Monday, 11 April 2011

Braufactum Darkon, Roog and Indra.

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.

12 comments:

Ghost Drinker said...

They sound great! The labels look quite like the Ola Dubh range too, I bet it's super stuff.

Beeron said...

They sell these at the Frische Paradies chain, I previously tried the Indra and "Clan" which was a Scotch Ale, both of which were great. Shame about the price like you say. When you can get an imported American IPA from Bierzwerg for half the price...?

Simon Johnson said...

Tried some of these recently and picked up a few more bottles in Burton. Solid stuff, stylish presentation with just enough substance. Mind you, I'm only paying two quid a bottle which makes a difference...

Barry M said...

The last two were super all right, Ghostie. I'd love to try their barley wine, but I ain't shelling out 17 Euro for 330 ml of that in a hurry! :)

Beeron, yes, exactly. Flying Dog beers from Bierzwerg are bloody good and more reasonable, considering where they came from.

Scooper... 2 sodding quid? How's that?

The Beer Nut said...

I think it's a sign of a healthy beer culture that someone has decided there's a market for beer at this price, even if it's not going to be you that buys it. I'm heartened to see BrewDog Abstrakt shifting in Dublin at €15 for 375ml: somebody has to be taking beer seriously to buy that.

If the beer didn't justify the premium, that would be more of a worry. I see a resurgence of Estralla Inédit round these parts at the moment :-x

Russ said...

How bizarre that they don't disclose where the beer is brewed. The funny thing is that I had a dream last night that I was in a pub in Germany (not surprising as I'm in the process of booking rooms for our upcoming vacation) and was shocked to see cask ales, barleywines, and other non-German beers everywhere. I was excited to see the beer culture expanding but disappointed that I couldn't get a Pils! Then I woke up and wasn't sure if I was relieved or disappointed to find it was only a dream. The more I think about it, the less I worry that Germany is going to be overrun by American-style hop bombs. I think a more sophisticated beer culture would help Germans embrace their own brewing traditions and probably lead to a revival of historic styles, and it's not like Pils and Weizen are going to disappear any time soon. Still, I can't help but wonder if the brewer of these beers is hiding his identity out of shame for going beyond the traditional German styles.

Barry M said...

Fair point, TBN. For me it's the repeat purchase that I'd like to be able to sustain.

Russ, they name the creators of the beers on the labels, but not where it is brewed. For an own label, contract-brewed beer, it's fairly common practice, although I'd also love to know the location. On their FAQ they mention that if you are a home brewer with a recipe you feel fits with their range, to contact them. I might just do that some day :)

I'm not sure if Germany will ever succumb to the US-led kind of revolution, but there are some minor influences in some small breweries and use of US hops. That's nice to see, and as you say, it doesn't necessarily mean a dismantling of tradition, but could enrich some strands of German beer life.

Barry M said...

Oh, I haven't forgotten about your Bier Borse question, Russ, really! :D

The Beer Nut said...

*Ping* Ooo, my half-baked theory is half-baked:
I think Germany will absorb and adapt some of the US-led craft beer thing and incorporate it into its own brewing vernacular. In fact, a "Weizen India Pale Ale" is about the clearest example of it I've ever seen.

Russ said...

No worries, Barry. At this point we're leaning against it, but if you hear that it's awesome we're flexible with the middle part of our itinerary.

Leigh said...

You're right; what wonderful labels. The beers sound intruiging enough, though.

Simon Johnson said...

They were entrants at the Brewing Industy International Awards in Burton this year; left-over bottles were sold at the festival and are still on sale at weekends in the 'Beer Boutique' at the National Brewery Centre. I'll have to check which ones I picked up.