Tag Archives: Alt and Amber Beers

152. Alaskan Amber

I was very pleased to get my hands on this one. You don’t see a great deal of Alaskan Amber outside of its home country, and it’s pretty much impossible to find at all here in the UK.

So when Threehundredbeers reader (apparently there are some) and Untappd buddy Garth mentioned he was off to Alaska and would be happy to bring a couple home, I jumped at the chance. We soon met up in Stormbird for a few jars and to trade a couple of beers. Garth took home a bottle of my dodgy home brew for his troubles, so I think I got the better end of the deal.

Alaskan Amber

I can’t compete with Garth’s photos from the summit of Mount Juneau, where I imagine this beer tasted particularly fine, though it tastes pretty good in my kitchen in South London, to be fair.

Alaskan Amber is an Alt-style beer. Alt is a German style originating from the Düsseldorf area, and apparently introduced to Alaska by German prospectors during the Gold Rush. I remember enjoying the Diebels Alt and the Duckstein Original very much, so the chance to try an Alaskan take on the style is welcome.

It’s certainly amber, pouring a rich, dark caramel colour with a smooth tan head. There’s a bready, malty nose to it, with very little in the way of hop aromas beyond a floral hint of Saaz reminiscent of a good Pilsner.

That subtle hopping carries through to the flavour too. This is what beer bloggers tend to describe as a “malt-forward” beer: rich and full bodied with only subtle, fragrant hop notes. I don’t imagine it’s terribly easy to grow hops quite so close to the Arctic Circle, so that makes a lot of sense. In fact I’m reminded of those malty, sweet ales from Scotland, a part of the world with—if memories of my distant student years are reliable—a similar climate.

It’s thoroughly drinkable stuff, too. I’m convinced this is a style of beer which would sell well in the UK, so it’s a shame that you rarely see it. There’s one more Alaskan beer to track down, but fortunately I have a bottle of that one patiently maturing in the spare room.

Anyway, huge thanks to Garth for finding this one, and for making me thoroughly jealous of his trip to Alaska.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Alaskan Brewing Company, Juneau, Alaska, USA
Style: Alt and Amber Beers
Strength: 5.3% ABV
Found at: Alaska Cache Liquor, Franklin Street, Juneau, Alaska
Serving: 12 fl oz can

125. Duckstein Original

The last Alt beer that we came across—Diebels Alt—turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. I think that’s still the only example of this venerable German beer style that I’ve actually tried, so this one should be interesting.

Duckstein Original Cap Detail

Whilst Alt beers are more typically associated with the Düsseldorf area, Duckstein Original hails from Hamburg. Well, in truth this bottle comes from the internet, and I’ll admit I know almost entirely nothing more about the brewery. We’d better crack on and drink it.

Duckstein Original

There’s that warm chestnut colour again, and a smallish tan head. The aroma is dark and fruity, and unexpectedly reminiscent of a Belgian-style Trappist Dubbel such as La Trappe Dubbel.

That comes across in the flavour too. It’s lower in ABV though at 4.9%, and so a great deal more gluggable than a Dubbel, and very refreshing. It’s a great winter beer all the same, with that fruity warmth from the malts and slightly spicy notes from the subtle hops. There’s added complexity from the beer being matured over beechwood chips.

A very nice beer, all in all, and again it strikes me that it’s a real shame that you very rarely find this style of beer on tap in the UK. I think people would like it.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Duckstein, Hamburg, Germany
Style: Alt and Amber Beers
Strength: 4.9% ABV
Found at: Beers of Europe
Serving: 500ml bottle

94. Diebels Alt

This bottle of Diebels Alt is the second beer from that Beers of Europe case I mentioned when we met Švyturys Ekstra. It’s also the first beer to be covered here from the Alt and Amber Beers chapter of The Book.

Diebel Alt - cap

Which is terribly exciting, not least because I don’t really know a great deal about the style at all. I know that Alt is a German style, and a little light reading tells me that it’s predominantly brewed in and around Düsseldorf, just as this one is.

Interestingly, it turns out that the Alt style predates the widespread proliferation of lager in Germany. That’s intriguing, because one tends to associate Germany strongly and almost exclusively with lagers such as Kölsch, perhaps with a few strange wheat beers thrown in for variety.

Which has me wondering what we’re in for. We’d better give this a try, then.

Diebels Alt

Diebels Alt immediately surprises me by coming out of the bottle remarkably dark. Held up to the light, it’s a really deep copper colour with a creamy white head.

In fact, it looks more like an English bitter than anything I had expected from Germany. Perhaps I shouldn’t have chilled this one overnight.

The beer smells deep and malty, a little like an ESB, but with a faint hoppy aroma that becomes distinctly peppery when you get your nose right in there.

And it tastes pretty blooming good, to be fair, especially after a long day at work. It’s dark and slightly sinister, with those peppery flavours coming through strongly and complementing the plentiful rich dried fruit notes. There’s a tiny hint of orange too, again reminding me of an ESB, in particular Fuller’s.

There’s a big old bitter finish, and a very modest degree of fizz, so despite being full of flavour, Diebels Alt is hopelessly easy-drinking. You never seem to see beers like this on tap in the UK, but it could be a great session pint, particularly served from a keg.

Well I never. That was all a bit of a pleasant surprise, and I wouldn’t mind another just now. Still, there was another Alt in that case, so I imagine we’ll be seeing that one in these pages before long.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brauerei Diebels, Issum, Germany
Style: Alt and Amber Beers
Strength: 4.9% ABV
Found at: Beers of Europe
Serving: 500ml bottle