|Cask at Schumacher|
Very clear, light brown/amber in color. The aroma was sweet, nutty, toasted malt with a bit of doughiness and a floral hop aroma toward the end. The flavor was prominently toasted nuts and bread, with a bit of a floral hop flavor but lingering bitterness in the finish. I was really surprised at how bitter this beer was; it was one of the bitterest beers I'd had on the trip, but the malt character balanced it out some. Even still, this was - surprisingly so - quite a bitter beer.
Zum Schwartze Maus
We walked about 4 miles from Schumacher to Schalander, only to find out that Schalander was closed. So, we found this place across the street that served a couple of different alts. I tried the Frankenheim Alt which, as you can probably tell from their website, is a bit... commercial. It was pretty sweet and presented brown sugar & caramel right away. It almost had a sweet "Ricola" type of malt character that gave way to a toasted almond presence. The hop bitterness was subdued and certainly not in balance with the malt. I wasn't impressed.
Hausbrauerei zum Schlüssel
This one ended up being one of my favorites. It was very nutty, likely from the Munich malt, and quite bitter - but not as bitter as the alt at Schumacher. It had some spicy hop notes at the finish, adding to the complexity. I really enjoyed this beer; it had a fantastic balance of malt sweetness & toast, hop aroma & flavor, and bitterness in the finish. I'd love to have this available in the US.
In the picture, you can also see the small gray crock in the background. Every single bar & restaurant in Düsseldorf we went to had these on the table. One would hold flatware, another held mustard. I should have bought some of my own. You can't have enough mustard.
This place was insane. You probably recognize the name, and it was largely a tourist attraction. However, it was clear they work hard not to turn it into the ridiculousness in places like U Fleků. And, as it turns, out, they had my favorite Altbier of all the alts we tried. The malt character was a bit more complex than the others we had. While it definitely had the toasty Munich malt notes, it must have also had a decent amount of crystal malt in it, lending a bit of caramelly sweetness. You got that initially, but each sip ended with a spicy - and slightly funky - hop flavor with moderately high bitterness.
|They keep track of how much you drink by marking your coaster.|
Is this because the glasses are so bitsy?
Funny story about this place; their servers are notorious for being a bit impish. I went to the restroom during our visit, and on the way back to our table, our server fake-punched me in the stomach. German flirting at its finest? Not sure, but it did make me laugh just because it was so off-the-wall. Wacky Germans...
This place was a short walk from Zum Uerige, so we stopped in for a small beer (remember, these are 20cl pours of 4.5% ABV beer, which is slightly weaker than 6oz of Boulevard Wheat at a time). Their beer was super-nutty with a scant amount of floral hops. There wasn't much bitterness in the finish at all, which made it very drinkable but also relatively uninteresting. We had one beer and left, but not before noticing that their food menu featured steak from Nebraska.
Overall, here is how I rated the alts we tried, from best to ... not best:
1) Zum Uerige
2) Hausbrauerei zum Schlüssel
4) Im Füchschen
It's a good thing, then, that we can get what I thought was the best one here in KC. Granted, it's almost impossible to find the original altbier, but the Sticke is fairly available, and we do get it seasonally.
I told you I had a lot to say. :)