Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Christmas Spirit

A while ago, I bought a stash of beers from Cologne's Freigeist Bierkultur, brewed at Braustelle. Freigeist make some interesting beers, some I had way back on 2010 at the Festival der Bierkulturen, some I tried at the Braukunst Live! festival last year, and some, like the Deutscher Porter, I have been sipping at for quite some time. I think I liked them all, very much, so during the holidays, when I had a little time to myself, I selfishly opened two that I hadn't tried before.

Freigssit Bierkultur Hoppeditz stands out as an Altbier brewed in Cologne, and named after a character from the Duesseldorfer Karneval, a jester-like character that opens the festivities, although from the label, he paints a slightly macabre figure. Hoppeditz pours a rather dirty, oily-looking, red-tinged brown with a persistent, rocky, tan foam. It has a fully-loaded toffee/caramel aroma laced with fruity overtones: baked apple and plums, marzipan and a suggestion of melting milk chocolate. Fairly promising, and it doesn't disappoint. With a soft carbonation and creamy body supporting a well-rounded but strong caramel base with burnt notes around the edges, it delights with flashes of flavours that are hard to pin down, being slightly vinous and roasty at turns, but with an underlying theme of raisins and chocolate, swiftly taken over on swallowing with a self-assured, earthy bitterness, invoking pine needles and orange pith. The whole concoction is remarkably easy to knock back, despite, or maybe because of the oily body, and 7.2% ABV, and really, it gives any Altbier from Duesseldorf I've tried a run for its money. Shame I only had the one left, but definitely one I'd buy again if I can get it.

Freigeist's R. Woodhouse is one I parked for a while, waiting to savour, as I knew it came from the same stable at their Rosmarie, which I really enjoyed back in 2010. Held to the light, it shows a dark strawberry juice red, with a thin, fine-bubbled head that doesn't hang around, R. Woodhouse delivers a distinctly medicinal aroma that may seem off-putting till you realise it is rosemary. It's sweet, like grenadine syrup, but with the added edge of dulled, fresh-crushed rosemary. The rosemary is more prominent on the taste, fresh and warming, with honey and lychee-like flavours coming right behind, while a light blackcurrent edge brings up the rear. The finish is predictably herbal, with a pine-like freshness and a lingering stickiness, without being cloying.While I really enjoyed their Rosmarie with sausages, and could have had a few in one go, a bottle of R.Woodhouse suffices, as near the end it began to overpower a tad. I suspect it might be better fresher, or at least shared, but nonetheless, it's a beer that keeps the interest, and I bet it'd be great with roast lamb or beef. Of course, the label and name is an homage to Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, referencing Mia Farrow's character, Rosemary Woodhouse of said movie, though with added rosemary sprigs. Worth trying, but perhaps with a meal.

Right after, I opened a '97 Samuel Adams Triple Bock, but that needs a post of its own!

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