22 September 2016
Imagine you're in the historic town square of a picturesque German city. The Rhine River is off in the distance, and you're sitting outside one of the many brewpubs lining the cobblestone-studded streets. The waiter walks by with a tray of 200-mL straight-sided skinny glasses filled with a copper-colored beer of some sort. You flag him down, and he serves you a glass while marking a tally on your coaster (his method of keeping up with your tab).
You take your first sip of this beer. There is a noticeable, clean bitterness that stays on your palate. But it gives way to a rich yet also clean maltiness, much like that of toasted bread with hints of caramel. You take another sip of this sessionable, almost lager-like beer, and before you know it, you're done with your first glass. The waiter quietly replaces your empty glass with a full one and marks down another tally on your coaster. And before long, you're on your third glass...
This city is Düsseldorf, located in the heart of the Rhineland. And the beer you're drinking? It's the Altbier.
The Altbier is a cool-fermented ale that originated in Düsseldorf over the course of many centuries. This beer officially got its name sometime in the 1800s when the production of lagers took Continental Europe (and eventually the rest of the world) by storm. The Düsseldorfers wanted to preserve their traditional ale from the "newer" lager beers that were quickly gaining popularity, so they dubbed it the "Altbier." "Alt" - meaning "old" in German - referred to the "older" method of brewing, which was ale yeast fermentation.
Our new Icon Red - Altbier pays homage to this classic (yet not very well-known) German beer style. We use all German malts, hops and yeast to brew this beer. Pilsner and Munich malts make up the backbone of the grain bill, lending the beer a rich, clean, bready maltiness. A touch of Chocolate Wheat malt gives the beer its light copper color with slight hints of caramel and dark fruit. This maltiness is perfectly balanced by the clean yet assertive bitterness of the floral German Perle hops. And the ale yeast strain we use ferments at cooler temperatures (in between lager and ale yeast temperatures), with the beer cold-conditioned post-fermentation for an extended period of time to create a crisp lager-like finish.
This beer is best enjoyed in a stange (the 200-mL traditional glassware of the Altbier). But a pint glass will do in a pinch. Prost!
Icon Red - Altbier will be available on tap in bars and restaurants as well as in six packs of 12 oz bottles at your favorite beer-gettin' place. You'll start to see it right around the beginning of October.