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Champagne of Biers

April 12, 2009
Champagne of Biers

Champagne of Biers

The quest for swing top bottles continues to deliver delicious fringe benefits. Hövels Original bitterbier is among the better German brews I’ve tasted.

It is a stylistic oddball: a somewhat bitter ale, but not an English style bitter as the name might suggest, and not quite like a Dusseldorf Alt either. It claims four types of German malts which add up to the “rotgold” color and a layered toastiness that cascades on the tongue like a Moonlight beer (see Twist of Fate).

Sunshine in a Glass

Sunshine in a Glass

Behold this morning’s Easter egg. Hövels is damn clean and dangerously refreshing. The bitterness breaks first, next comes the bready toastiness, and then the whole thing rolls gracefully off your tongue. The dry finish compels you to raise your glass and the cycle continues.

Although it doesn’t have much to do with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, I get the same fine feeling when this one hits my lips. There I am, in a cool river beneath a burning sun with the uncanny thirst that only a day on the water can produce. Consummation of this thirst is imminent and somewhere there is a bag of salt and vinegar chips.

As a side note, I recommend that every ale lover take a six month sabbatical sometime and only drink German lagers. You will be shocked to discover the mad zoo of flavors in your domestic ale. Get a bottle of Hövels to ease the transition. Likewise, this beer is a nice icebreaker for lager-locked German palettes.

A Kasten of Hövels

A Kasten of Hövels

Who can resist the voluptuous elegance of this kasten? It should be holding a lipstick smudged martini.

At the moment, Hövels is not widely available outside its native Dortmund (where it sports a wooden crate), but this may change due to its awesomeness and ownership by the all-powerful Oetker Group–a fact that dismays some german microbrew purists. Knock the doc if you must, but you can’t trash the taste.

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