Thursday 29 October 2009

Hallerndorfer Kellerbier and Weissbier

Brauerei Rittmayer occasionally produces one of the smokiest beers I think I've had, the not-for-everyone Smokey George, so I set myself up for a fall by expecting more great things from one of their more regular beers, the Hallerndorfer Kellerbier.

A dirty amber with a very short-lived head, this is sweet. Like Woah! sweet, sweet caramel-like malts. It has a slight bitter-almond hint and a touch of orange zest, which tries to cut it a bit. Otherwise, it's fairly nondescript, and the sweetness gets a bit cloying after half a bottle. I have to admit that it got so cloying and boring that I couldn't face finishing it. I'll try it again if given the opportunity to do so down in Hallerndorf of course.

As a Brucie Bonus, I'll throw in the Hallerndorfer Weissbier, a murky weissbier with a solid cloves, cinnamon and, strangely, a decaying apples kind of aroma. Nice and earthy in fact. The flavour delivers pears, cloves and a little sharpness which provides a pleasant edge. Despite, or perhaps because of having a slightly thin body, it makes for a fine thirst-quenching summer drink.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Meusel-Bräu Kellertrunk

From Brauerei Meusel, the makers of the rather interesting Lichtensteiner Schwarzbier, Meusel Bräu Kellertrunk is a bit of a different beast, but I expected good things from it. When I see the word Ungespundet on a label, I feel I've been conditioned to tug my forelock (if I had one) as it suggests craft, tradition and loving care. Experience tells me to not expect anything, of course, and to just drink the stuff and see.

Meusel Bräu Kellertrunk has a sweet, almost candyfloss nose with herbal hop highlights and a light fruity tone. Actually quite nice. Unfortunately the flavour is not so interesting, providing mostly a sweetish light toffee with a slight herbal bitterness. Very slight, mind you. The label states Kräftig gehopfte. Certainly on the aroma, but there's no power to the taste. Pity...

I should note that this was made using hop extract. So much for craft and tradition.

PS, yes, another oldie from the notebook. I didn't let the date go that far beyond the best before!

Monday 26 October 2009

Zischke Kellerbier

Zischke Kellerbier, presumably brewed as well as being bottled by Königsbacher in Koblenz, but owned by Karlsberg Brauerei in Hamburg. A cloudy, yellow affair with hints of almonds and lemon on the nose. This continues in the flavour with a definite lemony streak with a light carbonic tingle, but it does go down quite smoothly. There's a malty backbone tying to come out, but it disappears under the lemon. Sweet and refreshing, it's almost like 7-Up with a malt body. Radler anyone?

Yes, I'm scouring the dregs of an old notebook as a way of building up into more regular posts again. Gotta clear the dross :)

Sunday 18 October 2009

More Landbier Madness

It's been a busy, at times stressful couple of weeks -- not because my mother was visiting this past week; that was an excuse to take some time out! -- so I've had little time for beer drinking or writing, so here's a bit from the archives from when I went crazy a couple of months ago and ordered a mixed case of landbiers. I had also received a couple from a colleague in Austria, who kindly sent me a box of beer, although half of them got smashed on the way, but by strange coincidence, he sent two of each type, and one of each type made it. What are the chances?

Anyway, Landbier. It's one of those beer types that I think I like, but am often very disappointed with, althogh have found some notable exception. Let's see what today's mix-tape brings us...

One of the Austrian beers first, and one of the few Austrian beers I've tried. "8 Tage langsam vergoren, 66 Tage gelagert und gereift", or, 8 days slowly fermented, 66 days lagered and matured. A very pale gold, clear as a bell and reasonably highly carbonated, Kapsreiter Landbeer Hell is quite malty on the nose, with a faint suggestion of almonds with a squeeze of lemon. Overall, the flavour is a little nondescript, but strangely satisfying; a malty sweetness, a gentle bitterness and a touch of banana fruitiness ending with a dryish finish. Actually, not too bad, but not one to go mad about.

Moving closer to home, i.e. back to Germany, and specifically Zirndorf, some 9km west of Nuremberg, I got a couple bottles of Zirndorfer Landbier in my mixed case of Landbier. It has a bready, malty aroma with slight herbal notes, and an underlying sweetness. On the tongue, it's definitely malt-driven, with sweet caramel and slightly fruity notes and a welcome brush with some toast. The hops are there, but they really struggle to make themselves known and end up providing a slightly resinous finish. The mouthfeel is sparkling, and the whole thing leaves a pleasant enough tingle on the tongue. However, I didn't really rate it, and got bored with it half way through.

And finally, for now, Echt Veldensteiner Landbier from Kaiser Bräu, Neuhaus an der Pegnitz, about 60km east-north-east of Nuremberg. A lovely, red-hued, dark amber with a thick, creamy head, it looks satisfying at least. It's another one with sweet malts, but with a richer undertone, showing toffee and a slight plummy fruitiness up front, a soft chocolatey middle-ground and toasted notes down the back. There's a touch of burnt toast in the finish, with a bitterness that is gently grassy. Combine this with a soft mouthfeel and you have a fairly appealing Landbier that is thirst-quenching and satisfying. Just what's needed after a day ploughing the fields.

Saturday 10 October 2009

Here we go Lübzer Loo...

Another little trilogy, this time from the Mecklenburgische Brauerei Lübz, a fairly large regional brewery (1.3 million hectolitres annually apparently) in the former eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The brewery is now part of the Carlsberg group, and it's reach seems to be more than regional at this stage -- although even in the past, it exported a lot of beer to West Germany for the likes of Aldi, Spar and other discount markets. I had been pleasantly surprised by their drinkable, although nasty looking, Lübzer Urkraft (and I have another bottle in the cellar now that I think of it), so I wasn't dreading these beers that my wife brought back from a recent visit to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Lübzer Export is really quite a pale, straw-yellow beer with lots of carbonation feeding a desnse white head. The aroma is sweet, bready, with a light touch of resinous hops and a twist of lemon. The flavour is surprisingly malty up front, with bready notes as evident on the nose, and a suggestion of saltiness and lime. The hops are subtle, but give a nice enough grassy, herbal counterpoint to the malts. With a medium body, it goes down quite well, finishing somewhat dry with a hint of spice. It's perhaps a little watery as you go down, but in fairness, it's a straightforward, decent enough beer, and at 5.2% ABV is a touch higher than most lagerbiers, and I began to wonder if it was truer to what people think of as being export, what with the breadiness, stronger malts and a little more alcohol.

So how would the Lübzer Pils compare? Well, I clearly wasn't very inpressed by it, as my notes just wander off and do something less boring instead. It has little aroma, but what is there provides slight citric notes. The flavour is bready, and doesn't provide much hop bitterness at all, being more like the grassy, herbal notes I got with the Export. Not what I would think of as being a classic example of northern German pils, although it does meet the regulation 4.9% ABV. To answer my own question though, it did not compare well...

And so on to the Lübzer Bock, an altogether different beast at 7%, with a ruddy brown complexion, and a tan head that dissipates quickly. It smells bock-like, delivering that sweet, malty undertone, but also with some fruity notes and a fair dose of toastiness. This all comes though in the taste too, as it's certainly malty-sweet, not too sugary, thankfully, with toasted bread and a muted berry-like fruitiness. The finish does strange things though, as it's cut with a strange, almost bitter-almond in the finish. It goes like this: take a mouthful, feel malty sweetness as described above. Swallow, and you get berries and apples. Don't take another mouthful, but swallow again, and burnt toast and almonds appear along with a creeping alcohol warmth. Repeat till glass is empty. I don't think I've ever had such a well-defined three-way split in flavours appearing in stages. Not a bad bock at all.

I should point out also that none of these beers make use of hop extract, which I think is almost unusual in Germany for a brewery of that size.

Sunday 4 October 2009

A Hopdaemon Trilogy

Being involved in, I was always well aware that there can be a real, physical, social side to on-line communities. It's easy in the case of ICB, as there are regular social meet-ups, just to go for a few pints (500ml) and swap homebrew and the like. However, since starting a blog, and then dabbling on Twitter, I've been pleasantly surprised by the long-distance social scenes that can grow out of these on-line communities. Recently, I've sent beer to Mark Dredge of Pencil and Spoon fame, and he reciprocated. He shared my beers with his friend, and brewer from Hopdaemon, Pete Brissenden, who later sent a selection of their beers, just because! It's bloody great, although with such wonderful beers, I'm slowly getting disenchanted with German beer again, and every time I go down to the cellar, I reach for something non-German first. Who can blame me? As a result, over the past couple of nights I've had the pleasure of trying out a trilogy of beers from Hopdaemon.

The first was sent by Mark, and I now have a second bottle in the cellar thanks to Pete. Skrimshander, described as a Kentish Ale and IPA, pours a pale amber with a loose, fluffy head. The aroma is one of those that I always have trouble describing, but it's common to many of my favourite, rich IPAs. Kind of like toffee, with cheap, chocolate toffee undertones, like the candy coins you got as a kid. Candyfloss maybe? I'm sure people think I'm mad when I mention chocolate toffee in relation to an IPA. Ayway, along with that, there's a pleasent orange-pith undertone, and I find it mouthwatering. And the good news (for me at least)? It tastes like it smells. There's a satisfying caramel and biscuit base with an earthy wash of hops amidships. They might be a little subdued when compared to US-style IPAs, but the combination is rather juicy. It has a gentle bitterness, but it builds up, leaving a slight pine-like touch and a hint of orange pith. I would personally prefer a touch more carbonation to lift the hops up, but overall, a lovely, nicely balanced beer. I'm looking forward to the second bottle.

Green Daemon Helles is accurately described as a Golden Beer on the label, as it is, with a slightly orange-tinted pale gold. It looks well carbonated, with a steady stream of bubble supporting the dense, white head. It gives off fruity, bready and slightly yeasty aromas. On first sip, it's surprisingly loaded with fruity, floral flavours A suggestion of pear-drops with an ever-so-slight hint of solvents after swallowing. It's not as bitter as the big hop aromas suggest, but is definitely hop driven in the flavour and aroma department, again with masses of fruitiness. Underneath is a pleasantly biscuity maltiness that lends its own subtle sweetness. An intersting, juicy-fruit set of flavours. The finish is dryish, with lingering floral hops flavours.

Leviathan. I love that word, and I love the artwork on the label. As for the beer, it's an appealing ruddy brown with a juicy aroma, leaning towards light chocolate, marzipan and blackberries. Promising. On first taste, it delivers a soft caramel backbone with what must be chocolate malts on top, lending a touch of roastiness alongside dried fruits and a touch of fig. The hops are delicate, but bring in a nice spiciness that sits well with the dark, fruity flavours. There's a slight alcohol warmth, making it feel a little more than it's 6%. The finish is dryish with a touch of spice and a lingering roasty bitterness and more blackberries. A lovely autumnal drop.