So, now that I've set up a new blogging rule, allow me the pleasure to immediately break it!
Don't worry, I'll make a better start with this next time round. First, however, here's a three pack review of my gift pack from HirschBrau that the lovely Michelle bought me for Christmas. Since I've been nursing these brews over the course of the past week and a half, I can give them a go in one fell swoop. Allons-y!
No complaints here - refreshing and easy to quaff. It won't earn a spot among my all-time top hefeweizen list, but it goes down well, has some good flavors and pretty much does what it sets out to do. Not going to argue with that! (Grade: B)
Nose is hazelnut, malted wheat, chocolate, sweet lemon (lemon candy), spice. Not much in the way of yeast, but overall the usual dunkel notes are all there.
Like the Weisser, the Dunkler Hirsch is smooth, and easy to drink. Surprisingly meaty to the finish. Malty, with milt notes of banana, spice and chocolate. An occasional hit of bubblegum now and again. Sweet, but enjoyable; paired well with some sesame peanut chicken.
Type: Munich Helles Lager
Munich Helles lagers are a bit of a 'reactionary' brew, as they were designed to represent a German challenge the massive popularity of the new Czech Pilsner. Helles lagers are thus light, floral, malty, and with a nice little hop character as well.
This was the last of the gift set, and the inspiration behind the choice of glassware included in the pack. Unfortunately, I can't really say this brew was worthy of sporting the world's most famous castle on it's chest...
Poured a deep golden, slightly opaque, leaves behind a thin head with some flecks of lacing. I must say this is a rather limp looking brew, nothing zippy or exciting about it. In order for any head to appear in the picture, I had to vigorously swirl the bottle, pour out enough to make the head, then hope the camera was ready in time - it left that quickly. Little visible carbonation, pours a bit soupy. Sadly, this already looks flat. Another swirl to fill the glass a second time did little to spring some life into things.
Nose is decidedly more pleasant, with lemon, herbal hops, Munich malts, a nice grainy, farmland feel to it.
Tastes like a sweet German pilsner, with the emphasis on a solid malt profile and lemon/herbal hops. A bit too sweet for my tastes, but there is certainly nothing artificial to this brew. However, the whole thing feels rather flat and watery, not really doing it for me. A classic example of a flavorful brew that gets killed by a lacklustre mouthfeel. The carbonation provides the occasional zip of flavor, but generally it feels flat and lifeless. I'm actually wondering if the brew's gone a bit past its prime, but it's only been in the fridge for a day or two and the gift set was a recent purchase, with the hefeweizen and dunkelweizen tasting and feeling just fine the night before. So I'm not really sure that's the problem. But, since I'm obligated to base my review on what I have in front of me, rather than what I think it should have been, I have to say this one missed the mark.
I really have to stress that this was not a poor-tasting brew. It's quite flavorful and has most of the things I'm looking for in a Munich helles. However, the poor appearance and lifeless body reveal one of two things: that Neuschwansteiner doesn't ship well to Ontario (and hopefully tastes better in its native Southern Germany), or this beer is simply not among the brewery's best. Since I so enjoyed their bock and hefeweizen imports, I'm going to lean towards the latter. (Grade: C+)
To really give this brew justice, I might just have to make a trip to southern Germany to sample it fresh on tap. With the lovely Bavarian countryside, the mighty Allgauer Alps, and one of the world's great castles all within sight, I'm sure making a trip to the brewery will not be an unpleasant experience whatsoever. In the meantime, I'll keep using my HirschBrau glass, look at the image of Neuschwanstein, and dream...