Tag Archive: Germany


Ritterguts: Bärentöter Sour Gose Bock (Germany: Gose: 6.6% ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown. Massive, lightly brown touched head.

Nose: Cinnamon and coriander. Wheaty. Light lemon. Sour malt chocolate. Lightly tart. Fresh sour dough. Slightly salted. Light caramel. Tart grapes.

Body: Salty. Vinous, sour red wine soaked brown bread. Tart black cherries. Coriander. Fruitcake. Tart grapes. Bread pudding.

Finish: Gummed brown paper. Salt. Watered down vinegar. Brown bread. Malt chocolate drinks. Spotted dick pudding. Peppery. Dry Madeira.

Conclusion: This is a very bready gose – it keeps the salty and wheaty gose character, but feels heavier – backed by a vinous, sour wine set of notes an a fruitcake style that makes it very different to the other gose I have encountered. I presume this is the higher abv, but who knows, my encounters with Gose over the years have been pretty varied already.

It starts out a bit underwhelming, but quickly builds. It is never too tart, in fact few gose I have tried go really heavy on that side, but it has a gentle sourness given bready weight and accentuated by the spice to give an odd bread pudding soaked in wine kind of character. I wonder if anyone has even made that, a spiced, wine soaked Bread Pudding. It sounds like the kind of thing that should exist.

Anyway, I digress, this is gentle, but gains an extraordinary amount of complexity as you take your time with it. It remains very grounded and mellow, but rewards you with such a range of vinous, fruity, sweet, and spice notes. If it wasn’t for the higher abv, it feels like it would be the perfect examine throughout a warmer day kind of beer.

As is, it feels like a rewarding after dinner drink. It is spirity enough to call to the traditional port or similar that it would replace, heavy enough to stand up to what was eaten before, and the light salt makes it dangerously drinkable, and with enough going on that you can just let it slip down and enjoy.

Very worth trying.

Background: First beer of The Arrogant Sour Festival that was on at the Moor Tap room recently. In fact it was recommended by one of the staff, and since actual Gose from Germany are still not a super common thing I thought it would be nice to give it a go. I went to the festival on the Sunday due to feeling a bit under the weather the day before, so was worried all the good beers would have gone. I should not have worried, they still had a great selection left. This one is mad with six different malts, coriander, orange peel and ceylon cinnamon. Also I presume salt, as Gose are a kind of slightly salted, spiced, wheat beer, but that was not listed.

Advertisements

Ganstaller Brau: Weizenator (Germany: Weizenbock: 8.1% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Slightly hazy body. Good inch of whitish head.

Nose: Muggy apricot. Fresh apples. Smoked cheese. Wood smoke.

Body: Creamy body. Apple. Odd hop burn like feel deep down. Smoked cheese. Slight banana custard.

Finish: Creamy. Smoke. Charring. Smoked cheese. Muggy apricot. Banana.

Conclusion: I want to like this, I really do. It does so many interesting things. It just doesn’t hang together at all.

The interesting elements vary from an unusually fruity hop character, both in that it is unusual for using the fruitier character in a weizenbock, and that it comes across in a murky, thicker way on the apricot side, and then a very unusual fresh cut apple character after that. So both murkier and fresher than traditional hop flavours tend to come across.

The body has thick, creamy character, nothing I’d expect from previous experience with a weizenbock – it has a slightly smoked character which gives a kind of smoked cheese note, albeit without the depth of character and flavour I would expect from that descriptor.

Lots of good, interesting notes, but slightly let down by what feels like a kind of hop burn but not exactly rough. Just slight acrid weight. While that isn’t my favourite bit, it is a small element and not what makes me not enjoy this.

What is the problem is all the interesting notes clash. The creamy character doesn’t work well with the slight hop burn feel, making it stick. Similarly the fruit gets sticky and the flavours hang around too long. Lots of fun elements which, when combined, collapse into a mess.

It is such a pity. The fresh apple is such a great element. A smoke touched weizenbock – hell yeah! Creamy texture, not my first choice but sure, interesting. Together? Nope. Creamy makes smoke last too long, apple notes hit hop burn badly. So many good ides, just not a good implementation. Sorry.

Background: Ooh, new German brewery (ok, new to me. Its been going best part of a decade, which I guess is kind of new for a German brewery. Most of them have history that could be measured in ice ages) . A weizenbock as well which is one of my favourite, under exposed beer styles. Mainly because of the influence of Aventinus, which is still one of my favourite beers of all time. Which is why I broke the Aventinus glass out, despite being a 500ML glass and this being a 330ml beer. I just don’t get the opportunity to break it out often. Went with IDLES: “Joy As An Act Of Resistance” again for music. Such an epic mix of anger and compassion. Probably my favourite album of the past year.

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.

Heller: Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche: Doppelbock (Germany: Smoked: 8% ABV)

Visual: Dark ruddy red. Inch of browned head.

Nose: Smoked blue cheese. Smoked meat board. Smoked bacon. Ash.

Body: Brown sugar. Blue cheese. Smoke. Slight cream. Plums. Raisins.

Finish: Smoked cheese. Blue cheese. Brown sugar. Brown bread. Sour dough. Cherries.

Conclusion: Oh yes, this is the beer I tried years ago and could never find again. I have been beer hunting this one for bloody ages, and now it is here again!

Why am I so excited about this one? Blue cheese my friend. Blue cheese in a smoked doppelbock. Oh yes. The smoke is what I presume creates this awesome blue cheese and meat platter aroma – all smoked versions of course. Those elements follow through into the main body to create a heavy, intense smoked beer that manages to avoid the ash tray like character that can hit some of them.

Beneath that is a brown sugar to dark fruit doppelbock that gives a nice backing to the cheese and meat. However that blue cheese and meat is what you are here for (Or at least it is what I am here for). That is what you chew on, the other notes are just to give something behind it.

So, for the first half, this beer is absolutely amazing, but it does become a different beer as time goes on. The brown sugar backing becomes more evident and the smoke elements less so. Now it is still decent, with cherry and raisin notes showing through, but is isn’t that great thing it was at the start and by the end of the beer the brown sugar notes are far too present.

A great opener of a beer – genuinely a layered legend – but the higher sweetness seems to mean that it can’t hold that to the end. Pity. Still well worth trying – maybe share a bottle between two people to get it at its best.

So, the end lets it down, but the front is so good that I still recommend it.

Background: Tried this a few years ago, it was on tap at The Beer Emporium and it was lovely. Sometimes I can find Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche beers a tad too smoke filled, but this had the balance down just right. Ever since I’ve been hunting for it again to try and do notes on it. So, yeah, it turned up at Independent Spirit, so now I have it and I’m doing notes on it. Simple. The difference to this beer is that it is oak smoked rather than beech smoked for the rest, which I presume accounts for a lot of its different character. With it being a doppelbock I decided to break out the Aventinus glass – I don’t get many excuses to use it. Put on Rotten Citizens Vol 1 EP while drinking for some nice heavy moody backing music.

And Union: Unfiltered Lager (Germany: Helles Lager: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon juice. Moderate white head. Hazy. Some bits visible at the base of the beer. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Wheaty. Light cream. Bready hop bitterness to crusty white bread. Flour.

Body: Lemon. Crusty white bread. Clean hop character. Light hop oils. Lightly fresh, Soft lime. Soft kiwi. Light prickle to the mouthfeel. Vanilla ice cream. Moderate bitterness. Zesty.

Finish: Lightly creamy. Creamy kiwi. White bread hop feel. Light bitterness. Flour. Palma violets.

Conclusion:Lager really should be drunk unfiltered in my opinion. Pretty much always unfiltered, yep. Maybe a few exceptions, but generally unfiltered is the way to go. There. My cards are on the table. Now, with that said, we have a great example here – fresh, lemony, with a wonderful bit of extra mouthfeel over a filtered lager but without losing that very drinkable and thirst quenching character. The body has a crusty white bread weight and a similarly white bread kind of neutral backing character that lets the citrus notes float in a soft and refreshing ways.

For flaws, well it has very few – there is a flour touch to the texture that is a pleasant weight early on, but slightly wears thin by the end. Only slightly though. This is still a beer that stands up to repeated drinks.

This feels like what a lot of the heavily hopped lagers are trying to do and failing – It grains lovely soft citrus hop flavours, but keeps the more gentle hop bitterness along with than larger style mouthfeel all the way through. That lager character especially accentuated by the unfiltered nature.

There is a slight noticeable, noble hop feeling, oily and palma violet set of notes but they are a minor backing showing the more traditional side of its lager roots – the fresher notes are the mainstay.

So, not flawless, but still a hell of a good lager and a comparatively easy unfiltered lager to grab, which is a rarity for me. Well worth keeping a few to hand for easy drinking flavour whenever the mood takes you.

Background: This is one I’ve had a few times before – it came up in conversation when I mentioned how much better I found unfiltered lagers than their filtered siblings, and how they are so comparatively rare. It was pointed out that Waitrose had this in and it was well worth trying. So I did. This was drunk while listening to Television Villain’s new album, having been to the album launch gig a few days before. Now, I am biased as I know a couple of the band members but I think they have some proper great tunes there – Bevvy especially.

Heller: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen (Germany: Smoked: 5.1% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Brown good sized frothy and bubbled head.

Nose: Smoked bacon. Smoke. Malt chocolate. Beef broth. Blue cheese.

Body: Beefy. Malt chocolate. Light chalk. Smoke. Vanilla. Light salt and medicinal notes. Thick mouthfeel. Slight treacle and toffee. Light fruitcake.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Smoke. Medicinal notes. Ash. Dried beef. Charcoal. Dry air. Chalk.

Conclusion: First time I tried a smoke beer I had to give up half way through as it tasted like an ash tray. Aecht Schlenkerla have generally been on the smokier end of the spectrum in my experience, which made me a tad nervous going into this, but I actually found it much more rewarding than those first, early, experiences would ever have indicated.

The aroma holds all the best of the good stuff that smoke can bring to a beer – you get smoked bacon, blue cheese and some other meaty, beefy notes.

The body is more restrained in the big flavours – it is still kind of beefy, with malt chocolate in the main base. The raw smoke comes out more than the smoked bacon or cheese notes, however it also brings mildly medicinal, slightly salted notes that call to Islay whisky. It is heavy duty, smooth mouthfeel – but, unlike some other Aecht Schlenkerla beers it feels like it lacks the awesome notes of the aroma.

The finish comes in closest to the ash tray like beer style I couldn’t finish before. It has big smoke, light chalk and lightly charred – theough still with hints of the chococlate and beef. It is harsh but well made for the level of ash like notes.

It is ok by me, but could be a little overly harsh for people not into this level of smoke. The ash tray like notes that are a flaw to me, are still well made notes for those who enjoy them – just a touch too intense for me. However even with that the mouthfeel is smooth and this is packed with flavour.

Very enjoyable overall, not an introductory smoke beer, and will definitely be too heavy duty for some, but still a genuinely good beer.

Background: You know, I always though the brewery was “Aecht Schlenkerla” – a quick google told me I was wrong, it is Brauerei Heller. Now I know, and knowing is half the battle. The other half is kicking the shit out of someone. That is the less fun half. Anyway, this was kindly brought back from Germany for me by my parents – many thanks. Drank it while I was visiting them over the winter holidays. Aecht Schlenkerla were one of the first smoked beers I ever encountered, back before I became acclimatised to them, so I was intrigued to go back to them and see if I could cope better now – I’ve tried other variants over the years, but this is the first time with the classic Marzen. If you are wondering about the odd glass choice – I originally had it in a different glass, and had put the cap back off the bottle while I took a photo. The cap promptly popped into the air, and landed right in the pint and refused to leave, necessitating decanting over into this new glass so not to end up doing tasting notes on a metal cap.

Lemke Berlin: Yellow Sub Sour (Germany: Sour Ale: 5.4% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon yellow, with a massive mounded white head.

Nose: Wheaty with peppery bitterness. Slight brown bread.

Body: Lemon to lemon curd. Tart apples and pears. Pineapple. Vanilla. Light toffee. Moderate thick texture. Passion fruit. Light chalk. Peach syrup. Fizzy.

Finish: Pear drops. Pineapple. Fresh. Peach syrup. Brown bread. Pink grapefruit. Lactose to yogurt.

Conclusion: This is a lot thicker than I was expecting – it has a lemon curd to yogurt sort of grip for the usually quite dry sour style. It gives a very different intensity and flavour range to what I was expecting going into this – when I found out they called this a “sour milk ale” that made a bit more sense of this, I’m guessing they are using lactose or similar to add a thicker feel to the beer.

Initially, when chilled down, it still leads with fresh tartness that sours are well know for – giving lemon, apple and pear drop notes that give a freshness to the thicker grip. As it warms and the more yogurt side of the feel comes it it gives more grip to the sweeter peach and passion fruit notes. At this point I had definitely realised that this wasn’t your standard sour. It has what, for lack of a better word, I will call a more standard “beer” set of flavours – more traditional hop flavours I guess, matched with a tartness that the more traditional beer style couldn’t bring.

It is very fruity, very fresh, and the grip of the texture not only brings that huge amount of flavour, but also makes it far easier to drink for someone not used to the average sour style. I like it, I like it a lot.

It’s odd to call such an unusual character as having a “More standard beer set of flavours” I know, but in a way it does. Well, more standard for a craft beer anyway, if such words make sense. Lots of tropical fruit flavours- just done fresh, acidic and tart as can be, instead of delivered in an IPA style.

Easy to appreciated, tons of depth and easy to drop into a session without hurting beers coming after it. A very good sour ale for more occasions than you would think a sour could match. In fact, it feels like what Bonaparte wanted to be.

Well worth grabbing if you can.

Background: After the dried hopped Berlinner Weisse had oop north, I was surprised, on googling this, to find out it is another dried hop sour. In this case a dry hopped sour milk ale, according to untapped. Which is an odd set of words to get together. Another beer grabbed from the awesome bottle shop that was Craft Beer Kontor in Hannover. So many beers I wanted, so few I could actually get safely back into the UK. This is one of the three I grabbed and brought back. Anyway, drunk while listening to a bunch of metal covers on youtube – mainly Jonathan Young.

Boglers Braustube: Dinkel & Weizen (Germany: Hefeweizen: 5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow to lemon juice. Very large white head that leaves suds.

Nose: Wheat and crisp hop bitterness. Popcorn hop notes. Vanilla. Peppery. Slightly fresh.

Body: Slightly thick texture. Caramel. Cloves and dried banana. Orange segments. Vanilla toffee. The head is bitter and yeastie. Wheaty and moderate bitterness. Palma violets. Kiwi. Lemony. Hop oils. Hard rock candy. Slightly milky. Slight raspberry yogurt bits.

Finish: Soft toffee. Palma violets. Banana custard. Vanilla. Just bananas. Moderate hop character. Slight kiwi. Cloves. Slight chestnut mushrooms. Moderate bitterness.

Conclusion: This seems a lot smoother than your standard weisse beer – the harshness and texture seems set half way between a kristall weisse and a standard hefewizen, though with an extra touch of thickness to it

The thickness seems to bring a lot of toffee and caramel notes that usually don’t get much play in a wiesse – mixing with the more expected banana and clove notes. It also has sweeter kind of cane sugar notes – it feels actually like a more traditional pale malt base that you would use for an IPA or an APA mixing with a bit extra from the weisse addition. This gets less obvious as time goes one, with a cloudier visual and more wheat character coming out over time. I guess that, despite my best efforts, the sediment was mainly in the lower half on the pour.

The bitterness and hop character are more present that normal, but not massively so. Well that is unless you take a sip with some of the head in it – then it comes with a brash intensity indeed. Otherwise, well the extra thickness merges well with some hop oils, and bring some unusual flavours – palma violet like from the noble hops, and light raspberry yogurt notes. If held on the tongue the bitterness grows, but also a fresh lemon contrast as well.

Overall it mixes a smoother base and a bigger hop character with a decent weisse wheat character. It is a balance of style – the base feels like that of a sweeter IPA as already mentioned, along with some, but definitely not all of the hop flavour and intensity – the rest is full wheat character.

It is a very solid beer, and another one that is a bit off the standard style path, which is nice. The huge bottle is a bit much for one person, as I found. The bitterness rises at the end and can come to dominate. Shared I think this would work well.

A nice experiment with a hopped hefeweizen without (generally) being dominated by it – well unless you have the entire 1L yourself. Pretty good, not super polished but there is a lot going on. Tad rough edged, but I had fun with it.

Background: Grabbed from Craft Beer Kontor in Hannover, excellent stocked wee shop. I grabbed this one for a few reasons, one of which was the silly sized bottle and the utterly packed with text label that put me in mind of the overwritten Japanese style labels. Also best I could tell it was a weisse done craft beer style. Though I have to admit I read “Dinkel” as “Dunkel” so was expecting a dark beer. Whoops. Turns out dinkel is a speciality malt. My mistake. On first pour this was about 90% froth – a very energetic one, but a few careful pours later I had a drinkable beer. Due to the huge bottle I had more time that usual to get notes, hence this may be a tad overwritten. Drunk while listening to the awesome final David Bowie album – Black Star. Still utterly haunting.

Einbecker Ainpockish Ur-Bock 1378 (Germany: Heller Bock: 6.7% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Small bubbled carbonation. Thin white head.

Nose: Vinous and grapes. Raisins. Marzipan. Slight hop oils.

Body: Thick. Light creamy raspberry. Apricot. Slightly syrupy. Vanilla and light cream. Cinnamon. Golden syrup.

Finish: Golden syrup. Light hop character and bitterness. Creamy. Cinnamon. Light bitterness. Slight vinous. Slight white wine.

Conclusion: This tastes stronger that it actually is, but in a good way. It isn’t showing the strength in alcohol burn – that aspect is very smooth; instead this carries itself with large vinous notes layered over a thicker lager character. Both elements that would say an around 8% beer if I had to guess. Similarly it has those creamy raspberry notes that can come with higher abv bocks and barley wine style beers. I mean, it isn’t light at an abv of 6.7 %, but even at that it is definitely punching above its weight.

So, definitely leaning towards the bigger and sweeter side of the bock spectrum – it has a few elements in common with the darker bocks – hints of raisins and such like, but it definitely is making use of the lighter style to bring vanilla and a mix of white grapes to white wine vinous notes- the latter of which much needed so it is not too sickly sweet,

It uses its creaminess without being dominated by it – it manages to be vinous without losing the base lager underneath it. The bitterness is low, allowing you enjoy the sweetness of the body, waiting until the finish to give a, still low, but now reasonable hop bitterness for a slight punch on the way out.

So a very good Bock lager – lots of vinous, lots of sweetness, lots of character. Not one that will unseat the Aventinus of its seat at the top of the Bock mountain, but this is frankly of a different bock style and with different aims- very worthy as its own thing.

Background: Did a google translate on the description of this one – looks like an old recipe (from 1378 at a guess) that they brought back to celebrate 500 years of the brewing purity law in Germany. Sounded cool so I tried this in Craft Beer Bar in Hannover. Lovely music at the place, some real guitar legends chosen for background music to the bar, which I always appreciate. Huge selection of beer – both local and world as well. This is the last set of notes from the Lower Saxony trip – hope you’ve enjoyed them. I didn’t know at the time, but this is one of ratebeers top 50 in the Heller Bock style – which is nice to know.

Herrenhauser: Premium Pilsner (Germany: Pilsner: 4.9% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to gold. Moderate white head. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Light popcorn hops and vanilla. Quite clean. Toffee.

Body: Vanilla toffee and light custard. Smooth hop oils. Present but low to moderate bitterness. Light greenery backing. Slight chalk and fizzy character. Moderate thickness. Lightly peppery after a while.

Finish: Clean sheen. Low but present bitterness and a popcorn hop character. Slightly dry. Maize/cereal. Lightly peppery.

Conclusion: While the tap version of this is definitely better than this bottled version I have here – this local Lower Saxony lager still holds up pretty well.

First up on things it does well is the feel – A slightly thicker than normal texture for a pilsner. It gives a smooth, slight hop oil touched experience. The lead out into the finish is dry, but the body much less so because of the thicker mouthfeel. Good for me as I’m not much of a fan of an overly dry lager – for you a thicker texture may be a benefit or a flaw – judge as you may.

Flavour-wise it leans towards the gently sweet, but with a moderate but not particularly heavy hop bitterness. The sweetness definitely leads and makes it very easy to drink – it doesn’t go too heavy on this elements so doesn’t end up sickly. A pretty simple beast, that uses the hop character to give a similarly gentle robustness that develops into pepperyness as a secondary characteristic over time. This peppery character is especially present in the finish, as the sweetness from the front soothes away. Simple – but not one note.

Looking at lagers that eschew the craft trapping and keep to the more traditional notes, this is one of the more satisfying I’ve had in a long time. Good texture, good sweet to bitter balance. Not revolutionary, but I’ve returned to it a lot over the trip as a good standby – and if you are around the area it is on tap I recommend you give it the chance to be the same.

Very enjoyable.

Background: This was pretty much everywhere in Hannover, during my Lower Saxony holiday. I first encountered it at the Kleine Museum restaurant – a nice, atmospheric joint with good food and super friendly staff – oh and a crocodile hanging overhead. Lots of weird nick-nacks and items around made it a great place to enjoy this on tap. Since it was one of Michael Jackson’s 500 recommended beers in his Great Beer Guide I also grabbed a bottle at a local corner shop to do some tasting notes on. Which are these notes.

%d bloggers like this: