This easy drinking dark lager cuts quite an attractive figure in the glass, with an attractive deep reddish color with plenty of foam. We found the aroma profile to be quite complex, with robust malty notes of brown bread, some molasses, and a touch of grassy, earthy hops with a touch of hay and spice. This dunkel lager offers one of the most beautiful and pure toasted grain aromas that we’ve experienced in a while, with a mild nutty quality that builds a bit with warmth. On the palate this is a German beer through and through. Look for notes of toasted bread, mild caramel and brown sugar, and some nuttiness. The light to moderate sweetness is balanced by a light dose of hops, which contributes a hay-like character and dries out the finish a bit. With warmth, some of us detected a wisp of dark fruit on the mid-palate, and like with the aroma, the grainy malt flavor is superb. This smooth, medium-bodied Munich-style dunkel is a top notch representation of the style; note the characteristic absence of excessive bitterness and heaviness present in many dark beers. This versatile brew pairs well with fried mushrooms, vegetarian chili, roast chicken, or spicy lobster or crab.
The Lammsbräu Brewery is famous for being the largest producer of organic beer in Germany, and quite likely the world. In fact, the term “ökobrauerei” in their name above literally means “eco brewery” and reflects Lammsbräu’s complete dedication to environmentally conscious production of beer as well as several other beverage products.
Located in the Bavarian town of Neumarkt, population 40,000, Lammsbräu has been a family-owned enterprise for generations. The first documented mention of a brewery in Neumarkt was “The Golden Lamb” restaurant and brewery in 1628. By 1800, the brewery came into the ownership of the Ehrnsperger family, where it has remained ever since. The key figure in Lammsbräu’s transition into an “eco brewery” is the current owner and director, Dr. Franz Ehrnsperger, who took over operations in 1971. Over the course of the next several years a myriad of changes were instituted including the installation of solar panels and heat exchangers to recycle waste heat for other purposes, and a transition to natural gas boilers. Additionally, local barley and hop producer groups were established to produce organic and non-genetically modified raw materials on contract for the brewery. Their first organic beer came to market in 1986, and by 1995 all of their products were 100% organic. Today, Lammsbräu is a paragon of environmentally friendly breweries, with spent grain going to local farmers as feed and fertilizer, solar panels providing much of the brewery’s power needs, and delivery trucks running on bio-diesel and vegetable oil.
Not only are Lammsbräu’s hops and barley organic, they also make for excellent tasting beer due to the brewery’s attention to quality. The brewery runs its own malt house and “hop hall,” where they store their September harvest of whole cone Hersbrucker hops under cold conditions for use throughout the year. The brewery has also been blessed with an ideal water supply that they access from their own well 250 ft underground. So pure is the water that no treatment is necessary except simple aeration to remove iron and manganese.
Lammsbräu currently brews 13 different beers (two of which are exported to the US: a Pilsner and a Dunkel – this month’s feature), plus four non-alcoholic brews, and two gluten free versions. Additionally, they bottle their own water (from the same excellent source as used for their beer), and produce the Now brand of sodas and the SAPS brand of organic fruit juices.
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