Archive for September, 2009

Oktoberfest: Paulaner

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Oktoberfest is underway in Munich. The largest beer festival in the world dates back to 1810 with the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. Six Munich breweries produce almost seven million liters of festbier, a style similar to the standard German lager and accented by generous additions of noble hops and specialty malts. It is also the strongest beer Germans drink outside of bock beer season.

This fall the Iowa City beer bar The Sanctuary is having a rotating series of Oktoberfest kegs. At the moment they have on the Paulaner Oktoberfest from the eastside brewery Paulaner. This beer is brilliantly clear, an aged copper color that borders on ruby. Some of the tan head lingers a while.

A sweet nose is pungent but not sharp, full of toast, caramel, and plum. The flavor is very sweet. Burnt caramel and some earthy hops dominate, with an accompanying sweetness. Alcohol tickles the back of the throat, but the cloying sweetness lingers.

+/-Paulaner Oktoberfest

3.1 (3-7-6-2-13)

Festival of Iowa Beers 2009

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

2009-09-06-prosI had a pretty good time at the Festival of Iowa Beers today. As always, the buzz and bustle was around the homebrewers’ tent. There were a wide range of beers on tap there: imperial this that and the other, a few sours, and several real ales served on a beer engine. The pros had a few interesting taps, but predictably most were pouring their usual fare.

There was plenty of gossip and news to be had, lots about brewery openings. The owners of Jasper Winery are apparently occupying the old Maytag factory in Newton with their new brewery. That’ll be running a copper 15 barrel two-vessel brewhouse. I also heard about a new startup that’s currently courting investors – they call themselves Grass Roots Brewing.

2009-09-06-hub-cityHub City up in Stanley is finishing the preparations on their new addition, featuring a 30 barrel brewing system. They will apparently be running double batches into 60 barrel (!) fermenters. That’s a huge increase in capacity, but apparently their distributors are working hard to keep that beer on the shelves. Hub City will also be releasing two small batch series: one of seasonals and one of high-gravity specials available only outside the state (thank you Iowa ABD!). More about those nearer to their year-end release.

I was able to try two of the beers B.J. from Hub City is developing. The first was the Russian Imperial Stout, the initial release in the out-of-state series. It was deep mahogany brown, lightly hazy, with a yellowed ring of head and a malty aroma. The taste is roasty with coffee and burnt toast. Thick and chewy, with a complex yet delicate flavor.

+Hub City Russian Imperial Stout

3.7 (4-6-8-4-15)

I also had a taste of a steam beer B.J. has been working on for the seasonal schedule. It has a light fruity nose, a pale yellow color, and almost no head. The flavor is a little sweet with a prominent yeast roughness and fruity hop character.

+Hub City Steam Beer

3.1 (2-6-7-3-13)

From the Burlington Makers of Beer (MOB) I had the cask-conditioned Mildly Interesting ale, an English-style mild. This is a near clear gamboge color with some frothy tan head. The nose is lightly malty and yeasty. It has a cider and caramel flavor, with just a bit of pomegranate.

The Ames Brewers League was one of many to bring an imperial stout aged on wood. Theirs is a Whiskey Barrel Russian Imperial Stout. It’s near black, with hints of brown and a ring of yellowed head. A sweet nose greets you initially, with prominent whiskey and rye. Thick and sweet, the flavor is toasty with a bit of roast and a strong alcohol spike. The sweetness and an astringency linger.

I had the Gruit beer from Cenosilicaphobia Brewers (a homebrew club out of Pella, Iowa). This one was labeled “NO HOPS”, and in red lettering “SOUR”. It is a hazy orange yellow with no head. The nose is lightly citric and a bit tart. The flavor is a clean lactic sour, with orange, grapefruit, and raspberry. There is just a bit of pale malt flavor. It is refreshingly tart, but not too intense.

Old Man River Brewery in McGregor, Iowa, is now bottling under the name Einfach Beer (“simple beer”). I tried both of the beers they brought to the festival (they forgot the Dunkel at home). The Oktoberfest is rich with malt flavor: toast, caramel, and bread. It is amber, almost clear, with a light malt nose. Sweet and smooth, decently authentic.

+Einfach Oktoberfest

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

The Helles is a clear straw with generous and creamy white head. The nose is light with corn, somewhat metallic, and a little toasty. The flavor is sulfury corn with a bit of sweetness. Actually remarkably authentic.

+/-Einfach Helles

2.8 (4-5-6-2-11)

2009-09-06-amsPowder Keggers is a women’s beer appreciation group in Des Moines, but they were able to muster up a few selections of homebrew to bring to the festival. (ed. note: this was meant to read “they’re a beer appreciation group, but they brought homebrew anyway” rather than “they’re a women’s group, but they could still figure out how to bring beer”) I tried their Lady Nessa’s Grand Cru. It was a very clear pale amber color with a little white head. The nose was malty with notes of grassy hops. The flavor is malty, with an alcohol tinge and a balancing sweetness. Some earthy hops come through. The body is thick but not cloying.

From the Raccoon River Brewers I tried an Oktoberfest. This one highlighted the difficulties brewing a good festbier. It was an opal amber with some off-white head. A lightly sweet, toast and corn nose led into a flavor of cotton candy and some bread. Sweet and cloying.

From down in Fort Madison the crew at Lost Duck Brewing Company brought a few interesting beers. The one I tried was the Duck ala Orange, an orange-infused lager. This one is light on flavor with an orange character that borders on synthetic. Very sweet, it’s a beer for those who appreciate Leinie’s Sunset Wheat. The redeeming quality is the bitter orange peel that comes through if you look for it.

+/-Lost Duck Duck ala Orange

2.6 (2-4-7-3-10)

From the MUGZ homebrew club I tried Little Brown Winkie. It claimed to be aged on sour cherries. Lightly hazy and reddish brown, the Winkie has some tan head. The nose is strong with pie cherries, I’d say montmorency. There is also just a bit of gym sock. It has a strong sharp pie cherry flavor with some malt. An astringency and sweetness linger.

Well, as usual I don’t think I was there long enough and I don’t think I had enough variety. But all in all it was a pretty good festival.

Oh yeah, and I took a look around the new brewhouse at Millstream. It’s coming along…


Session #31: Summer Beer

Friday, September 4th, 2009

session_logoThe Session is a monthly beer blog carnival. You can read about its origins here. This month (Summer Beers) is hosted by Peter Estaniel of Better Beer Blog. The prompt is located here and the roundup is posted here. Peter waxes poetic about having a beer after a summer bike ride, then asks, “what was your favorite beer of the summer?”

What was my favorite beer of the summer? What a difficult question. I need to determine exactly what is meant by this.

I remember being a kid and riding my bike everywhere I went. Nothing was more satisfying to me back in the day than to come home from a long, summertime bike ride and putting back an ice cold glass of milk. It seemed to hit the spot time and time again.

I know exactly what you mean. It was a sense of unlimited refreshment. I especially liked it with a bit of chocolate syrup.

Fast forward back to the present and things have changed. I still try and get a good afternoon ride in whenever I can but I’ve upgraded my old BMX wannabe for a plush touring bike. Milk and I have since had a falling out. We’re still amicable but I’ve moved on and traded up to a chill pint of beer.

Milk and I are amicable, too, but I usually drink soy. That stuff really hits the spot. But you’re right, beer is better.

2009-09-04-porchThis summer I have done a lot of biking. It’s all still on my old wannabe. When I get home, I usually sit out on my front porch and have a beer. If my timing is good I can watch the sun go down.

With the summer coming to a close, what was your favorite beer of the summer? It doesn’t even have to be from this summer. Is it a lager or maybe a light bodied wheat ale?

Oh, sure I’ve had plenty of those on the porch. PBR, Milwaukee’s Best (*thanks, friend*), Michelob Golden Light (*thanks again*). Oh, and Millstream, Boulevard, Summit, Hub City, Sierra Nevada, Three Floyds Gumballhead, Bell’s Oberon, and probably a dozen other wheats, though I don’t know if any of them are really “light bodied”.

Maybe you’re drinking anti-seasonally and are having a barleywine or Russian Imperial Stout.

Oh, yes. Dark Lord! And also Schlafly’s barleywine and imperial stout. Mmmm….

Why is this beer your favorite? Is there a particular memory associated with this beer?

I live very close to downtown, and across the street from a park, so you see all sorts of strange and interesting people from my porch. This summer has been oddly mild, making for particularly good porch weather. That is, except the several torrential rainstorms/tornado scares. And those are also pretty great to watch from the porch, beer in hand.

How about a city?

Iowa City. More specifically my porch in Iowa City.

Maybe there was a particular dish that made this beer memorable? Spare no detail.

Oh, I’ve had a lot of curry while sitting on my porch drinking beer. Also on occasion the last month I’ve indulged myself and had beer ice cream with my porch beer.

So what was my favorite beer this summer? I guess none in particular. Just whatever I was drinking with friends on the porch.

Brasserie Lebbe L’Amalthée

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

2009-09-03-lebbePierre and Annick Lebbe are living the dream. They live on their organic goat farm in the south of France, making cheese and beer. They grow barley for the malt on their farm and feed the spent grains to their goats. Pierre brews and bottles about 450 liters of L’Amalthée a month. This beer was recommended to me by Erin, the manager of Lush Halstead. Head on over to the importer’s page – Charles Neal Selections – for more information and a neat story of discovering this true farmhouse brewery.

L’Amalthée pours an opalescent goldenrod. The off-white head is ridiculously thick, buttressed by ceaseless bubbling. It settles a bit and reveals itself to be quite creamy and lasting, leaving a near-solid lacing on the glass. The nose is delicately malt and cidery. A bit of toast, corn, and sulfur hearken to Munich golden lagers. Hints of spicy hops.

The palate is rich and creamy. A light sweetness balances the tiny alcohol warming without straying too far from dry. A complex hop character: some earthy herbs with a pleasant spiciness. Malt flavor comes through as caramel and bread, with a bit of DMS adding the character of corn.


3.5 (5-6-7-4-13)