Tag Archive: Insel

Insel: Swimmer’s Saison (Germany: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear caramel brown touched body. Lots of small bubbled carbonation in the body and a thin off white head.

Nose: Fruity esters. Slight sulphur. Sugared lemons. Orange skin. Brown bread. Sage.

Body: Iced tea. Wet charring. Touch of brown sugar. Orange skin. Touch of chalk. Lime touch. Hard fruit sweets. Sugared water. Wet teabags.

Finish: Orange skin. Brown sugar. Dirty water. Wet teabags. Herbal. Sage.

Conclusion: Saisons have been fairly varied in style in my experience. Some have been these lovely fresh and hoppy bitter things, Some have been earthy, spicy and rustic, some have been oddly textured in an almost steam beer way, some have been slightly sour. Absolutely none have been anything like this low abv take.

On the nose it is fairly interesting – it is fairly fruity in a citrus way, with a touch of sage savoury spice, which is a reasonable call to the more herbal saisons. Behind that is a fairly neutral bready backing, but it still has enough interesting there that I had hope.

The body is, by comparison, a bit watery. It feels like sugared water meets brown sugar and then has had a teabag dunked a few times into the the resulting mix, but not enough to add any real layered flavour.

The fruity, interesting notes are still there, but the base behind it feels like empty wet air. While the breadiness of the aroma wasn’t exciting it was solid and gave a strong base from the other notes to work from, while here the more interesting notes get lost in the beer’s watery depths.

This coasts through the beer into the finish, where a pleasant orange character sits over a dirty sugar water emptiness once more. It isn’t that the beer is vile, but fairly empty for the most part, so the better notes end up falling flat and the beer as a whole feels muddied and unfocussed.

It is an unusual low abv beer, but still shows the teabag and iced tea notes clearly that are the bane of the low alcohol style and doesn’t push anything heavy enough to offset them.

While I appreciate a different style choice for a low abv beer, this doesn’t do much with it at all.

Background: This was the second Insel beer I bought from light drinks, and I think, the last beer I have from that batch to do notes on. This is well reputed, but after being disappointed with their similarly well received wet hopped pilsner I was more nervous coming to this one. Was surprised to see a low alcohol Saison, not a common pick for low abv beer, but I’m always happy to see experimentation. I will admit, while it adds nothing to the beer, the paper wrapped bottles do make this look fairly fancy. Went back to Ritualz – CDR for music while drinking. Been a while since I put that on and it is lovely evocative dark electronic tunes so thought it was time to give another spin as fine background music for drinking.

Insel: Skipper’s Wet Hopped Pilsner (Germany: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly hazy banana yellow body with toffee hints. Massive yellow white mounded head. Some very small bubbles in the body.

Nose: Very herbal. Greenery. Sage and onions. Slight vanilla. Very slightly oily.

Body: Charring. Herbal. Charred bitterness to gunpowder tea. Slight sulphur and smoke.

Finish: Gunpowder tea. Greenery. Dill leaves. Very herbal. Sage and onion. Charred bitterness. Paprika.

Conclusion: Ok, I know that it says wet hopped in the name, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this damn evident. This has greenery, sulphur and high bitterness to a level I would have expected in a moderate wet hopped IPA, so it is a bit of a surprise seeing this level of intensity in a lager.

So, this is still a lager, but quite thick feeling and sticky. A lot heavier that your standard clean pilsner, and with an even higher level of charred bitterness than I see from even the more hop forward pils.

Initially I found it too harsh, and I say that as a lover of hugely bitter IPAs. I am an utter fiend for the bitter hops normally. This, however had bitterness in a very gunpowder tea, charred and heavy way with very dry bitterness. Thankfully the thicker body to the lager I mentioned gives a lot to work with that bitterness so it makes it manageable.

Apart from that bitterness, this beer is also super herbal. Intense amounts of greenery themed spiciness that sticks around for a very long time. On that note, I am amused that since herb means bitter in German (or so google translate tells me) the back of the bottle lists herb/bitter as one of the flavour poles and is marked very high in that, inadvertently being more true than it ever intended as this is both super herbal and super bitter. So, they managed to sum up both of the main poles of this beer with just one entry. Very efficient.

This is so very different. I’ve seen very few lagers anywhere close to this, and absolutely no low alcohol beers like this. It feels like someone half and halfed a wet hopped IPA and a super bitter pils then just dumped a ton of herbs in it.

For me, it is too herbal for me to want it as a general drinking beer, but I am fascinated by it. Really well made, very different, just another one that is not 100% for me.

Background: So first time I read this breweries’ name I misread it as “Incel” which gave me pause. Thankfully I was wrong. Anyway I had heard very good things about this wet hopped pilsner, and it has won a bunch of beer awards that I was too lazy to look up. It may even have been some of the awards that actually mean something. Anyway, I put in an order of low abv beers from Light Drinks. We are blessed with a bunch of websites that sell a huge range of low abv beers these days, and this seemed to have a bunch I wanted to try so I gave them a go. Went back to Berried Alive: Fuego as background music for this, some intense stuff against the low abv. Though it turns out not low bitterness.

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