German Attack: Paulaner, Erdinger & Franziskaner

Christmas really loaded me up with beers. Firstly, I bought loads of good stuff in for the season, which I didn’t actually finish all of, and then loads of lovely friends and family bought me plenty of booze too. Hoorah!

Here, we find a post covering three German beers which came in a box of assorted British ales and German beers of all types. Unfortunately much of the British stuff was drunk with a friend one evening, and, as I’ve said, I don’t like many notes when I’m socialising. It’s rude, and I like catchy up with my chums. So they may never get the Reet Good treatment. Pity them, dear reader.

What I have tried and noted down though are three of the Germans. I’ll do it in chronological order. And, sorry to keep making snide jokes about the current neo-prohibitionist trends, but anyone who’s worried about my drinking can rest assured that I drank these on three separate nights (not even consecutive ones) and I even shared one of them. I could be the poster boy for the new movement if they’d like (just don’t tell them that I spend Monday night judging a cocktail competition before trailing round a couple of Leeds’ best cocktail bars sampling their wares, ok?).

So yes, Germany. Famously home of the pilsner and also home of the Reinheitsgebout (aka German beer purity law) which specified that the only three ingedients allowed in beer were water, barley and hops (this was before people were smart enough to understand what yeast was and that it was, y’know, quite important to making beer. I love it that people used to call years godisgoode before they really understood what happened). So all these beers are going to be samey, crisp, refreshing and nowt else, right?

Paulaner Original Munchen Hell

Paulaner

Nope. My drinking did, however, start with a very traditional lager. The Paulaner Original Munchen Hell. Hell was the name given to pale lagers in Germany, original means first. So therefore this is a traditional German lager.

It’s bloody good, too. While it’s true that it lacks the intense flavours of most other beer styles, this is a properly light, refreshing, eminently drinkable lager. It’s straw coloured, the nose gives you citrus and honey and nice sweet things like this and to drink it’s just cool, crisp, refreshing with a little lingering hop bitterness. I’ll be having more of this in the summer, no doubt.

Erdinger Dunkel

Erdinger Dunkel

Moving on a few days later and it was a cold night and I decided to break out the Erdinger Dunkel. They used to have this on tap at North Bar permanently. Maybe they still do now, and before I really knew much about beer, this was always my drink of choice. I remember it being rich and malty and just the right bitterness.

Out of this bottle, though, something was not quite right. On the nose, it smelt disarmingly like my functionable, but otherwise utterly unexceptionable first batch of homebrew. Tasting it, it was better than my homebrew, but not much better. Now, I’m not trying to big up my homebrew here, this bottle was properly disappointing. It had a slight damp cardboardy taste and smell to it, other than that, there wasn’t much there. Had something gone wrong somewhere down the line, or is this a beer for drinking on tap only? I’d be interested in someone could enlighten me. Or, maybe, my homebrew’s just awesome. Or my taste for beer has changed so much that something I once loved not tastes limp. Who knows?

Franzikaner Weissbier Kristall Klar

Franzikaner Weissbier Kristall Klar

I seem to have accidentally saved the best for last. I’ve always enjoyed Franzikaner when I’ve bought it at a very reasonably price from Morrison’s. It was reliable, flavourful and refreshing. I’d never seen Franskinaer’s Weissbier Kristall Klar sister though. I was excited to try it.

So what is Kristall Klar? Well it seems to be the yeast-less, filtered, clear version of the original Franzikaner. It smells amazing, sweet and wheaty with hints of banana, clove, passion fruit and pineapple – loads of tropical fruit infact.

Drinking it, it proves just as sweet, perhaps even lacking in bite, if you’re going to be critical. It’s not a connoseuirs beer, I’ll give you that, but it’s refreshing and just very tasty and light. Almost dessert-ish, but crisp, not sticky, and nice long lager finish. It’s not complex, but just nice. Very nice. And that’s why I like it.

STAGGING IT! And the Shropshire Union Canal Beer Club

Assorted beer club beers

Assorted beer club beers

As I write this blog post, my body seems to be in some kind of post-barge stress disorder. I may have been firmly on dry land for well over 24 hours (and I was only on a boat for two nights), but still my mind is still gently rocking me back and forth. When it will stop, I know not. But I hope it’s bloody soon.

So, what am I on about? Well, this week was a STAG DO! but not in the way you think. We didn’t hit the nearest swanky town, fill ourselves full of beer and then call into the nearest strip club. Oh no, for this was a classy, sophisticated, well behaved affair. This was a barging trip, between Bunbury (there were two English graduates on the trip, and neither of us made an Importance of being Earnest joke, indeed, I only just noticed the link n0w) and Chester on the Shropshire Union.

Our relatively sober, good behaviour was partly due to us all being sensible grown-ups with self-control and a knowledge of our own limits, and partly down to the worry that a hangover on a barge could be about as pleasant as being in a furnace with a temperature, or on a building site with a migraine.

However, this being a stag do, there was obviously going to be some drinking. But this wasn’t normal drinking. It was beer club. The stag do organiser had told us all to bring some interesting beer with us. That beer was going to be shared, tasted and rated. This was beer club.

Now, most beer tasters would be horrified at this tasting. Our scores were out of 10 for each beer, with no real criteria. We were tasting our beer out of plastic cups with a skull and crossbones on (their was a slight pirate theme upon the barge, we even had a Jolly Roger before some Chester bastard nicked it in the night), the beers were drunk roughly in order of darkness and most of the beers were just from the supermarket. A sophisticated beer tasting this was not. But, it was a laugh. And that’s what matters.

Our  barge was called the Speckled Hen, so, we started we Old Speckled Hen. It came straight in at 7 out of 10, mainly for being inoffensive, yet pretty tasty. If unspectacular, our tasting then took us to a few more beers whose notes have been lost in time. We had an Abbot Ale that was far too cold (again, this wasn’t a very scientific tasting) a bottle of St Peter’s Best that scored a lowly 1.87 (“stylish bottle, but fizzy and too shallow” said our shared notes). We had a Ginger Tom which seemed to go down well, and moved on to a Barbar honey ale, which promised much, but disappointed us with a strange mash of flavours (“strong, bitter, sweet and smooth a confused ale that doesn’t know what it wants to be: 3/10”) and a Wells Banana Bread Beer that tasted like that nice medicine you get as a nipper.

After The Banana Bread Beer, we moved on to darker, stronger things. We started with Duchesse de Bourgogne, the Flanders red ale. Many of my drinking colleagues hated the vinegary kick and the sweet flavours. I, however, have been a fan for years, and happily finished off the spares. A Westmalle Dubbel was strangely lacklustre, lacking any depth of flavour, bu Grimbergen Dubbel abbey beer wowed us all, although our notes seem to say “salty and liquoricey. Deliciously hollow – 8.3/10”, which is an odd turn of phrase.

Next up was the dark stuff. Old Tom’s Strong Beer showed initial promise with a nice meaty kick, but then failed to give anything in the finish. Old Growler looked a bit suspect, despite scribbling that it was “like an angular wet dog”, we all declared it “malty, drinkable, really gets in your mouth” (whatever that means) and gave it a mediocre 6.5/10. My beer for the tasting was Meantime London Stout. I loved it, but my companions found it a little bland. Which was odd.

After stouts, some unwise drinker had decided to bring a load of chocolate beers with him, to largely dreadful affect. Meantime Dark Chocolate Ale faired better than the rest, but even that only got the following response: “like alpro soya milk. bleurgh. 4.2/10”. The rest, though, Old Tom’s Chocolate Beer and, worst of all Flors Chocolate got 1.3/10 and our notes just said “nauceous”.

Foolishly, we left the lagers until our palates were well and truly baffled and we had ingested a load of salty snacks. Lucky Beer came in a Buddha-shaped bottle, and was slightly limey and sweet. We quite liked it. Our last beer, Kastell Cru faired less well, the standard one being far too unremarkable to be worth the price, while the Rose version really unimpressed and had us somewhat un-PCly declaring it “quite possibly one of the gayest beers”.

Yes, this was a massively unscientific beer tasting, yes, it might tell you very little about the beers, but it was bloody fun. After that we hit Chester, found a few nice pubs and, it true stag fashion, finished the night on a barge, with cups of green tea (decaff). Wild.

Lounge Bar & Grill’s Beer Club

I also do some beer writing for my day job (actually I do as much as I can get away with). Here’s a piece a did recently on a beer club at Lounge, Bar & Grill Leeds. A beer and food pairing event that was, unfortunately, a little lacking in diversity.

Lounge Bar & Grill Beer Club