Weltenburger Klosterbrauerei - Barock Dunkel
- ABV: 4.7%
- Bottle Size: 330-ml
- Serving Temperature: 45-52° F
- Suggested Glassware: Mug or Stein
- Hops: Perle
Weltenburger's Barock (which translates as "baroque") Dunkel is truly a benchmark for the style and it has the hardware to back it up including World Beer Cup gold medals in 2004, 2008, and 2012. In our glass, it presents a clear, medium bronze-brown hue topped by a prominent head of tan foam that retains well before dropping to a lasting collar. As we expect for a Bavarian dunkel, the aroma tilts decidedly towards the malty side, with deep caramel notes, rich toastiness, and hints of roasty char. Touches of lightly spicy and earthy hops add complexity, and look also for some undertones of dried dark fruit. Flavorwise, the story continues much the same way with a prominent core of caramel, toasted malt, and brown bread, with supporting notes of mild earth, spice, and a bit of woodiness, along with those hints of dried fruit peaking though here and there. Matured for six weeks in Weltenburger's rock cellar, Barock Dunkel finishes crisp and refreshing, with a nice overall balance between mild hop bitterness and just a touch of residual malt sweetness. Easy drinking, and on the light side of medium-bodied, this dunkel makes for a very food-friendly beverage option. For accompaniments, it's hard to beat German classics including grilled sausages, schnitzel, and soft pretzels with brown mustard. Prost!
Here in the U.S. we really have no conception of a truly old institution. We tend to think of anything over a couple centuries of age as being almost ancient, but things are a bit different in Europe. A prime example is the extreme age of some of the breweries in Germany, including the monastic brewery in Weltenburg, Bavaria. The monastery dates back to 617 when it was founded by two monks named Eustasius and Agilus. The monastery joined the Benedictine Order in 800, and a brewery was founded around the year 1050. Weltenburger claims to be the oldest working brewery in the world, though another Bavarian brewery, Weihenstephan, disputes this, claiming the year 1040 for their own founding. Apparently Weltenburg's monastic documents mention a 1035 death of the monastery's master brewer, so we may never really know which brewery began first, but it doesn't truly matter. No matter how one slices it, Weltenburg has a very, very long brewing history.
For a few hundred years, between the 14th and early 19th century, the monastery, which by that time was a full abbey under the rule of an abbot, was subjected to the sort of problems many other such institutions faced back then: poor administration, economic hardship, plundering during multiple regional wars and conflicts, and ultimately dissolution during a wave of secularization in the early 1800s. Brewing ceased at the Weltenburg abbey from 1803 to 1846, when the abbey was finally restored.
Currently, the abbey is home to over a dozen monks under the leadership of Abbot Thomas Maria Freihart, and the brewery itself has about 85 employees. Weltenburger produces nine core year-round beers along with various seasonal offerings, and their lagers are cold-conditioned for up to three months in a rocky underground cellar—which you can tour if you're ever in the area. If you read German and would like more info about this historic Bavarian brewery, visit www.weltenburger.de.
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