Archive for the 'Spaten' category
First in line this month from the nice folks at Beer of the Month Club is the south German Pilsner, Dinkel Acker. In my opinion, Pilsners are an oft overlooked variety of beer. Pilsner has a rather unique flavor and a rich history, including a big stake in the development of the European beer industry. I won’t go into details, because I’m here to review beers. However, the Pilsner style was developed in the Czech town of Plzen many decades ago, marking a brand new style of clean, filtered, light beer that would grow in popularity across Eastern Europe, eventually invading Western Europe and changing many of the stereotypes that crisp, light-colored beers were for wusses. So, while some might blame Pilsners for creating an onslaught of ‘light’ beers, I’d like to point out that most of that blame goes to American domestic brewers – REAL ‘light’ beer can actually be mighty fine. And so we come to the beer – a German variety of Pilsner that is, in my opinion, probably the best take on the style, with the exception of the original Czech variety, Pilsner Urquell.
The Dinkel Acker pours the stereotypical ultra-clear light golden color of a Pilsner. Its aroma is heavy with light malts, imparting a sweet bready scent. In the mouth, you get what is practically the stereotype of a Pilsner. The initial sensation on the tongue is of the bready sweetness that we first visited in the aroma, coupled with a light flavor that is a little reminiscent of clover honey. However, this sweetness is quickly met with a crisp bitterness. This bitterness is difficult to describe – it comes from the unique hop character of a Pilsner, and, while bitter, isn’t akin to an IPA. Rather, the flavor is much sharper, crisp, and cutting than the often thick meaty bitterness of an IPA. It is a flavor that I’ve only found in the Pilsner. This bitterness never quite subsides, but is met again by the sweetness in the back of the mouth in what amounts to a bready, sweet, and slightly syrupy sensation that sticks to the back of the throat. This maltiness, coupled with a lingering bitterness, sticks on the aftertaste for quite some time. Overall, this is a great beer that is, while light, also extremely flavorful and, while sticking to the mouth, quite refreshing in its flavor. If you aren’t entirely familiar with what a good Pilsner should taste like, I’d recommend giving this a try.
The Optimator is my first ever doppel-bock. First, a little history. Bock beers, oddly enough, are a variety of lager – meaning they they bottom-ferment at a considerably lower temperature than the more common top-fermenting ales. Secondly, bock is a German type of beer, and was originally brewed by monks to maintain sustenance during fasts – the dark ‘beefy’ nature of a bock, coupled with its high alcohol content, was both filling and pleasing to the senses. Finally, it is custom that any bock beer’s name end with the suffix of “-ator” – so anytime you see a beer with this suffix (like celebrator, alligator, etc) it is most likely a bock.
Okay, enough history – on to the beer. The Optimator pours very dark and viscous with a malty rocky head. The aroma borrows from a good Stout with hints of coffee and malt. The taste is rich and decadent – similar to a good stout, there are hints of chocolate and coffee. The differentiating factor here is the warming malt flavor, giving the beer extra body and an additional sweetness. Altogether this is an excellent beer, and fairly intoxicating at 7.2% abv.