Another little trilogy, this time from the Mecklenburgische Brauerei Lübz, a fairly large regional brewery (1.3 million hectolitres annually apparently) in the former eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The brewery is now part of the Carlsberg group, and it's reach seems to be more than regional at this stage -- although even in the past, it exported a lot of beer to West Germany for the likes of Aldi, Spar and other discount markets. I had been pleasantly surprised by their drinkable, although nasty looking, Lübzer Urkraft (and I have another bottle in the cellar now that I think of it), so I wasn't dreading these beers that my wife brought back from a recent visit to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Lübzer Export is really quite a pale, straw-yellow beer with lots of carbonation feeding a desnse white head. The aroma is sweet, bready, with a light touch of resinous hops and a twist of lemon. The flavour is surprisingly malty up front, with bready notes as evident on the nose, and a suggestion of saltiness and lime. The hops are subtle, but give a nice enough grassy, herbal counterpoint to the malts. With a medium body, it goes down quite well, finishing somewhat dry with a hint of spice. It's perhaps a little watery as you go down, but in fairness, it's a straightforward, decent enough beer, and at 5.2% ABV is a touch higher than most lagerbiers, and I began to wonder if it was truer to what people think of as being export, what with the breadiness, stronger malts and a little more alcohol.
So how would the Lübzer Pils compare? Well, I clearly wasn't very inpressed by it, as my notes just wander off and do something less boring instead. It has little aroma, but what is there provides slight citric notes. The flavour is bready, and doesn't provide much hop bitterness at all, being more like the grassy, herbal notes I got with the Export. Not what I would think of as being a classic example of northern German pils, although it does meet the regulation 4.9% ABV. To answer my own question though, it did not compare well...
And so on to the Lübzer Bock, an altogether different beast at 7%, with a ruddy brown complexion, and a tan head that dissipates quickly. It smells bock-like, delivering that sweet, malty undertone, but also with some fruity notes and a fair dose of toastiness. This all comes though in the taste too, as it's certainly malty-sweet, not too sugary, thankfully, with toasted bread and a muted berry-like fruitiness. The finish does strange things though, as it's cut with a strange, almost bitter-almond in the finish. It goes like this: take a mouthful, feel malty sweetness as described above. Swallow, and you get berries and apples. Don't take another mouthful, but swallow again, and burnt toast and almonds appear along with a creeping alcohol warmth. Repeat till glass is empty. I don't think I've ever had such a well-defined three-way split in flavours appearing in stages. Not a bad bock at all.
I should point out also that none of these beers make use of hop extract, which I think is almost unusual in Germany for a brewery of that size.