A Walking/Drinking Tour of Gdansk

My friend and fellow brewer Matt lives here in Gdansk.  Unfortunately the day before I flew here, he arrived in Frankfurt to spend the week.  But being the good host he is, he provided me a map to some of the best beer locations in town. Five locations made the cut, three of which brewed their own beers.

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First stop was Restaurancja Barbados/Brower Trojmiejski.  They were apparently the closest thing to an American brew house with five beers, a Hefeweizen, a Keller-style Helles, a Pils, an IPA and a Dunkel.  All were drinkable, the Hefeweizen, called Dominikanskie, the best of the lot.  Here’s the flight, as well as my Polish rye-flour soup:

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Next to two beer emporia.  Both had beers from all over Europe.  At the first I took the Alebrowar “King of Hop” IPA.  It was rather nice but missing a strong hop backbone, used a rather floral-citrusy hop rather than a strong American style for aroma.  But hey, it’s Poland and, having just left the land of the Reinheitsgebot and a hundred similar pilsners, it’s a refreshing change.  At the second beer emporium I had a locally brewed Brett Brown.  Nice, some muted Brett characteristics but a bit thin in the mouth, probably a result of bretanomyces fermenting the complex sugars out of a normal wort.  I had my dinner at the second brewery, barbequed pork ribs and a Bitter to wash it down.  Again, the hops were a bit strange but I was able to peg it as a bitter without being told what it was so not bad.  The final brewer was on one of the canals in the old city at the Hotel Gdansk.  Two beers on tap to match the classic oompah band outside, a helles and a dunkles.  The Dunkel had more Baltic character and was the far superior beer.

I enjoyed the tour, first of the old city and second of the beers.  Gdansk is a friendly town, full of bright young faces.  It’s touristy in the old city but the waitress at the final brew pub treated me to an experience I’ll not soon forget, the Polish version of Uber.  I’ll count this a really good day.

Baltic Porter on the Baltic

Just got into Poland this afternoon and had a chance to enjoy this:

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That, ladies and gentlemen, is a genuine Polish Baltic Porter.  Getting it was a comedy of errors:  The restaurant’s tap was broken so I couldn’t get it fresh.  Then the bottles were different temperatures.  My German traveling companion had no idea of the strength of the beer but both of us really liked it.  Specifics:  9.5% ABV.  I’m guessing from the mouthfeel the FG has to be pretty high.  It’s bittered enough that just a bit of malt sweetness remains and it has some hop flavor as well.  Some warmth from the high alcohol content.  Dark, dark brown, persistent tan head.  The flavor was caramel but not from malt,  suspect, but from kettle caramelzation.  If I were going to make this, I’d take first runnings, boil the living crap out of it, hop the hell out of it and let it age in a dark cellar with an old man and a coffin for about a year before serving it.  It is YUMMY!  Finally, escape from the Reinheitsgebot….

Kloster Machern

A tip if you ever find yourself on the Mosel River between Traben-Trarbach and Bernkastel-Kues:  Stop in the Kloster Machern.  When I lived on the Mosel about fifteen years ago, the Cloister was abandoned.  Someone had the great idea of converting it into a brewery.  It’s not a working cloister or monastery, monks neither make nor oversee the beer production.  But it is a damned good place to stop and have a pint, or 500 ml, as they sell the beer here.

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The beers are more Bavarian than western German, if you take the highly bitter pilsners of the region as examples.  There are three, a Helles, a Dunkeles and a Hefewezen.  The Helles is served “Keller-style”, that means cloudy.  It has a distinctly sweet flavor with a yeasty, bready note and some fruit – I picked out peaches, my German friend told me just to drink the beer.  It comes in two sizes, 0.33 liters (12 ounces, approx) and 0.5 liters (a bit over a pint).  The Hefeweizen is also cloudy, a very good beer.  While I’ve had better Hefeweizens, I don’t know if I’ve ever had one with quite the atmosphere of the Kloster.  Their crown jewel is their dunkeles.  It’s a dark lager, sweet but not cloying, lots of caramel and dried fruit flavors.  It’s the beer I’ll go back for.

The Kloster offers beer in bottles.  Since my German friends drank the beer I intended to give a Polish friend, I bought him a complete flight.  They’re in flip-top half liter bottles and are clearly marked with a “best-by” date about a month to three months from now.  And they are marked clearly that they are brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot.

By the way, I found and bought a stein with the complete text of the Reinheitsgebot written on it.  That should be a conversation starter at Oktoberfest.

Cheers!

Twelve Apostles and More

Made it to the Twelve Apostles (Zwoelf Apostolen) this afternoon!  It’s a craft brewery in Ginnheim, a suburb of Frankfurt and one of the forsaken few in the Main Metropolis.  In typical German style, there are two beers available, a Pils and a Dunkel.  I had both.  It was worth the drive.

The Pils was served cloudy, Keller-style, pale and hoppy.  Hops dominated the flavor, I’m guessing Saaz but maybe Tettnanger.  The malt was pilsner, the suspended yeast gave the beer a nice bready-yeasty flavor offsetting the bitterness and spice of the hops.  The Dunkel was essentially the Pils with some roasted malts in the grist, cloudy but not as much so as the pils, great flavor, so much so that I may try to formulate a “Franken-dunkel” similar to this beer.  I did have food there, the German summer food craze, pfifferlinge.  I believe in English they’re called Chifferelles, a mushroom gathered in the hills above Frankfurt this time of year.  In a cream sauce over noodles, delicious!

The pub is buried deep in the heart of old Ginnheim and is hard to find.  But Google Maps will take you there.  You’ll find a charming old fachwerk (half-timbered) house with a modern German concrete construction built around it and painted to resemble half-timbering.  The biergarten is attractive and large with wooden tables and chairs, shaded by chestnut trees and grape vines over an arbor.  I didn’t get a chance to talk with the brewer and given German customs, I doubt I’d have been given a tour had I met him or her.  Bottom line, I wouldn’t cross the Atlantic for this brewery but if you’re already here, hey, stop in and have a Dunkel.

Yes, I’m eating and drinking my way around Frankfurt.  I would be much more successful if I didn’t have to work!

I’m currently redefining my definition of a Koelsch over one.  This one is fruiter than I’d like but hey, I can always put a bit more Vienna or more likely, Munich in mine, should I desire this effect.  The flavor of the Lion Koelch reminds me of peaches.  There’s bread or biscuit in the finish, low hops, both bttering and flavor.  It’s a good beer, one worth drinking again, if I could find it in Denver.

Craft Beer in Frankfurt

Who’d have thought it.  Frankfurt is a craft brew wasteland.  I’ve googled every term I can think of meaning brewpub, craft beer, house brewery, family brewery….  I’ve come up with one, a place translated as “The Twelve Apostles” in Frankfurt and another in Darmstadt, a short drive from here.  Of course on the way to The Twelve Apostles I drive by the massive Henninger brewery and I do like me some fresh German pils.  May have to visit the Twelve soon.  Dona eis cerevisium….

Last night in fermentationally challenged drinking it was apple wine, Appelwoi in the local dialect.  It’s a hard dry cider, no “sussreserve” for this stuff!  I do love it though, it’s tart and refreshing and historically the local alcoholic beverage of choice.  Served with local fare, Frankfurt Green Sauce (Gruener Sosse), boiled eggs and potatoes, it’s a fine meal.  Of course, if you’re feeling carnivorous, try the green sauce with braised beef tips…  I’m still looking forward to that meal!  If you’re here in Hessen, look for smaller family-owned houses.  Both the food and the drink are better.

German Wine Label

Today, in my hotel restaurant, I saw a bottle of wine labeled “Nymphomanie”.  It pretty much means what it sounds like, nymphomania.  The subtitle is “The desired one,” an interesting juxtaposition.  And for that, I may, at some time during my stay here in Frankfurt, try a glass.

Saison Follow Up

Beer is down to 93 degrees and still fermenting ever so slowly.  I have a taste of it in front of me.  It’s still sweet with unfermented sugars.  I have a business trip coming up, if the beer hasn’t dried out by the time I get back, I’ll add some WLP 090 and let it complete.  The flavor, you’d think I’d have an undrinkable soup of off–flavors but the Wyeast 3724 seems to love the heat.  It has an amazing nose, almost orange-like flavors and a bit of peppery bite.  I like the result I’m getting.  3724 is finicky but worth it.