There was a vague attempt at themed zones at the Berlin Beer Festival, with different sections marked out for different regions of Germany or foreign countries. It didn't really work on the ground, however, and the arrangement of bars appeared more or less arbitrary. Quite early on on the Friday we happened across a stall selling beers from the Williams Brothers brewery in Scotland, and on cask no less. It was my first chance to try their summer seasonal Birds & Bees, a cloudy blonde ale brewed with elderflower and lemon zest. The latter combines with the generous hopping to give a powerful citric bitterness that's wonderfully refreshing.
Czech brewery Opat had two beers available, badged for the local crowd as pils and dunkel, but I'm taking a punt at guessing their Czech names. So, Opat Svetlý is a smooth and sinkable dry lager laced with some nice stonefruit tartness: peach, plum and the like. Opat Tmavý is a very dark brown-black with big treacle notes up front fading quickly and not leaving much behind other than water and a slight metallic tang. Drinkers of the standard German styles wouldn't have found much to shock them in these two. I suspect they'd have been impressed by Skalák Tmavé 13°, however, presented here simply as "Rohozec Schwarzbier". This was beautifully presented: a
clear mahogany red. Smooth and lightly sweet it balances fruit and
chocolate against a cheeky bitter hop bite. Lovely.
Finally a few German beers billing themselves as porters. Bräugold Porter starts with a major sticky caramel thing but balances it with some lovely bitter liquorice in the finish. It started getting cloying as it warmed so is best consumed cold for maximum enjoyment. Just as well I was drinking 200ml measures. Lausitzer Porter is paler: more dark amber than black. It's sweet and sugary but only lightly carbonated so highly quaffable. A few flavoured versions exist and I went for the Lausitzer Kirschporter which smelled for all the world like a Belgian kriek. In the flavour the cherry syrup is laid on a bit thick and its a bit of a struggle to get through, but it does leave a pleasant cherry aftertaste once its gone. More a novelty than something I'd make my regular tipple.
One more post to come, and I've been saving up the highlights.