Tuesday, 24 March 2015

#261: Old School

While I've been awash with IPA and pale ale of late (figuratively speaking of course) and busily hunting the latest and greatest of the Irish craft beer scene at large it has been easy to forget about the styles of beer that first got me interested in beer and brewing. 
For me, and I would guess for many, good German and Belgian beer started me on a journey that would lead to this unforeseeable state of affairs in which I spend too much time thinking about beer, writing about beer and not nearly enough time drinking it.

With that in mind, and with my quest for a decent Munich-style dunkel still unresolved, I was intrigued to see Weltenburger Dunkel in the Bradley's Fridge.
Big German mug compulsory

At 4.7% and pouring clear mahogany, the Barock Dunkel certainly looks the part of a drinkable dark lager. The nose gets a gentle treatment of raisin and apple and a general sense of malty toffeeish roundness. The palate is clean but does get a nice fist of dark mark flavours, with toffee and raisins again headlining among syrup, roast chestnut and a slightly smoky finish. All of this manages not only to avoid becoming oversweet, but actually remain quite dry. Refreshing, sessionable yet supplying all that dark malt; this is the beer I've been looking for. Sure, it's no Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel, at least not to my rose-tinted glasses, but it does its job very well.

On the back of that I decided to return for the helles and the doppelbock, two more of my favourite styles (there may be a pattern in there).

At 5.9%, the Barock Hell packs a bit of a punch that manifests itself in a slight golden syrup character on the palate, while the rest is all the biscuity, grainy, almost husky stuff you expect from a Helles while remaining, again, clean and exceptionally easy drinking. Gentle flowery highlights suggest a sober and functional hopping. A great, uncomplicated but satisfying helles for those interested, and I certainly am. This Biergarten quaffer stuff, but then, almost anything is for the willing quaffer.

The last of the three was the Asam Bock, a doppelbock of 6.9%. Chestnut brown with big dark head, this looks the part too. What makes a good Munich dunkel so good is that, to me, it offers the same flavour profile as a doppelbock, subdued to a session strength without sacrificing too much the body. This appears to be the case with the Weltenburger range, because the Asam Bock is choc-a-block with burnt toffee, tobacco leaf, more raisins than you'd know what to do with and an underlying woody base note. Like the dunkel, I detect just a flash of something more savoury at the finish, and again I liken it to some slightly smoky (not smoked) malts. Despite being fuller, thicker and more chocolatey than the dunkel, the Asam Bock too manages to refrain from too much sweetness and is more drinkable than you'd expect. 

All three of the Weltenburger beers scratch an itch for me, so much so that I even bought a bottle in the Bierhaus (a bottle in a bar, who would have thought?).

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