Moon Under Water Potts Pils Ulfiltered

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Good evening to all beer snobs and those aspiring to be one! My apologies for a lengthy absence, but life and clean living have a way of interfering with a heavy sampling schedule. Luckily, I was able to run by my local beer store today, and came across some shiny new bottles that I noticed containing a familiar brand name.

potts_pilsYes, it seems that The Moon Under Water, the Victoria brewpub/microbrewery that takes its name from the famous Orwell essay (in which he describes his ideal pub) has undergone a recent change in direction and has hence produced an entirely new product line. It seems that the sessional beers it was once famous for are now out and the new product line is in. And according to their website, this includes a Dunkel, a Pilsner, an IPA and a particularly strong Weizenbock.

Interesting and alluring. Unfortunately for me, I was only able to procure samples of the first two, and shall be dedicating reviews to each. First up, their unfiltered Pilsner, known as the Potts Pils, in honor of their brewmaster, Clay Potter. Fashioned using Bavarian malt, Saaz and Cascade hops, this beer is a marriage between old and new, with a west-coast twist and an certain experimental edge. And the result was quite pleasing.

Appearance: Deep golden, slightly cloudy, mild foam retention
Nose: Distinct Bavarian-malt nose, slightly sweet, hint of skunk
Taste: Light malts and dry hops giving way to herbal notes, touch of citrus
Aftertaste: Slight tang and bitterness, lingering herbal touch
Overall: 8.5/10

Not a bad start to this new lineup, Moon. I look forward to your Dunkel, as well as the other products you now have on tap. From what I’ve seen thus far, it is clear the new Modus Operundi around them parts is to merge traditional British influences with the West Coast take on British brewing traditions. Let me just say, I couldn’t approve more! Stay tuned…

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel

Wow, a name like that doesn’t exactly roll of the English tongue now does it? But amongst German beer enthusiasts, its kind of a big deal! Referring to the Weihenstephan Abbey, which is located in Freising district of Bavaria, Weihenstephan brewery is actually the world’s oldest commercially brewery. No kidding! Established in 725 by Benectine Monks, the monastery opened a commercial brewery in 1040 and has been a purveyor of beers ever since, making it the oldest brewery in the world that is still in operation.

It is even has its own entry on History of Beer archive, being a nexus between the ancient times when brewing was a cottage industry and modern Europe where it had grown into a full-blown enterprise. Today, they make a dozen varieties, most of which are wheat based, and export to thirty-five countries across the world. However, it is their Hefeweissbier Dunkel (Dark Wheat) which concerns me today, so let’s pack up the history lesson and get to some sampling.

Hefeweissbeir Dunkel: Upon opening the bottle, my nose was immediately graced by notes familiar to a weissbier. Smooth, malty, and yeasty, and with a deep color that was quite appetizing. But of course, being a wheat beer, it was also cloudy and translucent, a very good combination! And ultimately the flavor was a perfect combination of the Dunkel and Weiss, being both tawny and smooth, but also malty with a hint of fruit. the only thing that was lacking was spice; this beer has no traces of cloves, coriander or any of the other trace attributes other weissbiers are known for. However, this allows for an especially clean finish, so it all works out just fine! Perfect when enjoyed in a Hofbrauhaus mug, and since it comes in half liter bottles, I was able to fit two bottles to a stein quite perfectly (minus a little foam overflow of, course). If you can find it, try it! You shant be sorry! 4/5

An engraving of the brewery by Michael Wening, dating from about 1700:

And of course a link to the breweries website:
Weihenstephan Brauerei

Historic Hofbrau beer mugs!

In the summer of 2007, my wife and I did something that’s stuck with us ever since. Something which we hope to do again someday… soon! We visited Munich, our last stop along a whirlwind tour of southern Germany, and decided to take in a historic beer hall. In fact, I was indebted to a friend and quasi-family member (hi Sarah!) for suggesting it. After sending out a mass email to friends and family, telling them we would be in Munich for a few days, she came back and suggested we see the place.

Naturally, some background is needed to properly set the scene: established in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria, Hofbrauhaus remains one of the oldest beer halls in Germany. Originally, it was established to serve the needs of the Royal House, which was located right around the corner from it and quickly expanded to serve the needs of the community. The beer quickly became famous, and even saved the city from annihilation during the 30 Years War.

I’m not kidding! When King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden invaded Bavaria in 1632, he agreed to leave the city in peace, but only if the citizens surrendered some hostages, and 600,000 barrels of Hofbräuhaus beer. In addition, Mozart is said to have composed the opera Idomeneo thanks to this beerhall. While struggling with his muse, he found that a few visits to this hall fortified him to the task.

In addition, the beerhall was also used by Hilter and the Nazis during the 1930s to conduct speeches to the general public. Though the little bastard and the odious Nazi party used this hall as one of many places to declare policy and hold functions, Hitler had never been known to frequent it for anything other than making speeches. Beer, meat and other such things were not his thing (take that tea-totaling vegetarians!)

Since that time, it has been visited by countless tourists, dignitaries and political figures, including John F Kennedy. It remains a major tourist draw to this day, owned by the state as a public brewery, restaurant and historic site rather than a private enterprise. It also runs the second largest tent during the annual Oktoberfest celebration and is one of the chief purveyors of beer for the occasion.

At the time of our visit, my wife and I were unaware of much of this history. In fact, we wandered through Munich checking out the various beer halls, and I wondered in each case if this was the site of the famous putsch. It was only afterwards that I learned that not only were we in the place where it happened, we were probably seated in the very section where a young Hitler made his speeches! Needless to say, I was both blown away and disgusted!

Which brings me, however circuitously, to the point of this post: this Christmas, I received one of the best gifts ever! A friend of my parents happened to be in possession of several Hofbrauhaus stone mugs that he managed to pick up while he was in Germany. Just recently, he had decided to contribute them to an auction, raising money for the Comox Valley Kitty Cat P.A.L.S. (Prevent A Litter Society). Naturally, my folks recognized the name and scooped them up. And given their inherent value, it was quite the deal!

Each one was made before the Berlin Wall fell and the country was reunited, as the stamps on the bottom will attest to. Each one says, in little black letters, Made In West Germany. Given the historical  significance of this place and the memories it brings back for me and my wife, we were both very pleased to get them! Kudos again to the parental units for procuring them!

Here are some photos:

If you ever find yourself in Munich, I strongly recommend stopping by. In addition, check out some of the other historic beer halls, all of which are associated with Oktoberfest and many of which are walking distance from the Hofbrauhaus. I guess the people of Munich like eating and drinking, and don’t like commuting. I know how they feel…

And of course, here’s the link to Hofbrauhaus’ website:

http://www.hofbraeuhaus.de/en/index_en.html