Are You Tasting the Pith? - 27th March 05
I just had one of those great experiences where something happens, and you know you should be reacting in a frantic manner, but all you can do is sit there and think "Crikey, that's a rum old do, and no mistake". Uncapping my cellar-temperature bottle of Ein Stein (4.6% abv) released a 2" high fountain of foam. Transfixed I was, as my lovely blonde, vegetarian, German-style bier formed a huge seething pool on the table. And what a shame that I lost two thirds of it, as its mouthwatering zesty hoppiness and clean, citrus and hint-of-vanilla palate is really top quality.
Once bitten, twice shy, so I open the next bottle over the sink, and..., predictably, it's fine, although a bit lively, with a head reminiscent of parmesan foam. The nose has a brilliant zesty freshness that I always associate with organic beers (is it just the pesticides that make beer taste like it does?) - a bright, slightly oily citrus hit, so definitely the hops driving the aroma there. The beer tastes quite brisk and dry, with a tingly acidic* punch on the sides of my tongue. Dryish finish, nice bitter length, but left me wishing that I had a bit more Ein Stein left.
The Rugenbrau Zwickel (5.2% abv) was encountered on a skiing trip to Wengen in Switzerland. Taking beer guru Michael Jackson's advice (isn't it funny how you have to preface his name these days?) to ask for something local, we ended up being served an unfiltered version of the local brew, hazy with yeast. The beer was softer, spicier, and more rounded than the filtered (and pasteurised?) version, a great restorative after the slopes, and somehow soothing to the digestion to boot. A great hit with all members of our varied party, and if I'm honest, another hard-to-find style that I can now tick off in my beerspotter book.
*I find it interesting that acidity plays quite a small part in the lexicon of beer tasting, with the exception of lambic beers. Quite often I find that hoppy beers tend to have a good acid zinginess to them, exciting the palate and giving the beer and extra moreish quality. Is this just the presence of more hop acids? Could anyonme comment or give advice on this?
BACK TO TOP