Ah, another week, another seven beer from the Advent Santa. Clearly moved to the lighter side (colour-wise) this past week, as all the beer were gold or lighter. Saw some breweries make their second appearance in the box this week.And a noticeable mistake (see below). Overall, a pretty decent week. I found more signs of age issues, and a little style-bending going on, but not a week to be frowned upon.
Now, on to the reviews:
10. Schleppe Marzen
Another Austrian entry, billing itself (obviously) as a Marzen. The pour immediately suggests style might be skewed - medium straw colour with good clarity and a decent blanket of white head leaving lingers of lace. The aroma is sweet and bready with some sharper grainy edges. I also detect a bit of sulphur on my nose. The flavour doesn’t follow the aroma. The malt is grainier and has a sharp, astringent edge to it. It should be more rounded and less bitter than this. The flavour presents more like a blend between a helles and a pilsner, rather than a Marzen. There is also some harshness in the finish. Not necessarily a bad beer, it just gave me what I wasn’t expecting. If I drink it thinking “Helles”, I would offer that it does not a bad job. Just not a Marzen, kids.
11. Ugly Duck Hopfest IPA
Today we jump to Denmark, to Martin Jensen’s new brewery. It pours medium gold, offering a moderate white head with a strong lacing down the side. I detect a sharp, citrus and woody hop aroma to begin along with some light malt in the base – just enough to create balance. Attractive aroma.The beer starts with rich caramel, bread and sweet honey malt, with the hops accenting in a vinous leafy way. Rounded graprefuit, some pine and lots of wood and earth in the hop charcter. Linger is Double IPA like – big smacking bitter but also a lingering alcohol warming and a residual malt sweetness. It finishes sweeter than most IPAs I have tried, which is why it reminds me of a Double IPA. That and the 7.5% alcohol content, which is closing in on double territory. This is a lovely beer. Strong hops but balanced with a formidable malt base. May almost be a little too big for a single IPA.
12. Del Ducato Golden Ale
Well, we are crossing the continent a fair bit this week. Down to Italy for a pale ale. It is light gold with a slight haze and a huge white head forming a thick, consistent blanket. The aroma is light crisp malt, some soft hops, and some sharper edges. I also pick up a distinct cardboard character in the back (uh-oh). The beer has a sharp flavour, with some soft, pilsner-like malt upfront then quickly sharpening to a hoppy, dry earthiness. The hop is edgy, earthy and sharp. The beer finishes dry and bitter.The body seems thinned out and I get an unavoidable musty, papery flavour (a clear sign of oxidation). I fear this beer has sat in the box for too long and is past its prime. I fully suspect it was a very good beer fresh as it has all the building blocks. Too bad.
13. De Molen Donder & Bliksem (Thunder and Lightning)
De Molen and its newsprint-style labels make their second appearance in the box, this one a bohemian pilsner. It pours medium orange with a creamy, bold white head. It is VERY effervescent. Seems a tad dark for the style. There is a pungent hop aroma, some mustiness, dusty grain sweetness and some richer malt as well. I take a sip and the initial malt hit is a bit sharp. Not dry or thin – has the richness a BohPil should– but it has a edge to it. I find the high carbonation accents the wrong aspects of the sharpness. The hops are quite big. It is not a distinct saaz character but more fruity and citrusy. the linger reminds me of an IPA. As the carbonation blows away an attractive, rounded malt sweetness builds. I also pick up a mustiness that feels like it shouldn’t be there. I wonder if this beer, too, is past its prime. It is over-carbonated, too prickly and the mustiness is off-putting. It seems like it would be quite unique and interesting when in better condition. I find it improves as the carbonation dissipates.
14. Kubelbier (Brauerei Hofstetten)
The second Kellerbier in the box and another Austrian offering. This one pours dark yellow, hazy, and with a moderate white head with an even consistency. Hints of lacing on the glass. The aroma is soft pilsner malt sweetness, honey, touches of fruit. Light floral hop accent in background. The flavour starts with a full, grainy malt, some honey and grassy hop flavour. Yeast picks up in the middle and then the beer ends with a grassy bitterness which lingers pleasantly. Not a pilsner, but a sharp, refreshing German-style lager – crisp and hoppy. The yeast adds a second dimension of flavour. This is a lovely beer. I quite like Kellerbier, I believe.
15. Golser Weissbier??
So for day 15, my box contained another bottle of Golser Weisbier – the same beer as day 5. I was a bit confused until I saw on other sites that they received an Austrian pumpkin beer called Core. Clearly a packaging error. So, for day 15, instead of reading my review, go to this guy’s site, where he has been offering fantastic photos of each of the Advent beer.
16. Eggenberg Festbock (Maibock) 7.1%
And Eggenberg resurfaces in the box to finish the week, this time with a big Maibock (7.1%). It is a light gold beer with a bubbly white head. Very bright and attractive. It gives off aromas of pilsner malt with some deeper breadiness and sweetness. Little hop aroma. The sip begins with rich malt but it quickly becomes sharp and astringent. Has the right desire for malt – rich and bready, but it gets over-run by a harsher character. Too sharp and angular for the style.This is either fermentation issues or age – not sure which. It also has a fair degree of alcoholic heat. My instinct is that at 5% this might be a very lovely beer. It just overdoes the alcohol and the sharp, grainy edge.
Another week down. The repeat error was disappointing, but understandable. Mistakes happen. Down to the last 8 days. More next Monday.