Friday, 5 June 2015

#270: Session 100 - Sour Note

Our (Beoir's) fearless leader Reuben Gray at The Tale of the Ale hosts the 100th edition of the Session, and in doing so asks us to consider the revival of old beer styles. The most sensible thing to do here would be to stay local, but instead I've opted to plunge myself into an area I have no prior knowledge or experience of.
We'll no doubt read plenty about sourness in this month's session; anything wild and sour is bound to be archaic and near-dead until some intrepid brewer resurrects it as part of the glorious craft beer revolution. Or something like that. But rather than go for some US craft sours, an enigmatic gose or new-world hopped saison, I've gone to good old Germany.

More specifically, I've gone to Vormann, a brewery in Hagen, not far from Dortmund, who are peddling something they're calling a Münsterlander altbier. Now, a quick Google of the style brings you to the ever reliable Shut Up About Barclay Perkins and an investigation of the style also known as Adambier. This Vormann version is the brewers' 'interpretation' of the style, reads the label, so the authenticity of this old beer may not be rock solid.

Münchhausen pours a hazy and near-flat brown, and the nose is immediately reminiscent of a kind-of watery, fairly clean dunkel. There's some red apple and mild roastiness for the determined sniffer, but not much else. The sourness suggested on the label is more minifest than manifest and occurs just at the end; a back of the throat tang more than a tongue curling assault. Elsewhere it's almost as quiet as the aroma, with a pleasant but limp dark malt body doing its best to keep you awake. 

It is very drinkable, but unlike other beers of renowned drinkability, I can't really call it satisfying. Worse still, I don't even think I can call it enjoyable, such is its pedestrian nature. Those strange folk who want a light, easy-drinking beer but are opposed to anything that is too hoppy, too malty, too sour, too sweet, too dry or just too beery will surely rejoice at its existence.

Alas, that is not me.

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