Sunday, 5 October 2008

Pints of the Valkyries?

I got a little group of beers from Brauerei Wagner, Merkendorf, in my Bamberg Box (ok, so it wasn't all Bamberg), along with six of their Dunkels, named Richard Wagner Dunkel. How could I resist? I do quite like Wagner, though admittedly mostly the pieces used in John Boorman's Excalbur (of course I like Orff too!). Anyway... I have been dipping into the Wagner Beers occasionally, and the other night I tried the last one so thought I'd describe the collection.

The Brauerei Wagner Pils didn't exactly jump out at me in the aroma stakes, but certainly looked the part with its pale straw colour and brilliant white head. It's fairly dry, with a slight tingle that is a mixture of a light carbonation and a pleasent hop spiciness. Definitely not challenging, but the almost buttered-white-bread flavour with the spice undertones makes it a smooth and easy drinking beer. I'm beginning to like the Franken interpretation of pils considerably more than the northern versions!

The Wagner Lagerbier - Ungespundet, a yellowing-amber affair, has a toasty sweetness and grassy hops to the aroma . This was only the second time I'd had a beer tagged with this term and, unlike the Mahr's Brau offering, this did feel like the carbonation was more gentle and restrained. This left a residual carmel-like sweetness intact on the tongue, with a slow build-up of hop bitterness that never really takes off. Nice enough, but to be honest I would have preferred more carbonation as halfway down it was completely flat and began to taste like malt-sweetened weak tea.

Their Richard Wagner Dunkel pours a clear chestnut brown. It has a fruity, bready aroma with hints of almond. There's a medium body with toffee and slightly overdone toast notes. I had begun to wonder whether it might be a one-trick-pony, but after a few mouthfuls the hops came out from the background to cut what could otherwise have been a too sweet beer with an almost apple-like bitterness and slight roasted undertones making it apparently drier feeling. There's certainly stuff going on in the mouth, but the the toast and bitterness provide the longer finish. An interesting Dunkel that manages to be refreshing while acceptably sweet.

The Märzen is a bronzed amber with a billowy white head. It has a warming effect that feels like more than its 5.5%. When reading Roger Protz's descriptions of beers I never understood what he meant by "juicy malt". I do now! This has a mouth-watering malty sweetness that makes you want to gulp the whole thing down. The hops provide a drying effect with a pepper-like finish which compliments a hazelnut roastiness. It's reasonably well carbonated too, but not bloating, and I think this helps keep it from becoming cloying. I don't want to say it is complex, but there's lots of different aspects to like about this beer. I wish I had another (but I have a couple of Dunkels left to fall back on).


Mike Ring said...

I smell some exchange here....!!!!

Adeptus said...

Haa! I knew something would grab your attention. I'll happily order more of this stuff. Wish my local drink store stocked it. Hmmm, maybe I should ask them to!