Ahead of Oktoberfest, Endeavour brewer JB decided he wanted to get in on the action by making a German style of beer. But he didn’t just want to do a lager. He wanted an alternative. And what could possibly be a better alternative than an altbier? Well, perhaps two alternatives. So he made a rauchbier as well.
The alt (meaning “old”) is a copper coloured ale with some sweetness and toasty malt characters that was conditioned nearer the cool temperature favoured by lagers, with the ultimate intention of giving off a cleaner, crisper yeast character and allow more room for the hops to shine. Here the sole hop chosen was Helga, a variety which was harvested for the final time in 2017, and it gives off subtle floral aromas with a slight spiciness and a pleasant, lingering bitterness that contributes to a dry finish. In a nod to the hop’s demise, the beer has been named Helga’s Last Yodel, though in truth she’s not quite done yet; this batch of the beer used the very last of Endeavour’s allocation of the 2016 harvest and as soon as the another tank becomes available JB will brew the altbier again, to the same recipe, but using the 2017 harvest Helga. And that really will be her last yodel.
The companion beer is a rauchbier, (or "smoked beer"). In a way, this is a beer that’s been several years in the making, with JB having long ago made the pilgrimage to Bamberg, Germany’s famed home of smoked beers, and left impressed with what he tasted. With the freedom afforded by the Tap Rooms, plus the venue’s penchant for smoked meat, he grabbed his chance to make his own.
The smoked malt character leaps out at you immediately, with an aroma somewhere between bacon and campfire – or perhaps bacon cooking on a campfire. That carries through to the palate but in a more subtle way; a deliberate move, using a relatively low smoked malt ratio, to assuage potential objections from the everyday Endeavour crowd who tend not to walk in the door from the more adventurous end of the beer drinking spectrum. The smoke shares its space with a caramel/crystal malt sweetness while the Helga hops add a gentle bitterness, ultimately leaving it a fairly easy drinking but balanced take on the style. If you’re a fan of the smoky stuff, the rauch will be getting its proper christening during Sydney Beer Week where it’ll be served up at a dinner alongside a selection of smoked meats.
Published October 24, 2017 2017-10-24 00:00:00