The first time I ever heard the word "reinheitsgebot" I would have been about eight or nine. It was in a TV ad for Fürstenberg lager, a beer which Guinness (as they were then) had recently acquired the licence to brew and were promoting heavily. By the time I was old enough to drink, it was still clinging on at the budget end of the Diageo range, next to Harp and Satzenbrau, while Bud and Carlsberg claimed the premium spots (yes, I know). Then, at some point in the late 1990s, it vanished leaving only thousands of give-away steins as evidence it had ever been here. Warsteiner
In the meantime, Fürstenberg was acquired by Heineken, and has now re-appeared on the Irish market in bottled form. Perhaps the new distributors are hoping for the nostalgia factor, and that punters will dust off those long-empty steins. Tesco are stocking it at the knock-down price of €2.19, and I decided to give it a go.
There's actually quite a decent aroma from it, a proper hoppiness which is very attractive. The body was the next thing I noticed: there's enough here to lend it that almost-creamy texture that marks out quality German pilsner. But that's where the plaudits end. The actual flavour itself is rather uninteresting. Still, I was drinking this with a vindaloo, where the full body was of much greater benefit, taking on the chilli heat and dampening it. Fürstenberg, then, is a decent but ultimately boring quaffing lager. If that's your bag I'm sure there are better uses for €2.19.
While I was at it, I also picked up a bottle of Hofbräu Original, from another blue-blooded German brewery. The pour is a lovely limpid gold and the gentle carbonation gives it the smoothness characteristic of a Munich helles. Again, we have quite a big body, but here the sugary origins of it are very apparent. It's way too sweet and slides into cloying towards the end of the glass.
I'm a little surprised to find myself preferring the sharper, drier Black Forest lager to the full and malty Munich variety, but there you have it. Not that either of them was any great shakes, but I'm using the tall German bottles for the IPA I just made (à la Russian River), so it's still a win for me.