Heileman's Special Export | Pabst Brewing Company

56 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Heileman's Special ExportHeileman's Special Export

Brewed by:
Pabst Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Dortmunder / Export Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): not listed

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by elmocoso on 08-21-2002

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 56 | Ratings: 113
Photo of ChopperSmith
2.1/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I grabbed one at a friends house, for old times sake. So, here goes...

Appearance: Pours a pale yellow color with a thin white head that fades fast. Little or no lacing.

Smell: Mainly whiffs of corn, grains and alcohol. Slight stale beer smell and slight skunk.

Taste: Sweet and thin with corn and alcohol the main flavors. The carbonation masks the bite of the alcohol a bit, and leaves a crisp dry and acidic corn flavor on the tongue.

Mouthfeel: Thin and heavily carbonated, especially from the bottle. A little less carbonated if you pour into a glass and let it breathe for a few minutes. Leaves an acidic alcohol tang on the tongue on the finish.

Overall: It has been a long time since I've had this beer. We used to drink it when I was young (16-18) to get buzzed fast. It's around 6.7% ABV, much stronger than the usual 4% Miller High Life, Bud, or PBR we used to drink back then. It also has that strong acidic alcohol taste, which I don't like now. Back in the day it was the best "bang for the buck" besides the really awful tasting malt liquor stuff. But, with all the decent beers out there now, I never need to drink this crap again.

 1,154 characters

Photo of Chaz
3.2/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a brilliant, pale gold in color -- a bit darker than your average American Pale Lager. Fairly good retention (and fairly good lacing) on the barely off-white head. First impression is it's at least average for the style.

Carbonation looks normal in the glass -- streams of very small and uniform-sized bubbles. It's worth noting up front that I typically drink this one straight from the can at my favorite local dive, even though they often offer me a shaker pint. ; )

If this were an perfectly average American Pale Lager I'd think there wouldn't be much of anything going on in the aroma department. But in this beer there's at least a nice character of pale, base malt (shades of a good Helles?) in addition to a clean (and neutral) lager / yeast character. Not much in the way of hops of course, aside from a light grassy character and the barely-discernible twang of citrus zest. But to that end it's much as I've come to expect from Euro imports in the same style.

On that note, some think of the Export / Dortmunder Export style in particular as little more than a stronger Munich-style Helles, but that's never been my impression. I've always considered Exports to have less malt subtlety than is typical of a good Helles, along with being stronger and more bitter / dry. To that end Dortmunder Export was the pale European style which would always left me wanting a Pils rather than another one of the same.

Oh well, on to the palate.

Semi-sweet on the first sip, with a bit of hops half-way through (some of that lemon rind character from the nose) and overall a really well-balanced impression, leaning toward dry finish and even some biscuit malt notes! Carbonation is as expected --lighter-- but not without some effect across the tongue and upper palate.

The bitterness (which I especially prize in a Pils) is rather light in this one, but there's just enough.

Although the recipe has changed a lot over the years, I know that the brewery (Pabst generous hosts at Miller, mostly) have always tried to keep the various "heritage" recipes in the Pabst portfolio fairly distinct, and this one has always been a fairly decent American approximation of an Export -- even while being packaged (30 packs!) for the "Price"-driven buyer.

I keep coming back to the base malt, and even knowing that there's a corn adjunct in here, I can't knock that so much as I can marvel at the rather good drinkability and balance, along with an actual grain/grainy character to the malt.

The mouthfeel is good, and as with the Light version, it is fuller / richer than I expect from the style. Likewise, this is a very, very clean beer with no off-flavors.

It's still pretty good for what it is, and better than average for a American Pale / Adjunct Lager.

Served in a Dave's Brewfarm "imperial pint" glass : )
Best-by date: NOV0716 (bottom of can)

 2,881 characters

Photo of JohnnyLaw
2.84/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Average lager. Mild taste, mild aroma, usual color and head. If you prefer a more robust tasting lager, then this will feel "light". Ignore the noobs rating this low, it's an average beer.

 190 characters

Photo of JohnnyHopps
2.59/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - The beer poured a hazy yellow color with a bubbly white head.

Smell - I think the beer carries the aroma of walking into a dive bar. Cereal grains, in liquid form, are spilled on the floor.

Taste - My first impression is dry grass. Then, the cereal grains make their appearance before fading to a dry cereal aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - The beer is thin, but the cereral grains stick around for a while.

Overall - It is better than the majority of American Adjunct lagers.

 486 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
2.1/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Weak yellow sauce, super weak head that looks more like residue on top. Oxidized skunkiness.

Bitter, thin, light body, shitty hop schedule, corn. Sweet, unbalanced. I really can't envision any situation, hot, chicks, whatever, where this should come into play. Avoid.

 275 characters

Photo of Wer34truh
2.15/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

Miniscule head with massive carbonation. A very lively looking beer.

Smells like your regular dish-watery lager. Taste is pretty much reflective of such. A tad sweet, otherwise it's just generic. No better or worse than any other macro-lager. But as far as Pabst Brewing goes, I prefer their flag-ship beer.

 309 characters

Photo of kduke42
4.22/5  rDev +46%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I think this is a "consider the whole picture" winner of a beer. Generally cheaper to buy than Bud Light, its taste really captures some of a good, smooth German beer. It's not a 'prize winner,' in a straight up taste competition with fine craft beers or good imports, but it's a very drinkable beer. "Lawnmower beer" pricing, but way better than lawnmower beer taste.
I wish this was more readily available in my area. I can only find it on trips.

 450 characters

Photo of alehman
2.77/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

When I'm not drinking PBR between craft beers, I have Special Export. It's a decent tasting beer with an ABV of 5% compared to PBR at 4.74 (I called PBR on this one.)

A simple adjunct lager-like brew with a grainy taste and smell with medium carbonation that is fitting for a warm day and a lighter beer.

Overall, it is a mediocre beer. I love dark stouts and porters, so anything else seems like water, but I do enjoy a nice cheap Special Export from time to time.

 469 characters

Photo of RoamingGnome
2.63/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Heileman's Special Export

Poured from the green longneck, with a best by date of 9/22/14. I drank half this right from the bottle, and used a cylinder sampler glass for the rest. This was very well chilled.

A) Golden brew with a thin soapy head. Okay retention....

S) Corny with some grassy hop bitterness.

T) Corny with some grassy hop bitterness.

M) I so wanted to type corny with some grassy hop bitterness, but that wouldn't make any sense at all. The body is light, and the carbonation is lively. No surprises here.

O) My Dad tells me this is what beer snobs were drinking like 45 years ago. Yikes... Guess we've got it pretty good these days. There really isn't anything special about this at all, but if the name of the beer was just Export, well it just wouldn't have a nice ring to it. A fair lawnmower beer, if ice cold. I can't say I was very impressed. Meh...

 878 characters

Photo of MikeP
2.56/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

PROS: More hops than the average bottled macrobrew. At times, it reveals a faintly European flavor. The slightly lighter in texture doesn’t fill you up as quickly as heavy beers or ales. No sweetness.

CONS: The body of the beer – its flavor profile – is very thin. Lack of flavor. Without a stronger body of flavor to balance out the hops, it tends to become annoying after a while. And, it tends to develop sourness as you drink it.

Special Ex is best consumed with food, which has the felicitous effect of negating the negatives of the beer while emphasizing the positives.

 584 characters

Photo of hardy008
1.91/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours clear yellow with a small white head with fair retention, and not much lacing. Smells like grain, grass, and some skunk. Gotta love the green bottles.

Tastes like cooked corn and grain with some skunk. Would be at least somewhat better if not for the green bottle. Somewhat sweet flavor, not complex.

Light bodied with plenty of carbonation. Not a good beer.

 367 characters

Photo of fizzy
3/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

By reading other reviews it's apparent that most people don't remember the Special Export brewed by Heileman when it was brewed in LaCross, Wisconsin. At that time Special Export was a Krausened beer, like Old Style and was a beer a big step up from Old Style or pretty much any other of the hundreds of ordinary beers of it's day. Like Ballantine XXX Ale, Export pretty much only exists in label and fond memories or earlier days.

 431 characters

Photo of richerd
2.7/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Found this at City Wide Liquors in downtown South Bend, IN. I hadn't seen Special Export in years and decided to give it a try. Poured from a can. Could've been worse, could've been better. Pretty much a mediocre beer with a mediocre taste. Meh...

 247 characters

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
2.2/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Yellow beer, mild white head, about 1/8" in depth, very thin, disappears very quickly. Aroma was bad skunky, not the good kind, this was stale skunky instead of euro heneiken hop skunky.

Mild hopping, very light body, still that negative skunky aftertaste going on. A little on the sweet end, corny adjunct situation seems apparent, maybe its rice as well or in opposition but there's something not 100% barley in here judging by the sweetness and total lack of body. This is basically just a bmc type of lager, there is nothing special about it, other than the inflated price. These are prevalent in the Milwaukee-Chicago I-94 corridor.

WTF is an export lager? Never heard that terminology before.

 701 characters

Photo of TTAmod
3.28/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Can with 16 Jan 11 expiration date poured into pint glass.

A: Clear, medium-dark hued gold with a fervent, quickly dissipating white head.

S: Smells of light grass, grain, biscuit, some metallic smell.

T: Subdued grains and husks up front. There's a pleasant grass and light hop flavor at the end. The overall taste is slightly enveloped in a biscuity malt.

M: Pretty average.

O: It's not Dortmunder Gold, but it's better than something like DAB and for $5.99 for a 6-pack of tallboys, you can't do much better. The taste is pleasant and unoffensive. It's readily available here and I'll grab it before Miller or something similar when I'm in the mood to just have an easy-drinking, cheap session beer.

 708 characters

Photo of Humulus85
3.6/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My old standby when money is tight or when camping/canoeing in wild. Thought I'd give it a formal review. Poured from a 16oz can into my trusty nonic.

It produced a surprisingly thick, 1 1/2 finger head and some actual retention with minimal lacing. Color is typical pale straw yellow with copious bubbles.

Smells of grain and wheat. There is some slightly sweet malt and maybe a faint smell of hops. Very crisp and clean smelling.

Taste is cereal grains, a touch of malt. There is a nice dryness throughout that I will attribute to hops; no real hop flavor however.

Mouthfeel is heavier than your average American lager, and markedly dryer. Tons of carbonation.

Overall, and like I stated before, this is my go-to cheap beer for camping, canoeing, Sunday football. It actually has flavor and drinkability but only costs me $5 for a sixer of tall boys. Cheers!

 867 characters

Photo of RonaldTheriot
3.83/5  rDev +32.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Heileman's Special Export has a very thick, white head and a clear, golden appearance, with lots of bubbles streaming up and some minimal lacing. The aroma is faint, but a stereotypical American beer smell can be picked up. Taste is fuller, richer, and sharper than the average American-style lager, and one gets grain, sweetness, and a relatively high hop bite here. Mouthfeel is light to medium, and Heileman's Special Export finishes crisp, clean, dry, and refreshing. Overall, I really like this one and recommend trying it if you ever see it.


 552 characters

Photo of EgadBananas
3.16/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pale, straw color, with a big white fluff of a head that laces well. My first of this style, but I have to think this is looking good for it.

Definitely got a bisuity aroma to it with maybe the faintest touch of citrus hops, but I may be reaching. It's ok overall.

Biscuits on the taste and a hint of sweetness. I dont think I get any hops, unless it's mixed in with the usual suspects for a pale lager.

Feel is crisp, light, maybe too crisp like the carbonation is a bit much. Texture has a slight creaminess to it and it's got a clean finish.

It's refreshing, which will come in handy in the coming months with summer looming.

 635 characters

Photo of CorporateTool
3.58/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Special Export has a special place in my heart - an American beer that is light and drinks like an american beer, but tastes more like a German beer than most other domestic macro brews.

I used to drink from the bottle, so no real report on head/lacing. More bitter and full-flavored than your average macro brew. Pabst brands are all contract brewed by Miller, so this one is probably made in Milwaukee.

It's been several years since I've enjoyed one, so I can't give a better review until my next trip to the "Great White North". I'll edit this review as soon as I can refresh my memory...

 593 characters

Photo of LWG1970
4.14/5  rDev +43.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Was in Chicago for a Convention, Found this a the Liquor store.
I wish we could get this in Ohio. Brought a Six Pack Home, In Fact I am drinking one NOW..

Poured it into my Favorite Pilsner Glass, Light Head, Slight Lacing.
Great Easy taste, Very Smooth, but somewhat sharp. Sweet Aftertaste.

Got a Six Pack of 12 Oz Cans for about 3 Bucks.

Whan I go Back to Chicago I'll get a Case of Bottles to bring home..

 414 characters

Photo of emerge077
2.96/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A few years ago, there were a handful of dwindling corner taverns in Chicago that showcased Special Export signs above their doors, as opposed to the ubiquitous Old Style sign, with their interchangeable tagline: "Zimne Piwo" or "Cerveza Fria". These lighted Special Export signs have become extinct in trendier locales, but certainly still exist in the folds of the city where few care to look. To me, Special Export is a snapshot in time, a time capsule of tavern culture in Chicago, dating back a few decades.

Little known fact: This was the champion beer of the Chicago
Beer Society's first Fall Tasting in 1977 (credit to Steve H. for the info).

Tallboy can from the corner liquor store, $1.20. JAN3111 on the bottom of the can, still a few months til the best by date.

Pale pastel gold, about a finger of white foam that sticks at the edges, but audibly dissipates like rice krispies. There's some lacing happening, forming a drippy semicircle around the rim.

Stale grain aroma, puffed rice and corn cereal.

Floral hop component to the flavor, that almost becomes vegetal. Malt is present in the aftertaste. This actually has some hints of flavor compared to other macros. Honestly I prefer this over PBR.
Moderate carbonic bite, lots of CO2. Bland and flaccid, somewhat seltzery feel, hiccups are guaranteed.

With the green can and skunky hop presence, I can only imagine they are going for a Heineken clone here. Not too successful, but hey the can is cool I guess.

 1,484 characters

Photo of tone77
3.09/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to woodychandlerfor the trade.Poured from a 16 oz. can. Has a pale yellow color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of malts and grains. Taste is very mild, crisp and light, not much going on at all. Feels light in the mouth and is very drinkable. Overall a good beer on a hot day, but otherwise mediocre.

 307 characters

Photo of woodychandler
4.03/5  rDev +39.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

The CANQuest (TM) CANtinues to find new beers in a CAN as evidenced by my recent visit to Madison, WI by way of Chicago. CAN you dig it?

My pour initially produced a finger-and-a-half of rocky bone-white head, but its retention level caused it to do a pretty quick fade. Color was a deep golden-yellow with NE-quality clarity. Holy nose, Batman! This actually smelled like clean, unadulterated lager! It had a clean lager sweetness with just a hint of hops. Oh, be still, my beating heart! Mouthfeel was medium with a smooth, pleasant flavor of simple lager, slightly sweet with a touch of bitterness in the mouth. Finish was equally pleasant and devoid of any off flavors. Houston, we have a winner! This is definitely going into my cooler, if I had the opportunity to score some on a routine basis.

 801 characters

Photo of Mistofminn
3.02/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

My friend brought a bunch of these to a party once. Handed me one. I'd never had one before (and at the time had no idea whatsoever that Pabst brewed it). It's hard to remember exactly what this brew was like because it was our beer pong beer for the evening.

From what I remember, its best quality was drinkabilty. Goes down smooth and easy. Taste and smell weren't bad either. Although it was thin and watery, it had a nice carbonation to it. The appearance was not impressive in the least, but what do you expect. Not a bad beer pong beer if I do say so myself.

 565 characters

Photo of morimech
3.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

As a Dortmunder this is a below par example. As a macro-lager, it has decent flavor and a hell of a value. Pours a typical macro lager straw yellow with a white head that quickly disapears to just a thin cap. Very little if any lacing is left on the glass surface. The aroma is a bit schizo. Sometimes it smells fine with light malt and floral hops, other times it is grainy with a sweet corn and cooked pea aroma. If drinking straight from a can or bottle this shouldn't be much of a problem. Slightly sweet flavor and adjunct heavy. A touch of noble hops is present which sets it above many macros. Has a light body and fizzy carbonation.

If I am looking for a cheap beer with some decent flavor I will pick this up. I have always wondered if the ABV is higher than most macros.

 782 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Heileman's Special Export from Pabst Brewing Company
2.89 out of 5 based on 113 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.