Wednesday, 24 June 2009

A Pair of Classic Altbiers

I haven't been to Düsseldorf in years. Well, the airport doesn't count. Although I would love to get a day to myself to wander the Altsadt and do an Altbier pub crawl, it's not going to happen very soon, so I have to rely on bottles from the wonderful Trinkgut store.

Uerige Alt, a clear, deep reddish brown, is widely considered to be a characterful Altbier. I was approaching it carefully hoping my dreams would not be dashed. The flavour provides a toffee-like sweetness with slight salted butter undertones. With burnt caramel, wood and a slightly tannic/curacao bitterness combined with a slight wash of pears for good measure. It has a very smooth mouthfeel while drinking. This has a lot of interesting flavours that dart about while you drink, fading to a persistent dry bitterness that invokes that bitter orange that flashed through the flavour, mixed with a pine-like tannic quality. If this is how it is in the bottle, I have to try it from the cask. Complex and delicious.

Füchschen Alt shows a beaautiful, thick creamy-looking head on a burnished old-copper body. Te aroma suggests toast and almonds. The initial taste is interesting in that the mouthfeel is slightly oily and soft, while the body feels thin. Odd. It has a clean, pronounced hop bitterness with a herb-like character, and fruity, raisin-y elements with a touch of banana deep down. I got "that taste" that I don't like that I sometimes get with hop extract, and sure enough, they use hop extract. Why? I also thought it was interesting that the showed the bottled date and that the best before date was exactly a month after that. I had it a month and a week after the bottling date. I wasn't overly impressed with this, although I wouldn't have said no to another. I will of course try it again, and preferably fresher in the tavern. You really should visit their crazy website too.

7 comments:

Séan Billings said...

I have a soft spot for alt bier ever since that summer working in Detmold, North Rhine-Westphalia. Curiosity prompted a 17 year old Séan to buy a bottle of Schlösser Alt and that was when I realised that there was more to beer than lager.

Uerige Alt sounds great, but I can't see myself having a chance to try it any time soon :(

Barry (Adeptus) said...

My local drink store can get 15 litre casks of the stuff in on order (actually, for a lot of the Alt and Kölsch brands). I've been trying to think of an excuse to get one (and maybe reuse the cask). :D

What was Detmold like by the way? It's 100km east of here, and we've never gone over that way. Is it as flat as the Münsterland/Netherlands?

Séan Billings said...

Flat as a pool table. I was working in a textile factory in a little village for the summer. Serious lack of teenage kicks, I can tell you.

Séan Billings said...

Oh and as for the cask. Do they not have BBQ's in Münster?

Barry (Adeptus) said...

They most certainly do. It's more the getting enough people to finish 15 litres in one evening. I was at the company Sommerfest last weekend, and that would have been ideal, but I wasn't on the committee this year (thank f***!).

As it happens, there is an impromptu BBQ planned tomorrow in the company boathouse. I'm offering to buy a cask if they move it to the office, as it clashes with a beer tasting I'm running here tomorrow :D (Goose Island IPA and my own most recent Pale Ale, Klosteiner)

Russ said...

On tap Füchschen was my favorite of the Altstadt Altbiers (and their Weihnachtsbier is even better). If you can't make it to Düsseldorf, maybe you could track down a mini-keg of it? I know they sell them at the pub, though I don't know if they're distributed elsewhere. I was tempted to bring one home, but figured it would be difficult to pack one in my suitcase. ;-)

Barry (Adeptus) said...

Hey Russ. I actually tried to get a mini-cask (15 litres) of Uerige for a BBQ a couple of weeks ago, but they have to be ordered in advance. It's something I will do, and I can also order Füchschen. I haven't seen the smaller 5 litre mini-kegs of either yet though. Would be easier to get through solo :D