Köstritzer Schwarzbier. Black Lager. Köstritzer Schwarzbierbrauerei, Bad Köstritz, Germany. 4.8% ABV. Poured from a 500ml. can.
This is by far Germany’s most famous Schwarzbier, and being bought by the Bitburger Group hasn’t hurt business..
Before I really got into beer in a big way, I lived in several countries in Europe, Germany included. I mean, I liked and drank beer, but not as knowledgeably or critically as now. Many were the nights after working late, we’d stumble into a Kneipe, and I’d have several of these.. Used to really enjoy it; let’s see how it’s stood the test of time..
Pours a deep mahogany, with a rich coffee head which lingers. The nose is roasted malts and noble-hops. Light but pleasant. The taste is… thin. More of the roasted malts, some noble hops round things off, but this remains, like most German beers, malt-driven. Not bad, of course, but not really very good either. All that now remains is the question: Has my palate changed that much, or does this light beer suffer through transport, like so many German beers I love? Or has the recipe been changed? Well, I doubt the recipe change.. I think my beer knowledge and palate have changed the most; this comes in a can, which withstands the rigors of travel quite well. Another old favorite to push way down the list… Will have it on tap in Germany next time I’m there, for comparison. Grade: Medium 0. PS: I cannot now off the top of my head remember what I gave Guinness Draught, but if it was a higher grade, I was wrong..
Lisa, Red Ale. J Well’s Brewery, Boulder, CO. 6% ABV.
J Wells is the smallest Nano Brewery in Boulder (currently at 1.5 bbls of beer) Operational since 2012, Jamie has a great list of brews: An Imperial IPA, a Chocolate Milk Stout, as well as an extensive list of British style ales, and this red ale; Lisa.
On the website, this beer is only explained as: “Hoppy malty read (sic) ale featuring Citra hops.”
Pours mahogany red, with a quickly dissipating off-white head. On the nose it is full of citrus, and some toasty malts. The color leads one to expect a big body, which isn’t quite true: It is sweetly malty and roasty, but not very big and fades somewhat fast. The hops stay controlled and keep the malts at arms length, making this a somewhat dry albeit at the same time sweet red ale. If that sounds like a dichotomy, it is to me as well and yet I fail to explain it differently. The malts and hops both leave their mark never to achieve the all-enveloping feel I optimally want from a red ale. It doesn’t linger, but fades quite fast, to leave one curiously unsure of what kind of beer one has just drunk. After half a pint, I keep wishing it was richer, with a fuller body, and maybe more hops to compensate. Every mouthful fades and dies too fast! Having said that, it is tasty, and I can see this being a hit exactly because it isn’t G”knight (Oscar Blues) or Colorojo (Wynkoop). As it warms it does grow longer, somewhat.. A very easily drinkable red, which will work well in the coming summer as well as now! Looking again at the brewery’s list of brews, I begin to think that this could easily be a very British style of beer, with an American extra handful of hops. As such, it works really well! Ultimately I would love more of everything, especially a longer finish, but this is a great easy, roasty, hoppy red! Did I say easy? Grade: Medium 3.
Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale, Deschutes Brewing. Bend, OR. 6.2% ABV. 60 IBU’s.
Malt: Pale, Crystal, Munich, Carapils, Pilsner, Carastan.
Hops: Cascade, Centennial.
Deschutes Brewing in Bend Oregon are a rare bird in this country: Like most other Micro breweries, they have a (more or less) full lineup of beers on offer. Every self-respecting brewer has to offer an ESB, a Pale, an IPA, and now a session-IPA. Also a Stout and a Porter, and of course a white IPA, a style I cannot abide by. Several also dabble in Tripel’s and Quad’s… Most breweries I’ve tried, have one or two beers which are great! The rest are more or less forgettable.. Where Deschutes differ from (most) of the rest, is that their beers are not just catalogue-fillers: They are GOOD!! They are all within reach of their style-spec sheet, and really are very enjoyable.
Now, on to their spring seasonal, the Northwest Pale Ale Red Chair! It pours a gleaming, lovely amber-gold, with a fairly quickly dissipating off-white head. The nose is full of citrus and citrus zest. The taste is more of the same, but the lovely body comes up in the form of a full, caramely malt. These two never fight; it is from beginning to end a marriage made in … a perfect fermenter! A wave of citrus and some pine hits your tatstebuds, but do not really run away with things: Soon, the sweet body rolls in and balances things out. Even in the (forgive the pun) face of such size, the mouthfeel stays crisp, and finishes with tingles of citrus, and fading sweetness. At the end, it dries up and fades into very light bitterness, but… dang it, the malts hold on! This beer proves that if you get it right, it doesn’t have to be complex, it doesn’t have to have huge IBU’s, or sickly big malts: The key, as with most great beers, is balance. This joins a handful of beers in the world which are beautifully drinkable because they are perfectly balanced. It is so easy to knock back three or four of these puppies, and still feel as though you haven’t eaten a loaf of bread or missed out in anyway. Oh, of course there are better, more complex beers in the world! But this would be one of my top contenders for most drinkable, quaffable, dare I say (a word I hate..) sessionable! A beer to definitely buy in a twelve-pack, and quickly move the left-over mac n cheese to the side in the fridge. Grade: Medium 5.
Postlude: I have yet to have a bad beer from Deschutes. They are one of the highest quality breweries in the country, across the board. Most of their beers will not knock the planets out of their orbits, but for sheer drinkability and balance, they are hard to beat!
Elysian Super Fuzz Blood Orange Pale. Elysian Brewing, Seattle, WA. 5.4% ABV.
I should have written a review of The Loser a long time ago; I and my beer-buddies had a little competition, and I chose The Loser as one of my 8 beers, and it went quite far, before being shot down by some big beer or other.. I think it’s a great, well balanced Pale Ale! So, the other day, a colleague gave me a bottle of this, and said: “I liked this, you should try it!” Well, that was two weeks ago..
Pours like a Hefeweizen; hazy from sediment, and a pale straw color. The nose definitely has some (blood?)orange, also some hops, possibly some faint malts, but faint.. On the palate, this is a light beer with some bitterness, but it tastes more like hops than blood orange. As it warms, the malts give some welcome roundness. Well, I enjoy this more than many fruit-flavored beers I’ve had, because the orange is there adding a nice note but never overpowers, and never threatens to do so. And I suppose that any complaints of simplicity would shoot beyond the mark, for this has to have been conceived as a simple summer drinker, and as such it works really well. Friends who’ve had this, say they really enjoyed it; maybe I’m off on this one.. But it is my taste and my blog! By no stretch of the imagination a bad beer, on the contrary, it’s a good beer! Only, for me, there are several summer-style brews I’d rather buy. Grade: Medium 2.