Stats: Altbier. 5.2% ABV. Own Sound, Ontario.
Size: 473mL can
Colour: Brown-Amber (unfiltered)
Mouth Feel: Medium carbonation; watery start and creamy but dry finish.
Pairing Notes: Grilled lamb kebabs
→ 85 points
So in collision of two bits of chance, I thought I’d do series on beers that come in cans — more or less exclusively. That is the fact that I drank Red Racer (reviewed in Field Research) and that I was gifted a several cans, including this one, which got me thinking: maybe not everything that comes in a can is bad.
I know I’m not the only person who thumbs his nose at canned beverages. Beyond the rumoured health concerns over canned beverages, I quite simply don’t like the metallic taste that comes from being in aluminum — and I’ve more than once said no to having beer when the only thing available was canned beer. Glass is quite simply a more inert container for bottling — but it is heavier and introduces a greater cost to both manufacturer and distributor … and there is a subculture among brewers who have said “Screw it. We’re only doing cans.” When some of the best IPAs in today’s market (e.g. Heady-Topper and Red Racer) are coming in can-only, it is presenting us can-haters with a difficult Hobson’s Choice: take it or leave?
It’s rare when a first taste fools me, but I have to admit, this beer really grew on me. It’s a sneaky beer. It pours with decent carbonation, but there is no real residual head in place by the time you take your first sip … and there is zero lacing. I mean zero. Not that I’m telling you to do this, but you could drain this glass and put it back in the cupboard … it’s that clean.
It similarly pours an unusual and perfectly filtered and totally translucent brown-gold. I can’t say I’ve seen this colour in a beer before where the dark golden colour follows a continuum up the glass into an almost light brown-black. Interesting.
That first taste? Well, that’s where I was fooled once. My immediate first impression was “watery” which I was surprised at because reading the can, I knew this was going to have German malts and hops and was an “amber” (which I would say is a stretch), so I was expecting some German strength to back up this altbier.
I haven’t had many altbiers in my past, but from what I know, it’s a long conditioned ale that should have both strength and a heightened mellowness to it and that it should exude a great balance between the European malts and hops. There will be no confusion on your palette for even a minute about this whether this contains west-coast or American hops … what you taste here has strength and backbone … and the malts that emerge after a few tastes. I’m reminded a lot by the old Labatt “Ice” beer they produced – do they still? – but this is a much better beer, don’t get me wrong. What my taste memory is picking up are those stronger German hops, meaty malts, and a very crisp and dry finish.
Really, the only disappointing part about this beer is it’s first taste which is, yes, watery and thin. While the mouthfeel is improved by the creamy diacetyls that wash over the tongue, where the beer suddenly comes alive is in the middle where the carbonation ushers in the malts and the beginnings of the hops. If balance were the order of the day, I’d say this beer – surprisingly – falls more to the hops. The finish, for a German-styled beer, is not very sweet and will spank your tongue.
All in all, exceptionally drinkable and a great pairing for the lamb kebabs I had tonight. Many thanks to my friend Howard for procuring me a few cans and delivering them to my door. Yum.