Tag Archive: Altbier


Uerige: Doppelsticke Altbier (Germany: Altbier: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Dark caramel brown to black. Inch of tight bubbled brownish head that leaves a sud rim.

Nose: Raisins. Spirit soaked fruitcake. Charcoal dust touch. Thick, hot caramel. Malt chocolate. Dry liquorice. Oily nuttiness. Cola bottles.

Body: Caramel. Oily nuttiness. Oily liquorice. Honey undertones. Fudge. Treacle.

Finish: Oily. Coffee remnants. Oily nuttiness. Liquorice touch. Palma violets. Toasted teacakes. Raisins.

Conclusion: This is another big, thick, beer. Seem to be having a run of them at the moment. This one is chewy and oily, mixing thick caramel and treacle notes with oily nuts and oily liquorice character. This feels pretty much like what would happen if you ditched a gallon of treacle into a standard Altbier. Only, ya know, good.

It is a beer that is thick and treacly head to toe, but there is enough going on under there to keep you interested during the time. You get showing from dark fruit, chocolate, even some slight use of fresh tasting palma violet notes in the finish that help separate each sip from the next. For such an intense beer it does well differentiating the notes and thus breaking up the drinking experience.

Now, with that said, the odd thing is that only applies to part of the beer. This thing rocks the aroma, and has a subtle and complex finish that makes taking a long time between sips worthwhile but … it has only a good not great body. Now note that is still good, but it is the one area with less complexity. In the main body is where it is the most treacle filled, most caramel filled and the other notes get much less of a look in.

If the body matched the complexity and range of the opening and finish of the beer, then this would be an utter classic. As is it is still a very enjoyable, super thick altbier and deviantly worth grabbing for a cold night in front of the fire.

Background: I picked this up my a kind of mistake. Uerige: Altbier is one of the beers listed in Michael Jackson’s 500 Great Beers and I picked this up thinking that is what this was. This is not that, it is the stronger, higher abv version of a similar beer. Ah well, still should be nice. Found it at Corks Of Cotham. A bit out of the way from my usual route, but has a good selection of beer, so worth checking out when I can. This has that flip cap style that I pretty much only see on German bottles. Very nice, and very easy to use. Put on Bratmobile – Pottymouth while drinking. No reason, I just like it.

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Brewdog Candy Kaiser

Brewdog: Candy Kaiser (Scotland: Altbier: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Mahogany touched brown. Caramel brown head of froth.

Nose: Sugared almonds. Shredded wheat. Walnut cake. Malt chocolate.

Body: Moderate bitterness. Light sour dough. Light granite. Slightly thin. Earthy and spicy hops. Soil touch. Palma violets.

Finish: Sour dough and moderate bitterness. Slightly gritty. Paprika. Soil.

Conclusion: So the reworked Alt Amber shows its face with a colourful new ensemble. It has been nearly a year so I am comparing by memory, give me some leeway here – I’d say it seems more earthy, it definitely seems to have more soil style notes in a way that calls to British hop character. Don’t think they used any Brit hops for this though. I could be wrong. It has some of the spicy notes as well that you would expect from the noble hops, which seem more likely to be used in an Altbier. There is still a nuttiness there, but with less notable presence against the earthy notes.

It still doesn’t have a huge range, and the texture can be slightly thin when cool, but flavour wise it has a bit of umph. It was always robust but this feels like it takes the rougher end of the character and adds to it. There is even a light artificial feeling sweetness to it – kind of palma violet style, which gives an odd contrast.

Still not a radically different beer. Maybe it has lost some of the side subtle notes under the heavier base earthiness. I’d say pretty much the same as I said about the first one – not the most fancy, not quite as easy drinking, but still robust.

Background: This is the beer based on the prototype Alt Amber. Now when I say based, I have no idea how much they have altered it – the abv is the same, but I have been assured some tweaking has gone on. It has been a long time since I tried the prototype so please don’t take this as a direct comparison – though I will do my best to compare after consulting my prior Alt Amber notes. As always I am not an unbaised actor one Brewdog beers. I wasn’t sure if I should do notes on this, but I skipped the official release of Brixton Porter and have since heard it was a lot better than the prototype- so I thought I would give it shot. Drunk while listening is Ihsahn: After. Not listened to that for a while.

Brewdog Prototype Alt Amber

Brewdog: Prototype: Alt Amber (Scotland: Altbier: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Dark reddened brown. Small browned head. No evident carbonation.

Nose: Roasted. Malt drinks. Raisins. Chocolate cake sponge. Chalk touch.

Body: Roasted. Tiny liquorice touch. Chalk touch. Malt drinks. Raisins. Nutty. Light fruitcake.

Finish: Roasted. Nutty – peanuts. Light malty choc orange.

Conclusion: What a robust wee ale. Heavily roasted, a bit nutty – It is big in those more rough feeling elements, with even a chalky touch or two to it. Yet what impresses me is that despite that it is remarkably easy to drink.

Nice.

It has a pretty simple setup to the body, the roasted notes are the main elements, backed by a malt chocolate drinks set. There are light notes of dark fruits, or perhaps fruit cake, but nothing massive, just a few rounding notes.

Despite the simplicity it feels full just by having each element very clear and well defined. It never feels light or thin, and the roasted and nut character lingers on, and not unpleasantly, long after you have taken your mouthful and swallowed.

It is not one that has a massive amount of room for examination, but I will say I think it would fit nicely into Brewdogs core line-up. Something that feels like a lager style (While technically being an ale), but darker and fuller, and a good one for people who wish to do bit of experimentation. They do already have Zeitgeist, but I don’t think that is core line up at the moment (It has been very good the past year or so), so I think this would do nicely.

Not the most fancy beer, but robust and easy drinking.

Background: Second of this year’s prototypes, and a new style for Brewdog – The altbier. Altbier always confused me, it tastes and looks like a dark lager, but uses warm fermented yeast, so is technically an ale. Drunk while going old school with some Faithless: Reverence. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer. Oh, By the way – when I finished the review I listened to some of Scrooobius Pip’s Distraction Pieces Podcast as I drank the rest -it is a great interview podcast with people including Alan Moore and Warren Ellis. Well worth checking out.

Boltens: Ur-Alt (Germany: Altbier: 4.9% ABV)

Visual: Darkened brown, laced with ruby and amber shimmers. Massive bubbled murky coloured head. Quite carbonated and cloudy.

Nose: Musty malt, yeasty and black cherry.

Body: Raisins. Pepper. Wheaty and bitter. Very dry flavours. Malty with some syrup, Glacier cherries and dried fruit. Hint of black liquorice.

Finish: Peppery. Gritty and bitter. Flour feel. Dry hops and hop oils mix.

Conclusion: I’m always a tad wary going back to beers from my past. I have fond memories of this one, and I guess its time to see how memories hold up to reality.

It’s simpler than I remember, a very primitive rough and ready beer, all dry hops and rough edges.  Despite that it is quite easy to drink, just doesn’t seem as special anymore. It’s got its decent run though, good bitter kick, and nice fruitiness, even if it is predominately raisins.  Since I tried it first on tap I wonder if it was so much better that way, or if again it is the tricks of memory, or as the saying goes, if nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

This all is a bit too harsh, I’m criticising it basically for not living up to my mental image of it rather than looking at the beer it actually is. It is rough and ready but the flavours hardly lacking.  So, for old time’s sake, and for what it actually is, I cannot complain about a glass of it, and it happens to come with some happy memories as well.

Background: First drunk on tap in Germany many years ago, during my early beer enthusiast days, to warm reception.  After a bit I decided on the Aventinus glass for hosting it, maybe not the best choice, but close enough that I don’t care, the glass is a too fun one to keep locked away without being used.  The photo is a tad worse than usual, had to drop back to my camera phone to take it after the batteries ran unexpectedly dry on the main camera. This caused me to miss taking a photo of the huge initial head it had.  Oh and Ur is an excellent prefix that does not get used often enough in my opinion.

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