Every few weeks I seem to hear about yet another German brewery making a pale ale, and I have to admit, I'm probably jerking the knee a little by ordering them as I hear of them at this stage. Of the three described in this post, two in are fairly recent, and the third has been waiting in my cellar for an opportune moment, which happened to be last weekend. In order of drinking so (although I'm refreshing my memory as I write)!
Crew Pale Ale comes from a new two-man operation, Crew Alewerkstatt, based in Munich who are getting their recipe brewed at an undisclosed brewery. Of course, they have plans for their own plant, and I hope they make it. Felix, over at Lieblingsbier, has a good interview with Mario Hanel and Timm Schnigula, so I'm not going to do a von Guttenberg on it. Go read it and use Google Translate :)
Propeller "Aufwind" Double IPA grabbed my attention in the Twitterverse, and within 30 minutes of seeing it mentioned, I'd ordered a mixed case of Propeller's Double IPA and Imperial Stout (more of that anon). See what I mean? My hop cravings continue unabated. Created by another duo, Hans-Christian Bosch, who as far as I can figure out is connected with Brauerei Bosch, and Sepp Wejwar, or "Biersepp", biersommelier and author, operating under Propeller Getränke.
There's not much technical info on their website, but a Double IPA is always music to my senses. However, not in this case. Expecting a Double IPA in what seems to be the de facto American tradition, the aromas are quite muted, and I have to admit I transferred some to a snifter to try to concentrate them. What's there is pleasant, though, with a nose full of caramel, sweet mandarin peel, a pinch of nutmeg and floral undertones. On first taste, the body is is very pleasant, presenting a soft, chewy caramel base, cut with a lime-like freshness. The middle ground flies by rather swiftly (sorry!), flashing rounded pear, a little banana, to be replaced with a mildly sorbet-like finish that is sweet with long-lingering citrus notes and an edge of butterscotch. I have to admit, I was disappointed in not getting what I expected, but it's a decently-flavoured, moreish, easy-drinking beer.
Just on the topic of "what is this beer?", those who know me know that I'm not a style nazi, especially when brewing my own beers, and I dislike the idea of brewing by numbers, as Al over at Fuggled would put it. However, there's a certain value in a descriptive beer style from the consumer perspective, and although this is a fine, enjoyable beer, it is not, to my mind, a Double IPA. To me, it's an enjoyable, strong Pale Ale at 6.5% ABV. In fact, a German who had never had a DIPA before trying this, and liking it, would get a hell of a shock from the intensity of most other DIPAs. Funnily enough, there's a new addition to the beer description on the website since I last looked. I'll translate as best I can:
"AUFWIND is a Double IPA (Double India Pale Ale). Also when many bloggers don't want it to be true. For the category of Double IPA is non-binding. For some, "Double" means to double the alcohol levels or bitterness. For us, that would be too easy. Much more difficult is to produce "more" flavors and a "sea" of fruit."
Hmm... Yes. I have to admit, I don't get the "more" or the "sea", but perhaps in comparison to normal German beers, there is a "sea change" here. But please, lets not fracture the already apparently infinitesimally divided "beer style" list by creating a "German DIPA"!
And so, finally, to FritzAle IPA, a beer that was also recommended via Twitter. FritzAle is brewed at the Helios Braustelle in Cologne, presumably by Fritz renting time at the brewery, as are other beers like the Freigeist Bierkultur stuff. Having visited in the past, and liking what Braustelle do, I had high hopes for this, despite the daunting 750ml size. The garishly-coloured bottle lists Amarillo and Simcoe as hops of choice, bittered to a respectable 59 IBUs, and a regular 5.5% ABV. I'll cut to the chase. Brilliant. Big, fresh aroma, hitting classic American hop characteristics of piles of grapefruity, citrussy goodness. The flavour is certainly hop-forward and fresh, on a creamy fudge base, bready with the added bonus of pineapple sorbet, lashed with a luscious, yet drying pithy bitterness that goes on and on. Masses of flavour, wonderful balance, and the whole thing just works! Try it if you can.