Ratsherrn Westküsten IPA

It seems like the year 2014 passed by in a blink of an eye and leaves us with memories of an eventful year in the craft beer world. There were ups and downs, brewery openings and many excellent beers, we saw big victories for small craft breweries and small ones for the big. But when I look back it’s almost dizzying when I think about making a list with all the successful brews I’ve tried. I hope that 2015 will be just as exciting and flavorful …

In this spirit I’ll continue with the first beer review of 2015:

IMG_8064During these freezing temperatures everyone is dreaming of the sun, the beach and the ocean. Ratsherrn’s Westküsten India Pale Ale, a brewery from Hamburg, gives at least the impression of Spring or Summer.

It pours clear and bright golden topped with a finger wide, fine-pored fluffy head. Aromas of citrus, grapefruit and passion fruit rise up into my nose, followed by decent hay and herbal (rosemary?) flavors.
The citrus aromas repeat in the first sip and quickly turn into a fruity-floral bitterness. Again, I taste a hint of sweet herbs.
It has soft carbonation, is gentle on the tongue and has a little to medium body.
The finish is short-lived, with a malty, fruity sweetness and a touch of pink grapefruit.

The Westküsten India Pale Ale is a nice brew but a little too sweet and not what I expect from a typical West Coast IPA. Otherwise, tasty local [despite its 6.2%] and as a beginners-IPA



BrewDog 5 A.M. Saint Hoppy Red Ale

[German below]

After nearly a week on the Emerald Isle I felt like an Ale today… well, like drinking one 🙂

When I opened our fridge, the 5 A.M. Saint Hoppy Red Ale by BrewDog caught my eyes immidiately… The 5 A.M. Saint is a beer from BrewDog’s Headliner Series, which they describe as the “Holy Grail” of Red Ales on their website.IMG_7158

BrewDog… the crazy brewery from Scotland who make atypical British-style beers and this Red Ale, if you can call it that, is no exception! It is more like a red ale which was nuked by hops and lives up to it’s “iconoclastic” title!

The ale pours in a nice red –  my choice of glass this time fell on a regular pint glass – with a full, tan head and I instantly smelled the hop cocktail. The 5 A.M Saint was brewed with five different hops, Nelson Sauvin, Simcoe, Cascade, Centennial and Ahtanum to be exact, which ere either added late in the brewing process or were used by dry hopping. Both lead to intense hop flavors.

It’s aroma is of citrus and grapefruit with some sweet caramel, but also a little earthy and resinous – it reminds me walking through the woods on a mushroom foray as a child 🙂

The taste is – unexpectedly – very refreshing with a slight hint of caramel. After a few more sips the earthy and floral notes come to the fore… not quite as spectacular as the aroma and a little watery!

Despite the five malts they used – Maris Otter, Caramalt, Munich malt, Crystal and Crystal dark – the hop bitterness helps to balance the flavor and makes the ale not too sweet. The carbonation also helps to compensate for the slight watery and rather thin body


For me, it’s not really “The Holy Grail” of Red Ales but overall a good beer for this style!

Nach knapp einer Woche auf der grünen Insel war mir heute nach einem Ale. Beim Öffnen des Kühlschranks sticht mir sofort das 5 A.M. Saint Red Ale von BrewDog ins Auge…

Das 5 A.M. Saint ist ein Bier aus BrewDog’s Headliner Serie, die auf ihrer Website als “Heiligen Gral” der Red Ales beschrieben wird.

BrewDog… die verrückte Brauerei aus Schottland mit dem etwas anderen untypischen britischen Bier! Dieses Red Ale, wenn man es so nennen kann, ist da keine Ausnahme. Es ist eher ein Red Ale das vom Hopfen überrollt wurde und macht seinem “ikonoklastischem” Titel alle Ehre!

Meine Glaswahl fällt dieses Mal auf ein normales Pint-Glas. Das Ale gießt sich in einem schönem Rot mit einer vollen, hellbraunen Schaumkrone und einer heftigen Hopfennote.

Das Ale wurde mit 5 verschiedenen Hopfensorten gebraut, Nelson Sauvin, Simcoe, Cascade, Centennial und Ahtanum um genau zu sein, die spät während des Brauprozesses zugegeben wurden und mit denen das Bier gestopft wurde. Beides führt zu intensiven Hopfenaromen.

Es riecht nach Zitrus und Grapefruit mit süßen Karamellmalzen, aber auch etwas erdig und harzig – es erinnert mich wie ich als Kind in den Wald zum Pilzesammeln gegangen bin 🙂

Der Geschmack ist – unerwartet – sehr erfrischend mit einer leichten Karamellnote. Nach ein paar weiteren Schlucken kommen dann die erdigen und blumigen Noten hervor… nicht ganz so spektakulär wie das Aroma und anfangs ein wenig wässrig! Trotz der 5 Malze – Maris Otter, Karamellmalz, Münchner Malz, Kristall, Kristall dunkel – ist es durch die Hopfenbittere nicht allzu süß.

Die Karbonisierung hilft in der Hinsicht auch auch gleicht den etwas wässrigen und eher dünnen Körper aus.


Für mich ist es nicht unbedingt “The Holy Grail” der Red Ales aber insgesamt ein gutes Gebräu für diesen Bierstil!

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!

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!

Beer Review #6: Onkel Herbert Rhabarber Weisse

Summer is coming to an end and I decided to finish my “Beers of Summer tastings” with Onkel Herbert Rhabarber Weisse, a Berlin-style White beer. IMG_6697

As one might not suspect from the name, the Berliner Weisse is originally not from Germany’s capital but was developed in the 17th century in Saxony-Anhalt by a Halberstadt brewer as a unsuccessful copy of a popular beer from Hamburg. Berlin brewers took this new recipe and continually changed it until it had developed into “Berliner Weizenbier” around 1700 and the obscure style quickly became the favorite drink for Berlin locals.

The name Weisse actually means white not wheat and has precious little to do with the known wheat beers from Bavaria! Although both beers are brewed with wheat malt and mainly fermented with top-fermenting yeasts, the Berliner Weisse is different to all other German beer-styles due to its acidic nature. This characteristic develops during fermentation with a mixed-culture of the top-fermenting yeast and lactic acid bacteria.

The acid, a higher carbonation and a low alcohol content make the Berliner Weisse Germany’s most refreshing beer style which is especially enjoyed during the summer months.

Onkel Herbert Rhabarber Weisse is brewed in Düsseldorf and is, with its 4.4 % ABV, slightly stronger than a traditional Berliner Weisse. Instead of adding syrup after fermentation rhubarb puree was already added during the brewing process.

Already when pouring you can see the beers nice pale yellow color and, not as might be expected, a pink coloring. The pale, large, white head has large pores and fades within a few minutes.

The aroma is clean, fruity-fresh and there is a fine citric-acid and a little lactic-acid with notes of ripened cheese or sour dough and some fresh mandarins.

There’s a delicate raspberry flavor in the first sip. The fruity flavors merge with the light wheat taste. Lactic acid contributes to a discreet hay aroma, which is not too aggressive. Then the fruity rhubarb flavor comes to the fore, giving the Weisse a harsh, dry but still fruity finish. The mouthfeel is pleasantly tangy and makes the beer fresh as it should be.


For the current fluctuating temperatures Onkel Herbert Rhabarber Weisse is just ideal to drink – although I can always recommend as a refreshing Berliner Weisse year round!! The taste is (especially without added syrup) certainly something that probably many need getting used to but one should at least have tried once or twice.

In this sense: Cheers!

Beer Review #5: CREW Republic Munich Summer

Whether you are a local or a visitor, in the summerIMG_6546 everything is all about the beer gardens in Munich. This 200-year-old tradition is just as typical as Weisswurst and Lederhosen.

The CREW Republic Munich Summer is as one might expect, not a wheat beer, but a light Golden Ale or Summer Ale. This beer style is especially popular in the warmer summer months and hot temperatures because Summer ales are brewed with light malts and subtle hops with lemon aromas and fermented at slightly higher temperatures to bring out the fruity ester notes of the yeast.

Already when pouring you can see a slightly hazy, golden body with a finger wide pored, soft white head which dissipates slow and leaves moderate lacing on the glass.

The aroma has slight Amarillo grapefruit notes accompanied by resin and a light, sweet malt aroma. The first impression is repeated in the taste: the first sip highlights slightly sweet and some creamy malt aromas, followed by subtle fruity citrus and pine notes.

The finish is pleasant, a bit dry and a low hop bitterness. The creamy light body has a soft, moderate carbonation and the flavor lingers for a little while.


Overall, the CREW Republic Munich Summer is a very solid, mild and refreshing golden ale with pleasant dry-hopped Amarillo aromas. Very tasty and recommened!