As many of the regular readers of this blog already know, I am quite fond of the noble drink we commonly refer to as beer. There are many types of beer – golden, amber, dark, black, white, wheat, great and crap. However, without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite type of beer is... free.
Some wise idiot once said something along the lines of “there’s no such thing as free beer”. Well, he – or she – was wrong. Apparently, this blog is now so popular and well-liked that people have started giving me free beer, presumably so that I can subsequently write about it. It’s happened twice so far. But let me say this: I am fairly corrupt as long as it benefits me. I will write about beers that are given to me, assuming they come from breweries that aren’t owned by multinational conglomerates, and that the beers are at least worth trying.
The first lot of free beers I got was from some friends who had been on holiday to other parts of Germany and very thoughtfully brought back three beers from a brewery they were sure I’d never heard of. Of course, they were wrong about that. Nevertheless, I gratefully accepted three beers from the Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle in Brandenburg: a kirsch, a porter and a schwarzbier (black beer). A kirsch? Isn’t this Germany? What about the Reinheitsgebot? Clearly, the Germans are increasingly less conservative, if you catch my drift. For those who wonder: a kirsch is a beer where cherries have been added either before or after the fermentation of the beer. It usually makes the beer taste awful, but it can sometimes be quite tart and refreshing. In this case it was kind of halfway between – I neither liked nor disliked it. No wonder they say Norwegians are born diplomats.
The porter was good. I like porters as long as they’re dry, which they are usually not. But this one was well-balanced and had strong notes of the things you expect in a good porter: coffee, chocolate and burnt toast. The schwarzbier, though, was diabolical. Someone had clearly accidentally dropped about a million tonnes of sugar into the mix, because this was undrinkably sweet and I was forced to give it to my wife, who actually drank it. I guess I still don’t understand women.
|You won't find many better dark beers than this one.|
A couple of weeks later, a colleague of my wife’s, also apparently a devoted reader of this blog, did the only sensible thing he could do: he brought in a massive litre-bottle of lovely dark beer and gave it to my wife so that she could share it with me. This time, I had actually NOT heard about the brewery before. It’s called “Bräuhaus in Ummendorf” – which is 81.6km north of Konstanz – and the beer was called no less than “Placidus Cobaldus”. You’ve got to have pretty big balls to name your beer in such a way, and I was very much hoping that these would also extend to the taste of the beer. I was not disappointed. It was a great example of a well-balanced dunkles (dark) beer: not too dry, not too sweet, not too malty, not too hoppy – simply very good. I wish I had another.
I must end this post by apologizing. I have received another free beer, but this was before I started blogging. A friend from Norway came to visit about 4 years ago, and this guy is a genius. He brought perhaps the finest beer that has ever been brewed in Norway: Dark Horizon, from the brewery Nøgne Ø. I was so overwhelmed that I kept this beer in my cupboard for 4 long years, frequently eyeing it up, wondering what taste sensations were hidden within. However, last week I abruptly decided that the waiting was over and cracked it open. Again, I was not disappointed. This beer had such a complexity and depth of flavour (as well as a respectable 16% alcohol) it made me feel all fuzzy, warm and very, very happy. When mankind is capable of brewing beer like that, then there’s no limit to what we can achieve, I thought.
Anyway, obviously the take-home message from this blog post is: send me beer. I promise to drink it, and if it’s worth writing about it’ll be mentioned on this blog. And then you’ll be indirectly world famous, because this blog has readers on all three continents. Just remember to write “fragile” on the box.