Monday, 27 May 2013

Fruity Maibocks

Some people can wax lyrical Jilly Goolden style about the beer they're drinking, describing the outlandish flavours they're picking up, like sawdust, essence of cow, roasted tissues, tables, and coat-hangers. A quick perusal of RateBeer will unearth all manner of unearthly flavours which would probably flummox the actual brewers.
Personally I find 90% of this stuff to be a load of old bollocks, but occasionally I might try a hand at it, but usually only as far as pretty basic stuff like 'fruity'. The first time I ever described a beer as 'fruity' was a couple of decades ago when I described the cask ale in the Hadfield in Sheffield in such a manner. A bloke who worked behind the bar later enlightened me that the 'fruity' taste was probably a result of the copious amount of slops that Fat Rob the landlord recycled, and his habit of scraping the sediment out of the casks to eke out every last bit. Since then I've tended to keep my mouth shut.
Recently though I did come across a couple of fruity numbers.

"Brauhaus Meierei" in Potsdam is a truly wonderful place. Set in an old monastery style building by a lake, it features some exceptional beers.

To their eternal credit they don't just churn out the same selection as a normal German brauhaus, but actually do a Berliner Weisse. Apart from the usual Kindl, this is the only time I've found this style. Whereas Kindl is 3% this one is 5%, and has more sourness than the slightly tamer Kindl.

They still serve it in a traditional Berliner Weisse glass, and still with a straw - I never could quite work that out.
The star of the show though is their awesome unfiltered Maibock. Many Maibocks in Munich can be a bit tedious and overly malty - this one isn't. It's fruity - and I can say that without fear of finding out later that it's actually because of sediment and other peoples' saliva.

It's extremely rare that I find a German bottled beer that I would be happy drinking as my regular, but I was very pleasantly surprised recently by a bottled Maibock.
"Dresdner Feldschlösschen" is what it calls itself, and is another to which I grant the esteemed title 'fruity'.

I name these two Maibocks "The Fruity Buds of May".

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Unfiltered in Berlin

My quest for unfiltered German beer has lead me to Berlin, and in particular the brewpub Eschenbräu. This is not particularly easy to find, being hidden away round the back of another building, but it's worth it for their unfiltered beer, cider, and a wicked apple juice.

It's a funky laid back sort of place typical of Berlin, and has the highly commendable policy of allowing drinkers to bring their own food.

The Pilsner is a juicy golden colour but for me had a tad too much carbonation...

They also do a cider which was decent but again a bit too fizzy.

Onto "Hops and Barley", a brewpub which is located on a street full of hippy shops and stuff.

It's a cozy convivial place inside...

Their unfiltered pils seemed to use some non-standard hops; at first I found it a bit odd but it gradually grew on me.

Their 'special' was a Helles which, unusually, I didn't regret ordering.
If you ever saw "King of the Hill" then you might remember that once an episode there was one character who would speak a load of unintelligible gibberish in a strong southern USA accent. Whilst I was there an American geezer came in and started asking the staff for recommendations in what sounded like a double-speed impersonation of this character. He eventually got a Pils and retired outside, after which the staff conferred to try and come up with some guesses as to what he might have been asking.

Finally we have Brauhaus Südstern, a brewpub with a beer garden bordering a large park.

This place is highly unusual in that it does a Roggen Ale, which they tragically have renamed "Roggen Roll Ale" (the pub has a music theme). Despite this, it's a highly commendable German attempt at a top fermented beer.

There were some very interesting flavours in there because of the rye and barley - the only other one of this style I tried was the Stortebeker one, and this was far superior to that one.
The Helles is unfiltered and was infinitely superior to the bland ones you get in Munich.

All three are recommended, but Südstern comes out on top.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Watzke, Dresden

Were you to start at the restored old town in Dresden, and walk down the right side of the Elbe towards Meissen, you would eventually reach the area called Pieschen. There the Elbe is very wide, and if you can avoid the extreme cycle terror then there is a wonderful reward waiting for you by its banks.

A brewpub in Germany doesn't usually evoke too much excitement, as although the beer is freshly brewed on site, it usually isn't very interesting. The Watzke brauhaus and beer garden, though, is an altogether different beast from your average German brauhaus.

As the back of the beer serving dude proudly proclaims, all their beers are unfiltered. There's a Pils, something called an Altpieschner, a wheat beer and a seasonal, which of course in May was a Maibock. Outside there's a beer garden where you can catch a glimpse of the Frauenkirche in the distance.

The main building itself is a converted ballroom...

They still hold 'balls' there apparently, which allow you the novelty of drinking unfiltered beer whilst mincing around in a DJ and tie. They also have the coolest car ever, featuring someone who sort of looks like a younger Ray Winstone.

Inside you can get these wicked mini barrels which you can plonk on your table and then you don't have to wait for someone to bring you your next pint.

The Pils is the best one I've had in Germany without a doubt... as good as anything I've had in Prague. The hops literally burst into your nose and ears.

The Alpieschner is darker and has a caramel type thing.

Watzke... the finest brauhaus I've been to in Germany, including those in Cologne and Dusseldorf.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Waldschlösschen, Dresden

Dresden's main brewpub is located a short bus ride from the centre, along the Elbe with a view of the old town.

It's an enormous place with various outdoor terraces...

Inside is done out like a traditional German beer hall...

But does the beer match the decor? The Zwickel is unfiltered, but after a month of Czech unfiltered beers it had a lot to live up to.

It was decent enough, but way too carbonated. A decent Kellerbier from Franconia or a nepastrovany from Czech can be gulped down without drawing breath, but this was too fizzy. A reasonable effort nonetheless by German brewpub standards.
I thought I've give the Helles a try too.

I wish I hadn't bothered. I'd almost forgotten how utterly bland and tedious this style is.

Dresden itself it sufficiently close to Czech to feel the gravitational pull of Czech lager. The supermarkets often have a much wider selection of Czech beers than you would ever see in Munich, and on the whole I noticed that the locally brewed beers were hoppier than usual for Germany.
One quite impressive brew was Freibergisch 1863...

Suprisingly hoppy for a German beer.
Not much else beer related really worth mentioning in Dresden really; you come for the local scenery rather than the beer.