After visiting Strasbourg’s Christmas markets and its Hospice Wine Cellar, we switch gears. Germany waits across the border. In honor of Strasbourg’s bipolar Franco-Germanic nature, we shed Alsatian wine for beer, glorious beer.
But first, the Cathedral’s Astronomical Clock must be seen! It must! We wedge into line and freeze for a half hour. We squeeze into the middle of the mob and stare up at a clock twice the size of Lyon’s:
We then suffer through a 30 minute video. French and foreign mumbling builds, while the clock just sits there. Then the grim reaper tolls a bell and the 1840s automata tremble into life-like movement:
Back to beer.
We go to the Christmas Marche des Saveurs Alsaciennese. We fill up on steaming local mushroom soup and mulled wine: both of which steam from their plastic cups.
Then we find a booth run by brewery Brasserie Uberach. They are a completely biodynamic brewery. We waste no time sampling and grab 5 beers and take them to our Airbnb apartment. We leave them to freeze on the windowsill.
Let’s see how they tasted:
Brasserie Uberach, bière ambrée, Alsace, France. €3
Appearance: This looks a hazy, rich amber, with fine, cream-colored lace. Aromas: smell moderately of harvest apples, honey, and wheat. Palate: feels dry but fruity, and wholly medium in terms of acidity, bitterness, alcohol 4.8%, and body. The texture feels creamy yet prickly. Flavors: follow suit, with moderate grapefruit hops, nutmeg spice, pepper, golden apple, but a honey wheat bread that dominates it. The medium length. This is a solid, sessionable Amber (3 of 5): well done Frenchies.
Brasserie Uberach, Bière de Noir, Alsace, France. €3 Appearance: Also hazy, a deep chocolate brown color, with a thin cream-colored lace make this a stout. Aromas: smell of light roasted coffee bean. Palate: feels drier, with some acid, more bitterness, average alcohol 4.8% and body. Flavors again do not overwhelm us but taste of coffee, chocolate, black pepper, and citrus. The medium length, balance, and adequate complexity make this a good dark beer (3 of 5).
Time to up our game a whole .60 € with Brasserie Uberach, Jean Balthazar, brown beer, Alsace, France. €3.60
Appearance: looks hazy, deeper brown, with a thin, cream-colored lace. Aromas: smell of chocolate, hoppy clove, and coffee. Palate: feels dry and completely balanced, but with extra body and a soft yet tart texture. Flavors: taste of concentrated coffee, chocolate, and vanilla cream quickened by a snap of grapefruit. The length is longer. Jean Blathazar is cleary .60 € worthy of a very good (4 of 5).
Now for something eclectic: honey beer!
Brasserie Uberach, Le P’tit Klintz, honey beer, Alsace, France. €3.60
Appearance: again hazy this light amber beer flaunts a rapid, white fizz. Aromas: boldly waft up, well, honey, in addition to apple and cinnamon spice. Palate: seems sweeter, with bright acidity, mild bitterness, some 4.8% alcohol, a medium body. The texture is creamy. Flavors: don’t overwhelm with white bread, honey, and pear juice that last a medium length. le P’Tit Klintz is Good (3 of 5) but a bit too easy.
Ok, ok. Let’s look to the heavens for something serious:
Brasserie Uberach, Doigt de Dieu, amber beer, Alsace, France. €3.60.
Appearance: looks a deeper amber, with no head and small fizz. Aromas: remind us of caramel, orange, clove, and warm bread. Palate: feels dry, with surprising, medium plus acidity, some bitterness, a medium, creamy body, and a doubtful 4.8% alcohol (how is it possible ALL their beers from amber to God are 4.8%). Flavors: don’t overwhelm but taste of orange peel, honey, and spiced fruitcake that last a medium plus length. Although I doubt their alcohol hits so low, Doigt de Dieu is complex, rich, very good beer (4 of 5).
Now, Brasserie Uberach clearly makes solid, balanced beers, especially since they are biodynamic (usually a bi-word for faults).
But this is November. Christmas is on our heels. Santa Claus, his donkey train, and, let us not forget, his Forest Demon Slave in Chains, have arrived in one of Strasbourg’s many Christmas Markets:
We leave teenage Santa to drink his mulled wine. Past the Foie Gras Christmas market stand and before we get slammed by snow, we find another Christmas Market with soup, desperate charities, and a fab Christmas tree:
As chance has it, we find an Alsatian Bière de Noël from Meteor for €3 at Christmas market #5.
Appearance: hazy amber color with little head. Aromas: smell of some apple cider and rye some bread…hmm… Palate: feels off-dry, with surprising acidity, mild bitterness, a heady 5.5% alcohol, yet average, medium body. The texture feels like a snappy, light cream. Flavors: tastes of apple sauce, whipped cream, and cinnamon. But it is the medium plus length that turns this from average, to well-crafted and very good (4 of 5). Maybe it’s the snow, but Meteor makes a youthful, bright, spicy winter beer.
All told, our EU Austerity Drinking Tour finds Alsace has both fantastic, complex, edgy wine, well made beer, and an uncontrolled obsession with Christmas. Strasbourg manages to meld traditions both French and German in one perfect, complicated place. What will Munich and Germany bring? Check in next Monday to find out, as our EU Austerity Drinking Tour continues!!!