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German Beers seem to top the list of fall favorites. There’s something about the season (hint: Oktoberfest) when thoughts and taste buds turn towards German suds.
Though beers like Einbecker Mai-Ur-Bock have been quaffed all summer, it’s still a little light and bright once the hot days of high-summer have passed. For backyards, and September evenings where jackets and your favorite sweatshirt are now the rule, for post-leave raking sessions and impromptu football parties, these are just some of the other Germen brews that offer far more of the fall toast you’ll remember.
Erdinger Hefe-Weizen (image source)
Let’s start with white wheat beer. Erdinger Hefe-Weizen breaks with a lemony sweet beginning and closes clean, almost-dry. A premium “Weissbier,” this is one to split on special occasions. With a fine yeast suspended in every cold bottle, it’s brewed to conform to the Bavarian purity law of 1516, and it’s best twirled in the bottle after you pour a half glass. That’ll help “re-suspend” the yeast and gives every sip a tangier, livelier flavor. Like most German wheat beers, Erdinger can come up with a banana and clove aroma, though this can also depend on the nose of the individual drinker. With lots of malt, the head should stand up straight through the glass – and don’t be surprised if that is scented with some floral and some more lemon. Unpasteurized, it’s fermented right in the bottle.
For snacks, with any wheat beer, stick with lighter, younger cheeses, like fresh mozzarella, and lighter fishes. Halibut or sole will go good, and a touch of citrus can’t hurt either.
Erdinger Oktoberfest (image source)
Erdinger’s Oktoberfest is not your typical, heavy Oktoberfest bier, but more a hybrid between a wheat beer and sweet lager. A cloudy orange and gold body should present a big white head – and it’s carbonated enough that you should have some foam left in your empty glass. It’s a lot more malty and smells far more of wheat than anything else, though you may detect some banana, too. Slightly more grainy , it’s only lightly sweet and includes some marzen style malts, so you may detect some caramel in the flavor, too. With a clean, smooth finish and slightly dry, if your own Oktoberfest – or September cook-out – includes chicken or shrimp off the grill, this is a very good accompanying beer. There’s a range of reviews here on the BeerAdvocate if you’re looking for some more comprehensive convincing.
Radeberger – Pilsner (image source)
If a light, refreshing Pilsner is still more your speed even as the leaves are changing, check out Radeberger. Classy, and once the official drink of King Friedrich August III of Saxony, Radeberger, is brewed near Dresden, and provides a nice alternative to the heavier wheat and white beers. Refreshing, light and sparkling, it’s a good beer for striking, sunny September afternoons and goes very well with your heavier September fare. A lot more “hopsy,” it’ll pair well with your salty football snacks and with ample carbonation – you’ll get a two-finger head early with some yeasty residue.
Aroma is, again, yeasty with some white grape smell reported. But a relatively grainy, cereal Pilsner with fruit and floral hints – it’s nothing too heavy. The more robust flavor is definitely on the side of bread, sugar, and honey, and only slightly bitter. It’s best served well-chilled, paired with fish and chips, or wings. If you’re cooking more upscale, serve it with a baked brie, Serrano ham or prosciutto and apples.
Of course, when German Beers come up, it’s often a solid, traditional Heffen-Weizen beer that people want to hear about. This is the one to kick off the fall.
With no additives or preservatives, only malted wheat, hops, yeast, and water, you’ll very likely pick up lemon and vanilla early on. Appearance is cloudy and between pale gold and something deeper. Medium bodied, the aftertaste is going to be a little sweet too. You’ll likely be drinking beneath a well-formed “weizen” head, a bit more foamy than the others mentioned above. The aroma is of bread, cloves, banana and a little orange peel, so a good tall weisse glass will let this one breathe, and bring out a bit more nose.
While a Heffe-Weizen can be heavy and the flavor can even be overwhelming, you’ll want a food pairing that will boost the fruit flavors within the beer. For that we recommend something along the lines of a lobster or crab with avocado salad. Goat cheese or ricotta are very good alternatives. For dessert, you can’t beat banana pudding or even bananas foster and that’s, of course, to highlight the same flavors deeper down in the beer.
We hope you try one or all of these fantastic German beers. To autumn and the change of seasons.
This article is written by James Tomon.
Featured images: Creative Commons
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