15 June 2009

Reserve judgement

Ruth Deveney tells the story of how she got hold of a case of Knappstein Reserve Lager, from Australia's Clare Valley, over on her own blog. It's an odd fish in many ways: for a start, the winery/brewery where it's brewed works by hand with small batches, despite being owned by multinational drinks giant Lion Nathan, makers of such luminaries as Castlemaine XXXX and Tooheys. But possibly the weirdest thing about this beer is the title and description: it claims to be a Bavarian-style lager -- and Ruth even claims to know someone who's had beer like this in small-town Bavaria -- but it's far away from anything I've ever tasted from Germany.

Light, delicate fruit flavours are at the centre, the sort of melon and passionfruit you'd associate with a Gewürztraminer, or even Tokaji. The texture is reminiscent of a dessert wine: heavy and almost sticky, but the light sparkle removes any possibility of it becoming difficult to drink. This all makes it very hard to believe that it's a mere 5.6% ABV -- it could easily pass for 8 in my estimation. Magnificent post-prandial summer sipping.

The roster of other beers (all English) for tasting last Thursday is here, and there were a few of my current favourites in there. I discovered a new joy of Meantime London Stout, finding it much fuller and tastier than the first time I tried it. The only new one for me was Sharp's Single Brew Reserve 2008 -- of the recently-arrived Sharp's bottled beers, only this is not presented in clear glass.

I don't think I've met a Sharp's beer I've liked -- Doom Bar I found acceptable but rather dull; Chalky's Bite is much too lacking in flavour for a Belgian-style ale. Single Brew Reserve starts promising, if odd, with a nose full of weiss-y bananas and some very girly peaches and flowers, all from a serious looking dark amber body. But there's really not much beyond this: the beer is very light on taste, with only a hint of that fruitiness and maybe a touch of caramel. Another understated mediocrity from Sharp's, I'm afraid.

Needless to say, it was a couple of bottles of the Knappstein I walked off with at the end of the session. There's just the one case, so if you're interested I recommend high-tailing it to Dundrum forthwith.


  1. You didn't happen to ask which town in Bavaria produced a lager like that, did you?

  2. 'Fraid not. Always the problem with third-hand stories, eh?

  3. Aren't there supposed to be loads of farm house brewery in Franconia producing lager, could it be one of these?

  4. There are so many little breweries in Germany that it could be anywhere.

    Sounds like one to try.

  5. I'll let you know the beer and town it hails from when I see the customer next. Great post John, as always.

  6. That'd be great, as it'd be impossible to get hold of any Knappstein in Germany, and I want to try something that tastes like that :D

  7. I'd love to be there, taste it and enjoy it.