Archive for the 'August Schell' category
Welp, folks, it’s finally the last of the Schell sampler – ending up with a bang with the Caramel Bock. Honestly, I used to love these kinds of beers – the rich, decadent dark brews. However, I’ve drifted away from them recently. I think that, too often, a barrage of rich flavors can hide the true quality (or lack thereof) of a beer. With enough make-up, you can make any old street hag look good, you know? Okay, bad metaphor. But, seriously, I think there are a lot of bad beers out there that only survive because they have enough caramel or brown sugar or strawberry to hide their bad base. BUT, I’ma try not to let that affect my impression of the Caramel Bock – I promise!
This beer, as expected, is super dark. In addition, it is a bit cloudy and has a thin caramel colored head. The aroma of this isn’t as pungent as expected. However, what you CAN smell is a good dose of caramel and not much else. In the mouth, this is about what you expect. Obviously, there is a ton of caramel. An odd twist is an additional sweetness that is almost sweet-cream like, giving this a flavor that is akin to those caramel cream candies. And, frankly, it’s really good. This beer loses most of it’s beerness behind the sweet flavors, leaving only a dark malt flavor that lends a bit of a rootsy flavor. However, this rootsy bitterness combined with the caramel cream flavor gives us a pretty tasty beer. I do think that this is a flavor overkill, but it’s a good flavor, so it’s hard to argue with. This is very much a desert beer, nice to enjoy as an after dinner treat. I can’t imagine buying a six-pack of this, because you really won’t want more than one every few days. However, for what it is, it’s pretty tasty – might be a nice idea to go ahead and ‘take it to the limit’ with an Imperial version in a larger bomber bottle…
So far, the Schell sampler has been hit or miss. But, thankfully, it’s been more hits than misses. A Pilsner, on the surface, seems like a straightforward genre to recreate. However, because of its simplicity, this genre often gets screwed over. After Schell’s showing with the Kolsch recently, I’m anxious to see how they hang with the Pilsner.
In the glass, this beer is super clear and a light golden. The aroma is unobtrusive, but pretty nice. There is some light malt here, just a hint of hop, and it’s altogether pretty smooth – smells like a Pilsner. In the mouth, this beer is more carbonated than expected, but that’s not a bad thing. The carbonation enlivens the tastebuds and opens them for the flavor to come. The beer is certainly not overwhelming, but it does bring a good bit of flavor. There is a good amount of hop here that starts early on the tongue and never dissipates all the way through the aftertaste. In addition, we can taste a nice sweet malt that is smooth and fleeting, but weaves in and out of the hop bitterness through the mouth, adding a bit of variety. I know that a truly good beer tastes as good warm as cold. Don’t take this as a diss to the Schell Pilsner, but I highly recommend this very cold. The characteristics seem all the more biting when this beer is cold, and it’s refreshing in all the ways that the Kolsch failed. I won’t say that this is one of the best Pilsners I’ve had, but it’s very good and very accessible and would be delicious on a hot day. It’s a simple and effective take on a Pilsner, which is often the best way to do it…
That, my friends, is a mouthful. We’re moving on through this Schell sampler I got my hands on with a Kolsch. A Kolsch is, generally, a very crisp and refreshing light beer. I’m a bit skeptical of the addition of honey. No doubt, the flavor will suit the beer fairly well. However, honey additions can often bog down a crisp beer and give it a syrupiness that takes away from the refreshing effects. Let’s see how it works for the Zommerfest.
The pour of this beer is a very clear and light golden with tiny bubbles of carbonation and a uber-thin head. The aroma is light and fleeting, with just a whiff of light malt and no noticeable hop presence. In the mouth, the immediate presence is of the honey sweetness. Beyond this, the beer gets a little confusing. There is a fair amount of malt, a surprising hop flavor, and the ever-present honey flavor. However, I don’t think these all blend very well. It’s sort of a clusterf**k in the mouth for the first bit, and then all the flavors blend to provide a distasteful bitterness at the back of the throat. Furthermore, as I was afraid, the honey flavor (in my opinion) turns this thirst-quenching genre into a less refreshing beast. Honestly, if I had made this, I would be disappointed. I think it was an experiment worth performing, but it didn’t work out that well. When you’re playing around with a beer like this, I really think you need to leave that quenching sourness untouched – tossing some honey in just makes for a bad marriage…
Seems like Schell loves to make beers of specific and unorthodox genres. Yesterday we had the Vienna lager – today we have the Maibock. But, I don’t mind. I love the blondes (ales, not women – more of a brunette guy, myself), and this can otherwise be considered a blonde doppelbock.
The pour of this is a bright golden with a bright white head. Seems light and clear in all respects. The aroma has a bit of light malts and even a bit of citrus to it. Smells light and airy while still pretty rich. In the mouth, this beer is pretty rich, considering it’s tint. There is a lot of malt here, along with a surprising dose of hop. Honestly, it’s pretty big doses of both, which is almost an overload. But, for a Maibock, this is pretty typical. On the slighter side in the beer is a citrus tint and a thick sourness that sticks to the back of the throat. This is certainly a big beer, especially considering how light it looks in the glass. The mouthfeel is full, there is a lot of sweet and a lot of bitter. In addition, we can taste some citrusy flavors and a fairly inexplicable sourness. The aftertaste of this beer leaves me a bit confused and with a syrupy aftertaste that keeps me confused for some time. I like the ‘bigness’ of this beer, but honestly there is a bit too much going on here for my taste…
Next up from the Schell Sampler is their Vienna-style lager, a variety that I haven’t drank a ton of, but I understand.
This beer pours a very dark golden color that is borderline amber. The aroma is super-malty, which fits the genre. There is a whispy off-white head that floats around in fine islands on the surface of the beer. In the mouth, this beer is again a malt-bomb. The hallmarks of a Vienna-style lager is an overabundance of malt, coupled with a light hop presence, and I’d say the Schell hits this spot on. The predominant flavor is of sweetbread all through the mouth, with only the lightest bitterness shining through from the hops. The flavor of this beer would generally make me expect a rich, full mouthfeel. However, this beer is actually quite clean and refreshing. Although the flavor is full, this beer washes clean and leaves just a slight sweet flavor at the back of the mouth, leaving the rest of the mouth quite pristine. Honestly, this kinda of beer isn’t really my cup of tea. However, knowing what I do about this style of beer, I’d say Schell did a decent job. If you like the genre, try it out and let me know if I’m right!
Schell Sampler! Schell Sampler! Schell Sampler!
Nothing’s much more exciting to me than an entire sampler pack full of 6 beers that I’ve never tasted (or seen) (or heard of) before. And, that’s just what I’ve got here with my, you guessed it, Schell Sampler. This particular brew was apparently only first brewed in 1996, despite the fact that this brewery has been around since 1860 (America’s 2nd oldest!.
The Pale Ale pours a very dark golden and has ample carbonation and a fairly persistent thin white head. The aroma of this is sort of like a hoppy quarter. By that, I mean it has a bitter note that blends with the scent of a handful of pocket change. I’m framing this in a fashion that may seem negative. But, let’s face it, a lot of hops lend beer a slightly metallic aroma, so I don’t think this is anything unusual. In the mouth, this beer is pretty big. The first sensation is a strong carbonation burn. After this, we get a big hop presence around the middle of the tongue. The hops skew more to the metallic side, although there is a floral note here, as well. In addition, the malt here is very biscuity and very rich, giving this beer a bigger mouthfeel than its crystal clear appearance would dictate. The aftertaste leaves us with a lot of hop in the back of the throat, along with a decent coating of the biscuity malt flavor on the tongue. This beer doesn’t have refined or expensive taste to it. Rather, it tastes bucolic. I know that’s not a word that normally gets tossed around in a beer review (maybe because it sorta sounds like a disease), but that’s what I’m getting. It tastes like something straight out of a country corn field – big and heartwarming and altogether pleasing.