Sunday, 11 October 2015

Beer Review: Dunkel Fester

What ho! It is coming up to Hallowe'en and, unlike last year (see here), I thought that I would actually have and review an ale early enough that people could act upon it to buy in ale for Hallowe'en. Novel, I know. Of course, All Hallow's Eve, held around the same time of year as Samhain, is very much a Christian festival with the superstition of 'evil spirits' woven in for good measure as the nights turn longer and darker. Samhain, being a festival of light, has more in common with the very British Bonfire Night, which is also associated with Autumn bonfires and, well, the equinox. All of which is a very long-winded way of saying: I had some Dunkel Fester in the garden today, by Wychwood, and decided to review it here for your delectation.

Thankfully, I shan't be plumbing any further into the history of the events of October (and so any errors are mine and shall forever remain errors) as I enjoy the ale more than I enjoy splitting hairs over historical things (and for those of you that know me, you know that this is high praise indeed). So, would you like to know more?

The garden was lit well with the dying rays of an autumnal day - warm but still with a chill - and the breeze carried the perfumed smoke from a chimnea further down the street. Above the birds called out their calling cards, beyond the fences chatter could be heard and dogs sniffled and whined nearby. Inside the house the children debated the finer tactics of eating fish with bigger fish on the computer and Anna crocheted. All was well. On opening the bottle there was the barest hint of a whisp, suggesting some carbonation, but the low temperature saw to it that the gas never made it from the neck before dissipating sufficiently to disappear from view. On pouring there was a distinctive dark aspect to the glass, pitting it against the light yellow of the UFO squash that has grown rather well in our deep bed (in the photo for comparison). That chestnutty darkness was topped with a decent head that went quickly to leave a little skim on the top, topped up by the light fizz that remained unseen in the glass but prickled the nose upon lifting to sip.

First impressions were that this was a playful hops, speaking of more than mere citrus but nothing as distinct as a particular fruit, merely the memory of some decent fresh hops at some point. It is no Rip Snorter (see this link) in this regard but nor is it devoid of hops character. The first taste is headed by a front row of treacle, in keeping with the dark aspect, but without the viscosity of a strong stout or porter. Indeed, the whole concoction is rather thin, more like Oyster Stout (link) than Russian Imperial Stout (link) or the deep chocolate of Mocha (here) or Montezuma's Chocolate Lager (here). However, there is chocolate running down the gunnels of the mouth, suggesting the use of some well-chosen chocolate malt to gain the colour of the brew. Sweetness does indeed follow, suggesting that treacle once again, and there is a light, but persistent, fizz that has clearly been added rather than being native to the liquid.

Along with the meal of the evening, chicken pie and chips if you're interested, this held up well being neither too thick nor too thin. Any thicker and this would have sat too heavily on the stomach (I have been having rather a beery weekend) and any thinner and it would not have stacked up well at all against the pie. If anything, this was an ale that complemented the affair of having a meal in the cold, though it did mean coming in from the garden, and has clearly been brewed with an eye on the season. For that I cannot fault it. It lacks the smoky spice that sets something like Late Red (here) apart but there is enough of the idea of autumn in it that I can well imagine having it again. There's a fantastic deal on in our local German supermarket that means that I may well be having this again.

Enjoy best around this time of year, when the sun can still shine and make it a warm drive to and from your destinations in life but cold and bright when you get there. Maybe find a place to sit on the coast, where the reflection of the wet sand is enough of a distraction to cause you to narrow your eyes and the wind is fresh enough to make you pull your coat harder (though you may well dispense with a jumper or cardigan underneath) and the turning of the greens to golds, browns and yellows is enough to raise a smile. Draw on some gloves, find a thicket of gorse, and snuggle with a loved one who may or may not join you in the ale but will join you in spirit.

1 comment:

  1. perfect review. i enjoyed it almost as much as the beer.