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Des de Moor
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Des de Moor

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From the cellar: Oechsner Schwarzbier

ABV: 5%
Origin: Ochsenfurt, Franken (Bayern), Germany
Website: www.oechsner.de
Date: 9 October 2000

Another review from the  written for the pioneering Oxford Bottled Beer Database (OBBD). I’ve left it uncorrected — so please read it in that historical spirit. I resisted the temptation to correct the bit where I show my ignorance of the long history of brewing black beers in Franconia. This is probably the first time I used the breakfast cereal Shreddies as a taste comparison.

Johann Georg Oechsner began brewing in 1798 at a brewpub in Frickenhausen  called Zum Bären (‘the Bear’), with a history dating back to the 16th century. Over the next two centuries the family added several other pubs in the area and in 1902 opened a production brewery in Ochsenfurt. It’s still in business today, now in the seventh generation of family ownership, and still brewing this beer.

Brauerei Oechsner, Ochsenfurt, in the early 20th century. Artworks were protected in the cellars during World War II.

Brauerei Oechsner, Ochsenfurt, in the early 20th century. Artworks were protected in its cellars during World War II.

Black beers of this kind are normally considered a speciality of Thuringia (Köstritzer is the classic), but this example, picked up in the Pitfield Beer Shop, London, is from Ochsenfurt in Franconia: whether it’s a long-established speciality there or the result of the current spirit of innovation and experiment among German brewers, I’m not sure.

It’s certainly a very enjoyable half-litre. The beer is almost jet black, with a good foamy head. The aroma is smooth, sweetish and very malty: it reminded me of the breakfast cereal Shreddies. Somewhere in there, there are also sweaty and flowery hints. The palate is biscuity-sweet and malty, with a good creamy texture lifted by a hint of sourness and a fruity currant-like flavour. The beer moves towards a nicely drying, grapefruity finish with a malty, curranty tang.

I’ve had some German dark beers that treat you to the same kind of inviting, fruity-malty flavours then lay it on too thick with the hops: I’m glad to say this isn’t one of them, and the balance is just right.

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