I attended a British Guild of Beer Writers bash in London recently on behalf of The Brew Club, and bumped into Andy Howitt. Andy’s a fellow beer geek who told me he was undertaking an interesting (soccer) World Cup project – he was aiming to drink a beer native to each nation competing in the tournament in South Africa.
That gives you a clue as to when the event was taking place – I forget the USA/England result.
We started discussing the more obscure footballing nations, Uraguay, Paraguay, Ghana and so on. From there our conversation meandered over to Brazil, where Andrew spends much of his time.
He said he had a couple of Brazilian beers I could try and I immediately thought of Brahma, the local AB InBev brand which is available quite widely in the UK.
You get the drift, hot latin nights and cold tasteless lagers… the beach at the copacabana… close your eyes and you can almost hear those Samba rythmns!
The he totally floored me by offering a couple of bottles of authentic looking German ales. Including ‘Baden Baden’, a weissbeer from Campos do Jordão in the south of Brazil and ‘Bamberg’ Munchen from a microbrewery in the same city.
By all accounts there is a sizeable German population down there in the south of the country, and there are breweries that clearly cater to their wishes.
Baden Baden – Weissbeer 5.2% ABV
I opened the beer on a hot, sunny, Sunday afternoon and after taking my usual Brewclub photograph – which I subsequently managed to delete (doh!), I settled out in the sunshine to enjoy it. Strangely, the Brazililans bottle their beers in 600ml bottles or garrafes.
Had I not deleted the photograph you would have seen that it pours a pale gold colour, cloudy as you’d expect, and with a full head – but, you’ll just have to deal with an ‘official’ photograph in instead!
There wasn’t too much nose, what I got was sort of yeasty, not wholly unexpected for a Weissbeer, but there was barely a hint of the banana I was expecting. None of the Clove, Orange Peel or Bubblegum aromas that I’ve come to expect.
The first sip, and the head has almost disappeared. The mouthfeel is okay, the flavour is weissbeer, dry and refreshing, but not overly tasty. Yes it’s a weissbeer, but it’s as though the brewery chose a mediocre weissbeer as their inspiration.
I thought long and hard before scoring this beer, and have decided to give this two and a half stars, it does what it sets out to do, but overall it could do it better.
Bamberg Munchen – 4.8% ABV
The other beer Andy gave me was ‘Bamberg’, brewed in a microbrewery in Campos do Jordão. Bamberg takes its name from the German city in Franconia that is host to the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier I reviewed a few months ago. Bamberg is actually host to some eight breweries, pretty good for a city of 70,000 inhabitants, so this beer is nailing its flag to a pretty impressive mast.
But is it any good?
Well it pours a rich caramel colour, with a full foaming white head. The nose is caramel and malt, and fairly understated. The head dissipates quickly.
Flavour wise it’s malty, bready with a sharp hop hit. The label reads ‘Munchen’ and yes, this is a pretty good approximation of a Munich Style lager, at 4.8% tending towards a Marzen.
There’s also a hint of that ‘goaty’ flavour I’ve written about before, (it’s Octanoic acid) but it’s soon overwhelmed by the malty flavour.
Again, I’ll give this another two and a half stars, it’s on its way, but it’s not quite there yet.