I've been writing a lot recently on Irish, English and American beers, so I thought it's time I went back to basics: random selections from the shelves of Redmond's. Today, feeling the need for things vaguely lager-ish, my first selection was Hacker-Pschorr Braumeister Pils. My only prior experience of this Bavarian behemoth is their Oktoberfestbier. This one is as smooth as one would expect from a Munich lager but carries an uncharacteristically hefty hoppy bitterness which I found a bit off-putting. I suppose when you're making lager that's as smooth as science will allow, you have to go somewhere with it. Between two stools, this one, I think.
From the same stable, in a wonderful swing-top bottle, comes Sternweisse: a dark weissbier, attempting perhaps to emulate the likes of Schneider Weisse. It lacks the oomph, though: the spice and heat of the mighty Schneider. This one doesn't do enough to keep my attention.
Getting darker, we have Erdinger Schneeweisse, a deliciously full-flavoured variation on the standard German weiss. Scheeweisse is only slightly darker in colour than normal Erdinger but drops the fruit in favour of no-nonsense grain. It's Erdinger for men.
Away from Germany, I couldn't resist picking up a bottle of a beer I've been seeing in Redmond's for more years than I care to remember: Poperings Hommel Beer (AKA Poperings Hommel Ale). This hails from the Belgian town of Watou and is a heavily sedimented golden beer. It's not lager and not what I'd call an ale. It's closest in my mind to a spicy witbier, but it's not one of those either. There's a delicate, warming hops flavour and skeins of yeasty sediment floating through it. It tastes rich, heavy and satisfying. I think I'll be coming back to this guy in the winter.
There's no doubting that German beer is great and deserving of its reputation. But it's very much a case of doing a handful of things and doing them well: I'm just glad there are other countries out there doing strange stuff with exotic ingredients. Long live German purity, and let weirdness thrive.