Tag Archive: Germany


berliner-kindl-weisse

Berliner Kindl: Weisse (Germany: Berliner Weisse: 3.0% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Large white head.

Nose: Musty and oats, yet tart feeling. Slight lemon.

Body: Tart. Light chalk. Oaks. Lemon. Slight syrupy lemon core. Slight milk to cream. Slight bitter greenery. Light mint leaves.

Finish: Oats and muesli. Thick sheen on tongue. Lemon syrup. Vanilla. Light greenery. Light salt. Slight grapes.

Conclusion: This is a lot less sour than I remember. Then again I have drunk a lot of sours in the intervening years. Also I don’t have a fucking tooth cavity this time. Which may explain things.

Anyway, this is fresh, with a tart lemon in a kind of traditional lemon juice style and feel – what I don’t remember from last time it it having a kind of oat and muesli roughness to it. Nor do I remember the greenery touched gritty bitterness it the back. It feels quite nature touched, with a pre hops bittering agent style to the taste. Though all this is background to the main lemon freshness. By itself fit is refreshing, but slightly empty. I can see why most new beers in the style add fruit, or most drinkers add syrup to the traditional base. This feels like a very good start to a beer, but not an ,and nowhere near an, end point.

Still, taken as it is it still works the refreshing side well and delivers a good texture while waking up the taste-buds. In fact, to concentrate on that aspect for a moment – it really is an interesting texture progression. It feels kind of light when it firsts touches your lips, gains tart but gritty as you hold it, until it finally finds a slightly thicker syrup touch at the centre. It may be a base that needs something extra, but I can see why it is so popular as a base.

Not one I will return to often, but it has given me a new respect for the base of the style.

Background: Years ago, back when I was first trying sours, it turns out I had a cavity – It was around that time I was trying Cantillons, and this – the Kindl Berliner Weisse. I cannot remember which exactly it was that caused me to realise I had a cavity, but let us just say it was painful. So, with that in mind I returned to this beer, grabbed from Independent Spirit, for a hopefully less painful experience. To psyche myself up I broke out a mix of Iron Maiden tunes. Often Berliner Weisse is drunk with syrup such as raspberry or woodruff for added sweetness, but for this tasting I took it au naturel.

aged-aventinus

Schneider and Sohn: Aventinus: 2013 Vintage Release (Germany: Weizen Bock: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Deep brown, with overripe banana colour at the edges. Creamy browned head. Lots of carbonation.

Nose: Madeira. Raisins. Cloves. Liquorice. Spiced red wine. Fruitcake. Vanilla caramel. Smooth. Cream.

Body: Massive raisins, brandy cream, bananas and Madeira. Smooth. Lemon sherbet. Orange zest. Cloves. Glacier cherries. Caramel.

Finish: Brandy cream. Orange liqueur. Baileys touch. Port.

Conclusion: An excuse to drink Aventinus again! Like I need an excuse. Still, despite not needing one it is still nice to have one. So – since I’m guessing most of you are aware I have already done notes on the standard, young, Aventinus, then I might as well concentrate on the changes that have happened with age.

So – the first and most obvious difference is the mouthfeel. This is much smoother, feels less carbonated, and a touch lighter. This is a mixed blessing for me – it makes it super easy to drink, especially for an over 8% abv beer, but with that it loses some of the cool, rough, wheaty texture of a young Aventinus.

Then again, I am a fan of my rough edges – which the most of the world seems to disagree with me on – so that may be an issue only for me. However, the increase in intensity and clarity of the flavours and aroma is by far worth it. They are so much clearer and more evident – every one defined perfectly now. The various spirit and wine notes that were always there are now expanded and refined. The banana, raisins and spice that is the core of the beer is added to with slight lemon and sherbet notes. The sweetness has been heightened with vanilla and caramel now used subtly against the forceful front flavours. Everything that existed before has been polished up by the years.

So – flaws? Well, as referenced before it has a lighter body – which can be a touch thin by my tastes at times. From my experience with ageing beers this is nigh always the case with older beers and part of the trade off. They get smoother, but lighter feeling in general. Is it worth it? Well, I wouldn’t want to lose the younger Aventinus for this permanently, but, since I can have both – yes it is well worth either trying to age one yourself, or grabbing one of these as long as it isn’t on a silly mark up over the younger version. Definitely recognisably Aventinus in flavour, but with a different feel and a different experience.

Still the classic. Bulletproof to the years quality wise – different but still awesome.

Background: Yes, I have done notes on Aventinus before. Yes, technically this is just an aged Aventinus so should be under the “Old Beer, Good Beer?” section. However, this is an official release, deliberately held back for three years, then released in paper wrapping. Paper wrapping! Surely that deserves a second set of notes. Anyway, drunk 2016 this is a three year aged bottle of one of my favourite beers of all time. It was grabbed from Corks of Cotham. I was mildly disappointed that under the wrapping it was not the old school purple Aventinus label underneath, but I guess you can’t have everything.

Schneider and Sohn: Marie’s Rendezvous: Tap X (Germany: Weizen Bock: 10% ABV)

Visual: Deep cloudy apricot. Thin off white dash of bubbles instead of a head.

Nose: Stewed apricot. Cloves. Honey. Ginger biscuits. Peppermint. Bready. Iced tea.

Body: Honey to mead. Quite dry. Light peppermint. Stewed apricots. Custard slices and icing notes. Raisins.

Finish: Dry honey. Light custard notes. Cloves. Stewed apricots. Raisins.

Conclusion: I have to admit I was expecting more from this. Schneider and Sohn have a long and proud brewing heritage, and this is a beer dedicated to the memory of that, doing their WeizenBock style. Their best in this style can be complex, subtle and yet still huge in what they provide in flavours.

Now this has the huge part down pat, unfortunately it is less so on the complex and subtle sides of things. Ok, that is overly harsh, there is complexity to it, but it has such a big honey sweet front that it can be hard to detect any of the rest of it. It is very booming sweet mead like at the front, dry mead at the back. The sweetness emphasis is so big that it can make it hard to make out the more traditional weizen characteristics.

If you let it warm, take your time with it then it does reward you by bringing out other notes. You get raisins and cloves that call subtly to the amazing Aventinus, beside that you get a peppermint freshness and a wodge of stewed fruit notes. In the end however, it all comes back to the honey. It feels like a mead beer, but needs to do more with the beer side of that to take advantage of it.

As a thick, sweet, honey touched beer it ok, but for a beer from Schneider and Sohn and a beer that is moderately costly, is a bit of a let down. It has a touch of spiciness that calls to its Weizenbock background, but it feels like it needs more. Something that you couldn’t get from mulling mead. Do people mull mead? Never looked into it…

Anyway, an ok experience but that feels like a let down when you look at what it could be.

Background: I do like like both Schneider and Sohn’s Weizen Bocks, and their Tap X range, so this is right up my alley. It is pretty well known that Aventinus is one of my all time favourite beers, so I wanted to see how this stacked up. Grabbed from Independent Spirit this was drunk with a bit of punk – Bad Religion: Generator to be specific, a fun album from a long time loved band of mine.

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.

Welde Badisch Gose

Welde: Badisch Gose (Germany: Gose: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Lemon curd, hazy and carbonated. Moderate white head.

Nose: Lemon and meringue. Salted rock. Lime. Muesli. Light funky yeast. Orange slices.

Body: Tart lime. Creamy. Soft lemon juice and lemon curd. Pocari sweat drink. Light rock. Orange. Slight salt. Mild gherkin.

Finish: Milky. Lemon and lime juice mix. Meringue. Ready salted potato crisps.

Conclusion: Early on during drinking this I would have just guessed it as a slightly creamier take on a hefeweizen, that is if I didn’t already know better. The huge words “gose” on the bottle were a dead giveaway. Anyway, it is full of soft lemon, both as curd and meringue, notes – easy drinking, refreshing and pleasing.

Even as that I was happy with it, though I did think it didn’t really show any sign of its unusual style choice. However slowly, over time the gose character comes out – lightly salted, kind of like ready salted crisps, and with a just slightly rocky character. However unlike other gritty beers this did not come in so heavy as to intrude, instead being a smaller note than even the small cloying touch that develops. The refreshing styling still dominates the beer, but now it has a touch of edge to it – the subtle salt created thirst hurrying you to sip again.

With the recent onslaught of gose beers I have gone from never having tried them to having had a bevy of bad examples, a bunch of mediocre, a handful of good, and one other or maybe two other that, like this one, genuinely shines. It doesn’t push the unusual notes too hard, just lets them gently inform your experience of the beer.

If you are unsure of the gose style I would say give this one a try – it doesn’t seem a radical reinterpretation, but neither does it cleave too hard to harshness to impress you with its authenticity. It keeps just enough tradition, adds class and craft and creates an easy drinking beer with an edge.

Background: This was another birthday gift beer, many thanks, and also another chance to try the salted, sour, wheat beer style that is the gose. Drunk while chilling out after watching the first few episodes of series two of Daredevil, I was in a fair good mood and listening to some of the old favourite band The Eels. Always was especially a fan of “Climbing To The Moon”, but they were generally all good.

Störtebeker Whisky-Bier

Störtebeker Whisky-Bier (Germany: Smoked Beer: 9% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Some carbonation. Clear. Large yellow white mound of a head.

Nose: Caramel. Wet wood (kind of like sail ships). Custard. Smoke. Blended whisky. Kippers. Blue cheese.

Body: Syrup. Blue cheese. Light medicinal notes. Blended whisky. Orange zest. Custard. Brown sugar. Apricot. Smoked beef.

Finish: Brown sugar. Shortbread. Blue cheese. Syrup. Smoked beef.

Conclusion: Ok, smoked, this is smoked. I was not expecting smoked. In fact, this is not much at all like what I expected from the name – and that comes with a mix of the good and the bad. Where shall I start? Hmm, I’m feeling like a Little Mr Negative today, so let’s start with the down side.

Well it is a high abv beer and doesn’t deal with it particularly subtly. The body is sweet and syrupy, really declaring itself as boozy in the simplest manner possible. It doesn’t feel like there has been any attempt to optimise the attenuation for a balanced beer. Despite that the thick texture is pleasant and it doesn’t feel too harsh to drink – just simple and boozy.

The upside? Well the smoke is subtle but most wonderfully it brings a delicious blue funky cheese aroma with it. Even better it follows that into the body – the blue cheese weights in heavily and it is that which turns the thick boozy texture into a chewable and tasty beer rather than a sickly one. It similarly brings a smoked beer character, making a whole smorgasbord in a glass.

Oddly the whisky of the name seems like less of an influence than the aforementioned notes. There is a kind of cheaper whisky blend character and an obviously alcohol and sweet character – generally the only real call I can see that stands out is a spirity character at times to the main body.

So, what happens when you bring all these different strings of its bow together? Well it is ok, a bit raw, but for all that I love its blue cheese notes. Frankly it could do with lower abv I feel – as a more restrained beer this could be excellent.

Unfortunate as it is, by the end the sweet side of the beer overwhelmed the blue cheese. However it had its moments, and they were wonderful moments, even if it is far from a masterclass on how to do a brew.

Background: Not 100% sure why this is called whisky bier, I don’t think it has been barrel aged. Trying to pick words I recognised out of the German I think this was made using whisky malt, but I could be wrong. As always no expense has been spared in my research. Another beer that was a birthday gift from friends. Many thanks! Drunk while listing to some 4Bitten, saw them live a few years ago and they made enough of an impact that I still listen to them to this day.

Schneider and Sohn Tap X 2015 Mathilda Soleil

Schneider and Sohn: Tap X 2015: Mathilda Soleil (Germany: Weizenbock: 7% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy – hazy ripe banana skin. Massive yellowed rock solid head that leaves lace. Lots of carbonation to the body.

Nose: Wheaty. Dried apricot. Cloves. banoffee pie. Coriander.

Body: Custard and apricot. Wheaty and moderate bitterness. Caramel. Raspberry pavlova. Bubblegum. Madeira oranges. Blackpool rock.

Finish: Lemon. Wheaty bitterness and hop character. Slightly clean air. Bubblegum. Malt drinks. Lemongrass. Dried apricot. Orange. Blackpool rock.

Conclusion: Schneider and Sohn seem to be slowly getting more comfortable with upping the hop levels of their beers. This ones comes in with a huge dried apricot kick over a custard styled malt load while still mixing in the wheat character and the new bitter hop style. All remarkably bright and sunny, though there is a slight malt drink touch that doesn’t quite match the other imagery.

The bright fruit is well done, though feels slightly cloying at times – Also a mix of the thicker texture and occasional higher level sweetness can interact oddly resulting in a nice but slightly sickly mandarin orange notes.

It’s a curious one, with a lot of the artificial feeling sweet notes coming out this – naturally brewed- beer can feel filled with processed sugar sweetness, especially near the end. It is bright and fresh but sugar shock sweet as well. It feels kind of like the beer equivalent of that bright bubbly friend who annoys you before your first coffee, but they are so nice it is hard to hold it against them.

A pleasant, bright experience but not particularly polished. Their hopfenweisse does take some beating on the hopped wheat beer front, and this does not manage it, but this is an interesting change.

Background: Went a bit further afield to grab this one from Corks Of Cotham. They are a bit of a hike away, but have a nice range. It is brewed with a new variety of hops that they had been growing in 2015 and is a tribute to a former head of the brewery. Schneider and Sohn have done excellent weizenbocks in the past so grabbing this was a no brainer. The pour was done in quite a hurry as shortly after I popped the lid the froth started billowing up out of the neck – resulting in just a slightly large head on this thing. Drunk while listening to Ulver: Shadows Of The Sun – that album is beautiful and makes anything near it better.

Hohenthanner Holzhacker Hefe-Weisse Dunkel

Hohenthanner: Holzhacker Hefe-Weisse Dunkel (Germany: Dunkelweizen: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy brown. Large brown bubble mound head.

Nose: Cinnamon. Carrot. Coriander. Wheat. Malt chocolate. Light spicy nutmeg.

Body: Blood orange zest. Nutmeg. Wheaty. Light bitterness. Nutty. Sweet malt chocolate. Carrot and coriander.

Finish: Fresh lemon sharp note. Low bitterness. Wheat. Orange peel. Nutmeg. Light toffee.

Conclusion: Often I really want to enjoy a Dunkel Weisse, I really do, but so often, instead of bringing a malt load to back up the awesome weisse flavour I end up with muddy malt shitting all over everything I enjoy in a wheat beer.

Bit of an ominous start to a tasting note, no?

However, be not put off all ye intrepid beer hunters, this is one of the good ones. I think this is one of the few situations I can say no, no this is “one of the good ones” without it coming across as massively racist.

Anyway, cleverly this takes the citrus weisse flavours, but instead of that easily muddled lighter flavours you instead get strong blood orange, for the spice you get coriander and nutmeg – the elements are familiar but tweaked so to kick against the larger malt background.

Speaking of the malt back, it is a nice mix of soothing nuttiness and sweet malt, with that slight roughness of wheat character. It keeps the refreshing nature of a wheat beer, but gives a bit of a grip for the darker malt beer lover.

Another interesting quirk is a slight call to Belgian wit with a carrot and coriander set of notes, not heavily but it gives a more rustic rounding which both gives range and a balance against the fresher notes.

Overall a solid Dunkel weizen, different, rounded and making good use of both the dunkel and the weizen. A good effort in an oft ill handled style.

Background: I had to look up how to spell that. I am really, really bad at reading German lettering it seems. I haven’t had a good dunkelweizen for a while, so grabbed this from Independent Spirit when I saw it. Drunk while listening to a violin version of the Attack On Titan theme. No prizes for guessing what I’m obsessed with currently.

Muhlen Kolsch

Mühlen Kölsch (Germany: Kolsch: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Clear. A little carbonation in the body and a large loose bubbled head.

Nose: Floral. Lemony.

Body: Light pepper. Smooth lemon and lime – kind of like 7 up without the fizzy pop style. Some bitterness which grows a little over time. Soft orange. Vanilla caramel. Popcorn feeling hops. Quite crisp feeling main body. Toasted teacakes.

Finish: Crisp. Light bitterness and hops. Palma violets. Soft toffee. Popcorn feeling hops.

Conclusion: This is the most gentle beer I have had in a long time. I don’t mean it is lacking flavour wise by the way. I just mean it feels gentle.

I was a bit worried that it was going to be flavourless however, as going in the aroma was very understated and muted – slightly floral but not exactly painting a picture of the beer to come. The first sip dispels that impression. As I said before it is gentle. yes, however flavourless? No. It is sweet and malty with gentle pepperyness to give it grip against the real soft vanilla and caramel.

There are also soft lemon and other citrus flavours, very gentle behind the sweet malt, and just giving it a touch of sparkle. (Note: After finishing the review I looked at Michel Jackson’s notes and he refers to it as marshmallow-like which is a very good call and a good description of the soft sweetness).

The mild level of hops and bitterness are used like the pepper notes, to add backing and make sure it never becomes too sweet. Combined together, the gentle malt and spice prickle becomes a beer that just slides down without becoming too heavy either way and ruining the session.

It is therefore such a sessionable lager and crowd please. Ok, at nearly 5% it is a bit high abv for true session beer, aye, but it is a great beer to show that gentle drinking is not dull drinking. A great beer this one.

Background: Ok, confession time first. This beer is beyond its best before date. Then again its best before date was three months after brewing so I’m confident by any useful measure this is still perfectly fine. Plus it was only two weeks over. However just in case that affected the review I thought I had best declare it. I grabbed it anyway as it is one of Michael Jackson’s 500 great beers and not one I have seen before in all my years of hunting so I didn’t want to miss it. Grabbed from the Beer Emporium’s great bottle selection. Drunk after watching a bit of Attack On Titan, which I am greatly enjoying (and has a great opening theme)

Brau Kunst Keller Mandarina IPA

Brau Kunst Keller: Mandarina IPA (Germany: IPA: 6.1% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy yellow gold. Large white mounded head.

Nose: Tangerine. Vanilla custard. Moderate hop character. Lemon sherbet. Touch of greenery.

Body: Moderate to high bitterness and hops. Grapefruit and pineapple. Madeira orange. Prickly. Light vanilla sweetness.

Finish: Tangerine. Bitter hops. Digestives. Tart lemon. Toffee malt touch.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a beer that earns its name, or probably more appropriately, a hop that earns its name. This is basically bracingly bitter hops, made manageable by … well, ok it is more tangerine than mandarin for the most part to my limited knowledge, but still very orange. Ok, I just did some research, apparently tangerine is a close cousin of mandarin – so that explains that. That is also backed by a set of tart fruit hop notes which works very well to make a very big, and yet balanced, IPA.

That is taking into account that if you put a massive weight on either end of the scale it is still balanced. Trust me, there are huge weights here.

The bitterness starts moderate and rapidly becomes large, the fruit is strong throughout – always favouring the sharp over the sweet, but with elements of both. The malt body? Well it must be in there somewhere holding the whole thing up – you don’t see much in the flavour but the beer never feels light, so it must be doing its job.

This is very nice, though, maybe, just a little bit single minded. Ok, who am I kidding? it is very single minded, but very enjoyable with it. The sharpness of the fruit is what does it – the hops of the beer feel very drying, and I have tried similar beers that ended up unpleasant because of that styling, but here the sharpness keeps you going.

This is an assault IPA, as I like to call them, less about the IBU that the lack of restraint from the malt to hold that bitterness back. This is fresh hop assault with not a thing holding back that fruit and bitterness. My kind of beer.

Background: Hmm, rate beer says 5.9% abv, my bottle says 6.1% – Who do I trust, rate beer or my lying eyes? I suspected Mandarina was a hop name, and on checking it is, and quite a new one from Germany it seems – admitted 2012, or so says the first google link I clicked. My research-fu is lazy. Anyway, picked up from Independent Spirit as a bit more of that craft burst from Germany sounded interesting. Drunk without music. Yes shocking I know.

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