Saturday, September 15, 2012

043. Fischer Tradition Amber

Heading off to Dallas for a romantic weekend, I chose to pack a few beers for a birthday party (Shiner Black & St. Arnold Summer Pils), but I also brought along a few for me to review while chilling at the family’s ranch Friday night (we hit Dallas tomorrow).

The first top to pop was one that’s been in my beer fridge since the start of summer: Fischer Traditional Amber. I'm not quite sure if this is French or German beer (or both), as the info on the Web is a bit confusing on this point. But I’m pretty sure I picked this up at the HEB in The Woodlands, but it’s possible it came from a Spec’s Liquor in NW Houston. I honestly don’t recall, but I doubt it cost more than $5 for the 1 pint 6 ounce bottle.

In the spirit of full disclosure here at “the Wild Side” (where I only review beers that are new to me), there is a chance I’ve had this before. The bottle looks very familiar… but then again, it’s so simple that it resembles many other beers with a flip top (that cool wire contraption that holds the top in place so it is re-sealable. Perfect for when you’re in the mood to sip and don’t want to finish a beer in one sitting.

Of course, that’s not the case tonight. This is a perfect size for relaxing after driving 2.5 hours.

Popping the Top
I love flip-top Euro Beers. I have fond memories of drinking Grolsch when I was in college. Back in the 1980s, by the way, they had ceramic tops, not cheesy plastic like they have today. Yeah, I’m a grouchy old man fond for the days of yore.

Popping this top rewarded me with a pleasant pop of carbonation and a strong malty aroma with a nice strain of yeast riding sidecar. I really liked it, despite the absence of hops or other aromatics.

Pouring the beer into a Mason jar glass revealed a nice brownish amber color and a moderate pour yielded the best head I’ve had in months (at least on a beer). The head was durable and provided an impressive lace that lingered even as I took my first sip and was rewarded with a nice taste of yeasty malty goodness.

I think the lack of prominent hops is the one area where some drinkers will get bitchy and dump on this beer. I would agree that I would prefer the hops to bring a little more to the party, but their absence allows the malt to take center stage and I think the faint bitterness I detected at warmer temperatures probably came from the yeast. This isn’t bad and the hops-whore haters need to chill out a bit: this is a solid beer worthy of some respect.

The Sweet Spot
Without the hops (which tend to breath at warmer temperatures), I’m not surprised that this beer is better served cold. The carbonation borders on being fizzy, but in a pleasant way delivering a very pleasant mouthfeel that stays with you after each sip. I enjoyed the malt and think this would be a good contender for an Autumn beer

Non-Kosher Side Note: I had a bacon sandwich with this, and the beer did not pair as badly with the salty bacon as I expected. It’s as though the salt brought some very welcome tang to the experience. And, as everyone who knows me will say, I’m a fan of the tang.

In Closing
This is one of the first French (if it is French) Beers I’ve had in a long time that I really enjoyed. It wasn’t perfect, but it was smooth and solid and I really enjoyed it. The tiny label lists the brewer as Biere D’Alsace and that they've been doing this since 1821. Dang, that’s almost 200 years. I guess it’s fair to say that they know what they’re doing, as I would definitely drink this again.

Thoughts from the Bottom of the Glass:
Type: Dark Larger
Color: Amber Brown
Aroma: Sweet malt
Hops: Not much to speak of
Malt: Strong and pleasing
Head: 2-fingers white, durable
Lace: Strong and foamy
Carbonation: Medium
Mouthfeel: Pleasant, good lingering results
Temperature Sweet Spot: Coldish (around 38-48 degrees)
ABV: 6%
My Rating: 7.5 of 10

Other Reviews Worth A Sip
The guys over at Beer Advocate and I couldn't disagree on this one more. They generally hated it, as you can see for yourself:

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