Friday, 21 March 2014

Braufactum Progusta Harvest Edition 2012

When it comes to Braufactum, the craft beer branch of Radeberger Group, I am more than aware that I sometimes seem to have something against them. I don't like the "gourmet" pricing, yet I love the branding. I don't like that the backing of the company is not so transparent, but I guess I like that they can brew their beers in all sorts of places now owned by Radeberger (even if they don't always say where). But, credit where credit is due, they do some pretty mean beers. Case in point, the Braufactum Progusta Harvest Edition 2012, which I had last weekend, a beer brewed with green hops, within a couple of days of the harvest.

An inviting-looking, reddish amber with a rocky, off-white foam, probably helped along by the glugging induced by the long neck on that 750ml bottle. Although the aroma was not jumping out as much as I expected, perhaps due to the fact it had been in my cellar for about a year, is was deep and rich, with warm spices, earthy, tangerine all on a caramel digestive biscuit base. First impressions on tasting is the creamy mouthfeel. A really superb body. Front-loaded with dried apricots, creamy vanilla fudge and hints of marzipan that lead to  a lemon and mango sorbet finish, prickling on the tongue. There's a lasting bitterness, reminiscent of Seville orange marmalade and just a twist of pine resin to spice it up. A really lovely, luscious beer. I polished the bottle off easily, and would gladly have had another in the same sitting.


Paul Bailey said...

I bought a couple of Braufactum beers whilst in Berlin, just over a week ago. They were part of a large display in Galeria Kaufhof, just off Alexanderplatz, which as well as their own beers featured, some of the better known American brands, such as Firestone and Brooklyn, plus several Belgian examples.

I picked up a leaflet from the stand, which I've only just looked at. It describes styles of beer which probably aren't that familiar to German consumers (pale ale, barley wine, stout and porter etc) and also includes QR Codes which people can scan for further information.

I haven't tried the beers yet; they're in the cupboard downstairs, but based on your description above I'm looking forward to sampling them.

BTW, I was unaware that Braufactum are part of the all conquering Radeberger Group, but I won't let that influence my judgement.

Gary said...

New commenter here, and enjoy the different reports. Just wondering how you would rate the more traditional draft pilseners in your area. I found the comments on the bottled beers interesting (and the craft ones) but draft always seems the basis of any beer culture and wondering what you regard as very solid in your area. E.g. you mentioned lemon and sulphur notes for one of the bottle beers. On a visit to South Germany some years ago I was struck how many beers had a big sulphur taste, not all, but most seemingly. To me it is like a boiled cabbage flavour, not appealing but I gather it is part of the helles or pils profile, often, and I think people don't "notice" the taste.

Is this so in the north? Thanks for any thoughts.


Barry Masterson said...

Paul, I think you will enjoy them. :) The last few years have seen an increase in the availability of German-brewed pale ales, stouts, IPAs and the like, and places like Berlin are pretty active. Seeing stuff like this in Kaufhof, and other brands like Crew in Edeka up there, well, there's lots of talk about craft beer/craftbier around here...

Gary, thanks for commenting. Actually, the past 3 years I've been living in the southern half of Germany, but was almost 3 years up north.

I have to admit, I can't say that I've noticed sulphur being a component in a great many beers around here (or up north), so I'm very curious where you were, and what it was you were drinking. South Germany is a big place, after all :) Around where I live, the main regional brands would be Eichbaum, Distelhäuser and Rothaus, to a degree. None of their pils have sulphuric notes that I can detect, and indeed, Rothaus would be one of my favourite go-to beers, bottled or draft, as it has a lovely hop bite. Distel pils tends to be a touch metallic, for my liking, but the rest of their range is fine. Eichbaum I used to like, but less so recently, for some reason.

Up north, when I lived in Münster, I tended to drink Hövels or Pinkus beers when out in the town. The likes of Brinkhoff, Veltins and Becks are probably the most popular around there, but not exactly outstanding beers. If I had to choose a northern German pils, I'd tend to favour the likes of Jever, Potts or so, but there are plenty of smaller producers making fine beers for local/regional markets.

If I had to generalise, which I usually dislike doing, I would say that the nothern German pils generally tend to be hoppier, crisper and cleaner than their southern (well, in this case I mean Bavarian!) counterparts, but there are always exceptions on both sides.

If you let me know what it was you got the cabbage/sulphur flavour from, I'd be happy to try and get some to test out myself :)

Gary said...

Thanks Barry for these comments, most interesting. We were in Munich and in towns briefly outside it (admittedly a small area), also later in Vienna. In Munich, HB's helles, also Ayinger's, struck me as having this tang, Paulaner too albeit Paulaner's helles seemed blander to me than all others I tried. In Vienna, Gosser and Oettinger. But e.g. Dreher didn't have it in Budapest, nor Urquell or Budweiser Budvar, or Bernard, in Czech Republic. Bitburger had it in the can, I thought, Warsteiner too. Perhaps I am unduly sensitive to it, hard to say. I find it a similar flavour (in this respect) to some Burton ale especially Marston and cask Bass, the "sulphur springs" taste. It is a taste I found much less in dunkel beers though, not sure why.


Barry Masterson said...

That's interesting, Gary. I've not had much of hte HB Helles, but I've enjoyed a few Ayinger and, maybe unfortunately, more than my fair share of Warsteiner and Bitburger (the latter served in my local), but can't say I noticed any sulphuric twang off them. As you say, maybe it's something you are sensitive to (sulphur super-taster? :)), but I'll keep it in mind next time I'm sinking a few glasses of these.

Gary said...

Hey thanks Barry for your interest in this. By the way you mentioned Jever and that is a great beer, I always really liked it but it's not easy to get it in tip-top shape here. Once I had it in New York though and it was great.

I also had a draft Radeberger in Munich that was superb, almost riesling-like in complexity. Not its hinterland I know but I liked that one!

To me, the greatest helles/pils is Urquell. Any form of it when fresh. Personally (given a choice) I like the tank kind which I think is unpasteurized but filtered. I don't like when it is too hazy though because the extra yeast traduces the true taste, IMO.

Urquell has never been equaled in my experience. However, I'd like to go back to Germany and really discover more the village beers especially in Franconia, maybe I'd change my mind. :)

Ludger said...

The Radeberger beer group has 13 big sites in Germany, where they produce their beer. At all these sites, the brewing system is fully automated and has a size that a small batch of craft beer cannot brewed any more (well, unless you interrupt the operation and loose a lot of time and money)
Radeberger actually rented capacities in a small brewery to make the Braufactum beer. But you will never find that information on the label.

Barry Masterson said...

Thanks for the comment, Ludger. I know from seeing a photo on Facebook, that they brewed the Arrique at the original Hövels brewery in Dortmund, which is quite small (I recognised the Kessel, having been there myself :)), so they have at least some of their own small capacities.

So, if they are renting brewery time for small batches, I guess that makes them both craft *and* gypsy brewers! :D

Anyway, I like to know where my beer is made, and maybe the EBCU will help make that a regulation.