A refreshing beer and a meal in the cooling shade of the beer garden: It’s a beloved rite of spring and summer that dates back to early nineteenth-century Bavaria. For several years, the citizens of Munich had taken to spending more of their time (and cash) during the warmer months at the beer cellars along the banks of the Isar, preferring these shaded chestnut groves to the stuffy inns where the beer was decidedly less fresh. Innkeepers were incensed and petitioned King Maximilian I. Joseph of Bavaria (1806–1825) to do something to stop these dastardly brewers from serving beer garden food.
Sitting here in 2020, in the midst of a still-unfolding pandemic, multiple summers into the era of hard seltzer, it feels like it’s been considerably more than two years since we conducted a ridiculously large blind tasting of 324 IPAs at Paste.
If you had asked me to cite some of my favorite beer styles in advance of that particular blind tasting, I don’t think there’s a shred of doubt that one of my first responses would have been modern, hazy IPA, or “NE-IPA” as we were more commonly calling it at the time. I had fallen in love with the style as much as anyone in the mid-2010s, watching the influence of pioneers like The Alchemist’s Heady Topper radiate across the country, gaining footholds on the East Coast first, before gradually being adopted everywhere. It was hard not to be charmed by the style’s easygoing disposition, fruit-forward flavors, lack of bitterness and continued evolution of the “juicy” flavor profile that had already been sought after in clear India pale ales of the period. It seemed like a clear reflection of changing consumer tastes, and I was excited to try new hazy IPAs from nearly every brewery I visited.
This comes from an argument I had quite a while ago with another BJCP judge about how we talk about colors: specifically amber. If you look at the picture at the top of the column you may note that actual amber is certainly not just one color, and definitely not always lighter than what we think of as copper, though copper is not a singular color. It does vary… somewhat.
If you look into the colors of honey there are variations on amber honey too in mead judging. So why do we stick to one hue? One variation? Shouldn’t we have gradations to more accurately reflect the actual color? I might even consider dropping copper if considering light to dark, because copper is more a hue variation with the addition of a red tint to it. Copper, when it comes to light to dark, could be covered by amber.
I do believe in standards, but standards that reflect the nature of the color, not one singular nature. I have read the argument that everyone is familiar with the standard color due to amber the substance that is commonly used in jewelry. My father made jewelry out with amber setting all the time, but that practice seems to have faded with better fake gems. That one version may have gotten a slight kick from Jurassic Park, but how long ago was that? Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Amber”
Kloster Andechs occupies a central place in the pantheon of German brewing. Founded by Benedictine monks in 1455, Kloster Andechs has been offering hospitality to weary pilgrims ever since. Now run by the Benedictine Abbey of St. Boniface in Munich, Kloster Andechs is the largest of the handful of bona fide monastery breweries remaining in Germany. It’s also one of the few regional German breweries with beers reliably available this side of the pond. (Even if you haven’t already tried the beers of Kloster Andechs, you’d probably recognize the label depicting a Baroque monastery surrounded by greenery.) Though Kloster Andechs still welcomes upwards of one hundred organized pilgrimage groups per year, the monastery plays host to scores more people who make the trek for a different reason: the world-class beer.
Deep tan head headed towards brown that doesn’t hold long. Quaff brown almost black, so dark clarity very hard to assess. SRM in 30s. Head clings to side of glass in ring. Tipped glass provides just a little clarity. No “floaties.”
WEISSENOHE AT THE GATEWAY TO FRANCONIAN SWITZERLAND
Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard
It’s a gloomy afternoon in late spring made slightly brighter by the cheerful yellow canola in full bloom and the several shades of green fields spread over the hills like a patchwork quilt. The bus from Forchheim has just deposited me at a nondescript crossroads on the highway. Tucked away in a hollow to my right, I spy the iconic steeple presiding over the monastery complex I’ve seen on so many bottles of beer from Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe. I’m in the right place.
Cheers you all and welcome to the second half of my “dubbel feature.” Last time I had the Chimay dubbel. Today I am having the Westmalle dubbel.
The appearance is darker, 17 on the srm chart, a mahogany color that does not have as much golden fire around the edges. Another way to express the color is dark but not burned toast. The head of foam is darker in color. This one is khaki colored and long lasting with some bigger bubbles atop a dimpled rocky head that falls slowly, shimmering in sheets and falls away to spot as you drink. Nose is bready like brown bread and has slight hop grasses on the nose. Rose like qualities on the nose and slightly plummy. Raisins and dried dates in the background and a very light spicy clove. Drinks just like the nose and finishes drier yet malty with a slight bitterness from those grassy hops. Moderate carbonation. The bubbles are hard and plentiful. Slight warming from alcohol.
There are differences in every category from the Chimay Dubbel. In the Chimay beer the color and head were lighter. There was no hops on the nose or in the flavor. The breadiness was biscuit- not brown bread in the Chimay beer. There was no rose like scent and the clove was stronger. There also was no alcohol presence on the Chimay and nothing bitter in the finish. The carbonation was firmer than Chimay. And the Chimay finished sweeter than the Westmalle. Two world class dubbels that have plenty of differences between them.
Belgian style beer is defined by an approach to style that allows a healthy contribution from the yeast character as well as a traditional appearance concerning the head of foam. Is there such a thing as a Belgian style pilsner? If you are looking for one on the store shelf I daresay you will be challenged to find any or any Belgian style lagers in general. That is why I am happy to have discovered Ommegang’s Idyll Days. Ommegang is a regional Belgian style brewery here in NY and a personal favorite of mine. They have done a wonderful thing with their interpretation on the pilsner. The pilsner is a contemporary style and it’s guidelines speak to it’s hoppy originality with deference to the lager tradition.
I’ve been a beer writer for a half-decade, and only once have I brewed my own beer, and that was at Vine Park. I know the ins and outs of what brewers do on a commercial scale, but the closest I get to that at home is mixing Bud Light and Budweiser to make an elixir I call “Bud Medium.”
I don’t own kettles or a kegerator or even a large slotted spoon, so I’m not ready to go full-bore. Thankfully, Belgian kit maker Brewferm is there to help me bridge the gap. For just under $100, you can buy an all-in-one starter kit and have it delivered to your bunker (Amazon also sells them). I get mine in hasty time (nice work, Belgium!), but it sits unused for months before COVID-19 forces me into intellectual wandering. On the first day of my self-quarantine, I dig into it.