Tag Archive: Dunkel


Le Votre: Black Beer (China: Dunkel: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy and brown with a thin browned head.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Cocoa. Light chalk.

Body: Roasted. Nuts. Cola bottle sweets. Light chalk. Slightly light. Slight charring.

Finish: Roasted. Malt chocolate. Slight liquorice. Chalky feel. Cocoa dust. Light charring. Low level bitterness and hops. Hop oils.

Conclusion: There seems to be a lot of lagers around China, with each region seeming to have a different common bottled pale lager, and a lot of places have their own lagers brewed for their taps it seems. So, here at Le Votre I decided to do notes on their dark beer – hadn’t tried a dark lager yet this trip.

It is fairly middle of the road – better than a lot of the inoffensively dull pale lagers I’ve run into though – a lot of the pale lagers feel like they are designed to be wet backgrounds to a meal than have any real flavour themselves. This at least does have flavour.

This has a mild roasted base, with low level malt chocolate backing and touches of cola bottles and liquorice. There seriously have been a lot of liquorice touched beers this trip. There is low level but present bitterness and hop character, which makes this feel like it is a German inspired dark lager – which make sense considering how popular German beers are in the local region. It similarly has light noble hops oily feel on the way out, further enhancing the comparison.

It is slightly light at the start, but gains just enough weight to the mouthfeel over time. It is a bit too chalk touched for the lower weight though, so it never quite balances it perfectly. The best part is definitely the finish, as the air roams the mouth it seems to have more time to develop tasty hop oil and chocolate notes that never seem to find their way in the mid body.

A better beer to enjoy alongside a meal than most here, in that you can enjoy it for its own flavours – an average stand alone beer though. Not bad, not great, just a dark lager.

Background: Turns out Yangshuo has more of a beer scene than my initial research suggested. Ratebeer listed only Le Votre restaurant, which where I tried this, and a quick google only found a few more. Turned out the place if packed with bars – a lot concentrating on import beer – especially from Germany with a couple concentrating on craft beer – but there are a few local brewpubs as well. I decided to do notes on this one as a representative of the many local breweries around the country that basically brew their own lager (sometimes just pale, sometimes a dark lager as well) – it is fairly common for an area to have its own locally brewed lager, often tied to a restaurant, even if there isn’t really any other beer scene. So – here I grabbed the dark lager. When I was trying to ask about the abv I was unable to get the question across despite my best mime attempts, so this info was taken from googling after getting back.

Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel

Ayinger: Altbairisch Dunkel (Germany: Dunkel: 5% ABV)

Visual: Dark cherry red to brown. Large bubbles off white head. Large amounts of carbonation.

Nose: Dried cherries in digestives. Malt chocolate. Vanilla. Pistachios.

Body: Barley. Malt chocolate. Nutty – pistachios. Light greenery. Light cherry, Madeira and fruitcake. Butter and chives. Werther’s originals.

Finish: Barley. Pistachios. Malt chocolate. Light treacle notes. Some bitterness and a kind of faux wheat character. Chives. Werther’s original and butterscotch.

Conclusion: This takes the dunkel style in an odd direction, though that is not immediately evident. Initially it is just fairly nutty, unusual, but not exactly out there. It pushes pistachio style with that kind of greenery notes you can get from the flecks around the shell. A quick google tells me pistachios are not technically nuts, but still, you know what I mean, right? Anyway, still not what I expected from a dunkel – usually they are more chocolate led, while this leans heavily on the savoury side, but that is just the start.

What really gets odd is this kind of greasy fatty butter and chives character in the feel that matches with a butterscotch like flavour. It builds up into a thick, gripping texture that – for me – got wearing fast. I can see how, for all its reputation, buttery notes can be a good thing in a beer but it really doesn’t seem to fit here. It ends up with underlying notes halfway between that butterscotch and a full on Werther’s original, and that note sticks around too long. If it had been a lighter or shorter lasting note I would have been intrigued, but it feels used too heavily here.

Some of that could be that I let the beer warm up – chilled it was more easy drinking and that pistachio base was well used and worthy of note in itself. It was a different take, akin one without a huge amount of depth. I let it warm as I had hoped more would come out, but what did come out did not suit me and it became sickly.

This seems to be a very highly rated beer, but this experience for me was a bit simple and a bit sickly. Against the grain again it seems…

Background: This was grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer section – not one I expected to see there. They have grabbed more traditional beers in before, but this one caught my eye as something different to what they normally stock. Anyway, this is one of Michael Jackson’s 500 great beers, so I had to give it a try. Drunk while listening to some odd, amusing tunes from Ninja Sex Party.

Crescent City: Black Forest (USA: Dunkel: 7%ish?)

Visual: Black, half an inch of caramel sudden froth for a head. Body tinges red in the light.

Nose: Quite dry. Black cherry. Malt drinks and light cocoa dust.

Body: Black forest gateaux (no really). Light pineapple hops. Not the thickest body. Light toffee character. Chocolate cake sponge more heavily than most elements. Black cherry becomes more dominant over time.

Finish:Pineapple hops and black forest gateaux/Chocolate cake sponge. Lightly bitter, Charcoal touch. Cream.

Conclusion: You know, I was expecting Black Forest to be just a name, but noooo, it is in fact quite a serious flavour element. The beer isn’t that heavy and tends more towards the chocolate sponge than the sweeter elements of black forest gateaux, but it does have a nice mix of black cherry and restrained bitterness.

The flavour maybe could do with being a touch stronger, but most likely that would hurt the refreshing character by making it more sickly. It is also a minor point, as by the half way point the flavour level of the beer has picked up. It is only really the first third where it seems to suffer, and has a few notes between that and the half way point.

Very easy to drink, occasionally there was a charcoal touch to the finish which isn’t great, but despite that I could have a couple of these in the ever present USA sun. The tiniest of what seems to be American hop influence presence gives that fresh touch that keeps the beer from getting too dry.

So a beer with a few minor flaws, but generally a very nice beer. If I had more time in New Orleans then I would definitely have drunk it again.

Background: You may be wondering 7%ish abv? You are normally more precise than that. Well yes, but I cannot find the abv listed anywhere, either online or at the brew house. When I asked the bar staff they guessed 7%ish, so that’s the best I have for you. The brew house was one found in New Orleans, a city described as “amazing but it will steal your soul” which wasn’t too far wrong a descriptor. Crescent City is one of many places that brew on site,and seemed heavily Germany influenced in style and in their choice of beers.

Gotenba Kohgen Dunkel (Japan: Dunkel: 5.5% ABV)

(also referred to as Gotemba Kohgen Dunkel)

Visual: Clear light cherry red/brown with a beige head. Lots of bubbles.

Nose: Malt, brown sugar and pastries.

Body: Cherries, dry grain. Alka-Seltzer feel, malt chocolate and lemon.

Finish: Dry malt and chocolate, wheat and grain. Glazed cherry.

Conclusion: Not bad nose and finish, but the body is overwhelming in its fizziness. The excessive fizz seems to be the bane of Japan beers so far.

The finish does make it drinkable, coming in after the bubbling hordes and giving a relaxing wave of flavour top remind you why you’re still drinking this beer. Pleasant and easy going.

As you can probably guess from the faint praise I am damning it with, this beer isn’t going to give the Germans any fears over their hold on this style, but it’s vaguely drinkable.

Weltenburger Kloster: Barock Dunkel (Germany:Dunkel: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Light brown frothy head, dissipating to a more manageable level quickly. Clear mahogany red brown.

Nose: Malty chocolate drink, slight hops, a touch of liquorice(which seems a common taste currently)

Body: Slight frothiness. Malted milk, bitter but not harsh edge. Not overly sweet.

Finish: Bitter, dry powdered chocolate.

Conclusion: A night time relaxing beer. Full of warming chocolate, ovaltine, malty notes. Not overly strongly in its flavors but good to help relax and wind down to rest

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