05 March 2012

Get thee unto the beerhall

A chestnut-red body under a head the colour of old ivory: Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel certainly looks the part as it pours. At a trifling 4.7% ABV it seems designed for some hearty beerhall chugging, perhaps in the company of something hacked off a dead animal and swimming in gravy. I can only think about Germany for a couple of sentences before meat enters the picture.

The pitfall to avoid with beers like this is a saccharine tang which the poorer ones often exhibit, and I get a hint of that in the aroma: so sweet as to be bordering on sour. Thankfully it's entirely absent from the taste. The main feature is a crisp graininess infused with grass-bitter noble hops. Not all that different from a hoppy helles or pale bock, in fact. But just as these settle down, the dark malts swing in providing a pleasant dusting of cocoa, caramel and nuts. A drinkable Snickers bar? Yeah, sort of.

Best of all, the texture is smooth and full-bodied and the carbonation light, meaning it is indeed ideal for keller-based quaffing or as a food accompaniment. Here piggy piggy...

11 comments:

  1. "I can only think about Germany for a couple of sentences before meat enters the picture." Brilliant :D
    I think the Weltenburger dunkel is very good, within its style even top notch. A shame it's becoming increasingly difficult to get a dunkel that hasn't been defiled by artificial sweetener.

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  2. Really? Isn't the whole reinheitsgebot dealy there to stop that kind of dicking about?

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  3. Well, it's seemingly easier with German dunkels than with Czech or Slovak ones. But even in Germany some producers omit the Reinheitsgebot, as shows the example of the hideous Eibauer Lausitzer Dunkel as well as the marginally better but still disastrous Schwarzer Abt from Neuzelle. From my experience the perpetrators are mostly brewers from eastern Germany and the way they do it is fairly simple - the smallprint on the backlabel states it's a "Biermischgetraenk" (mixed drink based on beer). Ingredients: Dunkelbier, Saccharin.

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  4. We have a soft spot for this one. We first tried it on the trip to Regensburg which started us blogging and it's one we always find in El Corte Ingles on trips to Spain. Possibly not as excited by it now as once we were but would still snap up a few bottles if we saw it.

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  5. I think the only two beers I've come across with sweeteners added after fermentation in Germany have been the two examples mentioned by ElDesmadre. Both of which were awful, and yes, both from the former east (where it might be less unusual, and where porter is often referred to as "ladies' beer". But two out of.. well, I can't count how many Dunkels I've had, does not mean it's difficult to get a Dunkel that hasn't been sweetened!

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  6. I can add at least one more to that - Landskron Pupen Schultzes Schwarzes, which I liked nonetheless somehow. Plus those "porters" like Stortebeker Hanse-Porter. But you're right that south Germany sticks more to tradition. Unfortunately, where I live, artificially sweetened Czech and Slovak dunkels are much easier to get than those traditional ones from south Germany.

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  7. Ah, Yeah, I've had the Störtebecker one, which went down the sink :) And I clearly tried to forget the Pupen-Schulzes! Bleurgh! So, that's 4 :D But these are definitely a minority, as even up around NRW (where I lived for close to 3 years), even the brewpubs and micros produce some decent dunkels. Sadly, it's the crapper ones that stand out the most :D

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  8. Funny you mention "something hacked off a dead animal and swimming in gravy". I made a field trip to Kloster Weltenburg last summer and while I enjoyed the beer the menu was something out of a horror movie. I don't mind meat at all but I can do without the lungs, heart, tongue, and hoof.

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    1. So you don't eat sausages then? I'm surprised you were let into Germany at all...

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    2. You got a point there Beer Nut. Yeah I do eat sausages. I guess I'm just in denial about what's actually in them.

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  9. adding additional artificial sweetener let's you off the Reinheitsgebot hock but you can't call it beer anymore. The Weltenburger is in accordance.

    I still remember an Irish brewery brewing some dunkles... it was a total disaster

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