I’ve decided to start a periodical series of entries with brief notes of experiences on my beer journey. Generally, they’ll be short clips of random beers I’ve been trying or perhaps a tidbit of trivia I’ve picked up along the way. The mash tun refers to the vessel used in the brewing process where grains such as barley are steeped in hot water allowing them to germinate and release the simple sugars needed for fermentation. So, the idea is that perhaps these small thoughts on various beer topics will provide some of the raw material for future, more in-depth studies.
Living in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, you tend to get an ear full of the two dominant brewing traditions in the region: Altbier and Kölsch. So, it’s nice to find a quality regional brewer in my area that’s producing something other than these two brews. Although the town of Schwelm is less than 60km from Cologne, you surprisingly hear zip about Schwelmer beer where I live. I discovered it while at my favorite specialty beer store in town and after a little research found out that there was some good buzz surrounding this traditional family owned brewery.
Out of curiosity, I picked up a couple of bottles of their Bernstein Bock, which is a traditionally brewed Heller Bock beer. The brew pours a magnificent amber/copper color with a medium, dense head. The taste was a definite change from the sweet and malty beers I’ve been having lately. The Heller Bock is generally more bitter and less malty than its Doppelbock cousin, and this beer certainly fits that bill. The flavors ranged from grassy and nutty on the front end with a hint of caramel to a very strong hop presence in the finishing. All in all, it was a worthy representative of the style. There will definitely be further sampling from this brewer on my wish list!
Our Salvator Is Nigh!
This is it, baby. The original Doppelbock. Whenever you hear stories of monks brewing liquid bread to sustain them through their religious fasts, they were originally referring to Paulaner’s Salvator. My forays into the world of the Doppelbock have so far been pretty limited, but I am definitely a big fan of the style (especially Andechs offering, their Doppelbock Dunkel). So, while I was shopping for beer the other day, I had some room in my crate, so I grabbed a few of these out of curiosity.
Salvator is actually Latin for Savior. Not quite sure what the monks were trying to say when they christened this delectable brew. In any case, the trend caught on. It’s typical for Bavarian brewers to name their Doppelbocks with a variation on the -ator theme – such as Ayinger’s Celebrator or the Augustiner Maximator. One US brewer even pokes a little fun at the usage by calling their Doppelbock Seeyoulator.
Well, when they call this stuff liquid bread, they were not kidding. This is one rich, full-bodied beer. It pours a wonderful dark amber or brown color with light head. The aroma is sweet and fills the air as soon as you open the bottle. And, boy, the taste. Quite sweet up front with notes of dried fruit and caramel, with a blast of wheat and bread in the middle, and a subtle grassy hop finish. This is a complex, sippin’ beer. Andechs’s Doppelbock is much softer and more subtle on the palate, so I would prefer it. But, this one was definitely still pure beer-drinking delight. The experience has all but guaranteed a future post on this amazing style.
Fellow Beer Bloggers
Recently, I’ve taken to patrolling the web finding interesting site on beer. In particular, I’ve come across a few other bloggers who are doing a heckuva lot better job at this than I am. So, I thought I’d pass on a few that I’ve really enjoyed. I definitely recommend The Hopry. These two Kerls out of Kansas City do video reviews of some of the best craft beers from around the world with a particular emphasis on brews coming out of the US of A.
Also, check out Tales of ales and more. This guy is probably my Doppelgänger – an American living in London using his expatriate situation to explore the world of European beer. He’s had some excellent posts on English beers as well as great info on beer drinking locales in London.