Scanning Through My Blurred Memories or Braukunst Live 2015 Recap

I came, I saw… I tried to drink them all

Another BrauKunst Live 2015 has come and gone. Close to 100 exhibitors served 700+ different beers in the festival hall to over 8600 beer enthusiasts. IMG_7179This year I had the great pleasure owning a media pass and it’s debatable if that’s an advantage or disadvantage!!! Anyhow, I did prepare a little for the festival in that I created a list of the breweries that I definitely wanted to try beers from, and I tried to take the time to write them all down as I sampled… 91 different beer names are written down! WOW! It would probably blow this post if I mentioned them all. I’ll just say that there were a lot of great beers, but also quite a few that were not up my alley.

There were definitely some very unique beers that I was very impressed with that I’ll mention though. The Moll, a collaboration brew from BrauKunstKeller and Kehrwieder (all the beers they were pouring were excellent) is an extinct old German beer style and an easy drinking Rauchbier with a subtle, restrained tartness. The Monroe from Hopfenstopfer, a Single Hop Imperial Pale Ale was smooth and light with full flavors of red berries and passion fruit. Hanscraft & Co had a new brew that can only be described as dessert in a glass. Taking a sip of their Sweet Sixteen, a 16,5 ABV Barleywine Eisbock and you got a mouthful of alcohol-infused-fruit-cobbler-topped-with-vanilla-liquor as if you just bit into a pie. CRAZY sweet! Kissmeyer, a one man gypsy brewery from Denmark I’d never heard of also poured several great beers. Their Pipes & Drums Barrel Reserve, a collaboration brew with Amager Bryghus, surprised me the most. I’m usually not a Barley Wine fan but this one convinced me with it’s subtle sweetish, vinous aroma with hints of fruits and nuts. A couple steps to the left was Freigeist’s and Nogne Ø’s booth who, besides their own beers also poured brews from The Monarchy, To Øl and De Molen. Taking a sip of Nogne Ø’s #1000 had me dive into the world of the Arabian Nights. There’s an abundance of spices in both flavor and aroma with a nice malty caramel sweetness. Freigeist’s Geisterzug Rhubarb Gose and Abraxxxas Pear Lichtenhainer were brews I could drink all the time and all day long. They’re incredibly lively, characterful, and thirst-quenching and were a nice “break” between some of the stronger, heavier beers. Last but not least Ku’Damm, a Berliner Weisse and Daft, a barrel-aged Barley Wine from Urban Chestnut. The Berliner Weisse is solid and probably one of the best ones I drank in my live and surprisingly another Barley Wine, in which for the first time I experienced a umami flavor. IMG_7070

I also want to give props to the newcomers: Hopfmeister, a newly founded gypsy brewery from Munich who plan to open this May. Their motto, brewing beers for craft beer beginners, which are hoppy but still quaffable. And BrewAge, a young Austrian start-up brewery who tie in tradition, refine and reinterpret it.

Of the three days at BrauKunst Live, Friday was my favorite. Since Friday is the opening day, everyone is full of energy and excited to be there. Most of the brewers and brewery reps were behind their booths and all the different beers are still available. Sunday was great because it’s the least visited day and I could stroll through the hall and try beers that I haven’t already tried. Saturday was still fun, but it was a mad house plus having been there the day before and going to the “in-official” after show party at the hotel, I was tired and had moments where I was ready to go home 😉 But it’s still hard to pass up being there for all three days just to be able to soak it all in and enjoy the atmosphere.

On of the hidden gems on the festival floor were the booths from Bier Deluxe and Derer Imports! Both being craft beer importers, they gave me a little taste of “home”! Bier Deluxe had beers from four US breweries on tap [and I happily admit I was obsessed with] Ballast Point’s Sculpin and Grapefruit Sculpin, whose tart freshness of grapefruit complements the IPA’s citrusy hop character. Derer Import had a vast amount of bottles from Rogue, Smuttynose, Saugatuck, Latitude 42, Left Hand, North Coast and Epic Brewing, to only mention a few. To my surprise they had Epic Brewing’s very limited release: Brainless® on Peaches. I only had a couple little sips but it was delicious. It has 10.5% ABV, but drinks much smoother than that… dangerous!! They also had Neapolitan Milk Stout by Saugatuck Brewing, which is a perfect blend of a classic dry stout character with brilliant flavors of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry all in one glass!

The best three days in March? The worst three days in March? Well, I’m torn. Yes, as mentioned I suffered [as probably some other fellow beer enthusiasts] a little, drank more beer each day than any human should consume in a lifetime, and went days with only little sleep, but it was all for the sake of thousands of people joining together to show their love for the best beers Germany has to offer!
Thanks to all the brewers I spent lots of time talking to, to my fellow beer snobs for interesting discussions, to the new people and the ones I finally met the faces to, you all made for a great weekend and I’m looking forward hanging out again at the next beer event!In this spirit, thanks for reading.
Cheers!!
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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

 

 

Beer Review #3: BrewDog IPA is Dead

BrewDog IPA is Dead

Since 2011 BrewDog has released their IPA is Dead 4-packs once a year. Each of the four beers has the same base recipe, but was dryhopped with a different hop variety. In this year’s edition they chose Comet, EXP 366, Amarillo and Kohatu hops.

Over the past few days I tasted and compared the four. All four IPAs are based on a milder version of BrewDogs Hardcore IPA, brewed with Maris Otter, Crystal and Cara-malt.

The EXP 366 was first on my list. EXP 366 is a new, yet unnamed American hop variety. The IPA is amber with an eggshell-colored large-pore foam head that quickly falls apart and little carbonation. The aroma is malty with pine, orange peel and lemon notes. The taste resembles sweet bread and also has a resinous hoppy pine flavor. The finish is reminiscent of bitter grapefruit, but its taste fades quickly.

Next up Comet. Like the EPX 366, this one also has a clear amber color but with a narrow white head and leaves nice lacing on glass. Its bouquet is a blend of citrus, grapefruit and pine. The taste is malty-sweet with mango and also lemon and grapefruit flavors and a hint of resin. For me, the bitterness is a rather mediocre medium bitterness with lots of resin.

Next, I decided on Kohatu. Again, this is a newer hop variety from New Zealand and unknown/”un-tested” to me! Like the first two IPAs it is amber in color. It is clear with a full soft white crown. I first notice mango and lime in the aroma followed by hints of pineapple.

The taste is very interesting. First, bitter-sweet with a hot alcohol sharpness which fades fast and is overpowered by pineapple and herbal pine aromas. After a few seconds I taste sweet sage – a finish after the finish! Wow!

For my final beer, I have set aside the Amarillo – one of my favorite hops, which has a very balanced, fruity aroma. It also has a nice amber color and is the clearest of all four. When pouring a narrow eggshell colored head builds which dissolves quickly and leaves little lacing. The nose is almost tropical: passion fruit and orange peel, very fresh, slightly grassy. The aroma is repeated in the first sip and reminds me of a mango-passion fruit and banana smoothie with a slightly bitter-sweet finish.

Conclusion

The hop flavors are good in all four IPA’s, but I would have liked to see a slightly fuller body in all of them. My favorite is the Kohatu because it surprised me and the aroma-flavor combination was the most interesting.

I definitely recommend the 4-pack. It is interesting for those who love hops and everybody who wants to learn more about the individual hop varieties and their characteristics.