My dorkiness comes on many levels, it isn’t just limited to beer. I have mentioned before that I am a chemist in the “real world”, and I have many science-nerd tendencies. If I started my own brewery there would definitely be a tie-in to chemistry, and most likely some molecular structures or element symbols incorporated into the logo and artwork. Since I have no plans to be a brewer, I instead patronize like-minded craft breweries. Element Brewing Company has a great name, makes interesting beers that deftly fuse seemingly contrasting beer styles, and even has chemical structures right on their label. A perfect combination for a beer and science nerd like myself. Element’s fall seasonal is called Altoberfest, a fusion of a rich and malty marzen with a hoppier German altbier. The beer is fermented with Element’s house ale yeast. While these styles aren’t as far apart as some of the other fusions Element makes (like pilsner with stout in Interval), this is an interesting combination that seems perfect for a crisp fall day.
Element Altoberfest pours a deep amber red, slightly cloudy with a large but quickly dissipating khaki-colored head. The smell is a mixture of old world hops intermingled with some rich maltiness. The hops lead the flavor, earthy with some pine and grass. There is significant malt flavor too with notes of caramel and whole grain bread. The beer is medium bodied and pretty easy to drink so I was shocked to find that it is 8.35% ABV. The finish has a pleasant little hop bite on the tongue. This beer kind of reminds me of a British ESB, lots of old world hops mixed with significant maltiness. There is a little German malt character that sets it apart, but that is the closest “traditional” style that came to my mind. It is an interesting combination, not as crazy as the pilsner/stout hybrid, but worth a try this fall. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Element Reviews:
Long Trail Brewing started in 1989 with the goal of making quality local beer to compete with imports from Germany and England. Their brewery in Bridgewater Corners, VT now makes a variety of craft ales that are distributed all over the Northeast. The Long Trail lineup includes a number of year-long and seasonal ales inspired by traditional German and British styles. One of the most popular Long Trail beers is Double Bag, a strong version of a German-style altbier. Altbier is an interesting style, most German beers are lagers, using bottom fermenting yeast and cooler fermentation temperatures. Altbiers use a top fermenting ale yeast, although many undergo a secondary fermentation at lower temperature. Double Bag is a heavier, darker version of Long Trail’s flagship altbier. The altbier style originated in the lower Rhine region of Germany. Traditional altbiers are medium in color and balanced with low to moderate ABV. Many German breweries also made a stronger version of alt, called stickebier. Double Bag is made in the stickebier tradition, with a dark color and rich flavor from caramel and chocolate malts and higher ABV.
Long Trail Double Bag pours a light brown with red tints, very clear with a small white head. The smell is rich dark malts and caramel, along with a touch of earthy hops. The malts also come through strong in the flavor, with touches toffee, caramel, cocoa powder and toasted bread. The malt sweetness is cut with some mild hop flavors, contributing some floral, pine and earthy notes. It weighs in at 7.2% ABV, and you get a touch of warming alcohol in the flavor. Despite the high alcohol, the beer is crisp and easy to drink. The aftertaste is balanced, a mixture of malt sweetness cut by a touch of hop bitterness left on the tongue. This is a great winter beer, full bodied and warming, built well to pair with hearty winter dishes. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.