For Christmas of 2015, my wife bought me a really cool present: BeerAdvent Calendar 2015 from Kalea. In truth, my wife got me a lot of nice presents (she’s the best wife ever), but the nice thing about the Beer Advent Calendar is you get it early. You have to, since it’s comprised of 24 different imported German beers in a box with little doors that you open, one per day from December 1st through December 24th. All of the beers are listed on the side of the carton, however, so be careful not to look and spoil the daily surprises!
I love German beer more than beer from any other country on Earth, so this was definitely right up my alley. Knowing this, my wife got me another for 2016. I told you I was lucky! Last year, my one criticism of the calendar was there were no bocks or doppelbocks (not fair!), but otherwise it was just an amazing way to sample 24 German beers I had never seen before. I got mine a Costco here in Georgia and paid $59.95 for the box, and it was running the same price for 2016. That might sound steep, but when you distribute that price over 24 different half liter cans, it only works out to $2.50 per can. Not a bad deal at all looked at that way.
I enjoyed several of these beers in December of 2015, but saved a lot of them for 2016, the “Year of German Beer” if you will. I call it that because 2016 marked the 500th Anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot, or Bavarian beer purity law. The 2016 calendar acknowledges this:
The Reinheitsgebot is the world’s oldest regulation for food. The Bavarian order of 1516 was introduced in part to prevent price competition with bakers for wheat and rye. The restriction of grains to barley was meant to ensure the availability of affordable bread, as wheat and rye were reserved for use by bakers. The text of the 1516 Bavarian law is as follows “…Furthermore, we wish to emphasize that in future in all cities, markets and in the country, the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be barley, hops, and water. Whosoever knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance, shall be punished by the court authorities confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail…”.
To this day, all beer produced in Germany is complying with these regulations!
It’s important to note too that the Reinheitsgebot was also very much intended to keep suspect ingredients from being used to brew beer.
For 2016, there are a few differences in the beer advent calendar. This year, it’s labeled as the “Brewer’s Advent Calendar” and has no year on it. Last year, it was called the “Beer Advent Calendar 2015”. Most of the beers are actually the same, although there are a few new ones. There are reports again as with last year that not all of the calendars have the same beers for the same days. So don’t panic if yours are in a different order.
Day 10 brought with it Rieder India Pale Ale from Austria, and much excitement on my part. I've been drinking craft beers since the early 80s and tried over 5500 different beers in my time. Still, Rieder India Pale Ale is the first German IPA to pass these lips, and when I saw it listed on the box, it was immediately the beer I was most excited about.
There really is no reason the Germans can't brew IPA. It can easily be Reinheitsgebot compliant, as Rieder India Pale Ale is. Hops, water, malt and yeast. That's it. As mentioned, Brauerei Ried is in Austria, though their IPA in the calendar is contract brewed by Egerer in Germany.
From the Ried website, roughly translated by me with my college German:
The India pale ale has cult
It is a relative of the strong ales brewed from the 1830s in England and Scotland for the Indian colonies. Hence the name.
To make it durable for the Indian sea route, "India Pale Ales", IPAs for short, were brewed with a higher original gravity, mixed with a larger amount of hops and sent to India in wooden barrels. What arrived was a fruity, aromatic beer that, tasted so good a new brand of beer was born.
Our Rieder IPA is a natural, amber-colored beer with pleasant resonance. Clearly apparent are floral fruity notes of passion fruit, citrus, peach and pineapple until it a harmoniously ends in the finish in a strong bitterness.
Back in the 90s, I had the good fortune to meet Austrian beer writer Conrad Seidl, whom I consider one of the world's foremost authorities on beer today. He describes Rieder IPA as citrus fruity, but doesn't mention the tropical fruits described above. You can watch his excellent review in English or in German.
Rieder India Pale Ale has an alcohol content of 6% by volume and my can is stamped as packaged on 01.07.2016 and expires on 01.10.2017. Don’t be fooled by the European date coding format, that means packaged July 1st 2016 and expires October 1st 2017.
Rieder India Pale Ale pours to a deep orange amber color with a thick rocky head of foam and an herbal grassy hop nose. A thick layer of Brussels Lace forms on the sides of my glass and follows the liquid all the way to the bottom.
Taking a sip, I get thick chewy caramel malts up front followed by very herbal, very earthy and very grassy hop notes that permeate the beer in their omnipresent intensity. The beer finishes long and dry and very, very bitter indeed, and the more it warms, the more intense the sharply bitter hops become.
I didn't get the citrusy notes here or the passion fruit or pineapple, but keep in mind this version is contract-brewed by Egerer. It would be very interesting to know what hops are used here, and to compare a bottle of the Ried-brewed original.
For this beer that I drank, it's a lot like taking a bottle of (an English IPA) and smashing it together with a Jever pils, adding a dash more hops and you have an idea of what this is like. Proof positive the Germans can brew whatever they want to, and brew it well.
I’m greatly enjoying my Beer Advent Calendar 2016 with the day 10 beer. Here’s looking forward to the remaining 14, and another assortment of 24 in 2017. We’ll be on the lookout next year at Costco once again! Follow them on their Facebook page.
The beers of the 2016 Beer Advent Calendar:
Day 2 Wittmann Urhell
Day 5 Memminger Gold Marzen
Day 6 Edel Bayer Urtyp Hell
Day 7 Herrnsbrau Jubilaums Sud
Day 9 Kloster Urstoff Marzen
Day 10 Rieder India Pale Ale
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.