About a decade or so ago I was really into wheat beers for a brief time. I remember going on a business trip to Frankfurt during my previous career of musical instrument sales and tucking into glass after glass of Schöfferhofer after hours of walking the giant trade halls at the city’s Messe auditorium. There were only two choices in most places we went to anyway, lager or wheat beer, and with most of my colleagues drinking lager, the latter always felt like the most subversive thing to order. I never could resist being the odd one out.
Back at home, I went through a period where beers like Franziskaner and Hoegaarden were my go-to. I revelled in their unusual-at-the-time flavours of banana, bubblegum and clove. But I’m reviewing a pale ale, so why am I telling you this? That’s because the luxurious, pillow-soft mouthfeel in this beer from Germany’s FrauGruber Brewing takes the gloriously silky texture of the best weissbiers, then supercharges them with modern hop aromatics and flavours, like mango, peach and papaya. Velvet Horizon is a tremendous beer and it’s always a delight to find a beer this good from a brewery that’s new to me.
With Germany being the home to such a strong and proud brewing tradition, it still feels a little strange to pick up such a modern style that has emerged from within it. There’s been some local resistance to modern brewing there too: San Diego’s Stone Brewing was forced to sell its Berlin-based facility after low sales. And spare a thought for poor Fuerst Wiacek, who unceremoniously had “Hipster Raus” (“hipsters out”) spray-painted on their van. (Which feels highly ironic, considering they’re based in uber-hip Berlin.)
And while I love to revel in the glory of helles, doppelbock and other wonderful German classics, I can’t help but smile when I find something this modern done so well. There’s room for both in my opinion (although it goes without saying one should never forget the importance of history and tradition). If you haven’t got FrauGruber on your radar yet and you love your hazies, this is a brewery that’s definitely worth exploring in more detail.
Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. PIck up a can of FrauGruber Velvet Horizon while you can. And to be first to read articles from Matt and our food writer Claire Bullen every month, why not subscribe to our All Killer No Filler subscription box?