The original Dortmunder Bergmann Brauerei, which was apparently founded in 1796, closed it's doors in 1972. But in 2005 the brand was bought by people who wanted to reintroduce it to Dortmund. From what I gather they are either renting brewing time or are getting the beers contract brewed in two breweries to the south of Dortmund, but are just about to open their own brewhouse right in Dortmund. It sounds like quite an investment, and I wish them luck. It has to be hard to establish a brewery in a former industrial powerhouse like Dortmund where beer fuelled the working men, even if the brand name is from the past. "Harte Arbeit, ehrlicher Lohn" as it says on the back of the bottles; a clear link to the industrial heritage of Dortmund.
As with most German breweries, there is a Pils, an Export, and a dark beer, this time a Schwarzbier and there is a Spezial. I can't help wondering why new breweries don't look outside of Germany at the micro revolution elsewhere, and which is no longer new, and consider bringing something different to the public. I know it might be risky with conservative drinkers, but it could also be a way of marking a brand out as different to the rest, and I'm beginning to suspect that at least a significant percentage of German drinkers may be open to change if it's made available to them.
Anyway, the reason these chaps came to my attention is that one of the people involved in this new Bergmann Brauerei happens to be a friend of a colleague at work. This said colleague, who has helped brew a beer in my kitchen (hi Markus!), brought a couple of bottles in for me to taste.
The Bergmann Pils is a rich golden yellow with a dense white head. The aroma initially seemed to lean towards sweet malts, but this gave way to a vegetal character with a hint of orange. The flavour is quite sharp at first, citric, almost metallic, and while a sharp edge stays throughout it is balanced with a fullish body. The hops are prominent, but for the first half I couldn't shake a slight plastic/resiny aftertaste that was very like what I got with some other brews. I now associate this taste with the use of hop extract, and until I taste a beer that has this resiny flavour but has not used extract, I will continue to believe this. Fortunately in this case this flavour seemed to be volatile, and halfway through the glass it wasn't noticable. The lasting flavours are more vegetal, slight almond and an interesting minty freshness to the finish. Overall, an easy drinking 4.8% beer with a little more body than a regular northern pils. It's a bit one-dimensional and I'd prefer to see a more complex hop character to balance the body. Maybe this will change when they have their own premesis.
The Bergmann Schwarzbier (pictured on top) is a really dark old-oak brown with an enticingly fruity/roasty aroma. The first thing that hits me is that the carbonation is quite low, at least in this bottle, giving it a silky smoothness. The next is the fruitiness. It's sweet in a fruit-like way, with heavy dried figs, vanilla and a touch of dark toffee. The finish is slightly peppery with a hint of coffee. Like most Schwarzbiers I've tried outside of Thuringia, it's not actually schwarz, and it hasn't the same level of dark roasted malts. Nevertheless, this is pretty dark compared to some from this area of Germany, and I have to say that I found this really juicy and moreish. It feels lighter than it's quoted 5.3%. A little more carbonation might help lift the flavours a bit more, but as I write this, I'm opening the second bottle I got.
I hope to try their Export soon, as to me this is Dortmund's primary contribution to the beer world, and I haven't had enough authentic examples.