Friday, 22 March 2013

Braukunst Live! 2013

The second Braukunst Live! and it more or less doubled in size, with about 56 stands representing 88 Breweries and over 400 beers. At least that's as much as I counted! Despite being ill the previous two days, I girded my loins and took an early Friday morning train to Munich to rendezvous with old mates Kieron, Brian and TheBeerNut, mate from Münster (well, Recklinghausen) Rüdiger and special guest appearances from Mr. Dredge and Jon, for a weekend of beer and beer hall exploration.

Here we go again! Photo: Rüdiger Gartmann
Base camp 1. Photo: Rüdiger Gartmann
I have to admit, sometimes there is such a thing as too much choice, as clutching a printed list of the beers, it was a struggle to choose what to go for in such a limited time. I opted to stay German, where possible, and try beers I've not had before. We grabbed a table beside the catering area, as sadly there was no seating out near the action of the beer booths. This might not have been such a good idea, as it didn't have the same atmosphere, but it did mean we had a meeting point to bring beers back to as each went off hunting and gathering.

First up, at booth number 2, Ale Project from Erding, and their imaginatively-named Craft Ale. Bad start. Although the bananay, bubblegum aspects might make one think of a Weizen, this was just awful, with a husky, butterscotch thing riding all over it. Cheesy, as Brian put it. Rancid as I noted. I can only hope that this was a dodgy bottle, for their sake. Their unfiltered IPA was a considerable improvement (well, the guy at the booth did say it was better) with a decent fresh hop to the fore, although sweet and unfinished-tasting.

Needing to restore my faith in the new wave of German pale ales, my old favourite Hopfenstopfer had to be next (booth 3!), and their new Comet IPA. Oily, creamy, hop-forward and loaded with pine resin, a lick of mandarin, grass and, surprisingly, berries. Now we're talking! I liked this, and I'm pleased that they keep coming out with something new to try. Nevertheless, I couldn't resist a taster of one of my old favourites, the Citra IPA, which I just realised I've never posted about despite having bought a crate of the stuff!

As per last year, Camba Bavaria had a strong presence, so I used my free token, plus one, to give their Bourbon Barrel Doppelbock a test drive. With a strong vanilla aroma, this just screams berries galore, with blackberries taking pole position. Well rounded with a gentle chocolate character bringing up the rear, this is a rather good sipper, and as a Doppelbock, I was well impressed. A candidate for my beer of the festival.
The Camba Bavaria bar. Photo: Rüdiger Gartmann
Alongside Hopfenstopfer at booth 3 was BraukunstKeller, a brewery not a million miles away from me in the heart of the Odenwald. I quite like their new branding, but hadn't tried anything from their stable till now, opting for the Laguna IPA. Brewed with Chinook, Cascade and Centennial, on paper it looked a lot like my Klosteiner Pale Ale v2, so expectations were high. With a vaguely socky aroma giving reason to pause, I quite liked it as a pale ale, having a rounded bitterness, leaning more in a fruity direction, with strawberries and cream, light pine, just a touch of citrus and a candy-like backdrop. Not what I expected given the hop listing, but a decent pale ale that that I enjoyed and makes me wonder if perhaps there is such a thing as a German IPA. I should have tried their Mandarina IPA, which uses the relatively new Mandarina Bavaria hop variety, so I'll have to seek that out elsewhere.

Pax Bräu was another small brewery that grabbed my attention on the list. They make quite an eclectic mix of beers and wanting to give a German stout a go, I chose the Black Gold. Not to my taste, unfortunately, mainly due to the addition of licorice, which I can only take so much of, but under that lay a decently oily, well roasted, caramelly stout. Their Imperial Peppermint Stout sounded intriguing  but I needed a cleanser after the licorice.

And so for something completely different. I'd heard very good things about Schönramer last year, but somehow missed them in the rush. Several people had said I must try the Schönramer Grünhopfenpils, an unfiltered pils brewed with green hops.Well, yes, rather good! Light, clean, grassy, herbal, spicy and a touch of biscuit. I'll be looking for something like this in the hot summer months.

Despite intending to stay with the German breweries, a quick trip across the border to Austria was required, to retry the Engelszell Gregorious, which TheBeerNut had enjoyed recently, and which I had tried the very first version of a year ago, and by the sounds of it, they had much improved it. And indeed, Gregorius is much improved from the ripe banana mess it was a year ago, full with dried fruits, blackcurrants  slightly vinous, a mildly bilious bitterness, combined with a deft roasted touch.  Benno is the golden side of the two current Engelszell offerings, a sweetish, yeasty, zesty with a herbal finish. On balance, I prefer the Gregorius, for the depth and chewiness, but it's nice to see them doubling their range in the space of a year!

The brothers. Photo: Rüdiger Gartmann
Realising I had not yet fully recovered from my bout of illness, I'm afraid I could not match the number of samples I'd had last year, but managed to sneak a few more small tasters in. FritzAle's Milk Stout struck me as not being classically milk stout, not having the residual sweetness or body I expected, but was rather more dry, with a strong roasted grain element. I'll be sticking with their excellent Pale and India Pale Ales. Gerrit and Nina allowed me a slurp of their The Monarchy Son of a Batch Apple Wood Gose (mildly tart, sweet underbelly, light saltiness, touch of wood and faint apple, like applewood smoked cheese) and Klosterbrauerei Weißenohe Amrita Inwerbier (lovely freshly grated ginger on the nose, but harsh and thin on the tongue), while Mark finally helped me realise a dream, to try the Braufactum Arrique Barley Wine, a beer I've been curious about for a couple of years, but just could not bring myself to pay 18 Euro for 330ml. I'm glad I didn't, as I found it lacking. Riegele, on the other hand, had a pretty impressive Imperial Stout Riserve, a rich, chocolatey concoction for sipping by a blazing fire. Another brewery I have to try more from.

One day was definitely not enough to do Braukunst Live justice, and I can only imagine it's going to get bigger next year, so I'm already planning to dedicate more time to it in 2014. TheBeerNut did make a second foray on Sunday, while I was trundling home on the train, so expect a more extensive report from him soon.

It just remains to say congratulations to Frank Böer for pulling off another great event, gathering a broad spectrum from German brewing, with a large proportion of the smaller, more interesting breweries taking centre stage. Long may it continue!

Many thanks to Rüdiger for the photos, as my camera died from dust inhalation some weeks ago (hence the poorer quality ones taken with a BlackBerry) :|


The Beer Nut said...

"Soon". *Notebook continues to gather dust*.

The legend of Klosteiner lives on! I found it very hard to drink German IPAs without thinking about it.

Barry M said...

Not sure if that's a good or bad thing!

Rory said...

Hi Barry,
I was there myself on Friday and Saturday - I had no idea you (& the gang) were present - we must have walked past each other several times.

Hope you had a good festival. 2013 turning out to be a good one for craft beer in Germany.

Barry M said...

Hi Rory!

That's a shame. It was just small enough that I easily met a few people in passing that I knew, so yeah, I'm quite sure we passed without knowing. Next time I'll post up a warning of attendance :)