Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Braukunst Live! 2014 - The Brewpubs

I had fully intended to sample broadly from the smaller German breweries at Braukunst Live! that I'd not heard of before, but somehow got waylaid. But at least I tried!

Maxbrauerei Biermanufaktur is a small inn and brewery, opened in 2010 in a renovated stables in Altenstadt, Oberbayern. What I found interesting about these guys, is that as well as their regular range of two, they have a monthly beer, that they have planned a year in advance. The 2014 calendar features beers like a Russian Imperial Stout (December), a Saphir Weizen (November), a Rogger Ale (June), and so on.

At Braukunst Live, they had the January and February offerings. January's was Maxbrauerei Böhmisch Dunkel, brewed with Saaz hops. Reminiscent of rye bread and toast, with a pinch of graininess and a green apple edge. Nothing to shout about, but fairly drinkable.

Their most recent offering was the Maxbrauerei Indian Pale Ale (their Indian), a yeasty, amber affair, with fruity overtones, the expected citric bite, but suffering from a butteriness that left it flat. Shame, but then there's something else coming next month!

Just an observation on the name of the brewery including the "Manufaktur" element. This seemed to be a bit of a trend, as there were at least a handful of breweries now sporting this moniker, leaving me wondering if they were trying to take a leaf out of the Braufactum handbook, using Manufaktur as an indicator of something crafted by hand. Let's see.

And speaking of playing the craft card, the next beers were from Kraft Bräu, from Trier, way over by the Luxembourg border. These guys, based in the Hotel Restaurant Blesius Garten, have been around since 1998, but I can't say if they had the name Kraft Bräu, or the sub-title 1. Trierer Hausbrauerei first. No matter, it's the beers that count.
Can't avoid the Lederhosen around here.
Starting with Kraft Bräu Seb's Pale Ale, served by Seb himself, I tried to ignore the questionable label and concentrate on the contents. I was told they wanted to aim for drinkability, and model this more towards an English style, rather than the fashionable American Pale Ales, despite being brewed with Willamette and Cascade. And you know, I think they succeeded. Balance is the name of the game, with sweet, fudgy malts, floral, herbal hops, and a light, orange-tinted bitterness. Unoffensive (at least the beer was) and decently sinkable, so I can't complain too much.

I said I'd like to try another of their "normal" beers, and was offered the Kraft Bräu Helles Saphir, which, as the name suggests, was dry-hopped with Saphir. I can't say I'd call it normal, in the sense of a German Helles, what with the big floral, resiny nose, and a lovely honey/melon flavour in the midground, and a  light carbonic bite cutting through to passion fruit and a soft, chalky dryness. Really refreshing and one I could happily drink all day.

Moving up the scale to the Kraft Bräu Edition IPA, at 7.5% ABV. Creamy, soft citrus notes, solid caramel base and a full body, I think this was another winner, and a far classier label.

On a separate board, they had a barrel-ages Kraft Bräu Treverer Porter. Lots of berries with lashings of vanilla, a deft touch of sourness, mild chocolate and roasted edge, and a lingering raspberry and chocolate finish. I was starting to like these guys, but thought I should be moving on.

Well, just one more. The Kraft Bräu Bourbon Chocolate Stout. With a port-like, vinous notes, vanilla chocolate, mild coffee and toffee, and deceptively light and creamy for a 9% imperial stout. Very good.

I'd like to find out more about Kraft Bräu, and what is behind the brewery, and how a hotel brewery (albeit quite a fancy-looking hotel and spa) can take the risks to make such a range of beers, and I wish Max & Co. luck with their ongoing project, as I like their ideas and guts starting something like that.

Next up, a look at a few breweries I would call "traditionalist", or certainly with what seems like a long pedigree, and a fair few "vons" in their history!


BryanB said...

And if it's not Manufaktur it's Werkstatt, or perhaps even more pretentiously Alewerkstatt.

You're making me regret even more that I only had the one evening at BKL...

Barry M said...

Crew AleWerkstatt is the only one that comes to mind, but I'm sure they would spawn copycats. Or are they now Crew Republic, completely?

Even two days didn't do it justice. I think I only ticked off 60% of the shortlist of brewers I wanted to sample from.

BryanB said...

At BKL there was also Eder & Heylands craft spin-off, Ederbräu Brauwerkstatt.

And are you saying the CREW crew - nice as some of their beer is - aren't just a *tad* pretentious? "Craft beer is not a crime" FFS! (-;

Barry M said...

I didn't say anything! ;)