31 October 2012

Steamed spuds

It should be taken as a measure of what kind of beer geek you are: when coming home via Berlin Schönefeld and browsing the sizeable but uninspiring range of beers available in the airside shop, do you pass by Fritzens Kartoffelbier, perhaps with a slight sneer or glance of disgust? Or do you exclaim "WOW! GERMAN POTATO LAGER! GIMME!" ? I am, of course, a member of the latter set. Though I was saved the bother of scaring my fellow passengers by friend Richard who had a bottle to share a few months ago. The tasting notes should present no surprises: starchy, especially in the finish. Beyond that it's a slightly sharp golden lager, largely down to its high fizz levels, and somewhat musty with it. Still, at least it doesn't try to hide its potato nature: I hate when beers do that.

From the same session there was also Zwiesel Dampfbier, charmingly packaged in a repurposed Hacker-Pschorr swingtop: we've all been there, man. Dampfbier is a bit of an odd category, originally a farmhouse homebrew made from whatever fermentables and yeast the horny-handed landwirt could hobble together, and produced strictly for domestic consumption. The idea of a commercial one is a little odd. And, in this case, I think the good folk at Zwiesel are trying to pass off wonky brewing as rusticity.

This 5% ABV dark amber beer gives off lots of boozy banana esters in its aroma, and yet more banana in the flavour profile, yet without any of the softness you get in a weissbier to cushion the alcoholic heat. Worst of all, there's a clanging great bite of stale cardboard sitting right in the middle. Too much time spent gathering bottles and not enough worrying about the bottling process itself, I fear.

This round goes to the potato beer.


  1. This 1978 Roger Protz book we're reading at the moment demonstrates a preoccupation with the use of potato starch in beer. Protz quotes an evasive Tolly Cobbold spokesman: "We are perfectly capable of using potatoes."

    1. I recall a member of one of the homebrew forums -- Jim's, I think -- attempting to make the cheapest beer possible. He settled on potatoes for the main fermentables. The beer's name? Spudmiser.