|A bit of a gusher...|
It set me thinking. What are the fundamental things setting a well-made pale ale apart from a lager? There may be fruity esters from the warmer ale fermentation, say, but they can be minimised. The existence of Kölsch – which to the uninitiated might appear to be a pale hoppy lager, but some which beer geeks insist on calling a pale ale – shows how close the two can be, as do several British ‘lagers’ that are actually warm-fermented, such as Fuller’s Frontier.
In the opposite direction, so too do the snobbish descriptions I’ve read online of Eichbaum’s clean and smooth Steam Brew Session IPA as “lagery”. Then what’s going on with these rough-edged and yeasty brews?
Then it struck me: it’s most likely a legacy from the early days of German ‘craft beer’, when the most important thing seemed to be to differentiate yourself from the industrial Pils producers. So if their beer was golden, hoppy and as bright as a new pin, yours needed to be murky amber and tasting of yeast.
I had hoped it would have changed by now. After all, what inspired many new-wave brewers in Germany and around the world were the big flavours and aromas of golden-bright Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and its ilk. The opportunity is still there to create great Pale Ales, and differentiate or localise them by using all-German ingredients.
It’d be a huge shame if, instead of capitalising on the broader palette of aromas and flavours available to them, it turns out many German brewers – and drinkers – still prefer to lazily define German Pale Ale as “Hey look, it’s definitely not Pils!”
What's your experience - have you found a great German Pale Ale? Do you like the yeasty-rough edge, and am I missing something here?
Ever had Hoptimum by Weithaler? It's a beaut. Hopfenstopfer Citra is also a really good expression of the hop in a pale ale. And if you're permitting IPA into this analysis, Hanscraft Backbone Splitter is an all-time favourite of mine.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the reminder! Yes, there are honourable exceptions, and interestingly, German IPA doesn't seem to suffer quite so much from this, perhaps because it's already very obviously "not Pils"...Delete
I've not seen Hoptimum up north, but will have a look. I will revisit Hopfenstopfer Citra too - I last had it almost a decade ago, and as I recall it was fairly naturtrub back then.
Yeah, I realised after posting that my observations on this are not exactly up to date.Delete