Saturday, September 15, 2012

German Lagers Set Me Straight

After last week's troubling and trippy experience of having my aesthetics scrambled by a demonic glass of Budweiser in a dilapidated and nearly-abandoned pub in a suburban industrial zone rife with cat scat, I seem to have recovered my juju. The trick: German lagers.

The explosion of interest in beer in the 1990s was sparked by the popularity of strong, characterful Belgian ales. There followed waves of boldly hoppy American brews. But lost amid all the fervor have been subtle German lagers.

A few extreme Germans, such as the Schneider's potent Aventinus, have wrestled themselves into popularity, but most German beers are too subtle to create hysteria. In fact, many are too subtle to even make the trip across the Atlantic. Their delicacy makes them particularly sensitive to light and age. Stronger, bolder ales can withstand a bit of damage, but the more refined lagers have nowhere to hide.

But right now, German beer has been grabbing beer geek focus. The generation that first thrilled to discover huge, strong, dark, rich beers as blessed alternative to awful American mainstream drek has tired of extreme flavors. They're seeking out "session" beers, which can be enjoyed all night without overwhelming your palate. Gentle German lagers are "more-ish" - the finish makes you pine for another sip.

Last night, piano/theremin god Rob Schwimmer introduced me to Die Koelner Bierhalle (84 St. Marks Pl, just off 4th Ave, Park Slope, Brooklyn), which offers a few dozen esoteric German lagers on tap, all perfectly poured into the correct glasses.

I had an unpasteurized, unfiltered keller beer. This is the most humble, soulful, and gently seductive of Germany's many beer styles. I drank it in the proper stone mug, and it won me over. It reset my baseline. I think I'm good again.

I also tried Innstadt Passauer Hefeweizen, which is phenomenally drinkable in spite of its beautiful complexity.

Die Koelner's open kitchen is sparkling clean and the food (mostly wursts and such, but with serious artisanal touch) looks and smells good, and prices are great (see food menu at the bottom of this beer list).


Unknown said...

Theremin has 2 "e"'s

Unknown said...

Spelling: Theremin has 2 "e"e's, no "a''s

Sounds like a delicious place to visit!

Seth Godin said...

Glad you're back

btw, some great great posts this month.

Jim Leff said...

Thanks, Seth. Good to have you (and the rest of the handful) reading along!

Have you noticed yet what the Slog does differently?

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