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Brauhaus Goslar: Gose Das Harzer Urbier Hell (Germany: Gose: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow. Some small bubbled carbonation. An inch of loose bubbles head that leaves suds.

Nose: Small amounts of soft lemon. Carrot. Coriander. Orange peel.

Body: Slight honey. Barley biscuits. Slight salt. Lemon. Vanilla touch. Slightly cloying touch. Mild coriander.

Finish: Slight sea salt. Salty vinegar. Tangy – gherkins. Slight soft lemon and lime. Vanilla. Light orange. Slightly wheaty. Slight hop bitterness.

Conclusion: So, an actual gose, in actual Goslar. Time to try a beer from where was born! Softer and more gentle that I expected. Though I had been warned, it still was a mild surprise that it doesn’t have the sourness associated with the gose name, more just a gentle kind of clotting style. Instead it comes in showing light citrus notes, closer to what I would expect from a Belgian wit, matching it with soft vanilla notes backing it.

The saltiness expected is more of a thing, though even with this in the main body it is fairly gentle. The finish is where the full effect comes out. Kind of sea salt in style, with mild vinegar notes, akin to what you get on crisps , and with a low level bitterness. Not harsh, but quite the thirst inducer, and not an unpleasant end to the beer, for all it may sound otherwise. A very nice unusual note.

It is refreshing and thirst inducing at the same time – smooth to drink, and subtly backed by the more expected wheat beer characteristics. It worked very well in the sunny environment I was in and was far easier to drink than I imagined it would be. Without the salt and such it would be a very solid, middle of the road wit style beer – it is definitely the salt that makes it distinctive, adding a tang, while not having much overall sourness – more sough dough and sour cream mild notes coming it lightly at the tail end as the cloying notes rise a bit.

Very glad to have tried this – very far from the horrid “sweaty sock” reputation that some recent gose clones have gained – I can see what great promise the style has and it is a solid beer in itself.

Fascinating.

Background: A gose in Germany! In Goslar itself, birthplace of the style. The gose style, a slightly salted, often slightly sour wheat beer has had a resurgence in popularity over the last year or so. Considering only Goslar and Leipzig made it for many years,and the style had nearly died out- it is pretty cool to see it back. However, every gose beer I have tried from craft brewers have been quite different – from quite horrid sweaty sock tasting beers, to tart fruity beers, to quite well hopped or spiced beers. So, I was very interested to try one of the originals to see what the base of the beer style was like. I had been informed by the staff of Craft Beer Kontor that Goslar breweries hold that the beer should not be that sour – that the Leipzig version is only sour as it is based on the Goslar exports which had gone off slightly by the time it had reached them. Because of that I was braced for this to be less sour than I would have otherwise expected. Anyway, drank at the Brauhaus Goslar itself – the staff were very helpful as well when we had a very minor injury that needed napkins to stop blood flow. Many thanks to them! This is listed as 30 IBU – higher than I would have expected, if not overly high in general.

Carl Betz: Celler Bekenner Bock (Germany: Dunkel Bock: 6.9% ABV)

Visual: Clear caramel brown. Large yellow brown touched head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Cinnamon. Mild malt chocolate. Mild raisins. Vanilla comes out as it warms.

Body: Caramel and liquorice. More dry black liquorice. Chewy toffee. Palma violets. Hop oils. Blackcurrant hard sweets. Slight fluffy hop character. Currants– Eccles cake style. Slightly vinous as it warms. Red grapes and marzipan.

Finish: Blackcurrant and liquorice. Hop oils sheen. Light bitterness and hop character. Mild toffee. Eccles cake. Dry vinous air.

Conclusion: I do like the bock beers, even if the higher abvs may not like me much these days if I have more than one at a time.

This has a lot of the trademark bock notes – a slighter thicker body with caramel and raisin notes, and a low, though not absent, hop bitterness. What is unusual, and very nice, is a little blackcurrant and liquorice bit of extra flavour coming in. It makes it fruitier, but also drier from the black liquorice notes.

Together these are a warming set of notes, which match well with a rising vinous character; They call come together for a very satisfying and rich set of notes. For the best quick description I can give – it feels like a slightly ESB touched bock if that makes sense. The two styles share a fruitiness at the very least, but here it is far more pronounces.

At its base this is genuinely solid- it does the style well, avoiding the thinner texture that hurts a badly made bock so badly. It progresses well as it warms and doesn’t become sickly to drink as it does so.

While not quite having enough to make it a stand out must have bock, it is high quality in the expected style, and as its own character from the added blackcurrant and liquorice emphasis. A genuinely good beer – not outstanding but definitely very good.

Background: An interesting grab here – I lived in Celle for a bit in my very young years, so was interesting to see it when I was back in Germany – and it turns out they have their own brewery. So I had to try and grab one. Turned out pretty easy, the local supermarkets had a wide variety to choose from – so as a fan of Bocks I picked this one out of the line-up. It turns out, unfortunately it was a month past its best before date, which I did not notice on buying. Since it is a winter seasonal I’m guessing it had a six month BBD and was just over that. Since the notes still came out positive and it is a quite high abv beer, and a bock – so tend to do pretty well with ageing anyway – I decided to still put them up. Just thought I would still give you a heads up anyway. The only glass I could get for doing the notes was a bit rubbish, but what can you do?

Welde: Himburgs: Pepper Pils (Germany: Pilsener: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Golden and clear with a yellowed huge head.

Nose: Peppery. Floral. Slight menthol and herbal character.

Body: Lightly herbal. Light peppery and minty character. Quite clean. Light vanilla and grapes.

Finish: Minty. Clean and fresh. Sage and onion. Light peppery and peppercorn. Later a kind of beef slices comes out.

Conclusion: I was expecting a pepper touch to this, because of the name – but was not expecting this very fresh and herbal lager that manages very well to keep the lager feel despite the very clear influence of its unusual ingredient. It is mainly a pretty clean feel, and shows what I presume to be noble hop influence but matches that with a lot of sage and general herbal taste that works well. Now, while I say there is clear influence from the unusual ingredient, I was expecting for it to be expressed in a more traditionally peppery style. That more traditional influence is held back until a kind of peppercorn style in the finish, everywhere else gives that more herbal feel to it.

The lager is pretty one note, if well textured and delivered – with the subtlety coming from the rising herbs, peppercorn, and even some beef notes which were very unexpected – All of these seem to wait until the finish and gives a completely different layer to play with compared to the main beer. It makes for an easygoing lager with a robust but still not heavy finish.

The menthol and herb freshness is brilliant mid body – the pepper and meat finish grounds it so it doesn’t get wearing. There isn’t a lot in the central lager pils character, but the soft vanilla and noble hops give an easy drinking stage for the more unusual elements to work off.

So, not a world shaker but different and appealed to both myself and more traditional lager drinkers with me. When you want something easy to drink but different this holds good variety and fits that niche very well.

Background: While I was grabbing a few bottles to bring back from the excellent Craft Beer Kontor in Hannover I found out they had two taps on as well, one of which was this beer. So what could I do but try a quick one before heading out? Anything else would be rude. This is made as a collaboration between Welde and Himburg BrauKunstKeller – a pilsener made with pink and black peppers. Interesting. It was another hot day on trying this, so I was glad to hide away in the shade. Since I was on holiday I was more relaxed than normal, which always put me in a good mood for beer. This is listed as having 25 IBU, not bad – I always like when they list extra info like that.

Ale-Mania: New England IPA (Germany: IPA: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Deep yellow and cloudy body. Thin white head.

Nose: Grapefruit and pineapple. Banana. Guava. Orange juice.

Body: Mango. Smooth. Vanilla toffee. Creamy. No bitterness. Creamy lemon to lemon curd. Hop oils. Orange juice.

Finish: Creamy and milky. Light hop characters. Light hop oils. Bitterness grows over rime. Dried mango.

Conclusion: Another very creamy New England IPA – very thick, very low bitterness – instead concentrating on playing with the fruitiness. With the thickness that the main body it carries a cloying cream character with it as well – not too heavily, just adding a bit of weight to this drink, a bit more thickness to an already robust feel.

The aroma bursts with fresh fruit and while the main body does have similar flavours, it has nowhere near the intensity that the aroma promises. This, so far for me, has been a common trend with NE IPAs. I wonder if it is intentional, and if so why?

Instead of that intense burst, the fruit notes float around the creaminess as a mild, slightly fruit yogurt like character. It’s ok, but I guess I would prefer it if it tended more towards the intensity of the aroma.

Similarly the hop bitterness is very low in this – instead it uses a slick hop oil feel. It does finally give a slow rising bitterness to the finish, but the body has almost 0% bitterness to it.

So, a tad unusual take on the IPA, even given the creamy New England base. The creaminess seems to reduce some of the main characteristics of the IPA style, but despite that it is well made and not bad; More that with the wealth of great IPAs out there I can’t say that this one has much to make it stand out.

Background: New England IPAs seem to popular at the moment, and especially in my experience going around Lower Saxony in Germany. Saw a huge amount of them popping up. This being the first of which I tried – this one at Gig Linden in Hannover. Nor run into Ale-mania before so this is my first experience with them. The day had been fairly hot before this, but we hit the bar early evening so things were starting to chill down a bit. So far I am not 100% sold on the NE IPA style – its ok, usually creamy, sometimes a tad bitty – ok, but I really can’t see why it is blowing up as big as it is. Still, will keep trying them, see if I find the one that makes me get the style.

Paulaner: Salvator (Germany: Dopplebock: 7.9% ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown. Large overripe banana bubbled head.

Nose: Cinnamon. Dried banana. Cloves. Wheat. Toffee.

Body: Fruitcake. Madeira. Glacier cherries and port soaked raisins. Marzipan. Bitter wheaty centre. Cinnamon. Dried banana. Clove. Dry liquorice. Earthy. Dried apricot. Spicy notes.

Finish: Raisins. Dry liquorice. Dried prunes. Dry cinnamon. Wheaty. Cloves. Earthy. General dried spice.

Conclusion: This tastes like Aventinus‘ more bitter, charred and spicy cousin. It plays with similar raisins, banana and cloves – that sort of thing – but it has a more bitter core character, with much heavier earthiness and actually quite a wheaty feel despite, I think, not being a weizen.

It has heavy dried fruit and heavy spice to it. In fact, the longer I spend with it, the more it seems to move away from Aventinus and more become its own thing. I mean, Aventinus is still a good starting point for a reference but this deals with harsher flavours without moving away from being enjoyable.

It is also very robust, much more so than the bottled version which I also enjoyed. In fact that extra weight really does give it an extra intensity that takes a bit of time getting used to – rather than a smoother dopplebock this feels much heavier spiced – so much that if you told me it wa a spice beer I would not have been surprised.

Because of the above it is a very complex beer – from the toffee base, the spice into what really does taste like wheat beer notes and dark fruit, it has a lot going on. There are a few notes which means that it is not quite as beloved as Aventinus for me – for one the dry liquorice notes are a bit harsh for me, but it is a sign of how well it is made that I really enjoy it despite that.

So, it has a few flaws and rough edges, but behind that is a fruity, spirity, heavy beer that has a lot to recommend it. Lots of the banana and cloves notes I love – all done with a bit more British feel earthy hop twist. A lot of these are pronounced than in the bottled version, so if the idea of earthy earthiness and spice doesn’t put you off then this is an excellent beer for you. Only have one in a session though I would say – both the abv and flavours are too heavy for any more than that.

Background: The first beer notes of the Germany trip! This one was drunk at Paulaner Am Thienlenplatz near the Hannover train station after doing a few hours walking tour of Hannover itself. I’ve had Salvator a few times before and very much enjoyed it, but this is the first time I’ve had it on tap which was a nice special touch. I don’t think this is actually a wheat beer, even if it does taste like it at times- I did a quick google and I think this is just a dopplebock not a weizen bock, but I could be wrong. Anyway, after all that walking I definitely had earned a beer, so this was a welcome treat.

Artesans Maians: Espiga Blond Ale (Spain: Golden Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow blond. An inch of white head.

Nose: Grapefruit. Shortbread. Mandarin orange. Pink grapefruit. Pineapple. Crisp hops.

Body: Tart. Vanilla and cream. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Pink grapefruit. Just slightly gritty feel, but generally smooth. Mandarin orange.

Finish: Soft pink grapefruit and mandarin orange. Light cream. Solid bitterness and hop character. Light raspberry.

Conclusion: Ok, that is a lot of hops for a blond ale. A heck of a lot more than I expected, and bringing with it a good level of bitterness as well. Not a challenging level of bitterness, not super high, just more than I would have expected based on the style.

It comes in very fresh with that as well – working tart fruit in a grapefruit and orange style, with a fairly big bitterness to match those tart flavours. It sure as heck doesn’t feel like a traditional blond ale – with the hop level if feels IPA influenced, but the gentle blond ale base is still under there. It has a soft, milky and creamy character with a slight buttery shortbread feel. It is there, but with the high level of hops you won’t see much of it. It is nice to know it is there though, and it does give a solid base for the rest to work from. Generally fairly smooth, but occasionally a grittier touch rises, I presume from the hops.

It is very enjoyable – but doesn’t quite win my heart as it feels trapped between the two styles it is influenced by. The mass of hops works a lot better with an IPA base, and because of those hops it doesn’t really make the best of the blond ale base. Even I as a huge hop head has to admit beers don’t have to be all about the hops all the time. However, being torn between two worlds doesn’t make it a bad beer – it still pushes a lot of the tart fruit notes while keeping a suitable soft blond base – it is getting something new out of the deal.

So, a very good beer, not super special, but has a very good set of flavours to be had in the midst of a drinking session to revitalise without being too harsh.

Background: A beer from Spain! Beer trying to grab some from Spain in a while, I hear they have a pretty good craft scene going on at the moment. Yes that is mainly the reason I grabbed this from Independent Spirit, but since I grabbed it I found it out in it in the top one percentile by style on ratebeer – so has a damn good rep it seems. If I remember rightly it is also gluten free if that stuff is of use to you. Anyway, drink while listening to some more Miracle Of Sound, just before heading out to Germany for my recent holiday.

Wild Beer Co: Chronos (England: Premium Lager: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow gold. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Good sized white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Vanilla and butterscotch. Light cheese puffs. Palma violets. Clean. Soft orange sherbet.

Body: Sherbet orange and lemon. Light lime and kiwi. Chalky touch. Hop oils. Slight funky mature cheese. Palma violets. Slightly fizzy.

Finish: Hop oil sheen. Orange sherbet. Palma violets. Mature cheese. Apples.

Conclusion: It has always been true – a good lager takes a good long time to make. Here we have a been to add weight to that statement as this is a spot on, bretted up, foudre aged lager.

At the base you have a solid, if unexceptional, lager. It is playing with palma violet notes and a hop oil sheen that makes me think of the noble hopped European lagers. At this point it may not be out of the ordinary but it is still a lager that I wouldn’t push away – I could definitely enjoy it like this. On top of that comes a lovely cheese puff crisps to mature cheese solid character from, I presume, the brett yeast. Yet another layer on top of that is sherbety citrus fruit notes that sparkles, refreshes and excites.

It’s a three layer strategy of flavour and it works so well. The funkyness, unusually, is a grounding here – the citrus works the high notes and the clean noble style hops notes work the middle. Together it makes an intensely satisfying lager to drink. It’s like someone took a bohemian pilsner and added a bit of funk to it.

Fresh, easy to drink, but the brett has given a wonderful layered character to it. Lager is a much, and wrongly, maligned style. Shove this into an unbelievers hand and show how good they can be.

Wild Beer Co have had a week run for a while, for me at least – but this shows where their experimentation pays off. A top lager. A top beer. Fantastic.

Background: Another interesting one from Wild Beer co – this time a beer that has been lagered in Foudre and then Brettanomyces yeast added. Sounds fun. A top notch lager can be hard to find, and this sounded definitely interesting enough to give a shot. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, broken open after watching the excellent Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, and drunk while listening to some Within temptation. So a good environment for hopefully enjoying a beer.

Been a busy couple of days in Lower Saxony – seeing deer in Tiergarten in Hannover, wonderful architecture in Goslar. Buuut…

Yeah, I’m here to talk about the beer. First up – found an excellent craft beer store. Now, your mainstream beer is generally good in Germany – their lagers are well made, weisse beers are very easy to find, even some bocks and above pop up regularly. The supermarkets don’t seem to have the widest range – but you can get very high quality lager for virtually nothing. However, it is good to see that now on top of all that, there is a craft range available and Craft Beer Kontor in Hannover had a jaw dropping range. Huge amount of imports, and a very good showing of the local scene as well – right down to a good range of beers from Hannover and the surrounding area – even better it has two taps on site. The people running it were very helpful – my only regret is not having room to bring back more beer.

Also they gave me some useful information about the second big beer news recently. Gose! Got to go to Goslar and try gose beer in the city it was born in. The ones I tried were a lot less sour than I would have expected if I had not been warned by the owner of Kontor. Apparently, Goslar consider the Leipzig version to be based on what Goslar exported, and it was slightly soured by the time it got to then. They hold the original, as their version reflects, was a sweeter wheat based beer with the salt and spice providing the unusual elements rather than full on sourness. Will talk more when I do my notes when I get back on how well the beer worked.

Anyway, only a couple of days left – Will have normal notes up soon. Until then, enjoy your drink!

Lowering Into Saxony: A Germany Trip

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. Currently in Germany on holiday. Bit of a blast from the past as I lived in Germany when I was very young but don’t have much in the way of memories from that time, so good to see around where I was.

But, of course you are here for the drink thoughts – found a lovely place to eat and drink in Hanover – Kleines Museum Restaurant. Not the biggest drink selection, but the local Herrenhäuser pils they have on tap is smooth and easy drinking, and their bottle selection have some hefty dopplebocks so I can’t complain. It’s a lovely looking place as well – I’ve shoved a photo up above – lots to look a and enjoy as you sup your drink.

Also managed to try Paulaner Salvator on tap – full notes to come, but it seems much fuller bodied spice than the bottled version I get in the UK. Hoping to hit Goslar over the next few days and try Gose in the town of its birth.

Apart from that been busy sightseeing in Hanover and Celle – enjoying a lot of good German meat and the fact they have apple strudel available at breakfast which makes me a very happy bunny.

I’ll keep you up to date, and until next time – enjoy your drink!

Brewdog: The Physics (Scotland: Amber Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Mahogany to slightly browned. Large browned mounded head that leaves lace.

Nose: Malt chocolate and choc orange. Light crushed peanuts. Milky coffee. Lightly fresh feel.

Body: Nutty with slight cashew nuts. Orange and choc orange. Lightly milky chocolate. Soft fudge and toffee.

Finish: Roasted nuts and roasted hop character. Light orange. Creamy lime. Toffee. Light bitterness.

Conclusion: OK, of the three Brewdog re-brews this seems to have fared the best. Probably because it is malt led I imagine. The malty beers seemed to be the ones that fared best on being moved to the new site, back when Brewdog had about a year of very variable beer quality just after they set up their new brewery.

From the three beers they rebrewed I really am thinking that they didn’t bother trying to customise their brew time, etc for their new Brewery kit for doing these beers; as the beers that work and don’t work, and their flaws are so similar to those first batches after they moved over. Or if they did, they sure as hell didn’t do it well, and yet still put the beers on the market. Which really comes across as slapdash for a set that is supposed to be a celebration of their old beer.

Anyway, that rant aside, unlike the other two beers , this is still very decent. So I may have started ranting too early. Or too late and I should have put it in the prior set of notes. Anyway…. As said, this is well done with a soothing toffee led base matched with lots of choc orange that is laced throughout It has a fresh and sweet feel to it, but not excessive in either of them – Instead it is grounded very well by a solid dose of nuttiness and a little bit of roasted hop character. The fresh elements are helped by a taste not unlike those green flecks you get when you unshell nuts, which again means it never gets too heavy.

Yep, this one brings back memories of why The Physics was the beer that cemented by respect for Brewdog after Punk IPA had first blown my world. It is still solid with the malt chocolate and a mild, very milky, coffee set of notes giving a robust base behind the sweetness. All very easy to drink, and if it wasn’t for the 5% abv it would be kind of sessionable.

So, still got it, all these years on.

Background: I think The Physics was the second ever Brewdog beer I tried after Punk IPA – back before I had starting doing this little blog of mine. So, when Brewdog was doing a rebrew of their original three beers to celebrate their tenth anniversary it brought out a bit of nostalgia for me. Then again, their other two beers in the rebrew turned out to be sub-par, so by this point I was more nervous. This was grabbed direct from Brewdog’s store, and as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer. Had a bit of Faithless playing while listening to this, some good old 90s electronic nostalgia. So, really a nostalgia overdose for this set of notes.

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