Holsten Brauerei - Astra Urtyp
- ABV: 4.9%
- Bottle Size: 330-ml
- Serving Temperature: 40-45° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pilsner Glass, Flute, Stange
Astra Urtyp (which essentially translates as Astra Original) presents a radiant golden color with crystal clarity and a plentiful head of white foam. On the nose, look for bright noble hop aromas to offer touches of hay, grass, light spice, and a wisp of lemon, while crackery pils malt lurks below and a mild fruity note reminiscent of apple skins pops through here and there. On the palate, we felt the malt and hop profiles were well developed and nicely in balance. The malt offers that crackery and lightly bready base, on top of which plenty of spicy-earthy hop character expresses itself well. A touch of residual malt sweetness finds plenty of balance in moderate, lightly mineral hop bitterness, and this balance extends all the way to the finish which lingers with both a dash of sweetness and a bit of crisp bitterness. Refreshing and, at 4.9% ABV, quite sessionable, this classic and food-friendly German pils will make a fine pairing with many dishes. With pilsner, we often steer toward pizza and calzones as the bready and spicy-herbal notes complement well. Fried calamari, shrimp and vegetable tempura, schnitzel, fried chicken, grilled fish, and many other lighter and/or breaded dishes will pair nicely. Prost!
The city state of Hamburg has a long brewing tradition, and by the 1500s over 500 breweries were in operation. Holsten doesn’t stretch back quite that far, but it still has been around for generations, having been founded in 1879 with pilsner – a style that was rapidly taking over the central European beer scene – as their flagship product. In 1884 they developed an artificial ice cooling system to enable consistent production of lager beer, which must ferment at cool temperatures. The brewery quickly became recognized as the most important in Hamburg, and throughout the early 20th century Holsten expanded by increasing the number of styles brewed, modernizing their brewing systems, and acquiring two other breweries in Kiel and Neumünster. Annual production surpassed 500,000 hectoliters (over 426,000 barrels).
After surviving both world wars, Holsten continued to grow their reach beyond Hamburg, becoming the most popular brand in northern Germany and making inroads in eastern Germany after the reunification of the country at the end of the Cold War. It was at the end of 1998 that Holsten bought Bavaria-St. Pauli Brauerei (originally founded in 1922 from the merger of even older breweries) from the city of Hamburg, who had taken it over when it fell on hard times. Five years later, Holsten shuttered the brewery and brought production of their popular lineup of Astra lagers into the Holsten brewhouse.
Astra was first brewed in 1647 under the name “Bavaria Beer”, before the name was changed to Astra in 1909. An icon of the St. Pauli quarter (which has no connection to the unrelated St. Pauli Girl brand) and the greater region in and around Hamburg, Astra remains a popular northern German brand, and sponsors Hamburg’s Reeperbahn music festival and the FC St. Pauli football club.
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