In a crap pub, a bottle of Budvar is often the last refuge for the beer geek. Sadly, those little green bottles are almost always past their best — stale and flavourless.
It was nice this week to be reminded that it doesn’t always have to be that way with bottled lager, though, when Augustiner Lagerbier Hell (our beer of the week) transported us to Bavaria with one sip.
There were veritable hops, sweet malt and — hooray! — no off flavours.
It also helped that it was served in a nicely shaped and properly branded glass. That shouldn’t matter, but it does.
Cask, a nicely refurbished pub in Pimlico, London, continues to impress. This week, we noticed that their range of German bottled beers includes a Berliner weisse, which is a style we’ve been wanting to get our hands on for a while.
We have had it before — on a trip to the city of its origin in 2002, when we knew absolutely nothing about beer, and submitted to having it spiked with bright green fruit syrup.
So, drinking this 3% abv wheat beer straight, we were very impressed. It more than makes up for a lack of alcoholic kick with plenty of sourness and grainy flavour, and is certainly something we’d like to have around at our next party or barbecue.
For balance, we should say that Ron Pattinson’s not a fan of this brand — he considers it “disgusting crap”.
These days, it never seems to be the right time to tackle a strong or quirky beer. Maybe it’s the weather — we’re craving cold lager or, like Knut, wheat beer. Ron’s of the view that there’s nothing better in the heat than a chilled Guinness Foreign Export, but we’re not convinced.
So, the Brew Dogs, the Belgians and the bocks sit gathering dust in the ‘cellar’ while our recycling bin fills up with empty bottles from beers like Svyturys (contains rice) and Franziskaner (contains no real hops). We’re also slowly working our way through our oh-so-small stash of homebrewed lager.
Maybe this weekend, we’ll tackle our recently acquired Lou Pepes. They ought to be refreshing and worth taking notes on.
We’ve noticed this week that a couple of bottled German beers on sale in the UK — including Franziskaner wheat beer — list only malt, yeast and hop extract in their ingredients lists.
It’s quite common for even decent beers to contain hop extract as well as hops to add a bit of pep, but is it going too far to use nothing but?
It makes us feel a bit uneasy.
It’s always interesting to see the old adverts that pubs sometimes use to decorate their walls. A poster for Bateman’s Salem Porter from the early 90s caught our eye this week.
We assumed this beer had been discontinued because we’ve never seen it for sale anywhere, unlike their ubiquitous XXXB and Rosey Nosey Christmas beer. But, no, they still make this multiple award winning cask only beer.
Keen as we are to find it on cask one day, it would also be nice if their bottled range (which we can get very easily in corner shops in our bit of London) included this apparently brilliant beer. Perhaps they could drop one of the three very similar golden ales to make room?
Maybe they feel there’s no market? If so, that’s a shame, because we really believe dark beers (milds, porters, stouts, lagers, whatever) are going to be the next big thing. After all, what’s a cooler looking pint than one that’s pitch black?