By and large I don’t consider myself much of a seasonal drinker. When the mood takes me, I’m as happy smashing stout in the blazing sunshine as I am sipping pilsner in the depths of winter.
In saying that, however, there’s something about the extending evening daylight that has me reaching into my fridge for something cold, something crispy, something that has been lagered for weeks on end. There’s a deeply satisfying aspect to finishing work while there’s still plenty of daylight left that goes so well with drinking lager, and I am eager with anticipation when I think about savouring this joyous activity over the coming warmer months.
But (as we found in May) the UK spring can go either way, weather-wise, and on chillier days I also want a beer with a bit more substance than I would on a baking hot summer's day – substance I found in an unfiltered lager beer from Humbser Bräu of Fürth, on the northwestern outskirts of Nuremberg, Germany.
Having been known in its native Franconia for its beers of quality since 1746, I was keen to finally get my hands on a bottle of this outstanding kellerbier. It’s classy blue, white and gold label speaks to me of simpler times, practically signalling that this is a beer to pair with relaxation, and not deep existential thought. The label also indicates that this beer is naturtrüb or “naturally hazy”. Instead of a sparkling clean lager what you’ll actually get on pouring is a soft, pale gold beer that’s translucency is due to the presence of a little yeast left in the bottle.
As well as giving the beer a soft aroma of freshly baked pretzels and delicate red berries, it also softens the mouthfeel considerably when compared to a filtered, sparkling bright lager. I also find this influences the flavour, lending it a touch more complexity, the typical snappy herbaceousness of German hop varieties dialled down to let a faint touch of strawberry chime through. Being a beer of Franconian origin, however, in reality this is all about the malt, which arrives in the form of soft, pillowy sliced white bread. A dusting of peppery hops in the finish ensures every sip is as satisfying as the last.
This is a beer to straddle the seasons with, as comfortable being sipped at dusk as you warm yourself around a roaring log fire as it would be enjoyed while ankle deep in a Bavarian lake while the hot sun reflects off your brow. There’s no time like the present though – best open your bottle right now.
Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Sign up to our All Killer No Filler subscription box and you'll find incredible beers like this one every month, plus more great writing from Matthew and our food writer Claire Bullen.