Tag Archives: Dunkel

Sprecher Dunkel Weizen

Sprecher Brewing Co.
Glendale, WI
Dunkel Weizen

Back in 2008, I tried Sprecher Maibock which received the coveted “Awesome” tag. Here’s a dark wheat offering from Sprecher.

Sprecher sie Dunkel

Dunkels are among my favorite German styles because they’re like really good wheat beers, only better.

The pour is lively – a half-inch head pops up and settles to a fine layer that bunches up around the inner edge of the glass. When held to the light, a milk chocolate brown emerges through what is otherwise a dark cola color with amber and maple syrup tones.

The nose is massively malty for something that has ‘wheat’ on the label. It is all sweet oatmeal cookie dough, caramel, and a mild almond nuttiness. A slight husky wheat character emerges from behind the dark malt – let’s see if it shows up on the tongue.

Beautiful. This is a great brew. The mouthfeel is excellent, alternatively smooth yet with lively carbonation tiptoeing to the back of your throat. The initial flavor is a very subtle, slight tartness down the middle of the palate that is the wheat showing up as promised. It is tangy and a bit grassy – very nice. However, just as you are wondering if that’s it, all that dunkel-y goodness – the malt – flows outward and downward, coating the mouth in a slightly sweet layer that touches on chocolate and corn flakes.

Baltika 4

Baltika Breweries
St. Petersburg, RUSSIA
4

I’ve tried a few of the Baltika beers – 2, 3, and 9 – so finding numbers 4-8 in the grocery store, including the dark lager, number 4, was intriguing to me. However, a production date of 05.09.09 was a bit disconcerting, even if the Russians do the whole day-month-year thing.

The color is an appropriately Baltic-y amber with plenty of rich copper showing through the decent clarity. A fair amount of sediment or residue is suspended throughout the beer. The head is lively and tan, but settles quickly over slow carbonation.

The nose is malty with powerful caramel notes and as well as hints of honeydew or cantaloupe and a faint roastiness of brown sugar. I couldn’t decide which photo I liked, so I put them both up here.

The mouthfeel is excellent – full and a bit milky and far more effervescent than it looks. An initial sweetness of milk chocolate caramel takes over and gives way to a deeper richness that is reminiscent of a plum-laden winter ale. However, being a lager, the finish remains crisp, even as the back of the swallow attempts to cloy. This is very much a dunkel or Vienna-style, though it’s a bit sweet for me.

Unlike the stereotype of its people, this beer is anything but dry. The hops seem to arrive first, and give way to what seems like more of a punch than the 5.6% ABV would indicate. Baltika rarely disappoints and all of their brews that I’ve tried have a good deal of character.

Full Sail Session Black

Full Sail Brewing Co.
Hood River, OR
Session Black

Full Sail is one of those breweries that seldom disappoints. Their Session line is a great example of how great West Coast beers don’t need to punch you in the liver. Here is their dark lager which pours a semi-translucent, very dark, deep brown. When held to the light, loamy tints of red come out beneath the fairly well-maintained light tan head.

The nose is an interesting mix of malt and light West Coast hopping. Maple syrup and pancakes, along with some roasted notes of chocolate and toffee. The hops are subtle, but there is just a bit of orange tang in the back.

The mouthfeel is excellent. Initially, you are met with some of the roasted grain that is impressively smooth and creamy. Touches of chocolate and brown bread flow towards the back of the mouth as the roastiness subtly makes its way around the mouth.

The finish is seamless, becoming slightly twiggy, and finally finishing cleanly with an afterthought of the roasted barley.

This is an indication of great things coming in small packages. While I love the stubby-style bottle as it reminds me of VB, it’s only 11 ounces, and I wanted all I could get. As the name suggests, this beer could pass for a session. At 5.4%, this would make a great choice if you’re looking for something more interesting than your standard, easy-drinking lager.

As an added bonus, you get an under-the-cap game. I’m a sucker for those extras. Buy a case and play with your friends. It’s a session beer, but don’t try to play solo.

Paper beats Rock. Rock beats Country. Beer trumps all.

Shiner Holiday Cheer

As today is Thanksgiving and, by most standards, the start of the ‘holiday season’, I thought I’d give this Texas brewery’s holiday brew a chance. I’ll probably need a lot of them once the Christmas carols start in earnest, a month before the actual day arrives.

Spoetzl Brewery
Shiner, TX
Holiday Cheer

The color is deep copper – almost garnet, and the head rushes up the confined base of the weizen glass and creates a tan pillow at the rim.

Caused little cheer in the house of the Brew Yorker

The nose is somewhat diaper-like, but sweet, negating any unpleasant association. Certainly, the peaches that Shiner claims to add are evident in the nose and create much of the very sweet, but not saccharine, aroma. There is no real hint of wheat, though perhaps more than an inkling of hops. The brew is supposedly a Dunkel and supposedly has pecans in it as well, but the sweetness overwhelms any hint at nutty or roasty notes.

The mouthfeel is reasonably good – full, to start – but gives way to a thinner fruity spread. The sip is surprisingly complex with a semblance of hop character on the sides of the tongue and a malt-coating quality. The initial peach-and-apricot flavor overwhelms the finish but, after a few slightly squeamish sips, settles down a bit to let the rest of the brew come out.

There might be an inkling of pecans in the top of the palate, but it is quickly washed away in a flood of soft, pitted fruits. The surest hints of a wheat beer are in the bubbles – the effervescence matches an active bottle-condition wheat, but there is no soapy banana and bubblegum touch; neither the tangy zest that you get when you sip a golden wheat nor the surprisingly buttery cleanliness of a dunkelweiss.

The beer would succeed more, I think, without the fruit essence spoiling the finish. This is more akin to Magic Hat #9 than any German dark wheat, and Spoetzl needs to tone down the sweetness. Try one, it’s not unpleasant. In fact, you may love it, but this one’s not for me.

Eastside Dark Lager

Lakefront Brewery Inc.
Milwaukee, WI
Eastside Dark Lager

Milwaukee is a brewing capital, so a high bar is set. I hate to give a beer unfair expectations, but there you go.

While the beer doesn’t seem to allow light to pass through, it’s not an opaque beer; it lacks the creaminess and still shines a cola-black, with a deep plum hue that shows caramel brown around the edges.
There is no real head to speak of, but I imagine it will leave rings on the way down. There are faint notes of mocha and a powdery chocolate odor. The coffee notes on the nose are very clean and lack the heavy, often overly sweet notes that accompany some dark lagers. The smoke is mild and is coupled with a wet-twig aroma that is more rainy day than damp, rotting wood.
The first sip is very clean with a full mouthfeel. The chocolate notes are as mild on the tongue as they are on the nose and are coupled with a slightly chewy raisin middle that finishes with a really nice sharp hop kick that comes through with just a little bit of sweetness. The finish is exceptionally clean.