What does autumn inspire in the beer person? An altbier comes to Peaks and Pints’ mind. These beautiful deep copper-colored brews remind us of the colors of changing leaves. Their firm clean maltiness is slightly sweet and comforting, setting them apart from the crisp, sharp, hoppy brews of summer or the big full-bodied robust winter beers. The traditional altbier is a brown ale, originating in Düsseldorf. “Alt” is German for “old,” and these beers are somewhat of a hybrid between ales and lagers. Altbiers are fermented with ale yeast at warm ale temperatures but conditioned in cooler confines and for long periods, creating an ale that shares characteristics with a lager. These brews range in color from deep bronze to a hazy ruby brown. They can have a thick head, faint fruity tones, with an underlying maltiness that is biscuity or toasted, but not overwhelming. The finish is commonly dry and lightly hopped, yet overall the taste should be clean and balanced. In conjunction with the Troubeerdourks beer club’s altbier tasting at Peaks and Pints this afternoon, we present an altbier flight for everyone that we call Craft Beer Crosscut 11.18.18: A Flight of Altbier.
Craft Beer Crosscut 11.18.18: A Flight of Altbier
5.3% ABV, 18 IBU
Amber from Alaska’s biggest brewery — Alaskan Brewing Co. based in Juneau — might already be in your refrigerator if you live in one of the 20 Western and Midwestern states where it’s available. Or you might have refreshed yourself with an Alaskan Amber on your Alaska Airlines flight on the way into Anchorage. By sales volume it is the 19th largest craft brewery in the United States. Alaskan Amber is made from glacier-fed water and a blend of European and Pacific Northwest hop varieties and two-row pale and specialty malts. The brewery’s water originates in the 1,500 square-mile Juneau Ice Field and the more than 90 inches of rainfall Juneau receives each year. Richly malty and long on the palate, Alaskan Amber has just enough hop backing to make this beautiful amber colored “alt” style beer notably well balanced.
5.2% ABV, 28 IBU
In 19990, George and Jane Hancock opened Maritime Pacific Brewing Co. in an old transmission shop in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. The first beer George brewed was what is known today as Flagship Red Alt Ale. Red amber in color, the beer is derived from a blend of malted barley, wheat and Yakima and European hops. Sweet malt on the nose with some toast and soft citrus. The medium bodied alt is light and softly fruity with light citrus and a touch of malt. Expect gentle floral malt into the finish.
Occidental Brewing offers Portland, Oregon something truly refreshing: crisp, sparkling German-style suds. Their Altbier is enough to make you want to throw on a pair of lederhosen over your Pendleton flannel. Occidental’s take on Dusseldorf’s broad style features the brewery’s most complex grain bill, which produces a malty, amber beer with a lot of flavor. Saphir hops give it a spicy, noble aroma and delicious hop profile. It’s on the hoppy side for this style of beer, but the beautifully copper color and crisp beer offers a malty chewy and creamy experience.
5% ABV, 35 IBU
When lager brewing set out to conquer the world in the mid-1800s, not everyone got with the program. Though Germany was the center of the lager revolution, Düsseldorf was one of the only cities to hold onto its tradition of ale brewing in the form of altbier. Alt “old,” is an adjective that Germans tend to use wistfully. Chuckanut Brewery German Alt has only a hint of fruitiness that gives it away as an ale- otherwise the flavors are very clean and round, with a medium-bodied malty center made with Skagit Malts supported by a refreshingly sharp whack of hop bitterness. Chuckanut German Alt hits the nose with a nutty, biscuit aroma. Flavors are moderate sweet caramel with a slight bitterness on the finish.
7.2% ABV, 60 IBU
Ninkasi Brewing’s motivation for creating Sleigh’r was to make a beer different than other Northwest winter beers that feature big hop profiles and rich caramel flavor. They created a malt-forward yet dry, toasty and hardy beer brewed in the traditional German Alt way, only darker. First released in 2009, Sleigh’r rides roasted barley and Chocolate malts with Nugget hops balancing roasted malt, cooked sugar and a little dark fruit flavors. It’s surprisingly light in body with a dry finish.