1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Original Schlüssel Alt - Hausbrauerei Zum Schlüssel

Not Rated.
Original Schlüssel AltOriginal Schlüssel Alt

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

51 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 51
Reviews: 24
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 12.35%
Wants: 20
Gots: 3 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Hausbrauerei Zum Schlüssel visit their website
Germany

Style | ABV
Altbier |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Longstaff on 10-03-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 51 | Reviews: 24 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of crisis44
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of pixieskid
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%

Photo of bckayaalp
3.5/5  rDev -13.6%

Photo of JCFinn
4/5  rDev -1.2%

Photo of mdillon86
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%

Photo of mentaltraveller
4/5  rDev -1.2%

Photo of whartontallboy
5/5  rDev +23.5%

Photo of foles
4.78/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed over and over again on the Dusseldorf Altstadt.

Light, rich munich maltiness, with a nice firm bitterness. Brown colour. Uniquely hoppy from spalt hops on he nose. Dry malty profile on the palate. Some graininess, and a touch of spalt flavour - however the balance of hop character appears to be in the aroma.

A true classic alt - but very unique amongst alts at the same time.

Photo of BEERchitect
3.93/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Often though of as an amber ale with German lager character, this hybrid of a beer has the smooth drinkability of well malted German lagers and with the toasty notes of a dunkel. But this beer balances toward hoppy bitterness like no other.

Pouring a deep amber, taking on rust-like colors, the beer shows near brilliant clarity, slightly off white foam that forms a delicate yet sturdy foam stance. Light on lace and moderate with retention, comparisons to lighter dunkels do come to mind.

Muted aromas of toast with faint caramel, grain, and malt deliver a clean and well attenuated scent that leaves the nose wanting more.

Flavors fare much more vividly. Bread crust, walnuts, scorched caramel, and a hint of date or fig come to mind before the initial flavors fall off and the hop bitterness sets in. With basically no hop aroma and faint herbal flavor, the bitterness seems remarkably high in the finish as the other malt flavors disipate, all leading to a very clean, crisp finish with mild grain and earthy bitterness.

Medium creaminess early is short lived, transcending the beer to a quick and abrupt bitterness with light grassy harshness and mild watering.

A very drinkable beer with a lot of character for a lighter beer especially up front. But the terse finish makes the beer clean yet tearse.

Photo of AgentZero
3.53/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another Alt provided by Ethan.

A - Brownish color beer that you can see through. Has a white head that didn't stay for long and left some spots on the side.

S - Smells very malty, with some caramel notes and earthy tones. A little heavier than the other alts we have had.

T - A lot of malt, some caramel and spices, and a little earthy bitterness. There is a bit of a fruity sweetness to this.

M - Smooth, medium bodied, active carbonation.

O - Pretty solid, not as easy of a drinker as the other alts, but had a lot going on.

Photo of MasterSki
3.98/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

50cl swingtop, again provided by Ethan. Served in a Hill Farmstead tulip. Best before July 8th, 2012.

A - Quick-dissolving off-white foam settles to a thin ring and a few stray bubbles. Very dark altbier, with more brown and less copper-amber, although still transparent.

S - This is more caramel heavy, although the toasted grains are still present in the periphery. Some fruity esters are imparted by the ale yeast, and there is a hint of nuttiness as well.

T - This is less sweet than the other alts we had next to it, and had more of a heavy bread flavor. It actually felt more bock-like in some ways to me. Again, nuts and toasted malt are also present.

M - Smooth texture, medium-light body, crisp medium-high carbonation. and a nice clean finish.

D - Even though it's only a tad more alcohol than the other alts the heavier flavor profile and higher carbonation made it a tad less easy to drink. It was definitely the most complex in flavor profile, but it least fits my preferences for the style. Still, well worth trying if you are in Düsseldorf and want to do a survey of the style.

Photo of stcules
3.95/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Copper color, very clean and limpid. Two fingers of a beautiful foam, that left a lot of laces.
Malty smell, with a light caramel, and a bit of grassy hop.
Malty taste, too, and light caramel again, then the hop bitterness, not very long, but good.
Light body, great drinkability.

Photo of crnipeter
4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one is a bit over the best before date but was quickly proven to be good nonetheless. 500 ml, BB 22.October 2010, into tulip. A vigorous pour creates deep amber to bronze body with good clarity, topped by thick firm off-white head with excellent retention that clings to the walls and, although slowly subsides, virtually never dies. The nose is rich malt with caramel and toasty notes, peppery spiciness that probably originates from noble hops, fruity esters of plum and raisins.
Flavor starts with prominent hoppy bitterness counterbalanced by crisp, well attenuated malt. Fruity esters are virtually absent, slightly nutty finish is quite dry allowing hoppy bitterness to persist into the aftertaste. Medium bodied, soft carbonated with slight astringency.

In short: a sessional lagered ale with assertive hoppy bitterness and a good dosage of attenuated malt.

Photo of dasenebler
4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

.5L swing-top. Best by 1/14/11.

Pours a crystal clear dark copper with a great two-finger head. Retains with a thick ring and excellent lacing.

Aroma is muffled, but there are hints of hops, light fruit and yeast.

The flavor is solid, with a nice toasty and nutty malt complexity. Finish is lightly bitter and redolent of dark bread crusts. Hop flavor could be improved. Mouthfeel is medium-light, creamy and smoothly carbonated. A great session beer, but not nearly as drinkable as the on-tap version.

This is an very good altbier, but this bottle version (purchased at the brauhaus, I might add) is somehow inferior to the fresh, on-tap variety, which seemed more delicate and more drinkable.

Photo of TurdFurgison
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this at the Schlüssel brewpub/restaurant in Dusseldorf, served in short glasses that magically replace as they empty. The beer is a light tan color, clear, with a few fingers of white foam. The aroma is fairly neutral, the dominant impression is of sweet malts, a little nutty or caramel. Same in the taste, I think this is a very approachable beer style for anybody, just not flavorful enough to make it too special for me.

This is a style that I've tried several times in the USA and always finished feeling underwhelmed. Similar to Kolsch in that aspect (although this is darker and maltier than Kolsch), it seems to be a subtle style. Maybe similar to Kolsch I'll one day really start to like it and identify it with the city it comes from.

Photo of metter98
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has a two finger high off white head that slowly died down and faded away. A very slight amount of carbonation is visible from the rising bubbles.
S: There is a light aroma of malts with hints of caramel and hops in the nose. A very slight amount of sweetness is perceptible.
T: There is a very good balance between the malt and hops although the hop flavors are slightly stronger, which results in a slight amount of bitterness in the overall taste.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate with a very light amount of carbonation. There is some crispness and a very light amount of carbonation.
D: The beer isn't difficult to drink and is quite sessionable.

Photo of bark
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The colour is warm amber; the liquid is clear. The gigantic foam sinks slowly to a very airy uneven three finger head. Lots of thick lacing occurs.

The smell is hoppy and a little bitter. Lots of flavours; some yeast, apricots, fresh dark bread, chalk, hay and a touch of peanuts.

The taste got both lots of malty flavours of bread and roasted nuts, but also a fine somewhat dry and fruity raw bitterness. Notes of hay, camomile, chalk and other minerals. The aftertaste cog a clean slowly growing bitterness, some minerals, dry malty flavours with hints of dandelion and salad. The finish is dry and bitter.

Strong carbonation, small bubbles, smooth liquid.

Fresh, complex, raw, balanced and highly drinkable. I feel an urge to go to Düsseldorf. Hell, it is just a 12 hour drive.

Photo of MetlGuy
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Orangey copper color, light head

S - Light malt odor

T - balanced between maltiness and bitterness.

M - Smooth and full; not a thin mouthfeel at all

D - Quite drinkable. I quaffed a few at the bar on several ocasions.

Serving type: from the tap in Muelheim an der Ruhr

Photo of TKempe
4.13/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light brown to amber in colour with a strong and very dense white head on top. Great lace.

The nose integrates a delicate touch of hops into a lovely bouquet of fruity aroma's (pear mainly), grainy, dry malt and a peppery note. A very well-balanced nose, covering anything from fruity to spicy with a raw edge to it.

There's a bit more maltiness to the taste, resulting in a salty and grainy finish and a chewy mouthfeel. Hops are constantly present in the background and form a perfect interplay with a big yet modest fruity note. A trace of yeast and a little roasty bitterness on the side. Aftertaste is a bitter and also clean, very satisfying.

Soft carbonation and a medium-light body.

Photo of wl0307
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased at the BSF bar, GBBF08, London. At 5%abv., coming in a 500ml swing-top brown bottle; BB 05/09/08, served lightly-chilled in a Kölsch stange.

A: dark amber to light copper in colour, topped with a pretty tight and thick white fluffy head, on top of natural and mild streams of fine carbonation.
S: given a swirl, an understated but deep-running flow of hoppiness expands, consisting of faint orangey-citrusness, pears, tea-stems, a super-fine note of dried dates, resting on a light bedrock of caramel-nutty malts that has a beautifully-pure and gristy focus, just like a great German bier should be. Overall, fruity and integrated.
T: an exceptional, complex fruity swallow with a citric kick upfront blends well with a mild caramely+toasty maltiness in the middle - fine and understated in flavour, then slowly engulfed by an extensive wave of toasted nuts, faintly raisiny sweetness, and tea-leafy bitterness that lingers elegantly at the back of palate... A decent kickback of sourness (of a well-lagered bier) skirts the otherwise mildly chewy, herbal and slightly woody bitter finish.
M&D: refreshing on the mouthfeel, full of soothing microscopic carbonation, while the body is just moderate to render a most easy-drinking experience. The finishing touch could've been more bitter to make it a truly quaffable Alt. Other than that, this fares as a really decent and well-made Altbier in my book!

Photo of seanyfo
4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

0.25l gravity serving at the Schlussel Brauhaus on Bolkerstr in the Duesseldorf Altstadt

A- Pale copper with creamy head giving very good retention

S- Coffee beans, toffee, malty breads aroma

T- Malty goodness, with a creamier finish that most other alts im come across. Expecting the coffee aroma to come through in the taste, but it remained sweet/toffeish.

M- Low carbonation and creamy

D- Excellent alt with some great smell and flavour

Photo of paterlodie
3.2/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Best before 1-05-05. Pours in fine and gives a nice white foam that lasts well. Color is lightbrown and nice and clear. Nose is diacethyl, malts and litle sweetness. Taste is creamy, buttery, full& sweet malty and only litle bitter at the end. Beer seems to have suffered from oxigene but also had a lot of diacethyl. No bad beer but had better ones from the other Duesseldorfer Hausbrauereien.

Photo of UncleJimbo
4.08/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at the brewpub tavern in Düsseldorf. I assume "on tap", but I note that others put their reviews under "cask". I am not sure which is more proper in this case.

This altbier poured a clear, iced-tea brown color with with light tan foam that settled but clung to the glass a bit on the way down. The smell was malty with some hop bitterness. The taste was malty with good, strong hoppiness. There was a touch of caramel malt flavor, but this beer was not sweet. The mouthfeel was dry and smooth and hoppy with medium body and moderate carbonation. The dark malty flavor and the hoppiness lingered in the mouth. This was a very nice altbier, and complemented food nicely.

Photo of Gueuzedude
5/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was on a car trip, from Berlin to Brussels. I made a dinner stop in Düsseldorf to sample some alt at the source. This beer was the perfect beer, in the perfect place, at the perfect time. Of course take this with a grain of salt because perfection rarely happens with any beer, this just happened to be the right mix of factors, which will never be duplicated again.

Before this I had tasted a few renditions of Altbier in the states and thought it was a fairly tasty brew but nothing incredible about it, i.e. I did not go out of my way to purchase American made Altbier.

That first smell and taste was absolutely stunning. It was definitely up there with one of the best beers that I have ever had. I was definitely not expecting this taste experience. It was malty sweet and there was a definite fruitiness brought on by a combination of the hops and malt. The hop aroma and flavor was what really blew me away. You could tell that this was a fresh beer. The color was a good solid brilliantly clear red.

Photo of cerevisiaephilus
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

One of my all time favorite beers and certainly my favorite of all those I sampled in Dusseldorf. A very well balanced beer, yet very flavorful. The Altbier style in general has a unique taste that is most likely attributable to the unique strain of yeast employed by brewers in this bastion of ale in the land of lagers. This unique taste shines bright and true in Zum Schlussel's Alt.

However I must say that the cool straight sided glasses and the particulars of beer service in Dusseldorf also greatly aid to the appeal of any Alt served in the Altstadt.

Original Schlüssel Alt from Hausbrauerei Zum Schlüssel
90 out of 100 based on 51 ratings.