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Notes from my tasting room, September 1999

Come try beers from nine different countries

ARGENTINA

Iguaza. "Great Waters: This is how the natives call the great falls in South America. A mystical place of spiritual energy and adventure. If you have taste for adventure, you have a taste for Iguaza!" So much for the stilted language of the label. The beer is made by the Argentine brewing giant Quilmes, known for very clean, but bland, golden lagers. This one has 5.2 per cent alcohol by volume, and is said to be all-malt. Faint hop perfume in my sample. Light, smooth, body. Very sweet. Toasty maltiness.

UNITED STATES

"Cuban" beer. Hatuey (brand created by Bacardi, brewed under contract for a company based in Tampa, Florida). Golden lager, at a hefty (for the style) 5.5 abv. Light but smoothly firm body. Very carbonic. Estery/ perfumy. Dryish.

SCOTLAND

Ebulum, Elderberry Black Ale. 6.5 abv. Black with purple highlights. Chocolatey, fruity, aroma. Very smooth. Intense licorice-toffee flavors. Raisiny, herbal, dryness in the finish. Very warming. From the producers of Heather Ale, based in Strathhaven, south of Glasgow.

ENGLAND

Fenland Brewery, of Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, has a 6.0 abv ale called Monky Business (the spelling is as intended - the brew is in the abbey style). Dense head. Gold to full bronze; the color of a triple. Fresh, minty, hop aroma. Medium-bodied but smooth. Clean, dryish. Developing some hop flavors and dryness. Perfumy finish. Well balanced. A very good English interpretation of a classic Belgian style.

Solar Eclipse, brewed to mark that phenomenon. A wheat-accented ale of 4.2 abv, hopped with Styrians, from the Wychwood brewery, of Witney, near Oxford. Dark orange color; malty, grainy, aroma, backed by herbal hop dryness; substantial, nutty, body; vanilla and faint citrus in the palate; crisp, spritzy, dryness in the finish. Big flavors and beautiful balance.

Daylight Robbery, winking wrily at the same experience, has a rich, golden color; a lovely hop bouquet. Fruitiness, too, in the aroma; lightly firm, malty, palate; and gently tart, late, dryness. Falls away a little toward the finish, perhaps the result of the cold filtration mentioned on the label. Also 4.2 abv. From the St Austell brewery, in the town of the sane name, in eclipsed Cornwall.

BELGIUM

Bush Blonde (Brewery Dubuisson) 10.5 abv. Bright gold. Fresh, fruity, hop aromas. Smooth, firm, malty and dryish. Hints of vanilla, lemon-grass and hoppy acidity in the finish, but lacks quite the character of the (darker) regular Bush.

BELGIUM/THE NETHERLANDS

Ijsbock (pronounced, more or less, Ice Bock). Made by the Proef brewery, of Belgium, for a group across the Dutch border: The North Holland Foundation for Alternative Brewers. This beer, which is top-fermenting, has an alcohol content of 9,3 abv. Big, rocky, head. Very attractive garnet color. Fresh, bramble-like, aroma. Big and fruity but also crisp. Dryish. Like a tart made from brambles, plums and cherries soaked in alcohol. Available in speciality beer bars in The Netherlands.

GERMANY

Berliner Bčrgerbräu Maibock 6.5 abv. Big, dense, head. Bright, peachy gold, color. Earthy hop aroma. Smooth, clean. malty. Develops an appetising dryness. Perilously drinkable.

Einbecker Mai-Ur-Bock 6.5 abv. Dense head. Full, peachy gold color. Flowery hop aroma. Firm, crisp, maltiness. Dryish, soothing, finish. This is a drier Maibock than most. It is made by the only brewery in the home town of the style, Einbeck, Lower Saxony.

Viagrator 7.2 abv. A top-fermenting Double Bock, from the Lindourm brewery, of Heideck, Bavaria. Dense, fluffy, head. Hazy, full gold, color. Very flowery, spicy, aroma. Fruity, flavours, reminiscent of bananas, lemon pith and sherbet. Contains more than 50 per cent oats, but made with a wheat beer yeast. A interesting way to get your oats. I cannot help noting that all those -ator endings had a monastic source with the pre Napoleonic Paulaner Salvator ("Saviour").

Kulmbacher Eisbock 7.5 abv. Big, coffee-colored head. Garnet, purple and black in the color. Flowery hops, chocolate and coffee in the aroma. Medium bodied. Figgy flavours, nutty. Falls away in the middle. Then late chocolate and toffee in a long finish. A slightly less strong version of the Bayrisch G'frorns Eisbock, which was produced for many years by the Reichel brewery of Kulmbach, Bavaria. The G'frorns ("frozen") was dropped three or four years ago, after the merger of Reichel and its local rival EKU. The newer interpretation is produced for the Eisbock festival in Kulmbach in late March, but my sample came a long way round: not from Germany but from a Belgian beer bar in the U.S. My thanks to Monk's, of Philadelphia.

POLAND

The Elbe Brewery takes its name from the river of the same name. It has breweries in the city of Elblag, nearby Gdansk, and Braniewo. Its "triple filtration" process avoids the flavor-flattening that can occur with pasteurisation, but arguable strips out the some character. EB Special Pils, at 5.4v. is very pale and bright; light and crisp in palate; with a late, lingering, hoppy dryness. Poland's 17th-century King Jan Sobieski III, who in seems to have been something of a drinker, allegedly favoured beer made by the Helvelius family brewery. Jan Helvelius of that family was a famous astronomer. He is celebrated in

EB Helvelius Classic: a lager of 6.8 per cent; deep gold in colour; with a firm, hoppy, aroma; a creamy, lemony, palate; a dryish, clean, smooth, finish; and a touch of warming alcohol.

AUSTRIA/PAKISTAN

Murree Beer (brewed in Austria under licence from the brewery of that name in Pakistan). The unlikeliest juxtaposition in the world of beer? Someone, I am sure, can beat it. This brew has 4.5 abv. A pleasant golden lager, leaning lightly toward the Pilsener style. Fresh aroma and palate. Light and soft but textured. Faint spicy hop character in nose and finish. Clean, sweetish, malt in between. Spritzy. Late dryness.


Published: SEPT 1, 1999
In: Beer Hunter Online

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