beer reviews bottled beer Germany

Magical Mystery Pour #8: Aus Bayern

Magical Mystery Pour logo.We finally found time to sit down and enjoy the final batch of beers suggested to us by Joe Stange, all three of which are from Bavaria, and two of which we’ve had before in one form or another.

We bought them from Beers of Europe and they were all in 500ml bottles:

  • Keesman Herren Pils, Bamberg, 4.8% ABV, £2.09
  • Ayinger Jahrhundertbier, Aying, 5.5%, £2.39
  • Weltenburger Asam Bock, Weltenburg, 6.9%, £2.69

Glass of pale golden beer. Of Herren Pils Joe says:

Repeat visitors to Bamberg typically go through their Rauchbier and Ungespundet phases before they emerge from their pupas as beautiful Herren-swilling butterflies. (And then, weirdly, the phases start over again.) There are times when I drink this and decide it’s my favorite beer in Germany.

We poured it into one of our favourite Pilsner Urquell mugs (Boak’s proudest moment is mangling Polish into Czech to negotiate the purchase in a pub in Prague) where it looked very pretty and very pale. The head, as you can see from the picture above, was very well behaved.

‘Oh, gosh!’ and ‘Cor!’ we said on taking our first big gulps.

As another Joe has pointed out, it’s not always easy to find things to say about straight-up lager in that shopping-list tasting note sense. In our own vague personal categorisation system for lagers this one is what we call lemon-sherbet. It’s dry, bitter, almost flowery but not quite. Metallic in a good way, as in pure, sharp-edged, stainless.

Here’s a funny thing, though: it tasted fresh and draught-like, as if it had come from a newly-tapped barrel but was, in fact, past it’s best before date of 25 March. How’s that for a stable product?

Anyway, it’s delicious, exactly our kind of thing, extremely reasonably priced, and you should buy a case to see you through the summer.

Golden beer in a mug.

Ayinger Jahrhundertbier, an export-style beer first brewed in 1978 (so the Internet tells us) was also the kind of beer you can gain a great deal of pleasure from  just looking at. Joe says:

I’m going through a boring Munich Helles phase, so I inflict it upon you. Can’t seem to get enough. This beer is so classy though. You may want to order a few of these, to make sure you’ve got it right. Pour aggressively, right down the pipe, and be patient.

It’s competent. It’s interesting. But we straight up didn’t like it. After the much weaker Keesman beer it seemed somehow both thicker and thinner — on the one hand syrupy, on the other lacking personality. There was a little nagging off note, too, like corn. It got harder as it went down, too, like rich full fat milk. Every now and then we’d catch a glimpse of its appeal — malt as a flavour — but it didn’t last.

With a little more bitterness for balance it might work better. As it is, nice to have met you, old man, but we’re not in a rush to have another.

(Heeding Joe’s words, we did order several; if subsequent bottles change our opinion, we’ll add an update here.)

Dark beer in a mug.

Asam Bock is an old friend — an early passion of ours that we drank at every opportunity until about four years ago when we had a couple of bottles that seemed soupy and bland. Joe’s notes:

Have you had one of these lately? Go on. Doppelbock! We should all drink more of them, and I think we will once we have self-driving cars. Looking forward to that. I find this one more balanced than most, doesn’t cloy.

In the glass, it looks so brown it’s almost black; up against the light, it’s a gorgeous, luxurious, jewel-like red.

The first slurp turns on light bulbs: It’s only a bloody porter.

Not in some cultural imperialist, beer style pigeon-holing sense — in the sense that, if we’d included it in our porter taste-off the year before last, it would probably have scored highly. When Hans Castorp drank porter for breakfast in an Alpine sanatorium we reckon it must have been something like this.

It is on the sweet side, perhaps, like Anchor Porter and Sam Smith’s Taddy, accented towards milk chocolate, but there’s also a nice seasoning of roasty char. There’s even a bit of beefiness — not a characteristic we often enjoy in beer but here it’s just right, a savoury smack at the end that makes us want to eat pork knuckles and slices of rye bread slathered in dripping. If there’s anything characteristically German or lager-like about it its the high carbonation and clean edges.

If you’d never had it, give it a go. If you’ve had it and written it off, try it again, because either it’s on good form these days, or it’s a style of beer whose time has come.


Thanks, Joe — that’s been great fun and we’ve found several beers we’d probably never have bought but will definitely be buying again. Now, who shall we ask next?

8 replies on “Magical Mystery Pour #8: Aus Bayern”

Did you drink the Jahrhundert directly after the Keesmann? That would explain why it didn’t taste like much. Not nearly as bitter. In the grand scheme of beery things it really *doesn’t* taste like much. But I like that subtle honeyish malt. After a glass of water.

But yeah, after the Keesmann I just want another Keesmann.

We did, after some water and a slice of bread. (Not because we were following formal tasting rules — because we’d taken a loaf out of the oven two hours before.)

Usual rule is to go up the ladder in terms of ABV but maybe that didn’t work in this case. Will try again some time.

Ask Breandan @ Belgian Smaak, Joan at Birraire or even John Beer Nut Am sure they’d be able to reccomend plenty!

Sorry this is late, missed it first time around. A year or two ago, Keesmann ratcheted the Pils up from 4.6% to 5% and then eventually down to 4.8%. And they reduced the late hopping. I’m not just making this up, a Braumeister told me so.

Why did they do this? Consumer demand, of course. The average Franconian doesn’t like his or her beer that hoppy, and Keesmann did use to be quite grassy in the nose, and even had some hop *flavour*, not just bitterness. But nope, not any more. Now, it’s still the best Pils in Bamberg, and one of the best in Franconia, but it’s not the absolute gem it once was.

“But nope, not any more”…posted too fast. There’s still *some* hoppiness, but nothing like it once was. Like everything, it were better before.

As always, the challenge is separating what you *know* about a beer from how you *react* to it. We thought it was lush. Maybe we’d have thought it was even more lush if we’d had it before the changes but, honestly, how it tastes right now will do us very nicely.

Yeah, I can see “lush”. It’s a lovely, fine Pils. It used to be quite hoppy, now it’s a bit different. And the change is due to local customer demand.

Comments are closed.