Brauerei Max Leibinger - Zeppelin
- ABV: 5.2%
- Serving Temperature: 45-50° F
- Suggested Glassware: Mug (traditionally earthen)
Zeppelin is modeled after a fairly rare German style of beer known as "kellerbier". Literally meaning "cellar beer", kellerbiers are traditionally matured in casks for several weeks and served unfiltered. They also feature a very low level of carbonation due to the tradition of the bungs in the casks being left loose, allowing the carbonation to escape as the beer conditions in underground cellars. Zeppelin pours a hazy, rich amber-brown, capped by a moderate head that quickly subsides, as we expected. A layer of yeast sediment may coat the bottom of your bottle. There's a moderate caramelized malt underpinning in the aroma, topped by an interesting fruity character akin to grape skins with a touch of pear and maybe apple. The noble Tettnanger hops contribute a certain earthy edge and an inviting spicy tone, as well. Fairly malty on the palate, there's a caramel and bready core with a touch of that fruitiness, while hops add an earthy/grassy element with hints of citric acidity and a touch of spice. The result is a well-balanced brew that works well as both an aperitif and an excellent accompaniment to grilled meats of all kinds and nutty cheeses. For us, nothing beats a grilled smoked sausage with spicy brown mustard. Prost!
Ravensburg, the home of Brauerei Max Leibinger, sits just to the north of the massive Lake Constance, where the borders of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland come together. The brewery's eponymous founder, Max Leibinger, was born to a brewing family from the town of Ulm, about 50 miles to the north. It was in 1894, at the age of 30, that Max decided to chart his own path in the brewing world, and he bought the Benedictine Brewery in Ravensburg.
In 1922 his son Robert joined the business, inheriting control when his father died five years later. As with so many breweries in Europe, on both sides of the conflict, WWII marked an extremely difficult time for the business and it was almost entirely destroyed by Allied aerial attacks. 1948 was also a tough year, as Robert's mother died, followed by Robert himself, who had a stroke not longer after - leaving his wife Anita and their children Max II and Doris to carry on.
When Max II took over control of the brewery in 1959, he initiated a large modernization of the facilities and introduced several new beers, including wheat and alcohol-free versions. His son Michael joined the four-generation family business in 1996, taking over leadership in 2000. In addition to being a master brewer and an industrial engineer, Michael is also a pilot and a member of the Friedrichshafen Aviation Club which operates modern zeppelin sight-seeing flights over the Lake Constance area. It's no surprise, then, that among the new beers Michael has introduced since taking over the brewery is a beer named "Zeppelin", which just so happens to be this month's featured selection.
If ever you're near Ravensburg, near the northern shore of Lake Constance, stop by the brewery and have a bite to eat and some great beers at their adjoining restaurant. For more info, visit them at www.leibinger.de/en/.
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