Altbier | French Broad Brewing Co.

57 Ratings
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Brewed by:
French Broad Brewing Co.
North Carolina, United States

Style: Altbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ChainGangGuy on 02-05-2008

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Ratings: 57 |  Reviews: 48
Photo of brentk56
3.3/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 1.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: I have seen some gushers but this beer takes the cake, creating a huge mess all over the kitchen counter and floor - by the time things settled down, half the bottle was lost; what remains pours a cloudy amber color with a surprisingly modest head that left very little lace - imagine that!

Smell: Caramel spice cake with a hint of grassy hops

Taste: Caramel spice cake, up front, with a developing stone fruit character by mid-palate; after the swallow, the caramel sweetness tends to dominate

Mouthfeel: Medium body but too fizzy

Drinkability: Two bottles on the same day from French Broad and one a bigger gusher than the other; just not very happy with this brewery right now and, while this beer is a decent drinker, it is a bit too sweet

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Photo of wcudwight
4.15/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amber in color with some bronze, orange, and golden highlights. Head slowly rises and holds a stickiness at the top. Smells like a honey-nut toast. Smells good.
While there is nothing particulary exciting our outstanding in the flavor, it is a very good beer. Very balanced with a heavy toasty malt flavor and some leafy, earthy hops in the background. I'm not sure if earthy is a flavor but that's what it taste like to me.
Mouthfeel is very well done. Silky smooth while not being too light or too heavy. This beer really suprised me. I'll be going back for more. Great beer for watching some football with the warmth of a woodstove on a cold wet Sunday evening.

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Photo of wisrarebeer
3.33/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz. bottle, a bit of sediment on bottom
A: nice copper color, a bit hazy, (chill haze?), great rocky head with tiny bubbles
S: very, very good, roasty-toasty malts, strong malt backbone
T: decent, but a bit thin overall, easy drinking, no off flavors, good taste overall with nice balance between sweet malt and underlying bitterness but more malt than anything, biggest problem I keep going back to is that it tastes very thin
M: decent enough but doesn't really stay with you because it tastes watered down
D: OK, but not something I'd probably buy again

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Photo of srandycarter
3.8/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Medium honey, not much head, reduces to ring fast, some cling lace.

S - Slight sour tangy barny smell.

T - Taste follows smell. Tart, a little 'off' barn like, malty undertone.

M - Medium to light body. A little thin for me.

D - VERY easy to drink. Not much effort to drink. Could drink more.

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Photo of JayQue
3.51/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Not the most exciting style in the world, but this beer is certainly worthwhile. Pours a slightly hazy light amber/amber-golden color with a decent size white head. Better than average retention and some lacing.

Smell is fairly weak. Some maltiness. Taste is better than average. A fresh grassiness, bready malts and a slight bitterness in the finish. The malty taste is pronounced. This is not a weak watery beer. Mouthfeel is crisp and rich enough for the style.

Drinkability is good. Would make a good session beer. The flavor is worth while and it goes down nice and easy.

I read that some people got infected, skunky bottles of this one. I am happy to say I didn't have that experience.l

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Photo of maximum12
1.76/5  rDev -48.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Well, through the efforts of a kindly BA I had four bottles of French Broad - this is the last survivor. Two were very good, the third full of diacetyl, & this one - has also turned. 50% ain't too good unless you're vying for a batting crown.

Murky orange with a thin head & active carbonation. Smell gives the first warning - smells like a wild ale. Not an altbier trait, huh?

This altbier is clearly contaminated. The taste is full of tart tang, with a dull, gunmetal aftertaste that doesn't lend much to the experience.

Disappointing. After their kolsch, which is one of the better of the style I've ever had, two straight bad bottles. Too bad. Clearly this brewery can make beer, but I wouldn't risk much in picking up more of this brewery.

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Photo of Onenote81
3.35/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

As soon as I opened this beer it exploded with foam all over the counter and floor. This one took awhile to pour because of the foam. Pours a burnt rusty amber. Little lacing. Smells of toasted malts, caramel, and a metallic twang. The mouth is a little thin and wet. I think this beer lost some of the carbonation bite with the foam spillover. Nice balance with some bitter hops on the front, and finishes sweet and creamy. Some slight mineral in the flavor as well. This was good, and I will seek this style out more and more.

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Photo of MMAJYK
3.97/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A. Light copper with gold highlights. Brilliantly clear. Head is 1/4", soft, but disappearing quickly.

S. Caramel malt, toast crusts, moderate fruity esters, and low herbal hops.

T. Pleasantly malty with bread and caramel tastes. Midstream bitterness is light to moderate. Flavors round out slightly dry and with light fruity esters.

M. Thin to medium in the mouth with high carbonation. Very prickly on the tongue with a slight touch of astringency.

D. Very drinkable beer. Light and crisp, but also shows moderate malt intensity. I could easily drink a bomber by myself on this hot summer day.

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Photo of beer2day
3.88/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours red with gold tints. Nice one-finger head with decent retention and thick chunky lacing.

Nose is all yeast and malt. Very bready. Slightly nutty, even. Sweet as well.

Sweetness carries over in to the taste. That hits first. Nutty flavor. Lots of malt body.

Very easy drinker. Look forward to trying this on tap.

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Photo of everetends
3.98/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Been eyeing these French Broad bombers since they started showing up in Atlanta. Decided to pick up a sampler of a few bombers since the price is pretty damned affordable (4to 5 bucks a bomber). Not bad at all if you ask me. Lets pour and enjoy.

A: Pours a nice and light honey like brown in color. Held to the light, its more of a honey yellow color coming out. This beer is hazy, but its a light haze. Nice and steady carbonation in here, but it is on the light side of the carbonation realm. Got a good finger of pretty white head. This falls to 1/4 finger or so, but it still has the ability to throw up some stringy lace on the glass. It has a very nice look and is very appetizing.

S: Uh . . . I am a little thrown because it is much lighter than I expected in the department. It starts off with some light malts and lots of earthy grains. This is very grassy for sure. Then you get some light fruit coming out in the form of maybe some apple and pear. Light herbal goodness rounds this off. Still somehow with all this in here, I really had to investigate to get it out of this beer. Everything except for a couple exceptions is very subdued and light.

T: Much better and this is actually quite tasty. Getting the fruits first and foremost. Really nice apple notes come out with a light fruity sweetness and also some light sour notes. Pear and plum mingle in here as well with the apple. Then you get the malts. Malts are pretty German, very earthy with just a touch of caramel. Has a bit of herbal and grassy hops presence and it works very well in the mix. Still it has that nice German yeast and grainy goodness that I look for. Very nice and I was torn in giving this a higher score here.

M: Light side of medium in body. Has a nice medium carbonation that adds a nice refreshing quality to this beer. The combination of the body and carbonation makes for a very easy drinker. ABV is not an issue at all and is absolutely hidden. Finishes just oh so lightly dry. Aftertaste is that apple and some lightly sweet malts.

D: Very much so. This was far easier drinking than I expected. It just glides across the palate and is so refreshing. This beer is actually a great warm weather beer due to its quenching ability. Very nice introduction to this brewery and it was nice to see that they had the balls to tackle a style that very few breweries take a crack at. Although its not as dynamic as some Alts I have had in the past, it was a joy to drink. Good stuff.

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Photo of superdedooperboy
4.13/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer marks number 500 in my repertoire.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle (the label lists lots of pertinent information: 9.1 SRM, 13.2 degrees Plato O.G., 26 IBUs and 5.5% ABV) into a Stange, this North Carolinian Alt shows a nice, mostly clear burnished copper hue with a full two fingers of rocky beige foam that sticks around for the duration and holds on hard to the walls of the glass, leaving gorgeous stained glass-like lace along with fat splotches as it fades.

Mild fruity esters show themselves in the nose along with some restrained herbal and grass-like hop notes. A bit of caramel malt aroma shows itself as the beer warms a bit.

A medium-light body with a moderate carbonation brings with it a rather dry, bitter palate of slightly herbaceous hop notes laid upon a rich malty base of grainy, biscuity notes with some fruity esters filling in around the edges and a touch of caramel coming through as the beer warms, finishing very dry with a lingering flavor of grain and noble hops.

A nice, clean, well-formed example of a Düsseldorf-style Altbier. Mostly clean, this could use a bit less malt character in the finish, and perhaps a touch less estery character on the palate; still, overall, a superb representation of an oft-overlooked yet wonderfully flavorful old-world style.

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Photo of russpowell
4.4/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had this at Barley's in Asheville

Poured copper/chestnut with a finger of sand colored head. Good head retention & lacing

S: Bready with caramel & a bit of herbal hops

T: Caramel, a bit of husky grains &leafy hops up front. More core caramel & biscuitty malt as this warms. Finishes dry, fairly sweet & slightly grainy

MF: Medium bodied, semi smooth & nice balance

This drank so easy, great take on an under loved style..

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Photo of kkipple
3.47/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big 22oz bomber bought at the brewery in late late July '09. Should be fresh, right?

Overall not a bad take on the Alt style. Looks good, a hazy amber-gold, foamy head. Smells good, grassy and toasty, caramel malts that certainly seem German. Well put together. Taste is decent, with a noticable amount of DMS (cooked corn) present that really hurts the brew. Otherwise, you get fine German malts, toasty and slightly nutty, sweet, noble hops, and a pleasing bitter note. Finish is clean except for that darn DMS again, and the whole thing is mild and enjoyable - but could be so much better. A good recipe in need of some tweaking. I'll get it again in a few months and see if it has changed.

Bottom line: Try French Broad Altbier if you get the chance, but don't go out of your way to get it.

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Photo of lincoln44
1.76/5  rDev -48.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Picked up a bottle of this while passing through Charlotte, NC. I am a fan of Altbier and had high hopes. I have seen reviews without mention of green apple/sour notes and those with. I must have gotten the same bad batch. I have not dumped a beer in a very long time but the bottle I had was awful.

A- appeared very cloudy, copper in color and very carbonated. I'm guessing the extra carbonation came from bacteria that continued to ferment the beer while producing the sour notes.

S-Sour, malty, and sweet of munich malts.

T-Sour with an overwhelming pungency of green apple.

M-Tart on the palate, medium body with an over carbonated bite

D- I would hold off until the bad batch has left the shelves. I really want to try this one again as a good Alt is hard to find in my region.

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Photo of mntlover
4/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a lightly hazy copper color with some light brown mixed in. Nice khaki head falls to scum that leades some decent lace behind on my glass.

Aroma is nice soft malts very relaxing and pleasant caramel with hints of nuts peeking out. Some light hops would say blend of herbal and floral.

Taste is like the nose nice caramel, earthy notes along with nuttiness and hints of smoke. Very nice malty treat with light floral hop finish. Not overly complex just enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is soft mellow carbonation on a medium body.

Drinkability is good as a hop head its nice to have a malty treat now and then. If you can i would recommend trying this one.

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Photo of merlin48
3.6/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bomber pours a hazy orange body with a small offwhite head. Faint wispy lacing. Aroma of spicy hops and green apples. Light medium body is moderately carbonated. Taste has a hint of Munich malt nuttiness to balance a spicy hop bitterness. A sour green apple note is present all the way through, which helps drinkability but seems badly out of place. Enjoyable alt.

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Photo of meatyard
3.51/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Started off with a gusher that reminded me of a kids science fair volcano project.

Appearance is a hazy, highly carbonated, amber/orange with a large head that falls quickly to a cover. No lacing.

The aroma is mild but clearly malt driven.

The taste is pretty pleasant. Again, it's malt driven with a bite on the tongue from the continued carbonation. Malt sweetness is held in check but there is a bread and nut like flavor.

Mouthfeel is just medium bodied with, what feels to me to be, a bit too much carbonation. It's also dry.

Drinkability seems good. The unknown ABV seems low so a few glasses of this would do well.

Certainly not a bad beer, I would like to see it offer more aroma and less carbonation.

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Photo of MetlGuy
3.13/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was given this at an Altbier tasting. The color was a nice copper, right in style with a creamy head. The aroma smelled of noble hops with a hint of malt backbone. The flavor had some strange taste. I could not place it, but it was almost vegetable. The body was lacking.

Not overly impressed.

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Photo of nick76
2.44/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The aroma is sweet and medicinal with couch syrup, cardboard, floral hops, and malt. The appearance is deep amber with a huge head. The flavor is like the aroma. The palate is thin. Overall I don't like this. Not recommended under any circumstances.

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Photo of blackie
4/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: low off-white head over a deep, aged copper colored beer suspending a thin haze, retention is light but the complex color is very attractive

s: malty Munich gives aromas of concentrated fruit and grain toasted just beyond the point of caramelization, perhaps red and green apples, light sour aroma found in some other Munich heavy beers adds a raw, rustic character, love the sour/sweet interplay

m: light-medium carbonation carries the medium bodied beer across the tongue well

t: toasty Munich malts seem dominant, pretty malty as the color would indicate but balanced with a lighter lager malt, fruity grain juice and a touch of sour hold my interest, delicately balanced hops lack much flavor but provide a mild bitterness, cleans up quickly - as any true lager should

d: an easy-drinking Alt

was surprised to see this in Virginia...bomber from Grape & Gourmet, Virginia Beach

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Photo of atsprings
3.3/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber bought from the brewery at a surprisingly lower price than I've ever seen their beers sold for in Raleigh, here's to beating price gouging! Poured into a Duvel snifter a crisp copper with a thin diminishing head. Aroma is some caramel and brown malts with a touch of Earthy hops. The taste is an almost bock-like malt bite with a slight noble hop presence. The beer is light and crisp with low carbonation. This is a decent interpretation of the style, but I don't think I see myself trying this one again.

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Photo of drseamus
4.35/5  rDev +26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to craytonic for this extra.

A: I got some good head from this French Broad. Seriously though, this dark amber bodied beer has a nice white head that lasts a long time.

S: Interesting malty aroma. It's almost a raw malt aroma with a lot of the grain character. I might smell a touch of hop but I can't quite tell.

T: Nice crisp malt flavor. Decent bitterness behind it but certainly a malt driven beer. Some hop aftertaste. Compares nicely with alt beer right from Dusseldorf.

M: Medium bodied with some carbonation and good crispness.

D: Pretty damn good beer in an under appreciated style. They've done themselves proud on this beer.

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Photo of cvstrickland
4.1/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've enjoyed everything I've had to drink from North Carolina's own French Broad Brewery so far. I had a bomber of this in my posession once upon a time, but in a mad scramble to fill an outbound trade box, I had to sacrifice my only bottle to the (worthy) cause. I was glad to see that the first was well-received, and am now extra-glad to have another vessel in my greedy hands and a clean pint willibecher glass standing by. Let's get it on!

French Broad's Altbier glows orange-amber with tones of fading crimson at the heart and a sparkle of sun-gold at the periphery, and sports a thick glossy cap of mottled ivory foam. A smattering of haze diffuses direct drinking-lamp light, softening and warming the drink's flickering-firelight appearance. The bubbles atop the drink settle in a reasonable time, resting at a lumpy, sticky, sponge-like sheet that deposits broken rings and fine-bubbled wisps of lacing onto the glass.

The smell is dark caramel-candy sweet with a sprinkle of oily toasted nuts and a sizzling dash of spicy hops. The aroma is rich and grainy with a sweet grassy note of drying hay, and a persistent sugary vanilla wafer cookie note that morphs into a vague but luscious whiff of fresh-baked banana-pudding.

The taste is laden with rich bready grain and Munich-malty candy-like sweetness. Savory, dark toasted-nut maltiness provides a touch of oily richness, and a mild, pleasant earthy dryness reluctantly claims ownership of both the finish and the aftertaste. The net yield of the shapeshifting sweet/nutty/dry profile is superb balance and a beer that is toasty, nuance-laden, and fun to drink.

The drink is medium-bodied with a perfectly-proportioned spritz of carbonation, and lends itself to high quaffability. Though I'm not thoroughly vetted on the Altbier style, I'll go so far as to say that this particular example is mellow, delicious, and one truly fine drinker.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bonfire orange with a warm, bronze-like glow when backlit with radiant morning sunshine. This is beautiful beer! Atop the fiery liquid sits two fingers of French vanilla colored foam that melts in attractive fashion and is festooning the glass with thick sheets of lace.

The aroma has plenty of power and is dominated by toasted-nutty-earthy malt. I haven't had enough altbier to claim that this one hits all of its style marks, but it smells good, so it gets a good score. Hey, this reviewing stuff is pretty easy.

Altbier reminds me of a less sweet Oktoberfest. It's sorta subtle, which doesn't impress right off the bat, but let's see what the final 20 ounces have to say for themselves. Even though it doesn't stack up favorably to the Uerige alts, nothing else that I've had does either.

There's a fair amount of malt present for the 5.5% ABV. The malt bill is probably mostly pale with a little Munich and/or Vienna for that toasted bread and baked nut vibe. The underlying sweetness is perfectly complemented by a hint of leafy (probably German) hoppiness. This is one smooth, drinkable brew. Unfortunately, the next highest flavor score (4.0) is juuust out of reach. Edit: no it isn't.

The mouthfeel is the most obvious indicator that FBBC knows what the hell they're doing. It's at least medium in heft and has a supple smoothness that is some kind of enjoyable. Kudos all around. And thanks to cvstrickland for sending it my way.

Now that the final third of the bomber has arrived, I've been able to take off my 'big beer' blinders and appreciate this well-crafted ale for what it is. With some beer of this style, I feel like asking the brewers to Control-Alt(bier)-Delete. Not so French Broad Altbier. It's a keeper.

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Photo of oberon
4.1/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice to see more French Broad stuff here in the triad.Poured a clear rich bronze with a large frothy off white head atop that left broken lace as it settled slowly.Aromas of caramel and brown sugar with underlying toastiness,a German iron-like aroma shows through as well.Well balanced on the palate,flavors start out with a sweeter hard toffee and biscuit flavor melding into a somewhat earthy and herbal finish.A very nice alt here,flavors a well rounded and its very drinkable.

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Altbier from French Broad Brewing Co.
3.44 out of 5 based on 57 ratings.
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