Posts Tagged ‘german’

Beer Review: Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen

3 December, 2009

IT’S been too long since I last enjoyed a Continental wheat beer. The last time I had ‘Naturtrüb’ naturally cloudy German-variety ‘Hefeweizen’ wheat beer, was straightforwardly wheaty Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier. What, then, will my next German, cloudy, wheat-beer be like? From the Bethnal Green Food Center in London’s East-End, here is a bottle of Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen.

First impressions? Efficient looking but characterless bottle and appearance. It’s definitely German

It has a neck label. Not that it says very much. It has a sort-of coat of arms, the words “Premium Weissbier” and a barcode. Never mind. I’m sure there’s be a proper description of the beer somewhere on it. On the front-label, perhaps?

No. There’s not much of a description on here, either. Just some basic details. Starting with the name and address of the brewer. For the curious, Scöfferhofer Weizenbier GMBH is from Frankfurt am Main.

Under that is a logo, if you can call it that, of Peter Schoffer von Gernsheim. An early printer who worked with Johannes Gutenberg, the Scöfferhofer brewery was apparently founded in his old home. Hands up, who wants their home turned into a brewery, when they’re gone?

Under the Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen name, is some writing that I can’t read or understand. If you can, or you can translate anything else on the bottle, do please leave a comment at the end of the post.

Down at the very bottom, are welcome words indeed. “Naturtrüb”, I think means ‘naturally cloudy’. Thanks to the person who told me that in a comment to one of my earlier posts. “Premium-Weissbier” has to be ‘Premium Wheat Beer’. And “Brewed And Bottled in Germany” is just good news however you read it.

So there wasn’t much of a description on the front-label. Surely, there’ll be a proper description of some kind on the back?

No. There really isn’t any kind of description. Or story. Or anything. Just a massive, multilingual block of ingredients lists and safety warnings, for nanny-state markets across the world.

Even looking carefully, there are only a handful of facts I can extract from the morass of text. The ingredients are water, barley malt, wheat malt, hops and yeast. All the right ingredients. Though I’d prefer if they mentioned which malts and hops they used. Even when the names mean nothing, I love it when the labels give that much extra detail.

Elsewhere, we discover the vital statistics. The bottle is your usual 500ml. Or 16.9 fl. oz.  And with an alcoholic volume of 5%, it’s as average as the entire output of Hollywood over the past decade.

And that’s it. At least I thought it was, until I spotted in tiny writing, a web-address. That web address is www.schoefferhofer.de. It’s an annoying Flash-heavy website, with no English language section. Nevertheless, a few clicks and you start discovering more bottles that will make you wish you were in Frankfurt am Main.

With all of that out of the way, it’s time for the fun bit. What does Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen taste like? How different will it be to Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier? Will I like it and should you buy it? Considering my track record of loving cloudy wheat beers, it could be a foregone conclusion.

Yes, I still don’t have a proper wheat beer glass. But even in my British pint-glass, it looks good. It was easy to pour, too. No glugging, it went smoothly until the last bit, where it frothed up into the sight you can see in the photograph.

The colour is of straw. Cloudy, but clear enough to see the fizz. The head is a thick, lasting, white colour. I can hardly wait to start.

First though, what does Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen smell like? If you bought it hoping for that unmistakable, rich, malty smell, you’re in luck. If you’ve sniffed other European wheat beers, you know what it is. It’s not strong. Just gorgeously rich and sweet.

What does Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen taste like? The first gulp is not bad, but I’m greeted with more bitterness than expected. A few more sips, and I’m beginning to make sense of it. The bitterness was because I was trying to drink the head. Get down to the beer, and it’s much more like what you’d expect from a German wheat beer.

Being a straight-up wheat beer, there isn’t much in the way of flavour. Just an undercurrent of malty-wheatiness. A sweet and savoury sort of flavour, which drifts, easily, into the aftertaste. A taste which has a surprisingly lasting bitterness, and astringent character.

How different is it to the Franziskaner German wheat beer I tried a few months ago? Unexpectedly different. I was half expecting a re-run. Instead, Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen takes the same straightforward wheat beer path, but goes on a bitterer, less smooth and less wheaty route.

What am I enjoying about Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen? Astonishingly, less than I had been expecting. Maybe I’ve got a less-than-perfect bottle. But a few things are nagging me. On the credit side, however, there are pluses. Even if it is bitterer than other European wheat beers, compared to others, it’s well balanced. It’s easy to drink, which means the ingredients are good, and it’s well made. It’s different, too, which scores it marks for distinctiveness. Not too gassy either.

On the debit side, there are some issues. I’m starting to think my bottle has gone off. It doesn’t taste as good as I think it should. That bitterness is just too rough and odd tasting for it to be intentional. It’s also somewhat lacking in the flavour and taste department. Not sure if that’s intended or not. But more interestingness and complexity wouldn’t go amiss. Even the main taste of wheat is hard to pin down.

How can I sum up Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen? I’m left wondering if my bottle is a bad example, or if they’re all like this. Regular readers know how much I love wheat beer. So the roughness and off-notes were a surprise. If it’s supposed to be like this, then you’ll like it if you prefer your wheat beer to have an edge. If, like me, you love the smooth, rich, deliciousness of other wheat beers you’ve enjoyed, then try something else. Unless the one I bought was off, in which case, Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen is probably very good.

This puts me in a tricky situation with the rating. Do I rate lower and risk the wrath of people who love good examples. I’ll take the wait-and-see escape route, and leave a rating for another time, when I’ve tried more bottles of Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen.

What did you bottle of Scöfferhofer Hefeweizen taste like? Did you like it? Did I get an bad bottle or does it normally taste like this? Leave your comments, translations, opinions and places to buy, here in the comments.

Beer Review: Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier

16 September, 2009

CROSSHARBOUR ASDA sounded its siren call again, leaving me with three more unusual bottles of beer to sample. First up is what one of my commentors described as the benchmark for clear, unfiltered wheat beer, and another described as the wheat beer for lager drinkers. With a lot of hype to live up to, here is a bottle of Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier.

Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier bottle

What the bottle lacks in quirky charm (compare it to the granite-like bottles of British ale), it makes up for with interesting labels. The informative, and helpfully English language neck-label is our starting point on this German bottle.

Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier neck label

The big middle bit boasts three big things. An impressive crest. A date, “Since 1040”, and that it was “brewed and bottled by Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan Germany”. That makes this a genuine Bavarian. On shop shelves dominated by pretend Europeans, that counts for something.

Either side of part you can see in the photo are quiet, understated braggings of awards won. On the left, if we squint, we can see that it won “Gold Medal Australian International Beer Awards 2003, 2004 & 2006”. On the right, it’s the “Gold Medal International Beer Competition 2003”.

Other beers boast a lot more about much fewer awards. We’re only at the neck-label, and already Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier is giving off the quietly confident air of someone who knows what they’re doing.

Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier front label

The front-label, in a neat and Germanic roundel, says everything you need to know while you browse the shop shelves. And boy, does it get off to a flying start. “The World’s Oldest Brewery” “Since 1040”. In 1040, the Normans had yet to bother the people of Hastings. While in “Dark Age” Bavaria, they were coming up with award winning beer. That’s like going to see Shakespeare performing in The Globe, having just invented the iPod.

The bottom half says exactly what you need to know, in order to know if this is the bottle for you. Handy if you’re staring at a shop shelf, puzzling over what to put in your trolley.

My knowledge of German is ropey at best, but even I worked out that “Kristall Weissbier” means wheat beer with the yeasty bits filtered out. Fortunately, in case you hadn’t worked it out, they say it right there; “Clear Wheat Beer”.

The one other detail you need to know is the alcoholic volume. And they’ve thought to put that in as well. At 5.4%, Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier is looking to please everyone.

Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier back label

The back label is as clean and effective as an Audi four-dour saloon. There’s a ‘story’ about the brewery followed by an excellent description by Socialist and beer writer, Roger Protz. To quote his quote, “its intensely spicy aroma has powerful hints of cloves and nutmeg balanced by creamy malt. The defining character of Bavarian wheat beers – a banana note – dominates the palate, with rich malt, spices and a gentle hint of hops. A spritzy and wonderfully thirst-quenching drink.” The Michael Parkinson of beer reviewing liked it. But will I? For an ill-informed bunch of opinions and stretched metaphors, read on.

The ingredients are the usual “water, wheat, malt, barley malt, hops”. The full address from Freising, Germany, is on there. There’s a web address of www.weihenstephaner.de. But be warned; it will make you lust after bottles that you probably can’t buy where you live. Lastly, at 5.4% alcoholic volume, this 500ml bottle weighs in at 2.7 UK units of alcohol. A fact so boring that you’re probably loosing interest. So let’s get to the interesting part.

What does Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier taste like? Will I like it? Will I describe it the same way as celebrity beer writer, Roger Protz did? How will it compare to the other cloudy and clear wheat beers I tried? And should you go out and buy it? Let’s find out.

Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier poured into the wrong type of glass

I know, I know, I still don’t have the right sort of glass. If someone wants to send me a proper glass for the job, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. For the meantime, in a regular British pint glass, it looks fantastic. The head frothed right up the way a Bavarian wheat beer should.

The head is white, and made of big bubbles which collapsed into itself after a few moments. The beer itself is golden and clear. Bar the storm of bubbles furiously making their way to the surface.

Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier smell like? In a word; delicious. It has that impossibly good quality that I love about European wheat beers. Roger Protz used words like cloves, nutmeg and creamy malt. I’m going to use words like rich, malty, kind of fruity and awesome. In fact, forget all those words except awesome. For that is how it smells.

What does Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier taste like? The first sip is as pleasant as the first sniff. Gut reaction is that this is as good as the best cloudy wheat beers. Even though that’s impossible. It’s like expecting the battered cod with your chips to taste as good as lobster. But this seems to be pulling it off.

Why do I think that? After a few more sips and I’m still a long way from figuring it out. The flavours are dry, biscuity and of dried fruit. An understated sweetness. Followed by a gentle, smooth, bitterness of dry malt and spicy hoppiness. All together, making an outstandingly balanced and easy to drink, drink.

What am I loving about Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier? If you’ve enjoyed a European wheat beer, even ones you’re not supposed to compare it too, such as cloudy, unfiltered ones, and those from the Netherlands and Belgium you’ll know. It has the same, unmistakably lovely smoothness that you can’t quite describe. To help describe that indescribable quality, I’ve invented a new word; “delismoothich”. A combination of “delicious”, “smooth” and “rich”.

Possibly the most astounding thing about Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier is that it manages to be every bit as good and interesting as its cloudier cousins. Then there’s the flavours and taste which are perfectly balanced and very easy to drink. Give this to even hardened lager drinkers to see what they think. Roger Protz described it as spritzy and thirst-quenching and I can’t disagree. It’s refreshing and very drinkable. Not too gassy either, despite all the fizziness.

What don’t I like about Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier? Very little. Nitpicking, I suppose it doesn’t pack the same flavour punch as some cloudy wheat beer or British ales. But before you leave a comment saying you can’t compare them, yes, I know that already. I’m also guessing that after three or four, they stop being so refreshing. That said, I’d love to have enough bottles to find out. The only real complaint I can think of is that Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier and all the Weihenstephan range are so difficult to buy, here in Britain.

To conclude, Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier tasted great, even if I can’t put my finger exactly on why. It compared incredibly well to every other type of wheat beer, and every other beer, full-stop, that I’ve ever tried. I loved it, even though I used different words to celebrity beer socialist, Roger Protz. Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier is one of the best, so yes; you should go out and find it.

Rating: 4.5

Have you tried Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier? Have you tried any other Weihenstephan beers? What did you think? Do please leave your inevitable corrections, or alternatively, opinions, recommendations and places to buy, in the comments.

Beer Review: Crest Super 10% Super Strength Premium Lager

14 April, 2009

A YEAR ago, I tried all the super strength lagers I could lay my hands on. This meant subjecting myself to Tennent’s Super Strong Lager, Kestrel Super Strength Lager, Carlsberg Special Brew and Skol Super Strong Lager. They were universally awful means of alcohol consumption. Not surprisingly then, they’re a favourite of homeless alcoholics, which is why they’ve acquired the nick-name “tramp juice”.

Besides being revolting to anyone who drinks less than eight each day, there was one other commonality. They were all 9% alcoholic volume. For whatever reason; fear of regulation, corporate social responsibility or a gentlemen’s agreement, there were none above 9% this side of the English channel. That’s what I thought, until I found this. From an off-license in Kennington, South London, here is a can of Crest Super 10% Super Strength Premium Lager.

Crest Super front of can

At first sight, everything looks promising. For a start, this has a classy purple exterior, unlike the stripy competition. It has pictures of hops and a “Master Brewers” ‘seal, all adding to the sense that this is a real beer.

It even has a proper roundel. With two bears at the top, the upper border says “Brewed With Best Quality Barley Malt”. And the lower border has words continuing with “And The Finest German Aroma Hops”. So this is German is it? If you’re going to have a strong beer, Germany is one of the places you want it to be from. This is shaping up very well indeed.

Crest Super join side of the can

Turning the can around, you won’t find much on this side. There’s a join. And the words “Serve Cool”. Advice I intend to pay heed to when it comes to tasting this mysterious, yet probably explosive beverage.

Crest Super barcode side of can

Ah good. This side has some writing. Lets read it. Maybe it says from where in Germany it came?

No. No it doesn’t say that. Right at the top, it says “Brewed And Canned By: The Crest Brewing Co. A Division of Wells & Young’s Brewing Company Ltd, Havelock Street, Bedford UK, MK40 4LU”. Regular readers will know that any beer that pretends to be imported when it isn’t immediately gets docked points. Would you rather try something from Bavaria or Bedfordshire?

It’s not necessarily bad news though. That is the same Wells & Young’s who brought us Bombardier Burning Gold, Luxury Double Chocolate Stout, Banana Bread Beer and the magnificent Bombardier Satanic Mills bottled ales. Yet they seem intent on hurting their name with licensed beers like Kirin Ichiban and this can of Crest Super.

Back to what the can says, and next up come the vital statistics. This is a big 500ml can. Oddly, for a UK produced can with a 10% alcoholic volume, I can’t find any UK units of alcohol rating. An intentional regulatory and moral dodge? Or an innocent omission? Your opinions at the end of this post please.

Another oddity is that the only English language in that big block of sideways text is telling you to look under the can for the best before end date. It has a full list of ingredients, but in German. Not English. Luckily, our language is similar enough to German for me to make sense of what it says. If you’re expecting the ingredients to be of typical beer ingredients plus some chemicals, you’d be spot-on.

Right then. I was hoping to drag out the descriptive part of this review as long as possible. But I’ve run out of things to read on the can. I’m going to have to drink this stuff and try to describe what it’s like. A task I’ve been putting off for weeks already.

What does Crest Super 10% Super Strength Premium Lager, the strongest beer I’ve ever tried taste like? Will be as drinkable as I’m hoping? Or as vomit inducing as I’m fearing? Curiosity is getting the better of me as it’s time to find out…

Crest Super poured into a glass

There’s some head. But not much. After a few moments, you’re left with a patch of foam. But what get’s me is the colour. That bright orange-amber colour would look more at home on a cider. It looks as natural as Jordan.

Does it smell as synthetic as it looks? The roundel promised the “Finest German Aroma Hops”. I’d say that it smells like the other super strength lagers. But maybe slightly more delicate. Whatever the case, you can’t hide from the distinctly un-beery smell of this and other super strength lagers. It reminds me of the smell of gobstoppers or other such sweets. Not a natural and tasty beer.

How does it taste? I’m going into this with a totally open mind, by the way. No prejudice whatsoever. So what does it taste like?

Two gulps in and I realise that gulps are the wrong way to go. If I’m to avoid seeing my dinner again, sips over the course of the night are the only way to go.

How can I describe it? Not easily. My entire digestive system is currently telling me not to consume any more. The rest of this review might be a bit shorter than normal.

A few minutes later, and I gingerly attempt a few sips. Unusually for a lager, it does have a hit of flavour. A flavour of hops and chemicals and think. It’s hard to pin down because of the massive aftertaste that swamps you. You get hit with a gigantic wave of bitterness, alcohol and chemicals. Unsurprisingly, it lingers for a good long time.

Nearly a quarter of the way through now, so what am I enjoying about Crest Super? I like that does something a little different to the other super strength lagers. I like that it’s 1% stronger. If I were an alcoholic or someone who enjoying drinking many cans of super strength each day, I would be delighted with Crest Super.

What am I not enjoying about Crest Super? Nearly everything. It is the most undrinkable beer I’ve had in more than a year of doing this blog. I doubt I’m going to finish this beer tonight, and it’s the first time that’s ever happened. It’s as if my body is shouting “no more! Please no more!” after every sip. This literally gut wrenching effect means I can’t even start to enjoy the flavour and taste.

How can I sum up Crest Super? It is the most extreme beer I have ever tried. It is the strongest. And the most undrinkable. Slightly different to the other super strength lagers, but not necessarily better. If you are an alcoholic, or if you enjoying drinking many cans of super strength lager each day, then you will love Crest Super. If however, you’re a normal person, then you probably won’t. It will either send you to drunken oblivion or to the toiler to throw up. But maybe I’m looking at it all wrong. Maybe you should treat it not as a beer, but as a spirit. It certainly tastes like one.

Rating: I’ll leave that up to you.

Have you tried Crest Super? Draught or out of a can? What did you think of it?

Do please leave your opinions, corrections, thoughts, requests, recommendations and places to buy.

Update:

Armed with experience from my first can, and from the comments sections from the other super strength lagers, my second can of Crest Super was much better. I can confirm that it’s absolutely essential to drink it only while it’s very very cold. Even if this means leaving the dregs at the bottom, because the contents will have warmed up too much in your hand. And don’t do what I did and pour it out. Drink it from the can to make sure you don’t accidentally smell it.

With this in mind, you can nearly enjoy it. At Arctic temperatures, it really does have a long, hoppy finish. And yes, the can is more solid than others. But there’s still better ways to get wasted than this.

Beer Review: Erdinger Weißbier Dunkel

21 August, 2008

YESTERDAY’S Erdinger Weißbier from the German brewery Erdinger Weissbräu was excellent. So I’m even more looking forward to it’s darker, even more premium looking cousin; Erdinger Weißbier Dunkel.

First impressions are that it looks so much better than. With the labels matching the colour of the bottle this time, it looks classy. And a little foreboding.

Again, I’m almost totally lost with the language. So, if you can translate anything, do please leave a message in the comments at the end of this post. For the time being, you’ll have to put up with my clumsy attempts and translating the words that happen to look a little like their English counterparts.

Erdinger Weisbier Dunkel front of neck label

The neck label, this time, says “Dunkel”. I’m going to guess that “Dunkel” translates to “Dark”. Is that right?

Erdinger Weisbier Dunkel shoulder label

The little label on the shoulder is identical to that on regular Weißbier. Saying something about fine ingredients. I think.

And just like the labels above it, the big front label sticks to the Weißbier formula. Apart from being coloured almost entirely black. Obviously.

Erdinger Weißbier Dunkel front label

Nevertheless, it looks good. In fact, it’s even easier to see the Erdinger Weissbräu logo thanks to this colour scheme. And you can’t escape how much they’ve put wheat and hops in the centre stage. They are everywhere. Not just propping up the roundel either side of it. But prominently, right in the centre of it too. No other beer or rural brewery imagery here. Just wheat and hops. From “Bayern”.

They do leave off some of the details that were on the front label of regular Weißbier however. One of the dates is missing. As is the signature. And the all important bottle size and alcoholic volume. Looks like we’ll be turning to the back label for those titbits.

The back label helpfully answers some of the mysteries surrounding this dark coloured “Dunkel” wheat beer. That said, it’s still a hard to read block of multi-lingual text. But that’s what you get from enjoying imported beers.

Erdinger Weißbier Dunkel back label

And what do you know, my attempted translation seems to be right! The open the back label by describing it as “Wheat Beer ‘Dark'”. Erdinger Weißbier Dunkel is a dark wheat beer. Whatever that turns out to be. This will be the first that I’ve tried.

Looking through the block of text, I look for more answers. First to turn up is the alcoholic volume. This weighs in at 5.6% volume, very slightly more than its cousin. Like its cousin, the bottle is the ever-popular half-a-litre. And it was made by “Erdinger Weissbräu Werner Brombach GmbH” in Erding, Germany.

Where it does differ is in the ingredients. The water, the wheat malt, the barley malt, the hops and the yeast are the same. But it must be the addition of roasted malt that makes this “Dunkel”. And if memory serves, which it usually doesn’t, that’s an ingredient you normally see in stouts and dark ales. Which would explain a lot.

Lastly, the web address they give is the same as before. www.erdinger.de will take you to their German website. But if you’re reading this in English, you’ll probably prefer their English language version at www.erdinger.com.

That’s it. All that remains is to open this bottle; to very very very carefully pour the contents into an enormous glass and try to answer some questions. Namely, is this tastier than regular Erdinger Weißbier? And will be indifference to stouty drinks ruin it? You know the drill by now.

The head was much more controllable. Amazingly, it all went in, in one go. No pausing between pours this time. The head falls away quite quickly too. At this stage, it’s now a layer of from about half-an-inch thick, with a surprising amount of glass empty at the top. The colour of the drink itself is no real surprise. That is to say, it’s completely black.

The smell is no big surprise either. It smells mainly of roasted malt with a hint of the wheat and barley. If you’ve had a dark ale or stout before, it will immediately remind you of that. That’s what it doing to me right now. I think it smells delicious. But it could put off the lager drinkers out there.

A couple of gulps in, and first impressions are that this is seriously rich and strong. That could be because I’ve hardly had any stouts or dark ales to compare it with. Or it could really be because it’s rich and strong. The best thing to do is leave your own thoughts on the matter if you’ve tried this drink, in the comments at the end of the post.

So we’ve established that I think it tastes rich and strong. But what does it actually taste of? To my untrained palate, I would say that the first taste is malty. Not all that pronounced though. And I must be getting used to it already because it no longer feels as strong. It could also be the wheatiness evening out the taste. The taste of wheat is harder to find this time, but I’d say it’s there. Hiding behind, and evening out that initial maltiness. After that, you get a nice, mildly tingly hoppy bitter aftertaste.

About half-way through now, and I seem to have gotten used to the richness amazingly fast. Maybe that’s the benefit of having done so many of these posts. Or maybe Erdinger Weißbier Dunkel has a taste that is simply easy to get used to after the initial shock. Either way, half-way through, I’m finding it balanced, smooth and easy to drink.

What am I enjoying about Erdinger Weißbier Dunkel? In short, lots. The tastes and flavours have grown on me. It tastes malty and wheaty and a little bit hoppy. And, once you get used to it, they’re not overwhelming or too strong. I could be wrong, but it feels like each ingredient is balancing out the flavour. So I’m going to say that it tastes well balanced without one flavour dominating. Because that’s not something I’ve seen before, I’ll also give it brownie points for having character and distinctiveness. Ultimately, it’s rich, smooth and quite drinkable.

What don’t I like about it? It’s just possible that all the things I just wrote about it, are because I’ve become used to strong flavours. In which case, it won’t be all that accessible and easy to drink for lager fans. Or girls. Indeed, even if my mind isn’t playing tricks on me, there’s little chance that the strong-ish tastes will be everyone’s cup of tea. It made me burp a little, so it is mildly gassy. And at £1.75 pence from just one shop on Bethnal Green Road, it’s expensive and hard to find. Stout and dark ale fans might be better off then, choosing a home grown ale or stout. I hear that there’s a popular Irish brand out there for example.

Where does all this leave Erdinger Weißbier Dunkel overall? Well I enjoyed it. But that could be because I’ve become used to strong flavours. It had a taste and flavours that were strong, but easy to get used to and ultimately very, very drinkable.

In the bigger picture, I would have to say go for regular Erdinger Weißbier. It’s even easier to drink and a little more interesting, even if it does lack the dimension of taste that Erdinger Weißbier Dunkel has. Unless of course, you love stout. In which case you’ll thoroughly enjoy sampling this. But probably go back to Guinness or Dragon Stout or your favourite dark ale when you realise how expensive this it.

Rating: 4.1

Have you tried Erdinger Weißbier Dunkel? Can you translate anything written on the bottle? What reputation does it have in Germany?

Leave your translations, corrections, opinions, thoughts and recommendations in the small boxes below please.

Beer Review: Erdinger Weißbier

20 August, 2008

Erdinger Weißbier is an interesting looking German bottle I’ve wanted to try for a long time. But, my last attempted review was foiled by Tesco ending their stocking of the bottle days before I could buy one. Now, a little food shop on Bethnal Green Road has filled the gap and stepped in. Let’s see if it was worth the wait.

Erdinger Weisbier bottle

First impressions are that this will be the quickest look at the labels ever. That’s because it’s almost all written in German. That means the closest I can come to talking about what it says, will be admittedly iffy translations from the few words that resemble English ones. Still, that never stopped me before. So here we go. Oh, and if you can offer up any translations, do please leave a comment at the end of this post. Thank you.

Erdinger Weisbier neck label

The neck label is in a striking “V” shape. I could be wrong, and usually am, but it looks as though the name of the brewery is “Erdinger Weissbräu”. And that it is from “Bayern”. Is that right?

Erdinger Weisbier shoulder label

There’s a separate little label on the shoulder of the conventional, brown coloured bottle too. It could be talking about fine ingredients. But I can’t be sure. Can anyone offer up a translation?

Erdinger Weisbier front label

The front label looks good. In a formal, restaurant menu kind of way. There’s a signature from… someone. At the top, there’s a year given of 1516. And at the bottom, we’re told, I think, that Erdinger Weissbräu has been a private brewery since 1886.

Erdinger Weisbier back label

From the crowded block of multi-lingual text on the back label, I can, amazingly, find a few English words. They describe it as “Wheatbeer”. Which is excellent news as there aren’t nearly enough on the market. It’s also, apparently, a live beer, as the two words “bottle fermentation” make it onto the label.

This 50 centilitre bottle has a somewhat above average 5.3% alcoholic volume. Which is another thing I like about it. The full name of the German brewer behind Erdinger Weißbier is, apparently, the memorable “Erdinger Weissbräu Werner Brombach GmbH”.

It also has a satisfyingly complete list of ingredients. Which makes a change from the two-ingredient summary stuck onto most bottles. This one mentions water, wheat malt, barley malt, hops and yeast. At this point, my mouth is watering with the thought of Hoegaarden‘s magnificent taste. Just how similar this turns out to be, I’m looking forward to finding out.

Lastly, there’s a web address on the back label. www.erdinger.de takes you to their noisy German language website. A quick look around however, leads us to www.erdinger.com, their noisy English language website.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to opening this bottle and sampling the, hopefully delicious contents within. Expectations are high then, as I attempt to pour what is surely to have a gargantuan head.

Erdinger Weisbier poured

A colossal head is exactly what I got. Even my biggest glass couldn’t contain it. As I write, there’s still about a quarter of the bottle left to be poured, and the thick layer of foam is only slowly turning into liquid beer. It does look fantastic though. And cloudy. Which is outstanding. If quite normal for a live wheat beer.

The smell is equally unusual. Compared to regular beers and lagers. The smell of wheat is probably fairly normal for a wheat beer. You can also smell some malted barley. I can hardly wait to see how it tastes.

A couple of gulps in, and my taste buds receive more or less what they were expecting. It tastes mostly of malted wheat and barley with a mildly hoppy aftertaste. None of which are very strong. You won’t be overwhelmed with strong flavours here. Nor will you be struggling to find them. I’d call it moderately strongly flavoured.

There is much that I’m enjoying about Erdinger Weißbier. The flavours and taste are very good indeed. The lagers that fill our shops make it feel like you’re drinking flavoured, carbonated water. But not this. Erdinger Weißbier has the sort of meaty full-body that is strong but not too strong. In the same sort of way that makes British ales or quality European beers so tasty.

What’s more, that taste and those flavours make it more drinkable than you might think. If you only drink lager, you’re probably thinking “that sounds like too much flavour”. But is isn’t. I’m about two-thirds of the way through now, and each gulp has been as easy as blinking.

What else do I like about Erdinger Weißbier? Well, it scores points for having character and being somewhat unique. How can something be somewhat unique? I know, there are probably other wheat beers out there that are probably similar to this. But I haven’t found them on the shelves of UK shops and supermarkets. And I’ve been looking for them.

What don’t I like about Erdinger Weißbier? At £1.75 pence from the shop where I bought it, it’s on the expensive side. I found myself burping more than usual, so it’s on the gassy side too.

Then there’s the flipside to the taste. I liked the blend of wheat, barley and hops, but it’s not what you’d call crisp and refreshing. It doesn’t feel particularly sophisticated either. There isn’t the same complexity of flavours as you might find in an ale for example. It also won’t be to everyone’s taste.

Where does this leave Erdinger Weißbier overall? With this opinion: a very good German wheat beer. I’ve really enjoyed this bottle. It’s a tiny bit like Hoegaarden, but without the myriad of different flavours. This though, to my untrained palate, is sold, quality, German wheat beer.

Definitely recommended for wheat beer fans. Recommended for fans of interesting European beers and ales. And recommended for lager drinkers who would benefit from a beer with flavour.

Rating: 4.15

Have you tried Erdinger Weißbier? What did you think of it? And can you help translate anything on the bottle?

If so, leave your corrections, translations, opinions and recommendations in the comments boxes here.

And check my next post for a review of another bottle in the Erdinger range.

Beer Review: Beck’s Imported

6 July, 2008

NEXT up in my look at big-name beers in little green bottles that all seem to come from north-west Europe is Beck’s Imported. Now, I’ve tried some Beck’s before. It was alright, but quickly became lousy. That however, was probably not the imported stuff. So it’s with… not an open mind. More a mind that is slightly ajar that I approach this small green bottle of Beck’s Imported.

Becks Imported bottle

First impression is that this little green bottle looks almost identical to its competitors. The glass is green. The bottle is the same shape. And the front label all ensures that you confuse it with every other bottle of premium continental lager.

But this bottle has a secret weapon. Neck foil.

Becks Imported neck label

Not the sort of gold foil that wraps all the way up to the bottle top. This one is solver and simply wraps around the neck. It doesn’t say much either. Simply have the “Beck’s” name; the unusual logo featuring a key on a red shield; and the all important word, “Imported”. Not fancy, but it achieves its goal.

The front label looks familiar. Haven’t we seen a roundel like this before?

Beck's Imported front label

Yes we have. Heineken and Stella Artois are just two that you’ll confuse this bottle of Beck’s with. Sticking to tradition or being unoriginal? Leave your thoughts in the comments at the end of this post.

As for what the label itself says, the borders are always the best place to start. The top gives the name of the brewery as “Brauerei Beck & Co”. With the bottom giving the place of origin as “Bremen Germany”. We get a proper look at their “Reg Tm” which is unusual indeed. Does anyone out there know what the key on the red shield means?

This beer also appears to be an award winner. Something about Bremmen in 1874. And an award from the International Exhibition at Philidelphia in the USA from 1876. That’s a reasonable heritage. But should we be worried by their lack of competitive success over the intervening 130 years?

Over on the back label, the restraint from the front is replaced by the multi-lingual blocks of text that we’ve become familiar with, with exported beers.

Beck's Imported back label

Just underneath a dozen different languages for the word “beer”, is something unusual. And German. In a little box entitled “Beck’s Quality”, we learn that this has been “Brewed Under the German Purity Law of 1516”. Because in Germany, even the concept of purity has order and rules.

The ingredients that we’re told about are “water, malted barley, hops”. Oddly, the vital statistics for this bottle are almost hidden away. You need to go looking for them in order to discover that this is a 33 centilitre bottle with an alcoholic volume of 5%. On the other hand, you probably already guessed both of those details.

For the curious, there are addresses on this label too. There a the full German postal address. And a website address, which is www.becks.com.

So, is Beck’s Imported going to be another indistinctive yet well-made lager? Probably. But I better check to make sure. Time to crack open this bottle.

Becks Imported poured into a glass

As has been the case with most of these lagers, this one comes with an excellent head. Not too frothy or uncontrollable. Yet it leaves a good, fairly consistent layer of foam on top of your drink.

This colour is little surprise either. It’s a pale yellow. Maybe a shade darker than its near competitors. It’s a similar story with the smell. There is the slightest of aromas of malted barley. Very lagery. But somehow fuller than either Carlsberg or Heineken. Not as much as Stella Artois however.

The taste, regrettably, is on the cheap and horrid side of average. It might not say “lager” anywhere on the bottle, but that’s definitely what I’m tasting. And it’s below par. The flavour is surprisingly strong and full-on. Unlike the few I’ve tried recently. It tastes of a blend of malted barley and hops. But all you end up noticing is the ‘sharp’ and lingering bitterness.

After a few gulps, I can see a few reasons why you should consider trying Beck’s Imported . It has flavour. More so than some of the watery lagers I’ve tried recently. Even if that bitter lagery taste isn’t to my taste, it will be for some of you out there. The quality of the product is roughly where I expected it to be. All of which gives it a clean and fairly drinkable character.

Predictably though, there’s a lot to put you off. I found the taste vile. Something you will too, if you don’t much like lager anyway. If you drink a lot of these on a night out and forget to brush your teeth before going to bed, you are going to have monumentally toxic breath the next morning. And it will make you burp.

How can I sum up Beck’s Imported? Or for that matter, the domestically produced Beck’s? Well, it’s adequate. Barely. But ultimately, not something you drink by choice. This is something you drink because it’s the only beer the bar serves, or because your local supermarket or off-license has a good deal on the caseload. In other words, it’s what you drink because you have to. If, however, you get a choice in the matter, then choose something better.

Rating: 2.35

Have you tried Beck’s Imported? Or ordinary Beck’s? What did you think of it?
Leave your corrections, opinions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions, recommendations and requests here please.

Beer Review: Lőwenbräu Original

25 May, 2008

AFTER my recent look at East-European beers with unpronounceable names and no English writing on it, I felt like a change. So here’s a German beer, with an unpronounceable name and no English writing on it. It’s a can of Lőwenbräu Original. It cost £1.19 and it’s available from a surprising number of off-licences in London.

Lőwenbräu Original can

Painted in light-blue, it’s hard to confuse Lőwenbräu with any other beer on the market. The top features a shield with a typically Germanic looking dragon. Or is it a lion? Whatever it is, it looks German.

Either side of the logo is some writing. It’s hard to read, not only because I can’t understand it, but because of the typeface. I think it says “Ein Bier wie Bayern”. Not knowing any German language, it’s hard to translate. But that never stopped me with the Polish beers. So, I think this says that this beer has “Bayern”. Whatever that is.

Under the Lőwenbräu Original name is some more text that I can’t read. Nor make any sense of. There’s something in there about tradition, but apart from that, I need your help. If you can translate what’s written on this can, do please leave a message at the end of this post.

Under that is the usual small print. That this is a 500 millilitre can. And that it has a slightly above average 5.3% volume.

Rotating the can slightly, and there’s a column of symbols. Some familiar, some not.

Lőwenbräu Original other side of can

There’s also some description of what refund you could get from this can. If you live in Québec. All of 20 cents. Still a good idea, though. We should give refunds for recycling a try, here in the UK. That would clean the streets of bottles and cans in a hurry.

Rotating the can a little further, and we arrive at the biggest and least comprehensible blocks of text I’ve ever soon on a beer can.

Lőwenbräu Original barcode side of can

It’s not the sort of things that you’d try and read just for fun. Sadly, these ‘reviews’ of mine are only 99% fun and opinion. The 1% of actual fact and research of this so-called review is going into trying to make sense of this big block of writing.

First off, we learn that this was brewed by Lőwenbräu AG from Munich, Germany. That is contains water, malted barley and hops extract. Furthermore, this 50 cl can translates into 16.9 US fluid ounces or 17.6 Imperial fluid ounces. I didn’t even know that two different fluid ounce systems existed, but indeed they do.

And that’s all the information there is on that giant block of text. There’s a lesson to be learned here brewers. Tiny text, lots of languages and a big foreboding block aren’t something to aim for.

With no more information to read. And no information that I can understand, there are more questions than usual to answer about what this will be like. The only things I know for certain are that it’s beer. Of some sort. And that it’s from Germany. How bad can it be? Germany is well known for beers isn’t it? So it’s with some optimism, that I crack open the can to see what’s inside.

Be careful with the pouring if you decide to go down that route. The head froths up easily. But luckily, settles back down to a decent, consistent layer of froth in a few moments.

Lőwenbräu Original poured into a glass

The colour is a pale yellow. And it’s very bubbly. I’m starting to fear that this might be a lager. I hope it isn’t.

The smell is not something to write home about. It smells faintly of malted barley. There’s nothing premium, complex or sophisticated about that.

A few gulps in, and my fears are realised. Or are they? With few hints on the can, I could well be wrong. But I’m detecting something lagery about the taste. If you know for certain if this is a beer or a lager, then do please leave a comment at the end of this post.

The taste and flavour is dominated by an ever-so familiar blend of malted barley and hops. The sort that’s so sharp and sour, that it lingers at the back of your tongue. Apart from the taste, that I cant only describe as lagery, there truly aren’t any others that I can find. Even if this doesn’t turn out to be a lager.

To Lőwenbräu’s credit, served cold, it is clean, crisp and refreshing. It’s also not as gassy as I thought it would be. And even though I don’t much like the taste, I can appreciate the quality of the ingredients and the blend. All these things make it easy to drink.

On the other hand, Lőwenbräu Original’s taste is not great. Not bad. Especially when compared to the terrible Polish lagers I’ve tried recently. But it’s not good either. If you like lagers, you might like Lőwenbräu Original. Even if Lőwenbräu isn’t a lager. That mystery remains unsolved.

Lőwenbräu Original also has a watery consistency. And not much originality and character. In a blind taste test, I would have a hard time identifying it.

How can I sum up Lőwenbräu Original? Without being able to read the writing on the can, with some difficulty. Whether Lőwenbräu Original is a lager or not, it is still cheap and foul tasting. Some of you may like that. Others, I hope, will agree with me. And this means that it’s hard to find many good reasons to buy Lőwenbräu Original. Imported to the UK, it becomes more expensive than similar drinks. And it’s certainly not much better tasting.

Rating: 2

Have you tried Lőwenbräu Original? Or any other Lőwenbräu beer?
Can you translate or explain anything about this beer?
Translations, corrections, opinions, thoughts, comments, ideas and suggestions in the usual place please.


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