Beer Review #8: Backbone Splitter by Hanscraft & Co.

What’s a West Coast IPA? What is the difference to the “normal” American IPA? And is there an East Coast IPA?

In the past twenty-five years the craft beer scene in the US has exploded. Especially microbreweries on both coasts – the East and the West – produce more than half of the craft beers in the US. It’s no wonder that a certain rivalry has developed.

East Coast and West Coast breweries have very different approaches to their brewing, but both IPA-styles have their own soul and their own recognition.

Although and East Coast IPA has exactly the bitterness an IPA should have, it tends to have more citrus and fruit notes in the taste. In general, it is a lighter, juicier and less aggressive IPA – so to speak, a good “starter-IPA” for IPA newcomers.

West Coast IPAs also have the flavors of citrus and sweet fruits but they tend to be more hoppy, bitter, earthy and piney. They are dry and slightly more aggressive than the typical American IPA.

A good example for the West Coast IPA is the IMG_6900Backbone Splitter by Hanscraft & Co. brewed with Horizon, a bitter hop, and Amarillo, Simcoe and Centennial which are aroma hops.

Upon opening the bottle I smell a bouquet of citrus fruits. It pours clear with an amber color and nice white foamy head.

The citrus aroma is now a more intense grapefruit and lemon aroma mixed with peach, mango or papaya – it definitely has this unique “creamy-fruity” aroma of exotic fruits!

The first sip is light and with a good balance of sweet malt and bitter fruity hops. The bitterness from the fresh hops increases with every sip and is filled with orange, peach aromas, spicy herbs and resin notes with a pleasant dry, bitter finish.

I would have liked to have a little less dry but fruitier finish. However it is a good aromatic West Coast IPA to enjoy, with a more dangerous name than it actually is!

Craft Beer Meets Bundesliga

Granted, as a soccer fan and craft beer geek it’s not easy to find a good beer, not to mention craft beer, at one of the 36 Bundesliga stadiums in Germany. Aside from a few exceptions Pilseners of major sponsoring breweries rule the ranks of the stadiums and even the booths on the sports grounds. So unless you’re tailgating with a great craft beer in hand, you most likely have to suck it up and hand over the big bucks for a mass-produced beer!

It has become somewhat of a ritual for hubby and me to go to the stadium with a couple craft brews in the pockets, taking a picture at the train stop while waiting for the S-Bahn, toasting to a good game and get on the train with our fellows 🙂

It wasn’t any different at last nights derby game – SG Eintracht Frankfurt – FSV Mainz. We decided on the Palor and Colonia by the local Frankfurt microbrewery Braufactum.IMG_6950

Palor is an English style Pale Ale brewed with Cascade and Polaris hops. Since we drank from the bottles [and you can’t taste color] I’m skipping the appearance description.

Cascade and Polaris give the Palor a distinct aromatic character with fruity, minty, slightly citrusy aroma notes. Good medium body and carbonation. Bold flavor of sweet malt, caramel, spices, and bread, leading to a dry finish. Actually a little too dry for my taste.

IMG_6956Colonia is not the typical Kölsch as you may think [and I thought] from the name, but a “Rhenisch-style bitter-beer” brewed with Saphir hops.

Bitter-beer? I must admit, I’ve never heard of this style but reading about the style it’s like an “Ur-Kölsch”, basically the ancestor of the Kölsch as we know today. That explains why I didn’t like it as a Kölsch. Although the aroma had notes of flowers and hops, its flavor was sweet with notes of malt and straw with a very bitter dry finish.

Bitter-beers are a top fermented ales, with a flavor probably something between Altbier and Kölsch, which makes it relatively quaffable but with a high malt content, which makes the beer sweeter.

We also met up with our friend Jörn, a SGE and beer fan, who is a local [craft beer] IMG_6955restaurant owner and one of the founders of the Craft Beer Zentrum!

His drink of choice last night was Pax Bräu’s Black Gold Lakritz [licorice] Oatmeal Stout. Great choice – says the one who doesn’t like licorice!! … no sarcasm intended

I was positively surprised. Thanks for sharing by the way.

It poured pitch black with a small white head – at that point we were equipped with plastic cups! The aroma was of roasted malts, hints of dark chocolate mixed with licorice. The taste was smooth also with roasty malts and slightly salty licorice; light bodied yet creamy. For me the licorice was overpowering the oatmeal though.

With the last sip we headed towards the gate and our seats and back into the Pilsener-emporium, ready to see our team take on the Mainzers!

If you care, we [Eintracht] won 2-2… it should have been 4-2 though!!!

Beer Review #7: Onkel Albert Altbelgisches Saisonbier

Translated from the French for season, Saisons originated in Wallonia, in the southern (and French-speaking) region of Belgium.
The beers were brewed in the fall/winter months in the farmhouses and stored in the farm buildings through spring until the guest workers arrived for harvest in the summer. Everything that was left over, whether it was barley, wheat etc, at the end of previous years harvest, was picked from the fields, thrown in the mash tuns, boiled and fermented with the yeast from the day.

All this happened in a time when it was dangerous to drink well water and instead of simply boiling the water the landlords provided beer to their workers to keep them healthy. Originally, saisons were brewed to have a lower alcohol content (~3%) and it is said that the men were entitled to 5 liters of beer per work day to stay hydrated and strong.

The beers varied from farm to farm and from farmhouse to farmhouse. Phil Markowski (The Oxford Companion to Beer by Garrett Oliver) says that these brewers were farmers and not brewers, therefore “the fact that they were not sold commercially is reason to believe that these Saisons were probably made with little mind to repeatability” (711)

At 5.8% ABV Onkel Albert Altbelgisches Saisonbier pours a clear, pale yellow color and is very carbonated. The head rises finger wide and with large pores and dissolves quickly.

In the nose there initially are notes of sweet wheat-malt. The aroma is yeasty, slightly peppery and a little alcoholic/acetone-like (but not unpleasant), however also fresh and hay-like.

The first sip is dominated by sour, fresh, but dry yeast notes with a hint of pepper. The mouthfeel is slightly creamy and perhaps a little too dull. The carbonation is less than assumed when pouring. The finish, however, is pleasant, floraly and bitter leaving a good dry and slightly tart fruit aroma.


A successful “German” Belgian Saison which perhaps could do with a bit more fruit flavors and complexity, but all in all a highly recommended, refreshing and quaffable beer!