Monday 30 March 2009

Palm Springs 2009

Last week I was in Palm Springs for what seems to be an annual pilgrimage, apart from last year when I was between jobs. I won't bore you with details (unless you're a big fan of ESRI's ArcGIS family of software). As far as beer highlights go, well, I managed to try a couple of beers I hadn't had before, including a Rogue Dry Hopped Red whilst visiting the Yardhouse in Rancho Mirage. A dark amber with a slight haze, this gave off the classic American C-hop aroma with slight fruity undertones. But yeah, the hops are dominant, with a grapefruity, very dry finish (no pun intended). It's hard to get past the hops on this one, but there's a slight roastiness and a toffee base. Did I mention it had a dry finish? Not quite what I needed after getting sand-blasted out in the desert, but an interesting pint.

Another night I returned to The Village Pub (yes, I know, classy) where I first tried New Belgium's Fat Tyre a couple of years ago. With a lovely toffee-malt base and a fine hop edges, this hit the spot. Unfortunately although the Village had an interesting beer list, they had sod all in stock, so the poor server was going back and forward and coming back empty handed after my orders for Stone Arrogant Bastard and IPA. I had to settle for a Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, which impressed my colleagues no end, although one thought it tasted like liquidised tyres. I quite liked it.

Later that same evening we popped off to a bar, J Dee's Landing, where a company band was playing for the night. A bit of a hole, but absolutely crammed, the beer selection wasn't up to much. Starting with a Fat Tyre, it was a million miles away from the flavour of the one we had at the Village Pub. This was muck, as if all traces of hop had been removed and the whole thing was stale. Redemption of sorts came in the form of some Firestone Pale Ale. Big citric hop action on a grainy malt base, it was certainly better than the Bug, Bud Light, Coors Light, Corona, Corona Light etc... that was on offer.

Speaking of which, the most fun was slowly converting my colleagues to drinking Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at the hotel bar. A few die-hards stuck to Corona with a wedge of lime for the whole week, and the converts would roll their eyes every time an order was placed. Yay! I'm turning them into beer snobs! The bravest soul had to be Markus, and I have photos of him with each new beer he tried. He remarked that the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale smelled a bit like Klostein, as in, toilet blocks. This gradually morphed into Klosteiner, so that's what SNPA is now known as. Indeed, anything with the big citric hop aromas is now being referred to Klostein. I will name my next homebrewed pale ale Klosteiner in his honour. The funny thing is, he liked it! He's not too brave though, as he's not signing up for the Rauchbier tasting I'm running next Wednesday. But I digress...

A real beer highlight was having a few bottles from a brewery truely local to ESRI's head office in Redlands, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery. A group of us went along to have a meal in Redlands with a colleague who moved there last year, and six packs of their Orange Wheat and Pale Ale were produced. The Orange Wheat was just the right thing after a hot day. Somewhere between a German weissbier and a Belgian Wit, it had a little bit of a bite under a slightly bubblegum, banana front end. The real surprise is when the bottle is swished, the yeast kicked up, and a fresh orange flavour released. Very subtle and quite tasty. Their Pale Ale has the expected citric, grapefruity hoppiness (yes, Klosteiner was mentioned) but I found it had a more pronounced, grainy malt base than most American pale ales. It gave it a little more foundation and, although I wasn't sure the combination worked 100%, it's a fine beer. I was really glad to have something so local, as it seems like it's only available in a few bars and restaurants in Redlands, and the oranges used in the Orange Wheat are also local, Redlands being famous for it's old orange groves as well as it's quality GIS software.

Now I have San Diego to look forward to in July. I reckon I'll be getting some Stone beers in there!

Photos may be added later, as I kept forgetting my camera. I'm a bad tourist...

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Get off your Höss and drink some beer

You've probably seen these pretty bottles from Privatbrauerei Höss around the place. I saw them in my local drink market, and thought, "meh, looks touristy, especially that Neuschwanstein one". Then I was passing though Munich airport and saw the box set, and thought "meh, I was right". But when back home and getting lost between the stacks of crates I thought "meh, why not?". They are kind of attractive as a set, and my wife particularly liked the Doppel-Hirsh label.

Their Holzar-Bier -- nach Urväterart, no less -- is a healthy-looking amber-tinged brown, has a sweet, raw malt aroma. Pretty simple so far. The flavour is just the same, verging towards malzbier territory with a slightly thin sweetness. Virtually no hop prescence apart from a slight herbal backdrop that does not build up. A bit weak, it doesn't taste like a 5.2% beer. Although watery, it's not all that bad, if you like malt juice that is. If you look closely, you can see from the photo that I had this around Christmas-time (I don't normally have a tree in the livingroom), and it went just fine with sugared almonds and gummi bears.

Neuschwanstein. The picture postcard image of Bavarian castles. Aren't madmen great! This is the label that turned me off the most to be honest. A pale, hay-like gold, it has a sweet, bready/biscuity aroma with a few handfuls of hay thrown in. It's quite sweet on initial taste. Like it's sibling, it's a little thin, and quite malty. It has a reasonable level of carbonation that at least gives a bit of feeling to it. A slightly citric, grassy hop gives it a bit of character, turning it into a very easy drinking lagerbier that is actually juicy and refreshing in a totally non-challenging simple way. A session beer even. I didn't expect to like this at all, but I'd happily have a few.

The Doppel-Hirsch Allgäuer Doppelbock pours an attracive, dark chestnut brown. It has a rich, thick aroma of heavy malts, dried fruits and vanilla. With a short-lived head, it has a low level of carbonation and indeed, it's light and smooth on the tongue. The malt and dried fruits continues in the flavour, along with nutty and roasty elements, and although this particular bottle ended up completely flat in double-quick time, it was a grand sipping beer, which at 7.2% might not be a bad thing.

This item has been brought to you through the miracle of scheduled posts. As you read this I'll be in sunny Palm Springs, andlooking forward to having some quality American beers after a year without.

Friday 20 March 2009

A Brussels virgin no more

Until last Wednesday, I had only been to Belgium once before, about seven years ago when I and three friends visited Bruges for a beer tasting weekend. So it was with a mixture of excitement and resignation that I was asked to go to Brussels at very short notice this week. I arrived shortly after 5pm, got into the tiny, maze-like Hotel de la Madeleine, and then met up with Joe, the Thirsty Pilgrim himself. Although TheBeerNut had provided me with some tips on where to visit, I threw myself at Joe's mercy as he’s in the final stages of preparing his book, Around Brussels in 80 Beers, for which he was in the city taking photos.

Stopping off at Beer Planet to take said photos, I resisted impulsive beer purchases reasoning that I would have some spare time the next day to do a proper job. Photos taken, we headed off to Le Poechenellekelder, right beside the Manneken Pis for a bite to eat and Joe’s choice of beer, the V Cense from Jandrain-Jandrenouille that Joe had recently posted about. A wonderful murky, chestnut brown that somehow matched our surroundings, on the aroma stakes this could easily have passed as a classic American Pale Ale, with that distinct American citric hop signature. Amarillo I have been reliably informed. With a decent malty base, the finish is also gives a rich, orange-pith like bitterness, with an equally dry finish. Great stuff, and a beer that satisfied my hop cravings no end.

While I ate my Spaghetti Bolognese, a bottle of Cantillon Geueze was ordered. It’s been a long time since I had a Geueze, and I had never tried Cantillon’s fine example till now. I have to admit, it wasn’t the shocker sour beer that I expected, but then I think I have a high sourness tolerance. However, it’s definitely in the lemon sherbet territory, with an enamel-stripping acidity that is really refreshing. Under all this is an earthiness that brings added dimensions. I can see why it's a classic.

We wandered off to Joe’s next photo assignment, but on the way stopped off for a Saison Dupont in a little café, Nüetnigenough, with Art Nueveau on the outside, Art Deco on the inside and rustic toilets. The Saison Dupont struck me as being very like a classic Weissbier, with distinct banana overtones, but with a definite hop character to the finish. Again, really refreshing and satisfying, a beer one could drink lots of on a warm summer day, or indeed any time.

We managed to leave and hit, well, I won't tell you, you'll have to buy the book, but it was a place where Joe described the décor as being like a bar owned by an old, unmarried aunt. He was dead right. No two views in the bar were the same, with a hotch-potch of worn comfy seats, zones of floral wallpaper and random furnishings. Great character. Another reason to visit was to try some of the beer made by Joe’s co-author. Zinne Bir, “Brussels’ People Ale”, from Brasserie de la Senne is another Belgian beer with American hop influences, and is really interesting. Holding in the mouth I got soft, caramel malty flavours, but on swallowing this was replaced by a dry, fruity bitterness with touches of vanilla and a light grapefruit note.

Heading back towards my hotel we popped into Au Bon Vieux Temps, a bar with wonderful character. I especially liked the stained glass windows inside, and I swear the old woman serving behind the bar did smile once despite Joe telling me she never did. They had Westvleteren on offer, but I resisted and we went for the Westmalle Dubbel on tap. It might have been a little stale, but the low carbonation and a lean towards horseblankets with blackcurrant and a red wine-like tannic finish was hitting the spot.

Our final stop was the Delirium Café. Apparently it has a reputation of being a tourist spot, but it seemed to be mostly filled with young locals, with lots of singing of happy birthday. I quite liked the busy-ness, and the range of beers was impressive. We stayed upstairs where the taps were, and flicking through the book we were thrilled to see they had the Cosmos Porter from De Dolle. What can I say about this beer? Fantastic springs to mind. This has a rich, complex sourness resembling nothing so much as balsamic vinegar with heavily vinous, port-like undertones and a squeeze of lemon. Wonderfully rich and different. I can only hope that this becomes a regular brew and is made available in bottles. I was too stunned to take a photo really!

Cosmos Porter is a hard act to follow, so the Chouffe Houblon we finished the night on just couldn’t compete. Still, it was another heavy hop hitter with a really nice fruity undertone. I’d like to try it again with a clean palate.

I slept pretty well that night, but was still tired during my meeting the following morning. We finished up in good enough time for me to head back into the city centre and pop into Bier Tempel for a quick bit of shopping. Of course, I felt I really should buy some Westvleteren, so I picked up one each of the Blonde, 8 and 12, as well as some old friends like Rodenbach Grand Cru, Gouden Carolus and two new acquaintances, the Gouden Carolus hopsinjoor and a Cantillon Kriek. My cellar feels richer for it already.

Many thanks to Joe for giving me a cracking whirlwind tour of Brussels. I’ll be returning in two weeks for another short visit, so I know there’s plenty more to see!

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Black is the colour

I recently completed the paler beers from the former East that were in my cellar and was glad to move to the dark shelf to revisit an old friend and a new acquaintance.

Let's start with the new. Eibauer Schwarzbier, from Münch-Bräu Eibau, like most schwarzbiers, is not really schwarz, but is a deep, dark chestnut brown with ruby hints. The aroma suggests toast, toffee and malt. Light and easy drinking, it leaves a light layer of toffee spread over the tongue with an ever so slight prickling like sour apple drops. Not that this is a sour beer, but that's the odd balance going on here. A gentle roasted note appears after half a bottle which is pleasent. The prickling effect disappears after a while though, which is a shame. I'd happily have a couple of these.

My old friend is of course Köstritzer Schwarzbier. For me, this was always the definitive schwarzbier. A bechmark if you will. But I got bored with it. After turning into an extreme hop-head in Ireland, when I last had Köstritzer it seemed bland. Time to re-evaluate as I know my taste buds have been reset over the past year.

Almost opaque, dark, oaky brown. The aroma is gentle with hints of coffee, blackcurrant and chicory. Smooth going down with lovely dark chocolate and light coffee flavours, but when you stop, the roasted malts come out to dry things up leaving a roasty bitterness. This is a fine beer.

And yes, I have been humming the tune to "Black is the colour" while I typed this.

Sunday 15 March 2009

Time for your Pils, Mr. Masterson

For a period before and after TheBeerNuts session topic I feel like I have been overdosing on Pils, a style of beer I don't usually reach for first. This is the last for a while, but I'm taking pleasure in trying the east German beers nonetheless. Let's do this!

Riebeck Premium Pilsner from Braugold Vertriebs, in Erfurt, is, as one might expect, golden and reasonably well carbonated. The taste is strange. Clean, crisp malts, a light citric zing, and then something a bit different, like sweetcorn with butter with a dash of hay. The hops are certainly to the fore, but it's a different character to what you normally expect in a pilsner. A little more earthy perhaps. A graininess becomes more apparent the more you drink. Strange beer.

With an aroma hinting of fresh pine sap, with a hint of gin, on a light biscuity base, Altenburger Premium -- from Altenburg, did you guess? --is getting off to an interesting start. It continues with a splash of sweet malt, a pinch of salt and a broad hop profile that stays. After you swallow it seems to grow, giving fresh-cut grass, an edge of citrus and a dry, herb-like bitterness. Actually, it gets a bit like oregano.

Pilsners never cease to amaze me. Just when you think you are drowning in a sea of saminess, strange flavours appear. I'm not judging, but it shows that you can't dismiss an entire group of beer, as there are always subtleties at play. Of course it could be my tongue hallucinating and gasping for something with definitive flavours. Crap! I just judged!

Thursday 12 March 2009

Beer. Brought to you today by the letter F

I'm picking up where I left off a week or so ago, going through the beers from the former East that were given to me by my future brother-in-law (maybe!). Todays beers are F beers. Is that a grade? I can't say; I can't assign precise numbers or grades to beers as I'm too indecisive. But let's see...
First up, Frankfurter Pilsener from Frankfurt an der Oder. WIth a vigerous frothing action and a deep golden colour, at 5.2% it's a little bit stronger than most German pilsners, and in fact, you can just about thaste that. There's a digestive biscuit-like sweetness to it, with the same kind of salty edge and, dare I say it, a slight bibblegum-like undertone. The hops are assertice in flavour terms, but the bitterness is gentle. Thereis however a spiciness that builds up that is quite pleasent. It lacks a bit in the body department for me, and although the spiciness leaves a nice finish at the back of the tongue, the rest disappears quickly. Still, I like this for the subtle flavours that are a bitch to describe.

The next F beer comes from Freiberg, and true to German originality is called Freiberger Premium Pils. At the paler end of the lagerbier spectrum this has a light bready base, soft hops, a slight vegetal note and as it goes down it develops some herbal and spicey notes. It's quite juicy, but a tad acidic. There's not a whole lot more to say about it. It's well drinkable and could go as one of the better quality BBQ beers.

As I type I'm drinking a Weihnachtsbier from Sternquell-Brauerei, based in Plauen (yes, also former East), which I'm not going to think about too much. It's malty, it's herbally hoppy with a slight zing, it's 5.8%, and the label is very pretty. Oh, and it's going down very well right now.

Sunday 8 March 2009

A visit to Pott's Naturpark Brauerei

After almost a year living with a 40 minute drive of Oelde, the home of Pott's Landbier, we finally went today. Pott's Landbier was one of my regular local beers, and it appears to receive somewhat of a cult following in this area, although it seems people either love it or hate it. I have to admit I like their quirky website -- including the music which is playing while I type this -- and always had this image of a tavern-like brewery and bakery out in the countryside. Well, with an official name like Pott's Naturpark Brauerei, you imagine Bambi and family frolicking nearby while you sip a landbier and eat their cousins.

My illusions were quickly shattered when I realised that Naturpark is a euphamism for Industrial Park. Ok, it's on the edge, and it's close to the Vier-Jahreszeiten-Park Oelde, but right across the road is a petrol station, a Burger King and a Penny Markt. The building itself is not quite tavern, and is more a large, modern brewing, baking and butchery operation, perched on a slight rise in the Münsterland's mainly featureless landscape. However, with all the glass showing glimpses of brewing equipment all over the place, I was a little excited. The restaurant is modern and bright, with redbrick divides splitting the room up and tables engraved with images of barley and hops at the corners. The menu is what my wife called typcially Westphalian -- based on the fact they mixed carrots and stuff into a white sauce on her fish -- but to me it was typically German, featuring alot of meat. Of course I stayed in with the country theme and picked Leberkase. I should mention that each of the items on the menu had a recommendation for which beer to pair with the dish. On their website they mention that they have two Biersommeliers -- and I'm still not sure how to take that terminology --, the first to qualify for the diploma in the Münsterland. I can't help wondering though if they are limited in their palette of colours to choose from if they must stick to the Pott's beers, tasty as they are.

My son screamed for malzbier (he's a malzbier junkie now) while I politely asked for a landbier. I have to say, I was disappointed with the food. Sure, it was ok, but the bratkartoffeln were a little over-oily, and there was nothing much about the meat. It felt more like canteen fare, but maybe I ordered something too simple. The service and friendliness of the staff was excellent though -- always a bonus when you have a four-year-old -- and quite a large staff they have too. Well, there is the restaurant, the bakery and the butchers to run as well as a fairly large brewery.

The brewery was founded in 1769, but it's clear that the building we were sitting in was not the original. What I didn't know, before today, is that the original is still in use in the heart of Oelde. The first stages of the brewing is still carried out there using water from their own well, and the beer is later brought to the Naturpark site, which was built in 1996, for conditioning, filtering and bottling/kegging. In their information leaflet they say that this idea of brewing in one location and lagering in another location is traditional, and that moving the beer stirs up the yeast and helps the beer along it's merry way. I guess it is traditional if you consider the use of caves in the past for lagering.

You can walk the corridors behind the restaurant and view the rooms for the differnet stages of the processes they carry out at this part of the brewery. The conditioning tanks, the filtration system (complicated looking!) and the state-of-the-art bottling line, complete with robotic arms for lifting crates around. Well, it wasn't running on a Sunday, but I saw the arm working in a video, I swear! I just love robots...

Down the end of the corridor is the Georg-Lechner Biermuseum. The website doesn't do the museum justice, as it's a lovely area to ogle bottles, mugs, labels, posters and brewing equipment from the past. As well as the prettiness, there's a wealth of information about the breweries of the region, past and present, laid out in posters all around, grouped by town. There's so much informaiton it was hard to take in during our brief trip, but one item that really caught my eye was that apparently there were 152 operational breweries in Münster in 1890, between them producing 12,086,000 litres of beer. 7,663,500 bottom fermented and 4,422,500 top fermented if you want to know. I'm not clear on whether those numbers encompass the Münsterland as a whole, or the city, but regardless, now, there is only one operational brewery within the city of Münster, and probably only a handful in the surrounding region. As it was Sunday, there was nobody there to answer questions, but with a bit of time you could learn alot about the brewing history of the major towns of the region. And I'm sure if Georg was there (after waking up and getting out of his barrel) one might get access to his office and the masses of journals there. Oh, and the giant chandelier made of 330ml Pott's swingtop bottles and copper pipe was very nice. I'm tempted to make one myself.

On the Pott's beer front, the Pott's Landbier was a little different from the brewery tap, firstly being colder than I would normally drink from the bottle, but also a little more crisp and hoppy. That could be the temperature of course. Their Pott's Weizen had classic light cloves and banana, but also a nutmeg-like warmth and a nice fullish mouthfeel. Tasty! I have yet to try their Prinzipal and regular Pilseners.

On an aside, I had heard rumours about a beer called Pott's Paddy, which used Irish whiskey malt. I couldn't find it anywhere and began to suspect my colleague was pulling my leg, but today I got it confirmed that it did exist, but no longer. Schade.

Friday 6 March 2009

Love Lager - But is Love Blind?

When my friend and one-time drinking companion, TheBeerNut, announced this month's Session topic, I thought "excellent!". Living in Germany with so many wonderful lagers I reckoned on pulling out a couple of my favourite dark lagerbiers and waxing lyrical about them. I can't understand the comments from some quarters about "lager drinkers", suggesting that they are all knuckle-scrapers. We must of course assume the context here is mass-produced mega-brewery lager, but please, don't disparage a great brewing tradition by inferring it's generally inferior, or even "unreal". There's good beer, and bad beer, and you can't just draw battle lines around "styles", dispense, ingredients, by-products or anything. Taste and ye shall find. But I digress.

As it happens, these mass-produced, ubiquitous lagers seem to be exactly the types of beers Mr. BeerNut wanted people to talk about in this month's session. "Nothing fancy" he said to my comment. He wanted the lowest common denominator beers. The pints (half litres) of plain. The everyday Johannes Seife beers. I didn't feel up to doing this important work alone, so I enlisted the help of my colleagues, many of whom could be classed as every-day, common-or-garden Pils drinkers.

I started by doing a small survey to get an idea of what brands were generally popular amongst my colleagues. Out of 36 responses, 23 stated that Pilsners would be their favourite type of beer. The top five (with the number of "votes" in parenthesis) were as follows:
  • Becks (5)
  • Krombacher (3)
  • Bitburger (2)
  • Veltins (2)
  • Jever (2)
I probably could have guessed that these would be the most popular in the office, but I was actually surprised that there were so few votes for them. Other pilsners that were mentioned included Pinkus, Iserlohner, Detmolder, Hachenburger and Stachopramen amongst others. The rest of the preferences were interesting, but that's for a longer term project.

I then got nine volunteers for a blind tasting,where each person would be unaware of what beers were on trial. They would simply have to provide a preference order.

Armed with the list of the top 5 from the survey group, I duly bought a selection of Becks, Jever, Krombacher and Bitburger, along with a few bottles of Schwelmer Pils as a side-test. I've had Schwelmer in the past, and to be honest I didn't think much of it, but according to ratebeer, it's number 21 in the list of Classic German Pilseners. Shows what I know! I also found it a little worrying that there are so few actual German beers represented there, but that could also be a "style" thing. Oh, and before you ask, I couldn't get the higher rated ones at short notice. Organised? Me?

Getting the beers back to the office under great secrecy, the glasses were poured in a separate room and all wheeled in to the volunteers. Each person was given five glasses, labelled A to E, and a sheet on which to write notes (optional!) and, more importantly, boxes in which to write their order of preference.

The final tally of results came out as shown in the table below.

What was really interesting was, of course, that Schwelmer came out on top, with a clear swing between those who had it in first and second choice, and the two people who thought it was "muffig"; musty or stale. Also surprising, to me at least, was that Becks did fairly well, and I suppose it was heartening that of the people who stated that Becks was their favourite before the test, one chose Becks as his number 1 in the blind tasting, while another colleague had it as her second choice. Of course there were upsets such as my pal, who said Jever was his favourite pils if he had to drink pils (he's really a Landbier man) giving Jever a number 4 in his preferences. Of course the post-test argument there was that it tastes better from the tap, but that's a familiar sound to my ears!

The final order of preference, simply calculated on the number of each preference rating, is as follows. with 1 being the highest preference and 5 being the lowest.
  • Schwelmer Pils (2.2)
  • Becks (2.6)
  • Bitburger Premium Pils (3.0)
  • Krombacher Pils (3.2)
  • Jever Pils (3.8)
And the lesson learned? Well, broadly speaking, in this small group at least, the order of preference generally followed what people stated in my straw poll, so it looks like people do love the lagers they say they do, and it's because of the taste. However, and most importantly, given a chance to meet a new face, even in a speed-dating setup like this, they just may well find a new love in their lives. I shall be introducing new beer faces into the office on a more regular basis I think...

Special thanks to Albert, Andreas, Antje, Christian, Ingo, Marco, Marko, Markus and Richard (an Englishman who probably misses a good bitter) for volunteering!

Wednesday 4 March 2009

The King of Beers?

I couldn't resist. König Pilsener isn't necessarily claiming to be any such thing, as the name comes from the founder. It was acquired by Holsten in 2000, and since 2004 has been under the Bitburger Group. Widely available probably everywhere, it's a kind of local beer for me, as Duisberg is only an hour away by train, and I've spent many a happy night standing on platform 13 of Duisberg Hauptbahnhof, while travelling home from Dusseldorf airport, looking through the broken glass at a König Pilsener sign across the street and wishing I was there instead of trying to get home at 10:30pm on a Friday night with drunks talking to themselves around me. But I digress...

Golden, with a fluffy white head that dissipates into a tight white scum with considerable lacing, König Pilsener has a fresh, hay-like, citric and perhaps a hint of honey on the nose. The flavour is interesting. I want to say juicy-fruit chewing gum, but that might be going too far. There's a fullish malt thing going on, balanced by a reasonable hop flavour that gives fresh hay and slight floral notes.

I quite like this beer. It has enough malt to keep me interested, and while it's not as bitter as some Pilsners, the hop flavours are full and round.

The glass was a gift from my sister-in-law's boyfriend. I was delighted as I had a couple of bottles loitering down in the cellar, so one promptly came up to it's rightful place.

Sunday 1 March 2009

Privatbrauerei Klute

I won a minor victory today as we headed off to a nearby brewery for lunch. Klute's feels like it's in the middle of nowhere, being set in a little grouping of buildings off a main road near Havixbeck, west of Münster. I'd tried their beer before, but to be honest, I couldn't remember the flavours when I got there, so I was looking forward to checking them all out.

Walking in, the view to the right is dominated by the large coppers, and an open bar area right in front of you. On Sunday, at least, you can either pop upstairs for an open buffet meal or stay on the ground floor for table service, which is what we did, mainly so I could ogle the maturation vessels and the archaic-looking bottling device in a room beside the coppers.

It has a relatively large room, and is open, simple but cosy. The food choices were pretty standard fare for around here, although a couple of their items were complete meat-fests that I was almost tempted by. As it was, I stayed simple and ordered Schweinefilet with fried mushrooms and a bearnaise sauce and potato gratin (all very tasty), while my wife had a humongous shrimp salad. On the beer menu it listed Klute's own Landbier, Hell, Dunkel and Sommerweizen.

I opened up with the Klute's Hell, a hazy, golden straw coloured beer with a dense fluffy head. It's quite tart and refreshing, It has a soft malty base, but a citric hop element really dominates, making it almost lemony. A slight resiny, herbal edge comes in towards the back, with a relatively dry finish, but the lasting impression is lemons. One could say it was slightly thin, but the sharpness and dry finish make this quite a refresher. Checking my previous post now, I'm glad it seems to have had the same impression from bottle or tap.

The Klute's Landbier -- or Dunkel, see below -- came next, posessing soft caramel and light chocolate flavours, but like the Hell, it has a citric edge. It also has a slightly fruity undertone, suggestive of mango or strawberry sorbet. Highly carbonated, it's spritzy on the tongue, all adding to the light, refreshing character, and a head that never dissipates.

I enjoyed both of these beers, but the Landbier gives a little more complexity.

Although I wasn't expecting to be able to buy the Sommerweizen, I was surprised when I was told that the Landbier and Dunkel were the same thing, even though they were listed separately on the menu. I also tried buying bottles of the three on the menu, but was told the same thing, so I ended up coming away with a litre bottle of each of the Hell and Landbier (AKA, Dunkel on the in-house menu). Oh well.

Being a Sunday there didn't seem to be anyone to drill about the brewery operations, but I did learn that they brew every 10 days or so, and no, the public can't come in. I should have pulled my journalists ID *cough*.

Klute's has a small distillary on site, but unfortunately that was closed, but there is a photo of the still on their website. Opening times are limited at the moment, but I expect that in summer it'll be more open, and from what I heard, they do some seasonal beers. A return is expected.

My son had the Malzbier and said it was delicious. From the way he practically climbed into the glass to get the last drops I think we have a malt-head on our hands.