Sunday 24 January 2010

Summer Beers in Germany

Well, it's taken five months to finally write about my fortnight in Germany last summer, and I'm really only getting to it now because we've been more or less trapped in the house by snow, rain and cold in recent weeks.

We spent a week in Thüringen and a week in Bavaria in August, which offered lots of beer-tasting opportunities. Memory's fading, of course, and notetaking limited -- it was a holiday, after all -- so this can't hope to be comprehensive, and not every beer below has a huge discription. But this list should give an overview of tastings, and it will definitely point out a few really fantastic finds. I attempt to group beers by style below, but I don't promise to get everything just right.

Enough excuses. On with the beers...

Weissbiers sampled included:

König Ludwig Weissbier Hell:

Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier Naturtrüb:

Franziskaner Weissbier: Better than Paulaner, I'd say, but I suspect there are lots of arguments about this.

Kapuziner Weissbier: Ceramic top. Kulmbacher brewery.

Erstes Laufer Weissbier: Tasted after a long hike with a grumpy 9-year-old and other friends. Went down a treat.

Dunkel Weissbiers, a fantastic style in general, included:

Franziskaner Weissbier Dunkel:

König Ludwig Weissbier Dunkel:

Paulaner Hefe- Weissbier Dunkel:

Schöfferhofer Dunkles Hefeweizen: From Frankfurt am Main.

Veldensteiner Dunkles Weissbier: Neuhaus an der Pegnitz

Then there were a number of pilsy and lagery offerings:

Bitburger Pils: A major brand. Not worth going out of your way for, which is why it has to be ubiquitous, I suppose.

Flensburger Pilsener: Great little bottle with a ceramic top. Reasonably tasty beer.

Fürstenberg Pilsener: From Donaueschingen down south.

Krombacher Pils: Not outstanding.

Kulmbacher Edelherb Premium Pils: Fair.

Licher Pilsner: Nothing special.

Radeberger Pilsner:

Ruppaners Schimmele: Pilsener from Constance on Bodensee in Baden-Württemberg. Quite nice.

Appenzeller Hell Lager: Swiss.

Krüg-Bräu Lager:

Hirsch Zwickl: A hoppier lager.

Brauerei Mager Ur-hell: Pale lager.

Brauerei Mager Pottenstein Pils: More on this brewery below...

Altenmünster Brauer Bier Urig Würzig: Ceramic top. Fat bottle. A solid lager.

Rothaus Tannenzäpfle: Almost unquestionably the best pils I've ever had. It's amazingly crisp, with fine bubbles and sharp hop bitterness. Crystal clear and tingly. It's brewed by the Badische Staatsbrauerei, which means it's owned by the federal state of Baden-Württemberg.

We tried a couple Landbiers, though I've really no idea what makes something a Landbier:

Mönchshof Landbier: Another ceramic-top bottle. I remember liking this one from Kulmbacher Brauerei in Kulmbach, Germany, which we eventually ended up visiting later in the holiday.

Veldensteiner Landbier:


Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel: The oldest cloister brewery in the world? It looks like a crazy place, being located down a gorge.

Brauerei Mager Pottenstein Dunkel:

Meister Vollbier: Funny thing is, Meisterbräu was the name of a really awful American beer, the cheapest available when I went to university in New York state in the late 80s. But this beer is definitely not that one. In the first place, it's excellent. In the second place, it doesn't come from the US but from a tiny little village in Franconia called Unterzaunsbachm near Pretzfeld and Egloffstein, where we spent a week. The holiday flat we rented had bottles of this stuff piled high, left for guests to drink and pay for on an honour system. Doesn't get any easier, really. An amber-coloured Dunkel, this beer is very slightly smoky, with bitter cutting into sweet with just the right combination. The brewery is small, but it was my favourite Franconian find.

Other styles:

We took a trip to the small town of Pottenstein, a picturesque place located in and around cliff faces, and we tried four offerings from Brauerei Mager. Three are mentioned above, but their Märzen is quite good. I'd like to look into the Märzen style a bit more.

Reissdorf Kölsch: Tasted in Aachen at the start of the holiday, on our way eastward. A more-than-fair representative of the Kölsch genre, with which I toasted our youngest's sixth birthday.

Köstritzer Schwarzbier: Black beer is a speciality from Thüringen, and this formerly East German brew has seen a nation-wide revival in the post-unification age. Burnt caramel, yet still light and drinkable. Wow, wow, wow. This is one I really loved.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier: Very wild. A "smokebeer" from Bamberg. It's like no other beer I've ever tasted, having its malted grain smoked like bacon before brewing. It's the best known of this odd genre, but I've been told there are even better smokebeers from smaller breweries in and around Bamberg. Next time...

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