A little while ago I mentioned the very attractively packaged, own-branded beers from BraufactuM. This was in the context of exclusivity, as the presentation, and the price of these beers seems aimed at a particular type of person. But are they any good? I was lucky enough to have the chance to take three of their beers for a little taste drive.
BraufactuM Darkon is described as an "elegant Schwarzbier" at 5.4% ABV. It has a light roast and toffee aroma, with some fruitiness. The initial impression on the flavour is that of a thin malt drink with a pleasant raisin fruitiness with light coffee and chocolate notes. Remarkably floral at the back, it delivers a pronounced herbal bitterness, washed away by thin caramel flavours. It's nice that this bitterness gives a sharp contrast to the sweet and roast flavours, but it ends on a bit of a bilious sour note. Better when drinking, and not good to stop so. Interesting, but not a balance of flavours that works for me. Well, not the sick.
Their Roog Rauchweizen raises the ABV to a respectable 6.6%, and pours dark, muddy brown. It delivers a light smoke aroma, gentle, but certainly present, on top of a classic Weizen banana-like foundation, combining into a smoked-fruit effect. Rather good! If has a soft, juicyfruit/bubblegum and strawberry-like flavour, with a spritzy carbonic bite, followed by a very pleasant, sweet smokiness. Well-balanced and hitting all the classic Weizen buttons with the added dimension of smoke, I have to say, this is the best Rauchweizen I've had. Others, including the more famous ones from Schlenkerla and Spezial, just didn't get the balance right, in my mind. Lovely.
And on to the BraufactuM Indra, a 6.8% Weizen India Pale Ale. I was looking forward to this one most, to see what a German interpretation, including Cascade hops, would turn out like. With a lively carbonation and that orange hue, it looks every bit the Weißbier, but that's where it stops. I have to admit, my first impression was Wow! A huge grapefruit aroma leaps out from under that dense, fluffy head. It has an interesting mix of flavours. The hops elements are way to the fore, with grapefruit and lemon banging it out. There's a grainy middleground, somewhat mealy, but with a robust fruitiness suggesting orange, pears and a light caramel. I'm not sure what yeast was used, as it has none of the hallmark Weizen flavours that I expected, but perhaps it just makes heavy use of wheat. I have to admit, I made no other notes as it was a complete distraction of a beer.
So, are they worth it? Well, that depends. Flavour-wise, I was really impressed. The Roog, at €4.99 for 330ml was the first Rauchweizen I tried that I felt really worked, and it exceeded expectations. Similarly, I’m a big fan of the American interpretation of IPAs, and the Indra checked all of the boxes, and then some. Simply brilliant. But at €5.99 for 330ml, I simply cannot justify that as a regular purchase, especially as it is most likely made locally. Sadly, that means that while at best, they may expect an occasional purchase for curiosity, they won’t be getting regular custom from me (sad for me too!). I can’t help wondering if this kind of pricing is shooting themselves in the foot, but then there will always be someone with more money than sense.
Many thanks to my friend and whisky pimp, Rüdiger, for sharing these with me. I'm tempted to try more.