Sunday, 25 November 2012

Bitterbier blind tasting

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Oh, hello blog. Yes, I know, you've been neglected, but frankly, I've had more important things to do. However, a blind tasting is always worth a write-up, even if it was as pointless as a broken pencil.

Having recently gone shopping on the Braufactum website, despite the horrendous prices, I'd acquired a few bottles of their Colonia, described as a top-fermenting bitterbier of the of "Rheinisches" type. The only bitterbier I've had the pleasure of drinking has been Hövels, a former regular beer when I lived up north in Muenster. Having figured out that Braufactum brews it's horrendously expensive Arrique barley wine in the Hövels brewpub, after seeing photos of a brewday on their facebook page, I wondered if Colonia was some sort of rebadging of Hövels, as both are part of the Radeberger Group. We'll see. Two glasses, poured by my wife, labelled A and B. I quickly realised they were not the same thing.

Beer A was a deep, burnished copper, while B was a definite rich gold. Aroma-wise, A delivered a good, strong, typical German beer-like hop aroma, with clean pine wood and a mild resinousness, as well as a slight touch of cat, or perhaps a touch of skunk, all on a vaugely fruity caramel base. B, on the other hand, was bursting with masses of fruitiness, with kiwi, manadarin orange and fresh-mown grass. Sumptuous  so it was already clear what was what.

A had a solid, workman-like flavour, with a straightforward toffee-infused maltiness, juicy and easy to knock back in a few gulps, finishing on a dry, slightly husky note, and leaving a lingering peppermint bitterness. B was much as it smelled. Big fruitiness up front, sweet manadarin/tangarine flesh, backed by an orange barley-sugar base (but not overly sweet, mind), all on a soft, lightly-carbonated body. It finished with a pleasing pithiness. not like a gum-shrinking American IPA, but a definite touch of fresh-chewed orange pith.

Clearly, A was Hövels and B was Braufactum Colonia. I could have saved time by reading the ingredients list, but where's the fun in that? Colonia uses only Saphir hops, and I guess I like them.

I have to admit, as much as I like Hövels, it was pretty hard returning to that glass after the Colonia. After that sweet, orange-infused treat, Hövels was left like a sack of malt dust, so I was glad of the tasting order.

Although I moan a lot about the way Braufactum markets as "gourmet", with pricing to match, I have to admit, of the 5 or so beers of theirs I've tried, they've all been excellent, and I've a few more in the cellar to go.