Friday, July 30, 2010

Beer of the Week (Vol. LXIV)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the fiery folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you have a devil of a good time exploring the wide world of wine, whiskey, and beer.

Without further adieu, let's get to this week's beer. From the bowels of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Surly Brewing has once again unleashed Hell:

Finally, a Surly beer my German mother will drink. She says this one tastes like a bier from back home. Not unlike a Zwickel Bier from Germany, Hell is our filtered and fermented with lager yeast, American hops takes a back seat to the Pils malt sweetness and fresh bread aroma. The color is well...hell (Deutsch for light). It's fiendishly drinkable, and you don't have to sell your soul to get another.

If you're wondering what the hell a zwickel beer, you're not alone. Kellerbier:

Kellerbier, also Zwickelbier, or Zoigl, is a type of German beer which is not clarified or pasteurised. Kellerbier can be either top or bottom fermented. The term Kellerbier literally translates as "cellar beer", referring to its cool lagering temperatures, and its recipe likely dates to the Middle Ages. In comparison with most of today's filtered lagers, Kellerbier contains more of its original brewing yeast, as well as vitamins, held in suspension. As a result, it is distinctly cloudy, and is described by German producers as naturtrĂ¼b (naturally cloudy). Kellerbier and Zwickelbier are often served directly from the barrel (for example, in a beer garden) or bottled.

Originally the term Zwickelbier, which is often used to describe a weaker and less full-flavored Kellerbier, was used to refer to the small amount of beer taken by a brewmaster from the barrel with the aid of a special siphon called the Zwickelhahn. Nowadays in Germany Zwickelbier is commercially available in large amounts, usually as a bottom-fermented, but often also as a top-fermented (Kellerweizen).

Got that? Good.

As usual per Surly, Hell comes in a can. Bright aluminum with a devilish font and green flames spreading from the center.

Beer Style: Kellerbier

Alcohol by Volume: 4.5%

COLOR (0-2): Light gold and very clear. 2

AROMA (0-2): Mostly bready and fruity with a whiff of hops. 2

HEAD (0-2): Bright white with good volume. Leaves a nice consistent lacing in the glass. 2

TASTE (0-5): Nice mix of sweet malt, bread, with lighter hop and citrus flavors. Light-bodied, smooth, with a crisp finish. Highly drinkable. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Pleasantly clean. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Not your son's Surly, Hell is definitely the most approachable offering from a brewery known for pushing the limits. Those who are scared off by the heavy hops and intense flavors associated with other Surly brews need not fear Hell. Surly fans can also find comfort in Hell, which, while not as exciting as some of their beers, is a well-crafted lager that goes down easily on hot summer days. Leave it to the Surly guys to give their lightest, most refreshing, thirst-quenching offering a name associated with fire, brimstone, and eternal agony. The only thing that may stop discerning beer drinkers from going to Hell is its limited availability and that fact that its priced in the same range as other Surly brews. Personally, I say forget about the cost and say, what the Hell. 3

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 14