Arcobräu Gräfliches Brauhaus - Zwickl Lager
- ABV: 5.2%
- Bottle Size: 330-ml
- Serving Temperature: 42-47° F
- Suggested Glassware: Stange, Pilsner Glass, Mug
Zwickelbier is a variation on kellerbier, which is a German style known for being unfiltered and matured in cellars in wood casks left not completely sealed, which allows much of the carbonation to escape. Zwickel (or Zwickl) casks, however, are usually sealed for a while before bottling, allowing more carbonation to build up. They are also usually crafted to be a bit lighter in hop flavor. Arcobräu’s Zwickl presents a bright golden color topped by a brilliant head of white foam. At first, our pour was clear, but as this is a traditional unfiltered lager, we swirled up some of the yeast sediment in the bottle to add some haze and extra flavor. On the nose, look for some doughy and light caramel notes, along with touches of hay, apple skins, and mild herbal, spicy hop overtones with a lightly floral quality. On the palate, that bready character comes through very nicely to form the center of this brew, with just a hint of residual sweetness and a mild dose of caramelization. Hops add some grassy, lightly spicy notes, while flashes of orchard fruits pop in here and there, as well. Bitterness is low to moderate, but balanced well with the malt to give a mostly dry overall impression as it finishes crisp and satisfying. For pairing options, it’s hard not to go with German specialties like schnitzel, fresh-baked soft pretzels with sweet mustard, and grilled bratwurst or other sausages. Prost!
The history of Arcobräu Gräfliches Brauhaus is inseparably tied up with the history of the Counts or Arco. In fact, the brewery name translates as Arcobräu “Count's Brewery.” The Counts of Arco originally hailed from Italy, where their Castle Arco towers over the northern shore of Lake Garda from a massive, rocky prominence. With 16th century European political struggles being particularly nasty and violent, the family ultimately had to leave Italy, settling instead in a new domain in Bavaria.
About 90 miles northeast of Munich, about equally distant from the nearby Czech and Austrian borders, lies the town of Moos, Bavaria. Surviving documents indicate that the Schlossbrauerei ("castle brewery") of Moos was up and running by at least 1567. Numerous important events occurred over the centuries, notably the brewery's destruction by fire in 1619 and its subsequent rebuilding, the combining of breweries in Moos and the nearby town of Aholming, and a modernization occurring in the late 19th century, which brought mechanization to the brewing process. 1910 would see the introduction of their first Helles lager, which would become a flagship product which endures to this day.
For hundreds of years, the Counts of Arco have been at the helm of this traditional Bavarian brewery, and today the brewery is owned by Count Riprand von und zu Arco-Zinneberg. The Count, who is married to Archduchess Maria Beatrice of Austria, inherited ownership after the passing in 2003 of his mother, Countess Maria-Theresia, who was the granddaughter of King Ludwig III, the last king of Bavaria. Got all that? In any case, Countess Maria-Theresia took over control of the brewery as a young lady in 1940 after the death of her brother, and in 1960 she and her husband, Count Ulrich Philip, combined all their breweries under one brand name, Arcobräu, with the Schlossbrauerei Moos as the headquarters.
Arcobräu continues to grow steadily while sponsoring community events, including various yearly folk festivals, including the public tapping of their Coronator doppelbock. Using pure water from their over 300-feet-deep well and yeast that they propagate from Weihenstephan's world-famous strain, the brewery produces a very tasty array of traditional German beers including several helles lagers, dunkel, doppelbock, pilsner, zwickelbier, and weissbier. If you're ever traveling near Moos, a tour of the brewery is highly recommended; or better yet, visit during one of their folk festivals!
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