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Altbiers, New Tricks for Sixpoint
Mad Science is always grounded in brewing history and in bygone tradition — action without knowledge… well that’s just madness. As we stride forward, we still look to the past for inspiration. That said, we’re pumped to drop a draft-only brew in one of our very favorite styles, Altbier.
Altbier uses a top fermenting yeast (like an ale) but is stored cold for a few weeks (like a lager) so you can think of it as something of a hybrid, or a different category altogether. There’s no doubt, though, that this classic beer has stood strong against flavorless beer for centuries.
When pale lager started taking over across the continent, Altbier carved out a stronghold in Dusseldorf, Germany. Golden lager was the “New Style” and Altbier is actually German for “Old Beer,” or the way they had always brewed beer in Dusseldorf. That Altbier could go toe-to-toe with the golden pilsners sweeping the globe is no surprise – a good Alt is above all, clean and malty, but without lacking in flavor. A cold lagering period helps create a snappy and ever-drinkable brew.
Alts hold old significance for Danny Bruckert, the Mad Scientist who spearheaded this Altbier project. Danny weighed in about the virtues of Altbier on our Mad Science of Session Drinking blog a few months ago, calling it his favorite beer for the long drinking session because of supreme balance. It’s a great rant, you should check it out. The style is also important to Danny because it’s the first beer he ever drank, and he used to share them with his pops way back.
“I used to drink a great Altbier with my dad all the time back home. I went back to it a few years ago and it wasn’t the same. Maybe my palate has changed, but it didn’t have that precise balance… it had gone soft, gotten sweet.”
“And you know, I credit my Dad for getting me into good beer. Everyone has a gateway to good beer, and for me, we’d be out on the deck, he was big outdoorsman — still is — and he’d be tuning his bow, or be on the grill. He would pop a bottle of Alt open, and I’d be messing around somewhere, and he’d say ‘take a sip,’ so of course I’d take a sip. I’m not gonna say no, and you know it’s funny those little moments, you don’t think anything of it, but he’s unknowingly setting the bar for what beer is. And obviously here I am as a brewer so that was pretty important for my life.”
So Danny and the crew set out to recreate the flavor he knew from way back, to fit his current palate. The result is a snappy, bready and delicately bitter brew that the whole team has been downing by the half-liter.
This is our first batch of Altbier since the “Big Sticke” we brewed for our Mad Scientists Series back in 2011. We did this one with some casual help from some visiting friends at Adnams of Southwold, England. We brew beer over there every so often (as we’ve noted here and here) and wanted to host them to return the favor.
The Sixpoint Altbier has a sharp bitter bite carried through by deep malt character. It can be savored over a long pint, and it’s clean and easy drinking, glass after glass. Find it around NYC with the Sixpoint Mobile App.