TroegenatorName: Troegenator

Brewery: Troegs

Style: Doppelbock

ABV: 8.2%

Impression:  Eating steak around a campfire

Description: Let me begin by saying that this is a really pretty beer. I’m not one to spend unnecessary time describing the color of a beer. Troegenator manages a deep, clear burgundy that is simply gorgeous. Visuals aside, it’s a wonderful beer too.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me is that there are no huge surprises. This beer is a doppelbock in all that entails. That in itself is actually quite impressive. I often expect American breweries tackling big, old world styles to either overdo them, underdo them, or in some way just not grasp what the style is supposed to be. This is actually one of the better doppelbocks I’ve ever had. There is the characteristic malt sweetness, but it is just a couple shades dryer than most of the German ones. That does a wonderful job of making this beer very pleasurable to finish. Your mouth doesn’t get so sticky you’re fighting to finish the last 1/4 of the bottle. Heck, I could probably put back a second one if I were so inclined (and had another in my fridge). But it has enough body to be satisfying. The malt profile is wonderfully complex as well. There is just a hint of some roast at the back end that helps how each sip finishes.

Serve this beer with red meat. Beef, lamb, venison… whatever. I don’t eat steak often, but I popped this beer in honor of the rare occasion that I had a craving for one, and it paired wonderfully. Not carnivorously inclined? Wild rice and strong mushrooms would also benefit from this beer at their side.


Dortmunder Gold

Name: Dortmunder GoldDortmunderGold

Brewery: Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Style: Golden Lager

ABV: 5.8%

Impression:  A proud laborer on a vintage poster.

Description: I moved to Columbus, Ohio a few months back. Leaving the west coast has changed my beer selection substantially. Although I can still find many of the same specialty and imported favorites I’ve held for a while, I’ve really needed to change my go-to beers. Favorite standards are either not available, or not as good because they aren’t as fresh.

Enter Great Lakes’ Dortmunder Gold. I first got this beer as part of a Great Lakes sampler and was taken aback by my first sip. It was a “wow” moment, and this immediately became my go-to beer from then on.

The “wow” of this beer is not about being big. It is about being superbly balanced with a little bit of everything. It has a nutty and toasted malt body rounded out with just the right balance of herbal hops and finished with an impressivel clean and sharp lager fermentation.

I firmly believe that the best beers offer a bit of something for everyone in every situation. Strong enough to give you a buzz before they fill you up, but light enough that you can have one or two out without getting yourself if trouble. Not so big or aggressive to fight with you for your attention, but with enough complexity to reward your palette if you do pay attention. Dortmunder Gold wins on all these counts. It is up there and in the same class with  Dead Guy. Which is better? I don’t think there is a clear overall winner. Just whichever is fresher.

I can’t say when the best situation to drink this beer would be. It is so well rounded it really is an any-occasion beer. Pop it at a barbecue or put it in a nice glass with Thanksgiving dinner. If you are heading to a social event and need something good to please everyone, grab a pack of Dortmunder Gold.

This is the first beer in my series of experiments with the new German hop varieties. This is a fairly simple, slightly Americanized blonde ale in the Kolsch tradition. Continue Reading »

My last post was about how the Germans are their own worst enemies when it comes to limiting their beers. Stuck in the thinking that they are the greatest brewers in the world, they failed to look outside the borders of their country, and stagnated. Well, that isn’t entirely true. They realized that perhaps Hallertau Mittelfruh is not the be all and end all of flavor in hops. They did for quite a long while and found themselves left behind by the new hop varieties coming out of the U.S. and New Zealand.

Well, they’re trying to catch up the pace, and I have the proof in my freezer. I received samples of four new flavor/aroma varieties out of Germany and am planning experimental brews to try out and show off each. I will be sharing details and observations about the brews and the results for people interested in these hops.

Huell Melon – lots of honeydew melon flavor, and supposed to be some strawberry notes as well. I will do a Kolsch/Blond ale style beer for this. Technical data

Mandarina Bavaria – mandarin orange and citrus aroma. Will do a saison for citrus and spice. Technical data

Hallertau Blanc – supposed to be a direct competitor to Nelson Sauvin. Grape, gooseberry, and tropical fruits. Will probably do a Belgian style blonde. Technical data

Polaris – fruity, spicy-piney, and minty. Just handling this, it is a fairly incredible hop. Easily the oiliest, stickiest hop I have ever seen. I will probably do something between a pale and IPA with this hop. Technical data


Is the German Purity Law good or bad for brewing?

There is a lot said of the Reinheitsgebot, Germany’s famed brewing purity law. Germans, of course, laud it as why their beer is clearly superior to the rest of the world, since it is held to such rigorous standards of purity. People who have moved to Germany from elsewhere with good beer insist that it is a horrendously limiting thing that stifles ingenuity and forces breweries to produce the same few styles. People from outside of Germany look at it with a mix of awe and confusion.

What is the Reinheitsgebot?

Continue Reading »

Cocktail Bars

Prior to our trip through Germany and Belgium, Julie had never been to a good cocktail bar before. While in Ghent towards the end of the trip, after having sampled many wonderful beers, I got it into my head that she and I needed a proper cocktail at a genuine cocktail bar. So in Ghent and Cologne we looked for the best place to find a drink.

Now, I’m sure you’re a bit surprised that she’d never gone out for cocktails before. Hasn’t every drinker? Yes, of course she’s had cocktails before. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a real Cocktail Bar run and staffed by true professional bartenders. Anyone can mix a cocktail, but a real bartender is an artist who crafts works of quaffable art. It’s the difference between going out to a good sushi restaurant and watching a master sushi chef at work. It is an experience for all of your senses. If you have never done it before, do. It will almost certainly not be cheap, but it will be worth doing at least once.

The Capri Lounge in Cologne

Continue Reading »


It has been a very long hiatus since I posted anything new on here. I should probably update on what has happened since leaving Germany.

My education at VLB has proven to be quite invaluable to launching a career. After returning to the U.S., I first spent some time interning at August Schell’s Brewing Company in Minnesota. They are the second oldest family owned brewing company in the U.S., and the experience was quite intriguing.

I very quickly landed myself a brewing position at North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg, CA. I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to work at what has been my favorite brewing company since I first discovered craft beer. Red Seal, PranQster, and Old Rasputin were formative beers for me and remain among my very favorites. I was also excited to be working with one of my fellow VLB classmates for a while. When he decided to move to San Diego for a job at Lost Abbey, I was bumped up into a shift supervisor role at North Coast. We’re now looking at some exciting expansions and will see what is what.

Sorry this has led to a lack of new content. I’ve mostly been drinking the same North Coast beers (I get to bring home beer faster than I can drink it) and not running around exciting foreign cities on adventures. I promise some interesting thoughts to come though.