois, but not the same one used in Heineken, since that yeast is a unique strain that has been kept secret since the company began.

Stella Artois

Stella Artois is a Belgian Pilsner with a light, very bubbly head, and crisp, herbal flavor. It has a dryer finish than Heineken, but it’s still malty enough to be thirst-quenching without being sweet.

Light peppery notes in the hop-forward nose of this balanced beer make it a very popular choice. This lager is only 4.6% ABV and is available in most grocery stores in green bottles, although some prefer a skunk-free pint pulled from a bar tap.

Hofbrau Original

Hofbrau Original is a lager Helles-style German beer available in both brown and green bottles, so you can enjoy this one with or without the skunk off-flavor. It clocks in at 5.1% ABV and has a thinner head than Heineken.

This one is slightly maltier and sweeter than a Heineken but is still an easy-drinking and refreshing lager. Most grocery stores won’t carry Hofbrau beers, so you’ll need to find a specialty liquor store to try it.

Gaffel Kolsch

This one will be harder to find, but most specialty liquor stores will carry Gaffel Kolsch. It is a German Kolsch lager, with a slightly sweeter and more “biscuity” taste, a slightly different style than the pilsners listed above.

Gaffel Kolsch is 4.8% ABV and has that same crisp, light hop character, and floral notes of banana that non-skunk Heineken lovers rave about. This one only comes in a brown bottle, so delicate flavors are protected from light contamination.

Firestone Walker 805

This blonde ale is the most controversial pick on this list, but it deserves to be included because so many Heineken fans like it.  Firestone Walker 805 is a 4.7% ABV, American-made, and widely available ale that shares most of the beloved lager’s main characteristics.

Firestone Walker has created a refreshing, balanced, easy-drinking ale with a lightly-bittered, floral nose and a thin head. The main difference between 805 and Heineken is the slightly malty, but clean finish, which adds a hint of sweetness that the lager lacks.

Happy drinking!

No matter which of these beers you choose, you’ll find a drinkable, balanced, crowd-pleasing quaff that will make you long for Oktoberfest!