Posts Tagged ‘pilsner’

Breckenridge ESB and Regal

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

There’s an incredible special going on right now at John’s Grocery: a few beers from Breckenridge Brewery are only $4.99 per six pack. Other than these two, I believe the Lucky U IPA is on the same deal, and the 12-pack samplers are only $8.99.

First I’m trying the 471 ESB, called an extra special bitter on the bottle, but a strong Scottish ale on the website. A fairly hazy auburn beer with some buff-colored head. The nose has a toasty maltiness to it, with some dark fruit and nuts as well. There’s a bit of an herbal hoppiness lingering behind.

The body is very full, and the flavor has a significant malt sweetness. But the bitterness is quite pronounced as well, almost balancing the sweetness at first, before turning to an earthy, herbal hop flavor. There is just a hint of an alcoholic bite through it all. Toast, caramel, raisins, and dates from the malt are evident after the stronger flavors have died away. The body does leave a bit of a mouthcoating.

Now I’ll have the Regal Double Pilsner, which isn’t even mentioned on the website. Regal is very clear, a golden straw color. The head is creamy and just off-white. The nose is very light. Noble hops create a bit of an herbal aroma, and the pils malt gives a bready character, all almost imperceptible.

The flavor is likewise remarkably mild, especially considering the level of alcohol. The bread flavor is present through to the end, and the generous body also reflects the level of malt. A noble, herbal hop flavor is there, but not nearly strong enough. There is a fair amount of hop bitterness, more than balancing the malt. A bit of alcoholic tinge only seems to add to the bitterness. For a beer this strong to be this drinkable is dangerous.

+Breckenridge Regal Double Pilsner

3.8 (4-6-8-4-16)

+Breckenridge 471 ESB

3.5 (4-7-7-3-14)


Friday, September 24th, 2010

Bacchusbräu brewhouse - Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

This is the first of several posts that I took notes for in Germany but didn’t get around to finishing. The last few weeks there and the first few back home were hectic. Anyway, on to the beer.

While traveling with my mother around the Middle Rhein Valley, I had a chance to try the beer from one of the smallest breweries in Germany, Bacchusbräu in Bacharach, Rheinland-Pfalz. On their 200 liter brewing system Armin Mahl makes the beer to go along with wife Annette’s wonderful cooking. But this is truly just the Theatergastronomie adjacent to the theater they built, which features marionette shows as well as ones with regular actors.Braumeisterbrötchen On one side of the building, directly facing the old city wall, and beyond it the Rhein, there is a patio under the canopy of an old carousel and a fence made of barrel staves.

I was impressed with just about everything about this place. They bake a rich and savory mini loaf of multigrain bread called Braumeisterbrötchen – Brewmasters’ Rolls – that are stuffed with fillings. The vegetarian one had cheese, mushrooms, onions, and caraway seeds, and was divine.Cat at Bacchusbrau Oh, and their cat is ridiculously friendly.

I started out with the standard lager, Loreley. They call it a pilsener but it really seems to me to be a classic Munich helles. Named after perhaps the most famous rock in the world, Loreley is easily one of the best German beers I have had the pleasure to taste.

A yellow gold with a beautiful haze is topped with some creamy white head. The rich malty aroma is thick with bread and just a little sweet. Delicate floral noble hops dance.

Bacchusbräu Loreley and 1689The flavor of Loreley is barely dry, but still has a strong malt richness. The high quality malt used clearly shows through, so the beer tastes quite fresh. The palate is full and round without intruding. It is not bitter, but rather remarkably balanced.

Next I had the Münchner dunkel, called 1689. I’m not certain what the name refers to, though I know that year there was some unpleasantness related to the Nine Years’ War in nearby Mannheim and Heidelberg.

A pleasingly opalescent very pale hazelnut brown with some white head. The aroma is light, with malty caramel and hints of hops, and a little sweetness. It is promising, but much too fleeting.

The flavor is also a bit on the mild side. Caramel and toast malt flavors are complimented by an earthy and herbal hop character. The hops also lend a reasonable bitterness. Something is making it a bit astringent, Bacchusweizenwhich grows more prominent through the taste. The palate is full but still drinkable, but the 1689 would benefit from a bit more carbonation.

The wheat beer is named simply Bacchusweizen. It is naturally very hazy, and by looking at the bubbles rise, clearly very active. Golden straw in color with a creamy, cloudlike white head. The aroma is light and bready, with a lot of cloves as well. Some floral on the nose could be from hops.

The taste of the Bacchusweizen is dry, with a solid clove flavor. There is a good wheat character manifesting as bread and rich maltiness. The light hop flavor is spicy, complimenting the clove from the yeast. The palate is dry and quite lively. The adding of flavor hops to weizen is a relatively new concept, but there are a few that do it do good effect, including this one. Even discounting the hops this beer is a unique hefeweizen, drier and spicier than most. Very refreshing.

Finally the bock beer, Burg Stahleck – Verlies. Burg Stahleck is the castle overlooking the town of Bacharach, now a youth hostel.Bacchusbräu Berg Stahleck - Verlies Verlies is the German word for “dungeon”. They properly serve this strong beer in a hefty stone mug.

It is richly hazy, with a deep caramel brown color and creamy tawny head. The aroma is rich and sweet with caramel, dark fruit, and a rich spiciness of cinnamon and cardamom, pepper and cloves.

The flavor is malty and sweet. The spiciness on the taste is quite strong, dominated by cinnamon and pepper. The alcohol makes itself apparent with a warming sensation. The whole of it almost gives the impression of brandy. The Verlies is full but not cloying, active but not bothersome, and rich but still drinkable. Just well-crafted strong beer goodness.


4.2 (3-9-8-4-18)

++Burg Stahleck – Verlies

4.2 (4-9-7-4-18)


3.8 (3-7-8-4-16)


3.8 (4-7-7-4-16)

Brauerei Mortiz Fiege

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I have three beers from the Privatebrauerei Moritz Fiege, located in Bochum, a city between here and Düsseldorf. The first is an alt, and as Bochum is so close to Düsseldorf, I feel it’s fair to count that as the first entry for the style in our little kölsch-alt battle. After that I have a schwarzbier and a pilsner to try.

Moritz Fiege AltEach of the Moritz Fiege beers has a pithy description beneath the name. The Moritz Fiege Alt says “the traditionally brewed altbier”. The alt pours with a thick, creamy beige head atop a beer that is either a dark honey color or a light caramel. The aroma is strong and also could be caramel, but there is a rich character of dried green herb and winter spice to it as well. There is the lightest hint of sulfur and a bit of alcohol noticeable.

There is a strong earthy hop flavor grounding the alt. This can get a little overbearing, as the toasty and sweet malt flavors are a bit weak. The hops and the alcohol combine to make something of a strange bitterness. It is a bit watery as well. If it were a bit sweeter all the problems would be solved.

Next up, the Moritz Fiege Schwarzbier, “the fine and spicy black beer”. To style, this beer is nearly completely opaque.Monolith This one reminds me of the monolith from 2001. There is a fair amount of coffee-tinted head,Moritz Fiege Schwarzbier which isn’t lasting, yet forms a lacing on the glass. There is hardly any aroma at all. The malt and yeast make some sort of chestnut character and the hops and perhaps the color produce the sensation of being in the woods.

The flavor of the schwarzbier is also very clean. There are some noble hop flavors and a bitterness from the hops as well as the dark malt. There is almost no malt flavor. The palate is so light and fresh it is almost sprightly, with an active carbonation that keeps the bitterness in check, making it relatively easy to drink.

Moritz Fiege PilsLast but not least, the Moritz Fiege Pils, “the characterful pils”. A bright straw, brilliantly clear, with a lasting creamy white head. The nose is mostly spicy hops, a mixture of pine and exotic spices. There is some pale malt aroma but not much.

The flavor of the pils is fresher still than the schwarzbier, probably by virtue of the absence of dark malts. A rich, spicy, earthy and herbal hop flavor and significant hop bitterness is balanced by a slight sweetness and a palate fullness. The hops linger a little bit on the tongue, but in a pleasant way.

+Moritz Fiege Pils

4.0 (4-8-8-4-16)

+Moritz Fiege Schwarzbier

3.9 (4-7-8-4-16)

+/-Moritz Fiege Alt

3.4 (4-8-7-2-13)

Berliner Kindl Jubiläums Pilsener

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Berliner Kindl Jubiläums PilsenerI was in Berlin this weekend for a day and a half. The only beer I had a chance to write notes about was the Berliner Kindl Jubiläums Pilsener, from the brewery now named Berliner-Kindl-Schultheiss-Brauerei.

The Jubiläums is a pale straw color and brilliantly clear. There is some pale white soft head. The light aroma is mostly bready malt and some herbal noble hop character.

For a pilsner it is a little sweet, but it’s worth it for the toasty pale malt flavor. Though not as much bitterness as I’d expect, there is a good herbal hop flavor to balance the malt. The body is full, but it remains refreshing with an active carbonation.

+Berliner Kindl Jubiläums Pilsener

3.7 (3-7-8-4-15)

Flensberger Pilsener and Scheyern Dunkel

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Hello, gentle reader!

Flensburger PilsenerIt has been quite a while since the last post. I have something of an excuse, though! I have been in Germany. Dortmund, to be exact, and I’ve been quite busy, apparently too busy to write.

No more! Without further ado, two beers. First, Flensburger Pilsener brewed at the Flensburger Brauerei in Flensburg, in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. Then, an Export Dunkel from Kloster Scheyern in Bavaria.

The pilsener pours a brilliantly clear straw with a thick white head atop. The aroma is relatively light,Kloster Scheyern Export Dunkel but there is malt like bread and a bit of citrus. There is a hint of pine as well.

The Flensburg is sweet, but not overly so. Some bitterness balances it out, though the malt sweetness is certainly more prominent. A piney hop flavor adds complexity to the taste. The palate is rich and full.

The Scheyern Dunkel has a creamy off-white head above this beautiful chesnut brown, mildly hazy beer. The aroma is sweet with caramel and toast. My only complaint is that it is too mild.

The taste is immediately rich and sweet. Thick bread, malt, and caramel flavors dance around each other, accompanied by herbal hops. The palate is very thick with sweetness, but still refrains from becoming cloying.

+Kloster Scheyern Export Dunkel

4.0 (4-7-8-4-17)

+/-Flensburg Pilsener

3.3 (4-6-7-3-13)

Boulevard Collaboration No. 1 Imperial Pilsner

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Boulevard Collaboration No. 1 Imperial PilsnerThe newest addition to Boulevard Brewing Company‘s Smokestack Series is a collaboration brew made with Jean-Marie Rock of Orval. The text on the label and the name indicate that there may be more collaboration beers to come.

Rock and Steven Pauwels (from Boulevard) have produced a fine imperial pilsner. The No. 1 is a brilliantly clear straw, just as you would expect from a pils. The bone-white head forms a creamy pillow that lasts forever. The strong effervescence is balanced by the thick body. A sweet malty aroma greets you immediately, only to be pushed aside by the grassy noble hops.

Don’t be fooled by this beer’s apparent simplicity: the malt and hops are perfectly balanced, but the flavors are strong and rich. The malt jumps out at first, with a sweet and intriguing taste. Saaz hops are quick to reply, offering a grassy and lightly bitter accompaniment. The hop and malt flavors combine to create a wonderful flavor that basically defines beer, but imperial(ly?). The bitterness lingers just a shade, balancing the full, not quite cloying, palate.

This is a remarkable collaboration brew, as one would expect from its lineage. Balanced yet strong, flavorful yet simple, this beer is beer. Period.

++Boulevard Collaboration No. 1 Imperial Pilsner

4.6 (5-9-8-5-19)

Spotlight Week: New Glarus Brewing Company

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

2010-01-10-new-glarus-capFrom the tiny hamlet of New Glarus comes the beer that is the de facto king of Wisconsin microbrew, Spotted Cow. There are very few bars in the state that don’t have it on tap. But Daniel Carey, co-founder (with wife, Deb) and head brewer of New Glarus Brewing Company is no one-trick pony. They are continually producing Belgian Red and Raspberry Tart, two of the winningest fruit beers out there. Fat Squirrel and Stone Soup are stellar malty brews, and their Dancing Man Wheat is one of my favorite American wheat beers. They have ceased production on a few of my top picks, including Yokel (“Buy local, drink Yokel”), Uff-da (a rich bock), Hearty Hop (their IPA), and Copper Kettle Weiss (an incredible dunkelweizen, named after the copper kettles Dan brought over from Germany).

But Dan really comes into his own when brewing the Unplugged series. These (usually one-time) brews have included some divine sours, imperials, and barrel-aged selections. The Bourbon Barrel Bock has yet to be matched by a bourbon aged beer in my mind (I once said I would be happy just to smell it). Enigma was among the most unique beers I’ve had the opportunity to try, comparable only to Unibroue’s Quelque Chose. Dan is also one of the few brewers around here to attempt a Berliner weisse, a style that is all too easy to seriously butcher.

2010-01-10-edel-pilsNew Glarus beer is only available in Wisconsin. This is absurd considering their position among the largest craft brewers. People in Wisconsin drink a lot of good beer. Hey, leave some for the rest of us! After a brief attempt to expand distribution to Illinois a few years back, they built a new brewery up the hill with a much larger capacity. After a year of operation they still have yet to expand outside their home state, vexing craft beer lovers everywhere.

Tonight I have three examples of the work coming out of New Glarus this past year. First up I’ll try their Edel-Pils, brewed last summer. I know, I know, I should have consumed this fresh. Well, I’ve kept it dark and chill so hopefully it hasn’t lost too much. I’ll also have a pair of the Unplugged selections from 2009, the Imperial Saison and the dry-hopped Imperial Weizen.

The Edel-Pils pours a crystal clear golden straw. The bone white head is frothy and leaves significant lacing on the glass, though it could last longer. A rich noble hop aroma greets you from a distance. More deliberate investigation yields a delicate malt character and a hint of that Bavarian lager corn character (almost certainly from the yeast. I think Spotted Cow is the only beer they make with corn). The flavor is filled with malt, a clean and rich barley taste with just a bit of sweetness. Balancing bitterness and grassy noble hops round out the flavor. The body is full and creamy at first but gone in an instant. A well executed pilsner.

2010-01-10-imperial-saisonThe Imperial Saison is a beautiful opalescent coppery gamboge. The head is creamy, the appearance of clouds, and leaves not just lacing but a coating as it (slowly) falls. This nose is thick with fruit and spice. Apricot, orange, lemon, and apple dance with coriander and black pepper. Some alcohol pungency adds complexity yet refrains from being sharp. A bit of caramel and almond make for a truly intriguing aroma.

The first of the taste is a spicy alcohol warming on the tip of the tongue. This is accompanied by a hint of crisp acid and a dustiness to ensure you know it’s a saison. Some fruit comes out, but very different than on the nose. The apricot remains, joined by kiwi and banana. A bit of caramel and clean maltiness round out the flavor. The body is light and refreshing like lemonade. A bit of bitterness and some of the fruit lingers. This beer is quite complicated. I’m glad I have a second bottle to sit on for a while, to see how it ages.

2010-01-10-imperial-weizenFinally, the Imperial Weizen. The color is very close to the saison, a bit more towards copper. Chunks of yeast hang suspended in the beer. They are pushed up by the bubbles evolving in the middle and drift down towards the outside, almost giving the appearance of a lava lamp. The creamy off-white head leaves a great lacing but doesn’t last nearly long enough. The aroma is rich with spices: clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Sweet toffee and plenty of wheat come out, too. There is just a bit of higher alcohol that could be perceived as medicinal, but that is probably simply interaction with the spices.

The clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon are alive and well in the taste. Here they are joined by a citric hop flavor of grapefruit and orange. Caramel and toffee from the malt also contribute to the character. There is certainly an alcohol warming, and a lively effervescence that threatens sharpness without delivering. Complicated bordering on gridlock. By that I mean, though the flavor is certainly interesting and not at all unpleasant, I wonder if perhaps there is too much competition. To some extent the richness of tastes block each other out. Still quite a good beer.

++New Glarus Imperial Saison

4.2 (4-9-7-4-18)

+New Glarus Imperial Weizen

3.9 (3-8-7-5-16)

+New Glarus Edel-Pils

3.8 (3-8-7-4-16)

Session #25: Love Lager

Friday, March 6th, 2009

session_logoThe Session is a monthly beer blog carnival. This month (#25) is hosted by The Beer Nut. His prompt comes down to a single line: “For millions of people the word “beer” denotes a cold, fizzy, yellow drink — one which is rarely spoken of among those for whom beer is a hobby or, indeed, a way of life.” The roundup is available here.

The Beer Nut asks “is there a time for some thoughtful considered sipping of a cold fizzy lager?” My answer is yes. Right now.

The one I have selected is from Millstream Brewing Company in Amana, IA. Released just this week, the reformulated Millstream Pilsner gets back to their Bavarian roots. The past few years this pilsner has been a little more towards the Czech interpretation, with plenty of Saaz hops, and last year it wasn’t even brewed because of the hop shortage. Now it’s back with a vengance.

Millstream Pilsner BeerThis pilsner, like any, pours a brilliantly clear straw – requisite for inclusion in this month’s Session. There is only a bit of white head, but it lasts – much stronger than many of the yellow lagers people think of as “beer”. A rich floral and earthy hop aroma is surprisingly strong for a beer this light. The nose dances between a sweet flowery character and a dry, earthy, herbal one. Some robust but clean malt aroma is there as well. See? It is possible to have a light colored beer with a strong aroma.

And taste as well. This one is a good example. A penetrating hop bitterness greets you immediately and lingers on the middle and sides of the tongue. A strong earthy and herbal flavor backs it up. The bitterness fades a bit to give way to the noble hop flavor, lasting for a moment before receding behind the still present green bitterness. A bit of sweetness provides counterpoint, maintaining a quaffable balance. Like most fizzy yellow beers this one is highly carbonated.

Once again demonstrating the depth and breadth of lagers, Millstream’s Pilsner is a quality brew you can share even with the uninitiated.

+Millstream Pilsner Beer

3.3 (2-7-7-3-14)

Millstream Beer and Chocolate Tasting

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Millstream Beer and Chocolate PairingYesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Beer and Chocolate Tasting put on by Millstream Brewing Company. This event paired chocolates from the Chocolate Haus in Amana with eight radical one-off beers. Six of them were brewed by Millstream brewer Bill Heinrich, with one offering from Millstream’s sales guy Dan Carpenter as well as a coffee porter brewed by head brewer Chris Priebe. The event was coordinated by Nick Snavely. Tickets sold out over a week ahead of time and the place was packed the whole time. The impression I got from people is that everyone was very impressed with the beers, and the chocolate pairings were quite fun. I took tasting notes but forgot to write down process information so let’s see what I can remember.

The first beer I had was the Czech Pilsner. Made with loads of Czech Saaz hops, this one is a well executed Bohemian style pilsner. It’s a crystal clear straw with some white head. The hop aroma is very grassy and earthy, and behind it I notice just a bit of a corniness. The flavor is massively grassy, with a lingering bitterness on the middle of my tongue. It is deep, earthy, and herbal. There is a hint of sweetness, perhaps some dimethyl sulfide.

The pils was the only beer that seriously follows any style conventions. Most of them have a Belgian character; Belgian styles are pretty loosely defined as it is. Bill was not afraid to take liberties to ensure the brews were interesting, further complicating things. Many of the beers were made with a strain of Brettanomyces wild yeast, which develops different characteristics depending on how it is used. Most of these were fermented with usual brewing yeast Saccaromyces and then aged on the Brett, giving a berry-like fruity flavor and aroma as well as a noticeable funk.

Next up the Saisonnier Gran Cru. This was actually fermented with Brett only, except for a shot of ale yeast to help it along when it was being sluggish. When Brettanomyces is used for primary fermentation, it tends to behave alot more like the normal Saccaromyces. It does dry the beer out a little more, leaving a dry, dusty flavor accented by the funkiness.

The Saisonnier pours a milky straw color, with some creamy off-white head. The aroma is delicate and elusive, featuring light fruit (raspberries) as well as some funk (wet pavement?). The taste is dry, with a somewhat zoological funkiness. A bit of malt flavor breaks through. Despite being so dry there is a bit of a cloying sensation, as well as a lingering bitterness. The nose is fantastic but the flavor doesn’t quite match up.

The sign describing the beer officially named Dan’s Barleywine had a telltale note on the back. The reminder to the server read “Dan’s Awesomeness”, and that’s not too far off. Blended from two-year and three-year batches, the barleywine poured a deep dark sienna, lightly hazy, with persistent creamy head. It also leaves a little reminder on the inside of the glass. The rich, round aroma is a treat: chocolate caramels (so good), coffee, and hazelnuts. Despite the intensity of the aroma and alcohol, the flavor is light and balanced. Major coffee flavor dominates, with a roast and caramel malt character that reminds me of burnt cookies. Both malty and pleasantly bitter, “Awesomeness” is thick and coats your mouth. Do yourself a favor and ask Dan for a bottle.

Moving on to the Belgian-Style Tripel. This golden ale was made with the strain of yeast normally reserved for Bavarian hefes: generator of strong banana esters and clove phenols. This gives the Tripel a serious banana aroma, somewhat sweet, with hints of clove and black pepper. There is barely a tinge informing you of the level of alcohol. The flavor is very malty, with a big bready, biscuity taste. It is somewhat sweet with a rich, round alcohol warming sensation. Noticeable as well are banana and clove flavors. The thick coating feeling probably derives from the fact that this tripel is not as carbonated as many. Despite the use of wheat and Bavarian weizen yeast, this beer is most definitely a tripel, and a well executed one at that.

The Belgian Quad is a good example of the use of Brett to age. It is a cloudy deep dark brown with some tan head. The aroma is lightly sweet and strongly fruity of raspberries and mango, with just a bit of banana. The flavor is strongly alcoholic: somewhat sharp, almost medicinal berries. There is a bit of lingering bitterness and a thick, cloying sensation. A somewhat similar beer, the Wheat Wine is a cloudy unearthly red with almost no head. The aroma is lightly fruity, with a bit of wood and funk; the flavor roughly alcoholic, with some berries. A strong bitterness is simple and harsh.

Head brewer Chris Priebe brewed up a batch of Sumatra English Porter with real Sumatra coffee. It pours somewhat clear, a dark russet wtih some cheesy off-white head. The aroma is very light, with only a bit of roast malt and some caramel. The flavor is dry and roasty, with a strong rich roast coffee presence that lasts. Hint of an earthy hop flavor balance, and a coffee astringency lingers a bit.

By far the most impressive beer available was the so-called Wheat Stout. I can’t say enough good things about this beer. Made with Templeton Rye whiskey and plenty of roast and wheat malts and fermented with weizen yeast, this beer is simply impressive.

First off it is utterly black. There is just a hint of a creamy copper head. The nose is rich and playful, with a roast aroma that tickles the nose. The whiskey comes through quite well: malt, rye, and some notes of alcohols. There is also a serious banana and clove character. A taste is heaven. It is all too easy to overdo it on a whiskey addition, ruining the beer. Here the Templeton is perfectly balanced with the other flavors. The roast comes through first, followed quickly by the rye. There is a bit of astringent bitterness. This beer is thick and chewy. It is delicious. A tour de force.

++Millstream Wheat Stout

4.4 (5-9-8-4-18)

+Millstream Czech Pilsner

3.3 (3-6-7-4-13)

+Millstream Saisonnier Gran Cru

3.5 (4-8-6-3-14)

+Millstream Dan’s Barleywine

4.0 (4-9-7-4-16)

+Millstream Belgian-Style Tripel

3.5 (4-7-7-3-14)

+/-Millstream Belgian Quadrupel

3.1 (3-8-5-3-12)

+/-Millstream Wheat Wine

2.5 (2-6-4-3-10)

+/-Millstream Sumatra English Porter

3.0 (3-5-7-3-12)