Thursday, October 18, 2012

533. Freigeist Abraxxxas

Holy German revival brewing! Historical brewing is all the rage with the kids these days, and it is nice to see when American obsessiveness with extinct beer styles returns to the source, so to speak. This beer, as the label informs us, is brewed and bottled by Braustelle at Brauerei Göller in Zeil Am Main, Germany. I would have checked out the website and all to find out more, but it was verboten.

Abraxxas pours a rich hazy gold; the murky fluid is vibrant in the light, and it carries a creamy white head that offers better retention than other lactically-soured beers we’ve had. The nose is equal parts smoked malt and candy-sweet gummy lactic sourness. While there are at least two internal contradictions in the last phrase, that doesn’t change our perceptions. Imagine if you can sour candied bacon, and you’ll be headed down the correct rabbit hole. After the beer has had a chance to open up a bit, there is that slight hint of fetid decomposition that lactic beers exude underneath the bright tartness; while this description sounds horrendous, it is meant as a compliment. You will, no doubt, forgive the limitations of language when dealing with the beauty and splendor of sour beers. Flavors follow the aroma quite closely: there is the initial rush of sweet smokiness as the beer rolls across the tongue, followed by a bright lactic sourness as it hits the back of the mouth and encompasses the tongue. While the smokiness never quite disappears, the lactic twang does try to covers it, especially as the creamy mouthfeel and bite from the carbonation push the bright mineral tartness. The tartness begins retreating in the finish, leaving a lingering bacon smoked-meat flavor that blends well with the remaining tartness. There is a complex balancing of subtlety in this beer—the creamy, almost chewy mouthfeel is still light and spritzy in conjunction with the carbonation, and the layers of flavors between the smoked malt and lactic sourness roll and swirl across the palate. While some of you out there in TV land may be quick to call novelty beer, this beer is squarely in our wheelhouse. Well, at least mine—I’m not sure Elli would give it such a glowing recommendation. It is something that, were it were to remain readily available (because, sadly, I’m afraid it won’t), would hit regular rotation in the refrigerator. While sour candied bacon will undoubtedly flummox many, this beer is a beautiful marriage of smoke and sour. So give it shot before it disappears—this beer is a good part of why I love craft beer in the first place.

From the bottle: “Freigeist is the experimental offshoot of Cologne’s revolutionary small brewery, Braustelle. Here we strive to break the chains of industrial brewing by reviving and updating Germany’s unique, historical beer styles. Inspired by the eastern German tart wheat beer style once known as ‘Lichtenhainer,’ Abraxxxas is sour and complex, with a balancing smoky maltiness.”

ABV: 6.0%


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