Reminder that the several hundred breweries down the street and the Big Beer monolith towering over us all aren’t your only competition. The world is full of so much more beer, and while premium beers remain the lone growth segment in beer, even more fancy imports will be sought by distributors to throw their berets and pointy helmets into the U.S. market.
Importer/distributor California Beverage Co. is bringing all sorts of new product in these days. Here are some of the newest we heard about this week.
The brewmaster and founder of Munkebo Microbrewery, Dr. Claus Christensen, holds a PhD in Health Science and a Master’s in Biology from Copenhagen University, and wanted to continue the family tradition of brewing beer. Claus brews a selection of his beers with local raw materials — including barley and hops — and also local yeast that he isolated from the backs of bees. Inspired by the era of Louis Pasteur, he succeeded in finding this yeast using only resources available before 1800. Very old school. Referencing historic family photos, he recreated the family yeast ring to keep the yeast alive between brewing. The yeast ring has been used in Danish brewing for generations, mostly by women as they were the traditional brewers in the household.
Munkebo is a town on the island of Fyn and is filled with memories from Scandinavian Viking ancestors. All of the names of Munkebo beers pay tribute to this Viking heritage. This connection to the history, geography and native resources of a region is definitive for this beer.
• Viking King Porter. The only beer in the world that has baptized a Viking Ship. Viking King Porter is brewed to honor the King of Ladby who was buried with his ship around year 900. A replica of the ship was made in 2015 from Danish Oak. The same oak is used to mature this porter giving it a nice aftertaste of coffee, chocolate and wood. 50 IBU, 6.5 percent ABV
• Danish Sea Buckthorn Lager. This lager nearly found itself on the travel ban list. Sea Buckthorn berries are native to Western Europe and Asia, and the FDA was frazzled at the notion of them being used as a fermentable ingredient in beer. Their long list of acceptable “food” did not previously include Sea Buckthorn, but now it does. The label appropriately shows the Viking Goddess of Love, Freja. A statue of Freja was found in the nearby town of Revninge, and the Danish word below the statue — Revningekvindes — means Revninge’s woman. This brew is fermented at a low temperature, which generates a soft carbonation. It rolls gently off the tongue and leaves a fruit flavor of summer and sea buckthorn, also know from the Viking Age. 31 IBU, 4.6 percent ABV
Himburgs Braukunst Keller (Germany)
These are avant-garde beers from the homeland of brewing. Braukunst Keller is a member of the freshly introduced Reinheits Boten — a group of five trend-setting German craft breweries. The group’s name means “offering purity” and is derived from Reinheitsgebot, the German Purity Law of 1516.
Since 2013, owner Alexander Himburg has been at the forefront of the craft beer revolution in Germany, applying American methods to his flavorful beers while protecting the German Purity Law of 1516. Braukunst Keller’s natural beers are layered with aromatic hops, special malts and soft water from the Bavarian Forest. The brewery’s Amarsi IPA, an American-style double IPA, has earned critical praise and international awards.
• Bavarian Dry Hop Lager. Unfiltered golden lager beer full of hoppy flavors with a hint of citrus, fresh as a Pilsner and with a mellow malty base. 30 IBU, 5.3 percnet ABV, Simcoe and Hallertau hops.
• Laguna West Coast IPA. A classic India Pale Ale brewed with blonde and dark golden malts. Tempting flavors of grapefruit and piney citrus create a taste sensation with a caramel touch to the palate. 77 IBU, 6.8 percent ABV, Cascade, Chinook and Centennial hops.
• Amarsi Double IPA. Strong but pleasant dark double IPA with tangy mango and orange notes and a bittersweet malty toffee finish. 66 IBU, 8.1 percent ABV, Amarillo and Simcoe hops
Tuatara Brewing (New Zealand)
Hops from New Zealand have long been used in American craft brewing, and now a taste of the kiwi’s finished product is coming this way. It took ‘til the late 1990s for the beer revolution memo to get circulated in New Zealand, but soon enough new breweries were popping up like mushrooms. One of those breweries began as a backyard operation in the hills above Waikanae. It was founded by Carl Vasta, an engineer with the taste buds of a wine critic. There’s a degree of loose talk in New Zealand about “kiwi ingenuity,” most of it from people who’d struggle to change a tire, but Carl is the living, breathing epitome of that noble philosophy. If he needed a shed or a bottler or a tank, he’d just go ahead and build one. Before too long, he’d managed to brew a superb range of ales, porters and pilsners for his friends under the name Tuatara (a tuatara is a reptilian creature native to New Zealand, and the bottles are made to reflect that reptilian feel).
• Mot Eureka Pilsner. Using all local hops from the Motueka (New Zealand) area, Tuatara perfected this new world 100 percent-NZ hopped pilsner. Crisp, firm bodied with notes of citrus, it spawned a whole new style of beer. 44 IBU, 5.0 percent ABV
• Sauvinova Single Hop Pale Ale. Say gidday to Sauvinova. A full malt body copiously hopped with Nelson Sauvin displaying mouthwatering gooseberry, pineapple and grapefruit flavors. 34 IBU, 4.7 percent ABV
Kapai Pale Ale. Meaning “it’s all good” in the native New Zealand language of Maori, Kapai tastes of citrus, grapefruit and herb flavors with a fresh hop finish. 46 IBU, 5.8 percent ABV