Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Diebels Alt Glass

You think Germany, you tend to think lagers. It's understandable – we're talking about the land of Helles, Pilsener, Dunkel and Bock. But in a place as rich in beer heritage and accomplishment as Germany, the native top-fermented beers likewise merit our acknowledgment and appreciation.

No doubt, the most obvious such examples are Hefeweizen, the renowned wheat beer of Bavaria, and its derivatives (Dunkelweizen and Weizenbock, for example). There is also Kölsch, the pale, almost lager-like ale that dominates its home town of Cologne (Köln in German). The last major ale style in Germany is Altbier (Alt for short), a copper-colored, ridiculously tasty treat native to the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and in particular its capital Düsseldorf.

I'll avoid delving into too much history and description of this style (for that, visit the always fantastic German Beer Institute), but suffice it to say the name "Alt" itself hints at the longevity of this beer style while its flavor attests to the collective versatility of Germany's brewmasters, past and present.

Perhaps the most famous Alt comes from Zum Uerige, one of a handful of Alt-producing brewpubs in Düsseldorf's charming "Old Town" section. It is here where locals and reverent beer travelers gather on outdoor picnic tables to enjoy nectar like ZU's Alt, sometimes gravity-drawn from casks, and sipped from straight, cylindrical glasses called "bechers." (Similar to the "stange" used to drink Kölsch.)

The particular glass seen here, from Brauerei Diebels in Issum, may not represent the "typical" becher-like shape that other Altbier producers opt for, but as the official glassware of a major Alt brewer, it is worth taking note of.

Notice the tall, slender body that widens on its way up. This makes for a fine presentation (see it full) if not the best means of gathering up head and aromas.

Nevertheless. There is plenty to admire about authentic German Altbier and those who brew it. So hoist your becher or Diebels glass and toast a national brewing tradition rivaled by few in terms of history, breadth and consequence, and a beer style that embodies that tradition.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails