The Beer Gatherer

Blogging about Israeli beer in general and Israeli craft beer in particular, following 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die and other beer musings.

Archive for the category “German Beer”

Brotherly Love

Procrastination time. Instead of studying for next week’s exam, practicing before today’s bass lesson doing laundry or simply drinking beer, I’m blogging. I get to drink many of the beers that are featured in this blog thanks to my Excellent Little Brother. 3 or 4 years ago he did the right thing and got the hell out of Israel. He moved to New York, got a job that gets him to places – especially in my beloved fly-over states – and also travels a lot outside the city. He makes the most out of his time there. Home and away, he goes to liquor stores, finds stuff from my list and sometimes digs treasures on his own, and when he comes to visit, he packs the goods and delivers.

Over the years he learned to enjoy beer. Though not his main hobby or obsession, he’s been to brewpubs in town and away, and sampled anything from imperial stout to mead to sour ales – go him!

He brought Canadian beer when he went to tap maple one weekend in Ontario, and usually and naturally, he usually brings American beer. But living in NY, he’s got an access to almost everything that’s exported, so occasionally, there’s some non-American stuff around, like Hövels Original, Altbier from Dortmund, that was sadly after its best before date when it finally reached me. Cannot blame him, though! Despite the age, it wasn’t too bad. Clear brown with white head. Malty aroma with some instant coffee with milk and a little wood. Tastes slightly bitter, malty, and a little burnt caramel. Medium body, fairly carbonated and a little burnt aftertaste.

Excellent Little Brother also brought Hofbräu München Maibock. Brewed by the famous Hofbräuhaus in Munich, bought in Manhattan and drank in Tel Aviv, this Heller Bock pours clear and reddish with cream colour foam. Very malty, seedy aroma, bitter, slightly sweet and warm malty taste, then more bitterness. Medium-bodied, long, bitter, grainy finish. I love big malty beers, and this certainly was one.

Funny enough, he found me the bottle of French Biere de Garde CH’TI Ambrée when I was in Paris last September. We were emailing back and forth, me from my hotel room, he from Wholefoods. Clear dark amber with beige head. Sweet, honey aroma. Sweet honey mead-like taste. Medium body, sweet finish. Probably spoiled, but I kinda liked it anyway.

Our drinking bodies always say that I tend to like the beer my brother brings me a little more than they deserve. I can’t deny that.

Hövels Original, Hofbräu München Maibock and CH’TI Ambrée are beers #434, #435 and #436 I Must Try Before I Die.

Quaffable and German

Veltins Pilsener is a harmless German beer. Pale in colour, slightly grassy aroma, mildly bitter and light-bodied. Augustiner Edelstoff, brought by Teva Boy to a bottleshare (only canned) is a light Helles beer, with a soft bread-grainy aroma, light body and a mildly bitter, yet grainy taste. This too is harmless and true-to-style for sure. Teva Boy also shared with us Andechser Weissbier Hell, which is a pretty amazing Hefeweizen. Cloudy yellow with white film. Classy aroma – banana and clove. Yeasty bittersweet taste. Medium-to-full body, slightly dried banana finish.

These 3 German beers, all suitable for summertime drinking but only the latter actually recommended, are Beers #425, #426 and #427 I Must Try Before I Die.

Schlenkerla, Meine Liebe!

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen is my all-time favourite beers. There are better tasting beers, and beers I’ve drank more times, but this Marzen from Bamberg, smoky heaven, is my fave, because of its no-nonsense pungent aroma that overwhelms newcomers and satisfies my cravings for a particular taste that I’ve been happily avoiding in 23 years of vegetarianism.

I first drank it several years ago in Israel. It was distributed here, then distribution stopped. Then another importer started marketing this beer and even brought Schlenkerla wheat beer for a while but then they stopped bringing it as well. Maybe there was no demand for it. I believe there wasn’t. I also believe that Schlenkerla is a classic acquired taste product and that both distributors failed to educate the market. There’s a small but dedicated fan-base for Laphroaig single malt, which is an even more challenging drink than Schlenkerla, so there’s something to work with.

The Secret Agent and I try to drink this brewery’s products whenever possible. Last Saturday Heavy Metal Cousin brought over bottles he bought in Prague. We organized a tasting, took Schlenkerla Eiche – doppelbock – out of the beer fridge – and tasted it, along with a fine collection of Slovanian, French,Scottish, Danish and English beers we’ve accumulated in our travels, and a few more that the other participants added.

smoked tasting

There were Beavertown and De Molen and Weyerbacher and Brewdog, but the crown jewel were the three Schlenkerla bottles, especially the Marzen – long time no drink, my love, and you’re as beautiful as I had remembered you. Smoky, meaty, bitter and complex, yet very sensible and drinkable, providing you’re prepared to the unusual taste.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen is beer #407 I Must Try Before I Die (and try again and again and again…)

Kölsch Kölsch Kölsch

reissdorf dom fruh

A recap of different Kölsch beers I drank and haven’t blogged about yet. First time I’m blogging about Kölsch, actually, since I had to add this category for this entry. Last year The Beergreek went to Köln  on a business trip and brought a few bottles of the local, area-designated brew. In an Alphabetical order, Dom Kölsch comes first, with an illustration of the famous cathedral on the label. Clear and very light yellow-gold. Cooked vegetables aroma, mildly bitter in the mouth. Light body, nice finish. Next comes Früh Kölsch, a beer that The Secret Agent and I are very fond of; it was the first beer we drank on our first beer trip, 3 years ago. We drove from Liege airport to Köln early in the morning and the Brauhaus by the Cathedral (or Dom, in German) was our first destination. We entered the place around half past eight in the morning, but the problem is that they start serving beer only at 9. We ordered Frühstück, aka breakfast and patiently waited for half and hour, until the elderly servers started walking around with the special tin trays that hold 20cl glasses of beer. It was so fresh and so quaffable that you could go on and on drinking it. However, bottling kinda ruins this beer and while the bottle the Beergreek brought was fine and malty,  it just wasn’t the same as drinking it fresh. Reissdorf Kölsch didn’t quite match to the first two. Light blond, clear, white film. Slightly grainy and a little corny aroma. Bitter, a little grainy taste. Light body, sweet finish.

 

 

Dom Kölsch, Früh Kölsch and Reissdorf Kölsch are beers #379, #380 and #381 I Must Try Before I Die.

Three Beers, One Tasting

In the early days of the blog, I used to review a bunch of beers shared in one tasting. It’s an easy way to get a hold on things, really. Whereas it’s no longer a habit, I still sometimes take close-up shots of bottles that were shared at a single tasting that are also listed in The Book. Here’s one of these shots. ludwig-spezial-haand

Two German beers that come in reusable bottles – see the scratch marks above the label. The first is König Ludwig Weissbier, aka Prinzregent Luitpold Weissbier Hell. That’s a German Wheat beer that troubles bought in one of his recent business trips to Germany. It pours cloudy blond with white head and has a juicy aroma of grapefruit, bubblegum, apple juice with some notes of punch-banana ice cream. It tastes mild – a little tarty with light bitterness. Juicy, medium-bodied, light carbonation and apple nectar finish. Pretty good, but can do with some more carbonation and body.

Troubles also shared Tegernseer Spezial, Helles beer, a rather mediocre beer from, well, Tegensee in Bavaria. Clear pale gold-green with white head,  light hoppy bitter aroma, some grass and some phenol. Light citric taste, a little bitter and a little sweet. Light body, medium carbonation, long, mildly bitter finish. Meh.

Last is HaandBryggeriet Ardenne Blond that I got in a trade with a ratebeer buddy. It’s a really cool saison that hails from Norway. My bottle had weird floaties that swam in hazy blondliquid covered by white head. Sweet floral aroma with some white summer fruit graced my nostrils and a tarty taste, a little plastic-y, with some citrus that definitely didn’t feel hop-derived met my mouth. Smooth, medium-bodied with mild carbonation and long, bitter and tarty finish beer that’s both tasty and refreshing.

 

König Ludwig Weissbier, Tegernseer Spezialare and HaandBryggeriet Ardenne Blond are beers #366, #367 and #368 I Must Try Before I Die.

Some Random Ticks

With 90+ beers to catch up and not enough energy for detailed entries about beer trips and such, jotting down about random beers is a good way to tackle the problem. So…

ayinger-ur-weisseAyinger Ur-Weisse – a bottle bought in New York by my Excellent Little Brother. I like this Bavarian brewery very much. Their Doppelbock, Ayinger Celebrator, is one of the first beers I reviewed here, almost 3 years ago. It was beer #26 – time really does fly. Ayinger Ur-Weisse is a dunkelweizen, dark wheat beer, and a very pleasing one! It pours cloudy dark amber-to-light-brown with a frothy white head, has an aromatic honeydew scent with caramel-toffee, a little clove and ripe banana. How does it taste? Like a very ripe cantaloupe, sweet, but not burdening on the tongue. Full-bodied, very carbonated, a little spicy ending – all this with only 4 ingredients, Reinheitsgebot in its best.

firestone_walker_DBAFirestone Walker is another brewery that’s not new to this blog. Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA was reviewed here in November 2012, and now it’s turn for Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale or DBA. It’s a hazy bronze-brown ESB with 5%abv. Some nuts, some caramel, a little earth in the nose, Earthy taste that’s mildly bitter,  full-bodied and fairly carbonated with a long, nutty finish. Quite nice.

Firestone walker has another beer listed in the Book – Anniversary Ale. It was retired but I’m the lookout for it. If anyone’s got a clue or a bottle to share/ spare/ trade, please drop me a note.

kodiak brown aleAnother beer my Excellent Little Brother got for me is Kodiak Brown Ale from Midnight Sun brewery in Alaska. It’s a decent beer that pours murky brown with a cute yellowish head. It smells a little dry with notes of nutmeg, prune and figs and some other nuts too,  and tastes sweetish – more malty than bitter. Medium-to-full-bodied, fairly carbonated, with some more nuts in the aftertaste.

 

 

schumacherLast one for today is Schumacher Alt, an Altbier that The Dead Swedish Girl shared at a tasting. I’ll cover the other altbiers that crossed my path in the past year some other time, but this, by far, is one of the better ones, if not the best to date. Clear bronze-brown with a quick dissolving white head. Full, grainy aroma. Fresh, bitter taste, very grainy with apparent hops. Light-bodied, carbonated, long-grainy aftertaste. Really good.

 

 

Ayinger Ur-Weisse, Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale, Midnight Sun Kodiak Brown Ale and Schumacher Alt are beers #362, #363, #364 and #365 I Must Try Before I Die.

Bumping Into Beer

Ideal Tasting for Augustiner Tasting

Ideal Setting for Augustiner Tasting

Last post I missed Augustiner Lagerbier Hell that was shared by REL. Apparently it is also in the book but I only realized it shortly after posting the previous post. We were at a tasting and I was looking through my files when I found it’s in the book too. It wasn’t too amazing, the sample we tried was nothing more than OK – grainy, slightly bitter, light-bodied. Augustiner is one of our favourite Munich breweries and we fondly remember the beers we drank there – drank, not sampled. Some beers are just better tasted “live”.

Still, I got to drink beer #308 I Must Try Before I Die.

Augustiner Bier - the lightweight version

Augustiner Bier – the lightweight version

Getting Things Done

I promised to myself I’d tick 300 beers by Rosh HaShana. Due to circumstances, aka long shifts at the coal mines, allow me to extend my deadline til Saturday. Got 19 more beers to write about so the upcoming posts are going to be as much down-to-earth lists as possible.

First is last – last night’s last drink at the last spot in the pub crawl we joined after the holiday dinner. Vova from Laughing Buddha beer was posting pictures on Facebook, we returned to town, I switched to flats and we hopped along to the last 3 pubs in their rounds. It was 3 a.m when we hit Florentin 10 in Florentin neighbourhood in Tel Aviv and the Murphy’s Irish Stout I ordered was decent than the previous rounds. Taps weren’t infested, keg was relatively fresh. Not big fan of commercial stouts, it was fine: less creamy than Guinness, caramel and faintly roasted.

We drank De Koninck for the first time in Antwerp a couple of years ago and then a couple of months back on a lazy Saturday afternoon at home, in front of an episode of Mad Men, before the mediocre 6th season hit us. Bottle.  Faint berry jam,sweet malty aroma, pleasing bitterness with a sweet notch and a biscuity finish make a nice, refreshing beer.

Het Kapittel Watou Prior is nice as well, but far from being refreshing and fun, with 9% abv. It is a full-bodied beer with dried fruit, burnt rubber and raisins aroma, bitter, fruity, yeasty, plastic-y and spicy taste,  and spicy finish.

Another Belgian beer we drank recently is Gulden Draak, 10.5% abv, Belgian, of course. Cookiedough, spices and a little alcohol in the nose, sweet, alcoholic, spicy but not offensive in the mouth. It was a rather pleasing beer and the high alcoholic volume wasn’t too apparent

going through my list of to-blog beers, I see that Adnams Broadside was neglected. Troubles shared it a long time ago. As we’re getting ready to our short English expedition, I’m getting all excited about ales and  such, but my notes say that this beer wasn’t that exciting: candy and black pepper aroma, sweet taste with bitter undertones, medium body and smooth texture. It was probably a little old when we tasted it.

Another one from a tasting of yore is Ringwood Old Thumper from Portland, Maine. I believe we had an old bottle, as its aroma, other than being floral and sweet was a little mold-ish. It tasted bitter and had some honey notes too, and a syrupy finish. Not good, again, probably old.

Let’s finish this entry with a German beer. Köstritzer Schwarzbier, the bottle that Tumblr Jenna brought us, was familiar. We first drank it with Jenna 10 years ago, when we first met her in Berlin. Can’t find anything symbolic about drinking it again in Israel, but whatever – it’s a good beer. Malt, some sugar, chocolate – like a fresh malt beverage –  and some grass in the nose. Taste is sweet and a little more bitter than malt beverage. Dryish malty finish, medium body. Easy to drink and quite nice.

The above were beers #282, #283, #284, #285, #286, #287 and #288 I Must Try Before I Die. I really don’t have time to look for pictures and stuff because I have a beer trip to England to plan, so take it text-only this time.

Bye Bye.

Romanian Beer Adventures Pt. III: Craft Beer Bars in Bucharest

What's the time? Why, it's Beer O'clock!

What’s the time? Why, it’s Beer O’clock!

Our good friend Shmupi is an avid Foursquare user. He is also a big fan of Belgian blond ales. And he is Romanian – born, raised and with grandparents in the homeland. His Facebook updates from Beer O’clock answered the first question we asked ourselves when Family Agent started planning the trip to Romania, which is, of course – the state of craft beer in the nation. Besides following Shmupi’s check-ins we visited Ratebeer.com and thus built a short but sweet beer itinerary for Bucharest: Beer O’clock, Beer O’clock 2 and La 100 de Beri. 3 bars, conveniently located within a few meters of each other, in the city’s old town, some 1o minutes walk from our hotel. The latter prides itself with 100 beers on the menu. The former’s website counts 165. Way more modest number than Delirium Cafe’s menu, much more extensive than any bar in Israel. We figured we’d find plenty of new things to drink there without being overwhelmed. Moreover, these places focused on being beer bars and not tourist attractions, or so it seemed from Shmupi’s check-ins and the reviews we read – suit us just fine.

My fave spot on the bar - behind the taps.

My fave spot on the bar – behind the taps.

The first bar we visited was La 100 de Beri. Just like everywhere else in Romania, the place is smokers-friendly and breathers’ enemy. No proper ventilation, but there’s a spacier room in the back that has more air and is more tolerable. Several beers on tap, including hand-pumped English ales and German and Czech representatives. The inventory does not necessarily corresponds with the menu – many beers were missing so after the 3rd attempt we just asked to look at the refrigerators, that stocked plenty of stuff that’s not on the menu, for example Engel Aloisius from Germany or Wychwood fruit beer. The staff is helpful and knowledgeable – they were nice enough to tolerate our beergeek idiosyncrasies: taking pictures, writing notes, peeling off labels and collecting caps. This is our favourite bar in Bucharest and after our initial visit on the first night of our trip we sat there twice more when we returned to Bucharest in the end of the trip. The staff recognized us on the third time; too bad we had to fly back just when we started to be regular customers. 3 visits, two heavy drinkers and one Californian Agent who joined us in our last session there – that means plenty of beer. In order to make this short and sweet, here are the beers that are listed in the 1001 book that we drank there:

 

Rychtar Premium 12 – a bottle of generic Czech pils; Stiegl Goldbrau – Austrian lager, fresh and bitter; Shepherd Neame Bishops Finger which was both beautiful and tasty; Orkney Dark Island – one of the few Orkney brews we sampled in the trip – robust, salty, roasty Old Ale with sausage, iodine and dried fruit taste; and König Ludwig Dunkel that obviously had gone bad (BB date April 2013) but tasted fine by me – grainy and chocolatey.

On the first night we headed to Beer O’clock after leaving La 100 de Beri. Bigger space, broader selection. The extensive menu includes rarities such as aged bottles of Trappist ales and Brewdog’s expensive editions such as Abstrakt and Tactical Nuclear Penguin. Despite the inviting menu we only stayed for one round: the place reeks of cigarette smoke in such a way that The Secret Agent’s eyes reddened and I had to go out to the cold street in order to smell my beer. I drank De Ranke XX Bitter, a fine Belgian Ale that we enjoyed a couple of years ago in Belgium and were happy to drink again and enjoy its toffee and citrus notes. We bought a bunch of bottles to drink in the following days and take home and left.

A fridge to die for

A fridge to die for

After traveling all over –  in pastoral villages, touristic cities, small towns where the family’s from – we returned to Bucharest. On the first afternoon The Secret Agent and I split from the family and checked out Beer O’clock II, which is located in a small alley, filled with cafe’s and shisha lounges. At 4 or 5 p.m. the door was closed but the place was just opening. Sleazy heavy metal in the background, same extensive menu but due to the early hour and the fact that we were the first customers – no smoke. This bar is smaller than the mother ship, with a bar on the first floor and tables in the gallery. Looks less shiny but we liked it better because of the cleaner air. We hung out for a few rounds and drank a couple of beers from the book: Oakham JHB from England, tropical hoppiness and bitter with nettle-like finish that I liked alot, liked enough to order Oakham Citra that didn’t disappoint either. La Caracole Nostradamus is a pretty good Belgian Strong Ale that is very fruity in the nose and and tastes sweet and spicy. We ordered a couple of German beers that we enjoyed and Primator Double 24, a nasty, 10.5% abv. Czech Doppelbock that I simply couldn’t finish; it tasted like overly sugared coffee and alcohol.

So, what have we got here, count-wise? The bold-marked ones are beers #270-#278 I Must Try Before I Die. Noroc!

Nothing’s rotten in the Rothaus.

rothaus_hefe

pretty!

Today’s post reviews 2 out of the 3 beers that Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus has in the book. Both bottles were bought in Berlin, some 600 kilometers from the southwestern location of the brewery. Teva Boy’s sister (in-law?) brought Rothaus Hefeweizen from her Berlin getaway. It pours cloudy light orange with a frothy white head and smells of banana, some peach, yeast, a little clove and bubblegum – quite predictable considering its kind -and it tastes sweet and a little sour, but mainly sweet. Chewy texture, full body, fruity finish. Nice and enjoyable, lovely springtime beer – and we drank it during springtime, it’s just that I’ve been postponing writing about it.

My Berliner friend Jenna brought Rothaus Pils Tannenzäpfle when she was here on a holiday. I sent her a list of stuff I assumed has broader distribution and that’s one of the two she yielded. Apparently this is a Berliner hipster favourite – she told us so as well as the 1001 book that tells us  that the beer is a “[…] national cult brand” I dunno what it is – maybe the old fashioned label? whereas the Hefeweizen was pretty neat and fun to drink, the pils wasn’t. Wort and corn and straw/ dried grass in the nose and insignificant bitter and a little malty taste. Although the bottle was new, the beer lacked the crispiness and freshness the genre. Had I tried it in a blind taste I would’ve guessed it’s a cheap, contract-brewed pale lager.

not as pretty

not as pretty

The third rep. from the brewery is a Märzen – I’d be curious to taste it even if it didn’t star in the book.  Baden-Württemberg – we need to visit there. We’ll wait til the Israeli middle-class and its bratty offspring find another summer travel destination though.

Til we make it there, Rothaus Hefeweizen and Rothaus Pils Tannenzäpfle are beers #259 and #260 I Must Try Before I Die.

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