For the 16th time already, the Lahnsteiner Brewery hosted the beer seminar in its schalander room; and for me, it was the first time that I had the opportunity to take part. Each of these seminars has its own main topic which is unveiled not before the very beginning of the seminar itself – as a lead-in surprise, so to say.
“The World of American Craft Beer” – that was the main topic on 23rd August 2012; and brewery owner and seminar leader Dr. Markus Fohr had invited the beer ambassador of the Commerce and Industry Chamber and beer blogger Andreas Fitza from Mainz. Together with his girl friend, Andreas Fitza has brought two huge coolers with an interesting choice of typical American beers, and he took the seminar participants with his free and humorous presentation onto a journey through the interesting beer culture on the other side of the Atlantic – and at each stage he presented the appropriate beer to his stories.
Not yet American, but nonetheless very tasty was the appetizer – which turned out to be a Distelhäuser Kellerbier, mildly hopped, naturally cloudy, and unfiltered; a delicious summer beer and thirst quencher to bridge the time until the arrival of all seminar participants as well as a perfect seminar starter.
Andreas Fitza began his presentation with a short reflection about the monopoly of low-flavour and cheaply produced mass lagers that dominated the American beer market a few years ago; and as a typical example he presented some bottles of Coors Light – refreshing, easy to drink, but lacking in character and almost completely tasteless. The only peculiarity of this beer is its label – printed with a thermosensitive colour, it shows the snow covered mountains on the label in bright blue when the beer is ice cold.
But now, the presentation became more interesting in both ways, as far as the taste and as far as the beer related history was concerned. The Pioneers of American Craft Brewing, Sierra Nevada and Samuel Adams, were presented with their hop-aromatic and highly flavoured beers: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Samuel Adams Boston Lager. These are revolutionary products in comparison to the watery mass market products. Encouraged by the success of these craft beers, the American market continued to develop, and the variety and intensity of flavours was carefully explored; be it by adding spices and fruit (Blue Moon Brewing Company – Wheat Beer, with coriander and orange peel) or by excessive hopping (Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA).
After these rather careful steps to guide the conservative majority of the seminar participants into a world of possible taste impressions, Andreas Fitza pulled out the ultimate attack, and at the end of the seminar he served two beers of the “Young and Wild” category – a Stout and a Porter, each from the Flying Dog Brewery, which is known for its extreme beers. The Flying Dog Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout with 8.9% alcohol, thick, creamy, and with an intense coffee flavour, and the Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter with 9.2% alcohol and a roasty maltiness that is unparalleled, were the highlights of today’s seminar. Two beers that for sure are not dedicated to quench a summer’s thirst, but to be drunk in small sips, contrapuntally to a sweet dessert, for example, or with a bowl of vanilla ice.
One and a half hour have been foreseen for the seminar, and the time was long over, as the seminar participants still vigorously discussed their experiences with Andreas Fitza and Markus Fohr – indeed, the provocation of the conservative taste buds obviously was successful!