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Germany Märican Biere Bought and Drunk...

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Gutes_Bier, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (390) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    ...or One Man's Loving Recap of His Trip Back to the US, After Drinking Almost Exclusively German Beer for Three Years.

    As I was based near Boston, I searched out Jack's Abby. As I said before, they get lots of love in these parts and so I wanted to check them out. I've discussed them already in other threads, but I'll repeat here.

    [​IMG]
    Jabby Brau. This one encapsulated the "Germany vs. USA" debate more or less in it's entirety. While I thought it tasted fine, I was put off because it was not "to-style" as I have come to define it in my own way. Whereas die Frau didn't care that it wasn't to some idea of a style, she thought it tasted great. In fact, she was mad that Germany would never brew this sort of beer. We were completely divided on this beer. My objection was over the use of wheat, which is a decision I still don't "get". It turned what might have been an honest-to-goodness American Lager into something that was neither hide nor hare. An American Wheat Lager? A Pale Lager with distracting amounts of wheat (percentage of wheat to be determined hopefully)? Argh! Die Frau drank most of these. Originally I intended to go back for Smoke & Dagger but decided against it after my experience with this one and...

    Lashes Lager. Turns out I did not take a photo...? Thought I had. Ah well, it looks more or less like the Jabby Brau label. What you get here is an IPA made with lager yeast. No more, no less. Another decision I don't fully understand. If you want to make an IPA, just make an IPA. Again, tasted fine, but not nearly as good, as say....

    [​IMG]
    DFH 90 Minute. Super delicious. America makes good IPAs. No arguments here.

    [​IMG]
    Founders Breakfast Stout. Tasted like coffee. Every sip, coffee upon coffee upon coffee. People love this beer, but it's not for me. Drank one, die Frau drank one, two were given away at a Christmas party. One person liked it, one did not.

    [​IMG]
    Spaten Optimator. Can't get this one in Germany, at least not my part of Germany, so I bought it. Love the cheeky double-spade label. It was very good. For $1.80, not a bad investment at all. Also purchased in part so that I could put the following beer in full context...

    [​IMG]
    Troeg's Troegenator. This was surprisingly good. A very legit dopplebock that hits all the right notes. My only quibble being that it had a bit of a sharp alcohol edge to it. At +8% ABV I guess that is to be expected. Thanks to @JackHorzempa for the recommendation. Still, could not hold up to...

    [​IMG]
    Ayinger's Celebrator. Wow, this beer is the real deal. I had secretly hoped that I would walk away saying to myself that Andechs made the better dopplebock but that isn't so. This is a great, great dopplebock. The darkest of the three dopplebocks (IIRC), it just looked so great and that depth of color seemed to translate to a depth of flavor and that wonderful molasses character. Man-o-man this is the one to watch. And coming in at 6,7% ABV, by the way. Ho ho ho.


    Otherwise I can only tell you what you already know - shopping in America is better than shopping in Germany. The first shop I went to had a limited import selection but lots of interesting American craft available. The second one had a back room (it was not "hidden" in any way, and in fact has a "More Craft Beer This Way!" sign over the entryway. Nevertheless, I missed it the first time around). The back room had lots of imports and available singles of American craft beers (Craft American Singles?:confused:). Lots of interesting German beers to choose from (including Uerige by the way, which I decided against at ~$6.50 per 12 oz. bottle). I got only the dopplebocks so I could compare them with the Troegs. I decided against a trip to Jacks Abby (~30 mins away) and decided against a trip to an actual abbey (the new Trappist brewery in Spencer, Mass, ~1.25 hr away), so call me boring. All in all, there were hits and misses, but it was a fun visit.

    Cheers, all. Thanks for reading!
     
    pthread1981, PANZERkeg, Chaz and 12 others like this.
  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,059) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    MJT, thanks for that thorough report!

    I had a Troegs Troegenator earlier this evening and I thoroughly enjoyed drinking it. I personally did not perceive any alcohol in that beer but everybody has a different palate.

    My favorite Doppelbock is Ayinger Celebrator but at 13 bucks a four pack I do not buy too many of these beers (I do buy Ayinger on draft when I find it).

    Cheers!
     
    Gutes_Bier likes this.
  3. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,233) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Cool write-up, thanks for posting!
    With the upper echelon doppelbocks, I think it comes down to personal preference. Celebrator, Korbinian, Andechser, Weltenberger, etc. are all well made and just accentuate different nuances.
     
    Gutes_Bier likes this.
  4. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    Wish I could double LIKE just for the inclusion of the snowman in each pic.
     
    Gutes_Bier and pixieskid like this.
  5. pixieskid

    pixieskid Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2009 Germany

    I was very surprised to see what you chose to purchase while visiting the states/your thoughts on some of the beers. Regardless, hope you had a nice visit back and I too like the snowman in each pic.

    P.S. You should have made the 30 minute trip to visit Jacks Abbey, I've heard great things and half an hour is nothing in the grand scheme of things...
     
    Gutes_Bier likes this.
  6. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (390) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    Could you elaborate on the first sentence? In the meantime, I will explain my thought process: Jabby Brau was listed on the bottle (or six pack carton?) as being 20 IBU's and 4.5% ABV. Thus I figured it was going to be the closest thing to a Münchner Helles that they offered. After that, it came down to Hoponius Union, Smoke & Dagger, or Lashes Lager. I went with the Lashes Lager more or less on a whim. Founders Breakfast Stout was mostly a purchase for die Frau. She likes coffee and she likes stouts, so I figured she'd like that one. I was worried that I wouldn't like it when I bought it, but mostly it wasn't purchased for me. 90 Minute was because I wanted an American IPA and was 90% sure (er, no pun intended) that I'd like this one. Troeg's Troegenator was based on JackH's recommendation and the two German beers were purchased so I could compare/contrast with the Troeg's.

    Re. Jack's Abby: Yeah, I was boring. Thirty minutes would have been easy for me to do, but I laid very low on this trip and did not venture out much. Heck, Redbones was only a few T stops away and I didn't even do that. To be honest, though, I was most intrigued by the new Trappist brewery. If I do that trip again, that might be the place I choose to visit.
     
  7. pixieskid

    pixieskid Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2009 Germany

    Mainly, I was just surprised to see that you opted for (mostly) German styles and/or German beers while in the US. Guessing that those are your preference in general... I can see wanting to compare German classics to US interpretations, but I would have just brought a bottle or two of the US stuff back to Germany and compared them here. In the meantime, taking advantage of beers that aren't usually available. Granted, I've learned very quickly that dist. in Germany is incredibly minimal, so many times, it's easier to find things like Ayinger's doppelbock in the US vs DE...

    For me, any time in the states I tend to overload on IPA, Stouts, Barrel aged beers, etc. If I had lived in France for a full three years without a trip back to the states, the last thing I would do would be to drink biere de garde while I was in the US for the holidays...

    I hear you in terms of laying low on trips, sometimes it's nice. But, I can't help but want to visit breweries/beer spots while traveling.
     
    LehighAce06 and Gutes_Bier like this.
  8. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    I think MJ & I think alike here. We've lived long term in Germany, delved deep into the best of German beers, so while we're back in the States, we were curious to compare if the Märikaans could come close on German style brews. And of course load up on IPAs, at least I did BOTH.
     
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,059) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    " ...at least I did BOTH." That is the correct answer right there!

    Cheers!
     
  10. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (390) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    I suppose I was in Compare-and-Contrast mode. I could have loaded up on more IPA's, but what would that have told me? That America makes good IPA's? I know this already!
     
    pixieskid likes this.
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,059) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    “I could have loaded up on more IPA's, but what would that have told me?”

    Permit me to ‘answer’ that question from a different angle: it would have made you happy!

    Maybe I am a ‘weirdo’ but I personally drink to make me happy!

    To mention a quote often attributed to Ben Franklin (I think it is a misquote but anyway): “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

    Cheers!

    P.S. I am drinking a homebrewed Saison and I am happy!:slight_smile:
     
    pixieskid likes this.
  12. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Initiate (0) Mar 21, 2005 Germany

    Don't say that around the wrong people...
     
  13. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (390) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    I was very happy!
     
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  14. danfue

    danfue Initiate (0) Sep 16, 2012 Germany

    One of the few American beers that are readily available in Germany through the Braufactum-coolers in some big markets. I've been to a Globus today and picked up a bottle of Firestone Walker 31. The cooler seemed to be quite empty, many beers missing. Originally, I wanted to grab that Italian craft-beer they're offering. I wonder if it's just maintained badly or if they sell so well.
    Anyway, I had the FW31 before, it's just a perfect one. Beautiful color, nice smell and most importantly, a convincing taste. The taste of the hops is just awesome, yet not too much. I'd always prefer a Pale Ale like this to a strongly hopped IPA.

    [​IMG]

    And looking at the nice snowman in each of above's pictures, I really have to work on my photo-settings.
     
  15. einhorn

    einhorn Aspirant (298) Nov 3, 2005 California
    Beer Trader

    I live about 10 miles from Firestone and the Pale 31 is my favorite FW brew.

    On the Märican note, I picked up a single bottle of Abita Amber, and according to the label it's a "Munich style lager brewed with pale & caramel malts and German Tettnang hops". At 4.5 % ABV a nice example, despite "cheating" with caramel & crystal malts for melanoiden flavor. 3.75/5
     
    Gutes_Bier likes this.
  16. CoverMePorkins

    CoverMePorkins Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2012 Delaware
    Beer Trader

    I picked this up at the Globus in Kaiserslautern along with the Brooklyn IPA, Parlor and a few others. According to Braufactum they restock the cooler in Kaiserslautern every two weeks.
     
  17. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (390) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    Well interestingly enough, Jack's Abby said in a BeerMail that they have "recently" not used wheat in Jabby Brau, but when they do it's at less than 5% of the grain bill. That threw me for a loop. So therefore I am officially unsure of what it was that so lept out at me with this beer, but I wanted to clarify the record for those of you who care about the stuff I post on here. Hopefully by this point it's not many of you.
     
  18. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,233) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I think you'll find Firestone Walker is arguably the most respected of the major American craft brewers. Their entire line-up is rock solid. From their pale, IPA, and (amazing) Pivo Pils all the way to their barrel aged blends I don't think they make a bad beer. I don't know if I've ever heard anyone even say anything bad about them either.
    If all American brewers were like them we'd be better off.
     
  19. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,960) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    See, I found the Pivo as lacking in good bread malt as I did Polestar. I have to (again) question the use of decoction mashing by U.S. micros.
     
  20. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,059) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    It is my understanding that the majority of German breweries no longer conduct decoction mashing due to high energy costs.

    Below is something that Kai Troester published on his blog concerning decoction:

    “It is traditional in many continental European beer styles, especially in Germany and the Czech Republic. But most breweries in these regions have switched to the more economical directly heated step infusion mashing.”

    Cheers!
     
  21. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,029) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    This seems like the best thread to post this (apologies if there was a better one and I missed it)-

    Paulaner recently opened up a Brauhaus in NYC; I haven't been there yet, though it was written up on Serious Eats. You can see photos at this link:
    http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/...view-beer-bar-lower-east-side.html?ref=search

    The question I have is with the haziness of the beers pictured (a helles and a dunkel), and I ask it of those in the know- would they be able to get away with this sort of thing in Munich, or are they just rushing things for our 'benefit'?

    I haven't been there yet, and will definitely go at least once for curiosity, but at this point they remind me of the old Zip City days (whose beers always did seem a bit unfinished to me).
     
  22. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Initiate (0) Mar 21, 2005 Germany

    Seriously ? They used that as a name ?
     
  23. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,960) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Yes. Pivo Hoppy Pils.

    And it's supposed to be a German Pils. :wink:
     
    #23 steveh, Jan 8, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  24. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Initiate (0) Mar 21, 2005 Germany


    *censored incoherent swearing*
     
    cu29 and digita7693 like this.
  25. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,960) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    But Pivo is so fun to say! :grinning:
     
  26. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (390) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    Well I hope they are not just rushing things, as that would seem to defeat the very purpose of opening a place where you could get an "authentic" German beer. In terms of selling them hazy, I don't see anything wrong with that - Germans aren't afraid of a little naturtrübes beer.
     
    TongoRad likes this.
  27. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,233) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I don't know if Germans have much ground to stand on misappropriating words. I can't even tell you how many shirts with random English words and phrases on them I've seen in Munich.
     
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,059) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Yeah, but did you see any shirts with random Polish words on them?:grimacing:

    Cheers!
     
    boddhitree likes this.
  29. einhorn

    einhorn Aspirant (298) Nov 3, 2005 California
    Beer Trader

    First, a huge shout out to @steveh for this sample of SHELL'S CHIMNEY SWEEP. Notes from New year's Eve (I have two kids, my New Year's Eve's have slowed down considerably).

    Appearance: a beautiful reddish/brown hue, clear as a bell, looks so very enticing. Sounds slightly odd, but I have always liked beers that have a reddish-ness to them. Decent head-build, but it collapsed much faster than I would have liked. 4.5/5

    Smell: great malt backbone, slight smokiness. Let it be now known that I am not a huge fan of smoked beers, but I understand why many are. It's a unique component adding an additional "level" to any brew as long as it's not too overpowering. This is quite pleasant. 4/5

    Taste: This is where smokiness is more up front, it actually works well with the medium IBU-level and mid-sweetness of the brew. Some cherry notes, correctly carbonated and decent mouthfeel. Not cloying, so I am OK with drinking more of a style I am not always keen about. Towards the end, it becomes drier, and the hop "bite" comes trough on the finish. 4/5

    Fazit: Again, I am not a huge fan of the style, but this is well executed from many levels. A pleasant amount of smokiness so that you're not drinking liquid ham. If you like smoked beers, this is a very quaffable version. Personally I could only handle one of these, but I am very glad I tried it. Prost ihr Säcke!
     
  30. Crusader

    Crusader Initiate (199) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Found this on their website:

     
  31. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,960) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Glad you enjoyed it -- I have 2 left over from the 12 pack I bought, been waiting for a good time to finish them off. Here's my own review of the beer.

    Kind of surprised that the head died on yours, maybe shipping cross country via UPS had something to do with that? :astonished:
     
  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,059) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Thank you for your review of Chimney Sweep!

    I thought some folks might be interested in knowing that on BA this beer is classified as a Schwarzbier. Below is the description from BA for Chimney Sweep:

    “Notes/Commercial Description:

    Dark and mysterious, with an intriguing wisp of smoke, a chimney sweep has long been considered a source of good luck. Schell’s Chimney Sweep draws its inspiration from these lucky individuals and the rich dark lagers of Upper Franconia in Germany. Expect a black lager with a roasty maltiness, sturdy hop bitterness and an underlying subtle smokiness.

    31 IBU”

    Last night I drank a bottle of Jack’s Abby Smoke & Dagger and I absolutely loved that beer. To my palate it was a Schwarzbier with a Smoky aspect to it. I went to BA this morning and I was somewhat surprised that BA lists this beer as a Rauchbier. Below is the BA description of Smoke & Dagger:

    “Notes/Commercial Description:

    Cloaked in mystery, this dark black beer skirts the line between a schwarzbier and smoked porter. The use of a small percentage of traditional Beechwood smoked malt adds complexity and balances the liberal use of chocolate malt. Notes of roasted grains, beechwood smoke,and coffee accompany a full bodied-and sweet chocolately malt character. Smoke & Dagger uses locally grown unmalted barley from MA.

    25 IBU”

    I am guessing that Smoke & Dagger and Chimney Sweep are similar beers.

    Are there German brewed beers similar to Chimney Sweep/Smoke & Dagger (what I would call a Smoky Schwarzbier)?

    Cheers!
     
    TongoRad likes this.
  33. einhorn

    einhorn Aspirant (298) Nov 3, 2005 California
    Beer Trader

    @steveh I was at a friend's house and I cleaned her glassware as well as I could. We have terrible water in the area, so looking back I am going to attribute foam problem to glassware.
     
  34. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,029) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    I saw that too. I know some brewers who do package their lagers after 3 weeks or so, maybe a few days less, but those are destined to become filtered. Personally, I have made crystal clear unfiltered lagers, so I know it could be done given enough time. I was just wondering if 3 weeks would be considered normal in Europe for lagering time and clarity. Ultimately, the taste will tell the tale- so I'll have to get myself over there once the weather warms up a bit and report back.
     
    Crusader, spartan1979 and Gutes_Bier like this.
  35. Crusader

    Crusader Initiate (199) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    Breweries tend to be less than forthcoming about lagering times, unless they lager for an unusually long time which they want to advertise (such as Budejovicky Budvar which claims to lager the beer for 3 months).
     
  36. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,233) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I can't recall where I learned this, but apparently Augustiner scaled back their lagering times from 6 weeks to 5 and it was big news at the time. I think that was maybe 10-12 years ago.

    From what I understand - with the right equipment and approach you can get the same results with less time now. I know a few Denver breweries that have spent a lot of time and effort to get 6-week results in 4-5 weeks.
     
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  37. Crusader

    Crusader Initiate (199) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    I read a column a while back written by some ex-Anheuser Busch guy who was saying something similar, and saying that there's no point in the beer just sitting there if the purpose of the lagering period has been achieved and there's not much more that can be gained. I can't seem to find it though, it was an interesting piece.
     
  38. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,960) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Do you think it works?
    Makes sense. This is why good brewmasters check their beers in secondary often.
     
  39. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,059) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Part of the AB lagering process is that utilize beechwood strips in horizontal lagering tanks. The purpose of the beechwood strips is to keep the AB lager yeast from settling out and by having the yeast in suspension (so to speak) hastens the lagering process. So, AB can lager for a shorter period of time and obtain the results of lagering due to a unique lagering process.

    Cheers!
     
    Crusader likes this.
  40. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,233) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I would say that it can/does work if the parties involved are diligent. For example Danny Wang who runs CAUTION brewing recently got Bill Eye's help to get his lagering times down. Both of them are very serious about QC and Danny has his entire system monitored as well as the big boys do. In the case of his beer (Lao Wang Lager), I think it's better than ever. I don't know if I'd trust everyone to do that.
     
    steveh likes this.
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