The first full week of the Beer Advent Calendar samplings is complete (read the Introduction and Part One if you wish to get caught up), and it was an interesting week that potentially brings out some potential common threads across the beer. One general point arises in the single-digit phase of the project – some kind of notes about what the beer is supposed to be or a translation of the brewery’s bumpf would be very beneficial. A couple of times this week (and once last week) I simply couldn’t figure out what the brewers intended. Now this isn’t the end of the world, but it can be frustrating if you are trying to identify a flavour or character and don’t know the ingredients. A thought for next year. Age might also be playing a factor, as you will see below. So, on to reviews of the beer (which will be capsule-sized to keep this post from getting too long):
3. De Molen Nood & Deugd (Necessity and Virtue)
De Molen is a highly regarded Dutch brewery with a stunning lack of aesthetic sense (the most god-awful labels I have ever seen). Today’s beer is their schwarzbier. It is a dark deep brown with some haze and a monsterous tan head. Over-foaming is an issue. The aroma is subdued caramel, chocolate and hints of dark malt. Fairly quiet. The aromas translate in the initial taste alongside some hints of roast and burnt coffee. I may taste touches of wood and smoke in the background but could be reaching a bit on that. I also pick up an odd yeast character to it which creates a muddiness. Also some wet paper. Overall a decent beer that has me contemplating oxidation (the paper and over-foaming are clues). I wonder if it was just a bit sharper and cleaner when it was young (which is what I want from it) but is now a bit too old?
4. Bad Attitude Dude Oat Soda
This is an IPA from Swiss brewer Birrificio Ticinese Sa. Pours dark amber, verging on light brown (seems a touch dark) underneath a huge off-white head. Big effervescence. A soft malt comes through, but the aroma is mostly about the the hops – grapefruit, pine, touches of grass and generic citrus. Same with the flavour, soft citrus hop, some pine and other rich hop notes. However, something is wrong with the malt. I get cardboard, flat sugars and a rough earthiness. It just feels like a beer that was better 3 months ago. I feel pretty confident this beer is oxidized. Too bad. Seems like it might have had potential.
5. Golser Weisbier
Our first trip to Austria. This hefeweizen is a deeply hazy dark yellow,. It has a moderate white head at first, which drops off quickly, surprisingly lifeless appearance for a hefe. It has, however, a big, rich aroma for one, with grainy malt, lots of banana and clove. Nice balance between them. In the taste upfront there is a soft wheat sweetness and bubblegum. Clove kicks in part way. Then banana in the finish makes it seem sweeter. I also get some touches of soapiness. A nice glass. Might be a touch too sweet to be considered a classic example, but it is soft and well-rounded. If it were plus-20, rather than minus-20, it would be quite refreshing and enjoyable.
6. MacQueen’s Nessie
Label says it is a “whisky malt red beer” from Eggenberg in Austria. Another example of not being quite sure what that means. Whisky malt is new to me. Or it could mean oak-aged or smoked. I am not sure (10 minutes of googling didn’t illuminate me). So on to the beer. First, it is not red. It is medium gold, with a thick blanket of white head. Quite effervescent. Aroma has sweet toffee, butterscotch, light vanilla. Hints of wood, but more suggestive than actual. Not dissimilar to I&G in its sweet tones. The flavour is soft toffee, some brown sugar, candy cane and butterscotch. Vanilla accents it like ice cream. A little earthy sweet. Finish is slightly toasty and balanced – dry enough to clear the palate but still enough sweet to prevent the beer from disappearing. A decent blonde/amber ale with subtle touches of rustic, earthy finish. Not sure what to make of this. A bit non-descript but I didn’t mind my glass. My brain tells me there is a touch of oak character, but it is so subdued I can’t be sure.
Third straight day of Austrian beer. This time a Helles. It is dark straw with a fluffy white head that drops into a thin coating. Bright clarity, quite bubbly. A sweet light pilsner malt aroma, some graininess, soft sugar, hints of corn (oddly). I also get a touch of sulphur around the edges. In the taste the start is softly sweet with pilsner malt, light grain and quite a bit of honey. Then the flavour shifts mid-way; it gets a bit metallic and musty. Finish is harsher than a helles should be. The linger is a bit dry and with a fruity hop bitterness. It just isn’t as smooth or crisp as it should be. The aroma is better than the taste. I want it softer and the hop leaves an odd bite to it. Not as melded as it should be, nor bitter enough to be a Dortmunder Export.
8. Hubertus Festbock
Okay, the Austria thing is becoming a trend – 4 in a row! Today we get a Maibock (sometimes called a Helles Bock). It is clear light gold with not much of a head and a hint of lacing. In the aroma I detect bread, toast, honey, and melanoidin, as well as some crisper grainy character. Overall not so much sweet as malty. Upfront a quiet breadiness, toast, toffee and honey to the flavour. Graininess comes through as well – some sharp stalk character and other edgy sweetness. The middle finds some bread and toast. The finish is a combination of bready melanoidins and a sharp graininesss. Overall my impression is a decent example of a maibock. The body seems a bit light for the style, but the malt character is dead on. An interesting beer. Not sure I would order multiple of it, but it does have an attraction.
9. Frastanzer S’honig
This beer encapsulates some of the early Advent themes. First, we have another Austrian beer (the box did tell us to expect a lot). Second, some assistance in figuring out what the beer is supposed to be would be helpful. Third, another interesting, provocative beer that I can’t quite decide its value. My guess is that this is a honey beer. It pours hazy gold with a big white head defined by its mountainous top. Aroma is honey, light pilsner malt, some generic floral and earthy backdrops. I get a big floral honey sweetness upfront, some soft grain, and a hard to pin-down earthiness. The finish is quite sweet, almost cloying. I pick up some lemon, and some slight menthol character. It has a waxiness as well. I think the issue here is the base beer might be a bit too light. The honey character is interesting and dominates the overall impression. Another beer that I rather enjoyed, but it just didn’t really stand out for me.
Well, that is the week in review. Another round of seven beer to come next Monday.