Friday, 22 August 2008

A virtual tasting for non-German-beer-aphobes

Those nice people over at (Boak and Bailey in not-other words!) have created a list of beers that they would suggest non-beer-lovers try as a means to introduce them to the wide and varied tastes available in the beer world. Boak suggested that I create a list for German beer lovers who don't have the inclination to extend their taste buds outside of their own country's brews, so I though, yeah, could be (difficult but) fun.

I guess my list would have to be varied geographically and stylistically, as I'd be wanting to break the notion that all non-German beer is muck, and that beers not brewed according the gebot must be poison. A colleague who works in Zurich, but who worked in the UK for many years, told me today that he had been told some English ales had fish tails in them! I wonder is English beer used as a kind of bogey man here? Anyway! On with the list...

Cantillon Kriek Lambic

I'm sorry, I just have to include this. For shock value and also because I am sick of being told that fruit doesn't belong in beer! I suspect that even if tasted I would be told that it wasn't beer, but I have to try! I think some people would be pleasantly surprised though, and with such a tradition, this style should be able to hold its head high. A great aperitif.

Galway Hooker

Billed as an Irish Pale Ale, this is one of my favourite Irish craft beers for a session, and in fairness, this would have alot to do with choosing it. But having introduced a few people to it, I think it's a great beer for showing what a nice spicy flavour you can get out of hops without overstressing hop-virgin taste buds. A gateway to hop-headedness if you will, but balanced by a malty sweetness. I recall my former manager trying it for the first time and making a face. I told him to have three more mouthfuls and then tell me. He had a few more pints of it that night and has had it many times since. I was pleased. This beer would break away from the Irish Guinness/Kilkenny stereotyping, and I suspect that the Northern Germans who like a bit of hop would appreciate this.

Goose Island IPA

Assuming they hadn't given up by now, I'd dose them with GIIPA. The aroma alone should impress, and I think the combination of the mass of hop flavours and full body are just so delicious that it would erase the notion that American beers are bland fizzy piss. I don't count this is an extreme beer, just a really tasty drop that I've seen many people convert to. "Let loose the Goose" as we used to say near the end of a night of beers in the Bull and Castle (maybe they still do, but I'm not there!).

Fullers ESB

I think it's hard to choose something to follow the Goose. Wanting to try and raise the maltometer a bit, perhaps with more "traditional" bitterness, I badly wanted to put a Stout in, but I think this would do the ticket. This is also hard as there is so much choice in English Ales, and I wanted something in here to blow away this misconception that seems to exist here that English beer is crap ("especially their lagers" is what I've been told several times). The fact that I like it has nothing to do with it.

Gouden Carolus Classic

I know I've already had a Belgian beer in, but I think this would redress the suspicion of things like fruit being added to beers in Belgium, a sturdy classic is needed to show how the next door neighbours can create beers of such sheer depth of flavour that are wonderful alternatives to Doppelbocks, and a great nightcap.


I think I'd have a Belgian Wit in reserve, probably Hoegaarden, but I didn't want the list to become a tour of Belgium though beer (I'd do that another day). I'd also keep Clotworthy Dobbin on the sideline, as I think the mix of flavours and that great chewy mouthfeel is so nice. Or maybe a 3 Monts Biere de Garde, just to have something french in there.

Making this list took longer than I thought. I'm so indecisive! On reflection, the end may be a bit heavy, and the choices a bit pedestrian, but they are all in contrast to the styles of beer that are most popular in the area where I now live, so I'll stop thinking too hard about it.

I think i will try to put this into practice in the next couple of months, but I suspect the choice will be completely different due to availability (except for the Belgians which I can get online easily). In fact, if I were to do this I'd be tempted to pick a single country and explore the tastes it has to offer while trying to hammer home the fact that brewing elsewhere has as long a tradition as in Germany. Stay tuned...


Boak said...

You'd start with Cantillon? Wow, you're hardcore...

This looks like an interesting and well-balanced tasting -- it'll be interesting to see it in practice!

In your experience, do Germans drink much beer from outside their own immediate region?

Re fishtails - this is presumably to do with use of isinglass (fish bladders) to clear the beer. So it's not that crazy a rumour...

Adeptus said...

Ahh, I'm not that hardcore, but in this case it'd definitely be a form of shock treatment. I might lose some patients though :)

I know from some relations in Northern Germany that they definitely prefer Pils, and they reckon the best Pils come from that area, no doubt! But my neighbour is drinking stuff like Mönchshof and Löwenbräu, so I'm not sure how far preferences generally range. I'm down south-west for this week, where my wife is from, so I'll start observing!

Never thought of the isenglas. You're a mythbuster! Awful stuff to work with, so I hardly bother with finings myself. I would have thought they'd use this in brewerys in Germany too, so I must find out.

Pivní Filosof said...

Very interesting tasting. I would have definetively included a wit, just for the sake of showing Germans how good "impure" wheat beers can be when done right. I would have also included a good Oatmeal stout or something similar for the same reason.

Adeptus said...

Yeah, there's an endless supply of potential candidates for "impurity" that just beg to be included. This is just one list. I have a feeling I'l be making many more :D

Pivní Filosof said...

Actually, just for the sake of having fun seeing the faces of Hans, Klaus and Fritz, I woud have made blind tasting of solely "impure" beers, wich I would disclose after the thing is finished.

Adeptus said...

Well, I don't know a Hans, and the only Fritz and Klaus I know - gentlemen both - are pensioners who are probably set in their ways anyway. :)

Stereotypes aside, this was an idea I was toying with as I am planning a few beer evenings in my home. To be honest, from the people I have spoken to about beer, I reckon it's be 60/40 about whether people really care if it's "pure", in favour of those who wouldn't care as long as it tasted good. I think a survey is needed!

I will start planning a blind tasting however! Gonna be fun :)