Hofmark Brauerei - Engel Bock
There are a couple of questions that I'm very often asked. One of them is, "When are you going to make some more Beer Hunter films for television?" The other is, "Don't you get tired of going to breweries? I mean, aren't they all the same, going to a brewery every other day, isn't that a bit boring?"
For all sorts of reasons, it's not at all boring. One of the reasons is that you meet different people at every brewery. I've met so many people in the beer world who are memorable characters, strong characters, people who make the difference and who make it possible for us to have interesting beer.
These two thoughts collided the other day when I was thinking about the Beer Hunter film that we made in Germany. We made it in Bavaria, and one of the breweries we visited was a brewery called Das Feine Hofmark.
The name Hofmark means the mark of an aristocratic court, or a royal court. And the Das Feine Hofmark brewery was a royal court brewery. It's in a village called Loifling, a name that has some etymological derivation related to the English word "lovely." And it is a lovely little village near a town called Cham, which is very close to the Czech border, and the Czech state of Bohemia.
The geology in the area of this brewery is quartz limestone, so the beers made at Das Feine Hofmark, from the viewpoint of geology and the water, have some very similar characteristics to the original Pilsner beer from Pilsner Urquell in the town of Pilsen. The brewery is about 50 or 60 miles from the Pilsner Urquell brewery in the town of Pilsen. Das Feine Hofmark -was founded by an aristocrat, but for the last 250 years it has been owned by the Haring family. During that time, there have been seven generations of Harings who were brewers.
When I was filming the Beer Hunter episode there, in some innocence, I asked Paul Haring, Sr., "Supposing your son had not wanted to be a brewer?" And he just reeled back in horror as though I'd said something truly offensive and disgusting. We became friendly with the Haring family, and I've been friendly with them ever since. They write to tell me about new babies born in the family, and what's happening their family life, in a rather old fashioned way, I suppose, in today's world. Sometimes they even tell me when they've made a new beer. They're not very commercial, and they sometimes forget to tell me that.
However they have made a new beer fairly recently, called "Engel Bock", which means angel bock. It's a beer of 6.8 percent, a sort of festival bock style of beer. It's got a big, dense white head, what a lovely rich head. A very distinctive color, a lovely warm, sunny copper color, I think. At this brewery they use malt made in nearby Franconia, there in the Franconian faults themselves. That's the name of the county there, if you like. They use German Bavarian hops, Tettnang hops from down by Lake Constance, but they also use Saaz hops from the Czech Republic. I get a Saaz note on this beer. They krausen the beer, and it really is an extraordinarily crisp, easily drinkable beer for a beer of 6.8 percent. Dangerously drinkable, I always say. Very crisp, very clean, but a good firm hop bitterness. They also use beechwood aging in this brewery, an old technique from the Bohemian Forest. I've also seen them doing it in a rather larger brewery in St. Louis, Missouri. For a beer this strong and in this style, it's perilously drinkable. It's got a nice, appetizing, hoppy aroma.
Beer is quite delicate. It's funny that there is an image out there that beer is not really given that much respect by many people, and wine is much more delicate, and so forth. Actually in terms of the finished product, beer is the more delicate of the two. Of course, some of us think that it is the more complex of the two as well, so let's present our beer in a way that looks good, but also protects the product. It's a precious product.
This Engel Bock has a crisp mouth feel from the krausening. It's malty, but it's not in the slightest cloying. I'm glad that I've stuck to my little snifter glass here, because if somebody would have given me a half liter or liter glass like they use in Germany, I might have scarfed the lot I think, no problem, and might have not really known much about the rest of the day. It is a very, very drinkable beer and you are getting some of this, so lucky you.
Be careful with it. It's always something to remember, you know: if you can't be good, be careful. Cheers.
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