Category Archives: Altbier

Slow Lane ‘Altogether’ Altbier


“Altbier is the traditional beer of the German city Dusseldorf. A copper coloured, smooth and well-balanced ale. It is fermented at cooler temperatures than typical ales to give it a cleaner finish. Altbier is rarely seen outside of Dusseldorf, yet inside many of the city’s pubs it is the only beer served.”

Glassware: Half Stein.

Appearance: Somewhat of a blend between copper and amber with a humongous 3.5 inch head which almost erupts out of the glass. It quickly reduced and left an absolute smattering of lace in its wake.

Aroma: Yummo. It instantly reminds us of a top shelf ESB with its big bready and sweet honey and caramel overtones. Exquisitely balanced by those gorgeous Noble hops which provide herbal, spicy, citrus and floral accents and blends back into the sweet malts harmoniously. Hints of toast and fruity esters – banana and orchard fruits like apples and pear…but more caramelised. Really good depth to it.

Flavour: It comes on quite sweet i.e lots of honey, caramel and toffee but the dry and bready qualities pull it into line immediately. A delicious toasty-ness escalates around the mid and peppery spice, floral and herbal hop notes come along for the ride. It all hits a lightly roasted note late in the piece then finishes sweet yet toasty with good length on it.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth. Offers just enough to chew on. Medium body, mild-moderate Co2. The 5% ABV slots in nicely.

Overall: Another impressive offering from Slow Lane. For us they’re fast becoming another go-to brewery for European styles. Keep em coming lads!

Burnley Brewing Altbier


“Mellow, easy, crisp, and light bodied. The name originates from it being a top-fermented brew. An older method of brewing, giving its famous fruity flavour.”

Glassware: Half Stein.

Appearance: Deep rusted amber with really faint red highlights. It forms two fingers of light tan head which slowly deconstructs. Patchy lace work clings to the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: Malt-driven, semi sweet and tangy. Old world hops start to open up pretty quickly and present their earthy, spicy and woody characters. More of the richer aromas like toffee, gingerbread and brioche are buried a bit deeper. Picking up shades of nutty malt, toast and marmalade then dark fruits and yeast esters to round it out. Really nice…reminds us of a good Vienna Lager.

Flavour: Not as well defined as the aroma but it’s unbelievably velvety and the malt profile displays everything from light toffee, nuts, dough/toast and semi sweet honey. Rather earthy and woody…hinged on a subtle dryness which shifts into the slightly tangy, yeasty and earthy finish that really hangs on.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth, slick and well rounded. Medium body, flat-ish Co2. 5% ABV is neither here nor there.

Overall: Definitely our least favoured of the 3 we’ve tried from this series thus far. Our knowledge on Altbier is limited though so this could be exactly what the brewers were going for. Although it’s not for us it was still a decent drop.

Little Creatures ‘Reinhold’ German Altbier

26195340_796623620521785_7603054270307948585_n“Reinhold is a sibling of the traditional Altbier style; you might even say it’s what Rogers’ (Creatures’ American Amber Ale) German cousin might look like. Full of toffee and fudge aromas, with some grassy hops peeking through, this beer is assertively bitter to start. It then gives way to a full mouthfeel f sweet malts, reminiscent of Oma’s dense fruit cake. Prost!”

Glassware: Tumbler.

Appearance: Clear amber hue with soft candy red highlights. A two finger head assembles on top before gradually receding to a film. Laced really well.

Aroma: Quite complex with heady notes of caramel, toffee, nuts, apricot, toast, grassy/herbal hop, earth and caramelised fig. It almost has this rum & raisin scent to it as well. Unique and actually quite intriguing. It’s like Vienna lager meets English ESB.

Flavour: Malt forward for the most part but countered nicely by an earthy hop bitterness. Good transition from aroma to flavour with the caramel and toffee dominating the subtle toasty malt base. Very mild notes of orange citrus making a late appearance as it finishes sweet and nutty with a lingering hop bitterness on the rear.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, silky and medium bodied…not too muscly but still holding a good density. Just a hint of warmth from the 6.5% ABV but it’s ultimately well concealed.

Overall: A very interesting beer. The brewers have called it an altbier but it could very easily pass as an ESB, Vienna lager or an amber ale. It’s versatile and full flavoured. A lovely ‘Little’ number indeed!

Stone & Wood 2016 Stone Beer

13346763_526942297489920_6697504367293081971_n“Long before the wizardry of steam was invented, brewers used stone and wood to brew their daily beer. As a tribute to this ancient technique, we add wood fired stones to the kettle to rouse the boil, intensifying the malt characters of this seasonal brew. Using a selection of seven malts, the 2016 stone beer is a dark ale with a roasted cocoa aroma, this full bodied winter warmer is balanced with caramel sweetness, finishing dry.”

Served in a sniffer glass. The pour is very stout-like – pitch black with a stubborn two finger head that holds up well but eventually settles to a thin overlay that leaves some healthy decals as it ebbs. Lots of beautiful roasted aromas gushing out. Moreish wafts of chocolate, espresso, cocoa, roasted nuts, caramel, molasses, licorice and a hint of smoke has us completely reeling! Geez, you can’t ask for much more, this is simply brilliant. In the mouth it’s full and creamy with a subtle dryness developing toward the back end. The 6.5% ABV has been suppressed well as this super smooth dark ale just glides over the tongue. The flavour follows on from the aroma superbly – big, roasted and decadent notes of cocoa, coffee, roasted malts, ovaltine and a suggestion of smoke transition through the mid. A gentle alcohol warmth slides in and carries it all in to a dry, roasty finish with decent duration on the rear palate. We’ve been religiously reviewing Stone & Wood’s annual L/R Stone beer since 2013 and we must say each year it gets better. This would have to be the best beer we’ve ever had from this brewery, it’s packed full of dark malts, coffee and chocolate and perfectly balanced by a gentle hop bitterness. A bottle of this, a big roaring fire and a big steak. Heaven!

Stone & Wood 2015 Stone beer

image“Long before the wizardry of steam was invented, brewers used stone and wood to brew their daily beer. As a tribute to this ancient technique, we add wood fired stones to the kettle to rouse the boil and intensify the malt characters of this seasonal brew. Serving up a platter of dark fruits and toasted nuts, the 2015 stone beer earthy, rich and balanced. The sumptuous complexity is driven by the use of 11 different malt types including Vienna, Choc, Wheat and caramelised malts along with Hallertau Hersbrücker hops, this traditional European ale has a sweet caramel flavour that finishes with a dry roasted bitterness”.

Served in a shaker glass. The dark cola pour reveals subtle crimson hues when held against the light. Crowning it off is a tanned head that swells to about two fingers in height before reducing to a wispy layer over the top. Some wet, streaky lacing is released as it ebbs. Quite complex on the nose actually. It’s almost like a dark ale, a porter and a stout has been blended with a robust dark roast tantalising the olfactory initially. We also get a firm earthy nuttiness, figs, chocolate, caramel and a hint of coffee bitterness to fill it out. Pretty good. In the mouth it’s dense and viscous but with a surprisingly silky texture. Co2 is expectedly minimal with the 6.4% ABV being very well hidden. Kind of slides down with ease. The palate is just as complex with an earthy roasted malt tasted on entry. Plenty of nutty sweetness develops as a hint of either peat or charred wood is detected through the mid. A suggestion of caramel leads on to slightly bitter coffee in the finish. Wow, the brewers have separated the flavours in this beer really well, none of them overlap or get muddled, they just seem to roll easily in to one another perfectly. Another year, another delicious stone beer from these Byron Bay brewers.

Stone & wood ‘Stone Beer’ 2014 limited release

imageWe still aren’t sure what style of brew this is. Most categorise this as a ‘stone beer’ because of the brewing process which is used, but to us it’s somewhere between a dark and a brown ale. Whatever you choose this limited release looks a treat.

Served in a tulip glass the mat black pour produced a 1 inch brown head that slowly dissipated to a rim of foam around the edge of the glass. Laced quite well considering the slowly diminishing head. Aroma is so similar to the Lord Nelsons ‘old admiral’. Beautifully caramelised with roasted coffee bean, chocolate and malt dominating the nose. Undertones of booze, cocoa and burnt wood work wonderfully together to create good depth. Mouthfeel was mineraly with mild-medium carbonation. Medium bodied. The palate displays a gorgeous array of roasted flavours with coffee and chocolate taking the front seat. A spicy addition of hops delivers an earthy finish with hints of caramelised malt and espresso. Great length. These limited release ‘stone beers’ are a huge boost to this breweries already stellar reputation, once again we’re already looking forward to next year’s offering.

Stone & wood 2013 stone beer

Stone & wood stone beerImpressive story behind the ‘stone’ in the stone beer which where the name derives, the brewers rewind back to the days before electricity and heat the stones up in a wood fire before throwing them in the tanks to boil the water. In effect, caramelizing the wort to produce a more rich malt and toffee aromas and flavours. Although a primitive style of brewing it’s a very avante garde approach to modern brewing.

Served in a beer tulip it’s pouring an impenetrable dark brown with an edge of ruby red when held against the light. A good finger and a half of tan head shrinks down and settles to a fine layer over the top. Laced reasonably well. The aroma is quite muted, but at the same time quite complex. The stand outs are roasted malts, spice and toffee with caramelized undertones of nuts & burnt sugar. Fore flavours of toasted malts, caramel & toffee come forward while hints of treacle, chocolate and a hint of warming booze (7.2% ABV) in the mid finishes with bitter, roasted notes. Length is OK. Wow, what an interesting release. As a beer enthusiast, if you are only used to the standard jasper and pacific ales then get out while you can and find one of these. It has totally renewed our respect of this brewery. It does not disappoint.

Dieu di ciel ‘rescousse’ German style red ale

Dieu di ciel rescousse German style red ale“The Rescue is a sleek Altbier that celebrates life in all its diversity. On the palate, malted attack mingles with aromas of toast, leaving a final hop that bites the tongue and gives this red ale with mahogany highlights its freshness, its complexity and uniqueness. Good Lord! pays 11 cents per bottle sold to the Foundation of the Quebec wildlife to come to the rescue of endangered species such as wolverines, copper redhorse and chorus frog … Liberty, equality, biodiversity! Get out of indifference, make your difference.” 

There isn’t a bad beer these guys brew. They would easily be in our top 10 best breweries in the world and although we mention it a lot, the artwork these guys offer on their labels are second to none. Served in a beer tulip the deep copper red pour produced a thin fizzy head which retains well, releasing some webbed lace trails down the walls of the glass. Off the nose we’re picking up a delicate malt driven aroma with earthy hints of caramel, toasted sourdough, dark fruits, nutty malts and spice. Medium carbonation with a soft, rounded mouth feel. The true dieu di ciel characteristic of dark malts and nutty caramel/maple syrupy flavours marry up beautifully with the chewy dough and subtle spice to bring an absolute pearler of a beer together. Good length. 5.3% ABV plays a subtle role in the make up of the body, adding a full flavoured taste. Again, big ups to this world class brewery. Tasty beer.