Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Jodlerkönig Ale– Black Husky Brewing

                Have you ever wondered what a Märzen/Oktoberfest-ish beer would taste like if it was fermented with an ale yeast rather than a German lager yeast?  Fortunately Tim Eichinger at Black Husky Brewing is more than happy to show off his brewing skills with his own seasonal beer, JodlerkönigAle.  Fermenting what would otherwise be a Märzen lager with an ale yeast opens up a whole host of new possibilities.  In addition to the bready, biscuit, and toasted malts in a Märzen there are now the additional flavors and aromas that fermenting a beer with an ale yeast adds.  There are many different ale yeast strains, with many creating fruity, spicy, sour, clove, or earthy characteristics in a finished beer.  All that is before even getting into the additional roundness and mellowing of aromas and flavors that many lagers have due to their extended lagering period, or the aromas and flavors that come from simply fermenting an ale yeast at a higher temperature.

                Aside from the obvious differences between Jodlerkönig and other fest biers (a shortened term for Oktoberfest bier), it still uses all of the traditional German ingredients that make Oktoberfests an excellent fall bee
r.  While the shift in yeast strain can have a large impact on the aroma and flavor of a beer, there is still a lot to be said for using high quality ingredients with the same regional origins because even the location in which the grain or hops are grown can subtly influence the final beer.  The usage of regional ingredients is always appreciated and Black Husky Brewing has never let me down.  Any of Tim’s creations are bound to be good, drinkable, and satisfying if not excellent and among the best in the country.  His belief that beers should be as extreme as possible could potentially come into conflict with a fest bier, but Black Husky releases quite a few extremely malty and complex beers, just the qualities that make a good fest bier so refreshing.  So, as always I was ecstatic to pick up a bottle and actually write a review of it this year.

                As with many Black Husky releases there is no score for Jodlerkönig on either of the two major review sites although another of the local bloggers posted his thoughts a while back, but as a general rule I don’t read other beer review blogs so that my personal reviews aren’t influenced by their musings.

They Say:

In years past, Milwaukee’s German Fest crowned a Jodlerkönig each year. In 1991, Jacob Eichinger won the contest at 10 years old. Jodlerkönig is brewed in the spirit of the German and American fest beers. After all, no fest is complete without a Jodler, so join Harold as he extends Gemütlichkeit to all his friends as they raise a stein of Jodlerkönig.


7.1% ABV
15 IBUs
12 SRM

Tim adds: It’s an ale not a traditional Oktoberfest yeast but it uses all German Pilsner and Munich malts with German and Slovenian hops...  I'm a big fan of Styrian Goldings.  It’s good, in fact I’m drinking one right now, although that’s not really relevant.

I Say:

                Black Husky Jodlerkönig Ale pours a very clear light copper tinged amber with a thick, small bubbled head with a slight soapy breakup.  The head holds moderate retention, fading back to a collar on the edges of the glass within 5 minutes and leaving heavy lacing behind in the glass.  Toasted and biscuit malts make up the front end of the aroma with a hint of light caramel as well as herbal and earthy hops rounding out the back end.  The aroma is pleasantly malty without going over the top, right around where it needs to be to still stay relative to what everyone expects out of a good fest bier.

                Toasted and biscuit malts come to the forefront in the flavor transitioning to light caramel malts, and a smooth blend of floral and earthy hops.  The flavor takes a fruity turn with notes of red plums and figs, likely from the use of ale yeast.  The fruity flavors mingle with toasted malts in the finish, and aftertaste.  Jodlerkönig is moderately malty with a moderately low level of hop bitterness.  It is just on the high end of being medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.  As with any good fest bier, Jodlerkönig is smooth, rich, and malty with just enough hop bitterness to balance out the malts so that it is it not cloyingly sweet.

                The subtle caramel notes and the fruity red plum and fig esters in Jodlerkönig aren’t necessarily at place in a fest bier, but a lot of the additional aroma and flavor notes, or at least the fruity flavor notes, likely came from fermentation using an ale yeast rather than a traditional Oktoberfest lager yeast.  They might have come from the malt, but based upon the available information, the stone fruit in the flavor seems unlikely.

                Whether the fruity notes belong in a fest bier or not is unimportant here however.  The real question we should be asking is, is this a great fall beer, and in the case of Jodlerkönig, the answer is a definitive yes.  As with many of the beers that come out of Black Husky, Jodlerkönig is technically not to style, however that makes it no less delicious!  There will still be bottles of Jodlerkönig in select liquor stores around Wisconsin for a while yet so be sure to head out and pick up a bottle of this year’s batch while you still can.

               That’s all for tonight, remember to check back soon for my next review!

                Happy Drinking!!

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