Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Few Cruise Beers I Liked, and a Little About Them.

Somehow I only tasted eight of the 45 beers poured on Friday's Craft Beer Cruise, which kicked off the fourth annual Berlin Beer Week.

My relatively low tally may have had something to do with the perfect weather, best enjoyed on the top deck while watching Berlin's bustling riverbanks scroll slowly past. It looked like the whole city had come out to enjoy the sun and drink beer. ("Hey, you're drinking beer over there on that boat! Us too! WHOO!") Meanwhile the taps were all below decks. It surely also had something to do with the conversation. And the fact that I went back for seconds of a few that I really liked.

What beers I liked best, and a little about them:

Fürst Wiaçek Nimble: Session-strength cloudy hop nectar brewed in collaboration with Lervig of Norway, at 3.8% abv. Its tropical character reminded me of piña colada, with pineapple and coconut notes, making me wonder if it had those new Sabro hops (it didn't). Meanwhile it was clean, bitterish, dryish, and perfectly balanced. One of the very few "New England-style" ales I've had where I'd want multiple pints. It's proper Berlin-brewed too, as Fürst Wiaçek are now full-timers at the new CraftZentrum contract brewery in Spandau.

Schneider Weisse Tap X, Mein Nelson Sauvin: I don't need to say much about this one, because the Nelson Sauvin smelled and tasted muted -- nearly undetectable. (Tasting a couple of hop-bombs first thrashed our thresholds.) Which meant that it tasted basically like soft, gentle, sweet, strong Aventinus. So, world class. I also love the fact that the organizers have no qualms about embracing 146-year-old G.Schneider & Sohn aboard the craft boat. That's how it ought to work.

Heidenpeters/Hops & Barley Intense Pulse Lupulin: This amply hopped IPL was the only lager on the boat, and also one of the best beers on it (probably). Bitter and moderately dank rather than fruity. I look forward to getting to know it better over the next couple of months, when it's sure to keep appearing around town (as did the past couple of official BBW beers). Maybe it could've used more bitter-bite to balance the inevitable softness from so much dry-hopping. But then I'm nit-picking.

Kemker Elisabeth Farmhouse Ale: I'd never heard of them, and trying random saisons tends to be a masochistic exercise. So I was pleasantly surprised. I found distinct lemon-lime character from the hops (which I now see are Mittelfrüh) and grain (wheat and raw spelt). Because of that lemony grain taste I guessed wheat, but I didn't know. Moderately bitter, with a light tangy acidic impression, grassy and dry -- yeah, I could drink a lot of this. Turns out it's 4.5% abv too, very useful strength.

Kemker is a new firm based near Münster, in wee Alverskirchen. I don't know (yet) where this brew was actually made. In their garage, for all I know. I'm asking. Meanwhile they appear to be running a successful crowdfunding campaign to move their nanobrewery to a nearby farm. Could be a name to watch.

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