David Brockington's Tasting 
Notebook

Füchschen Alt

        Initial Impressions:

This is my second review of altbier.  In late July, 2000, I posted a review of Zum Uerige, generally considered the standard of the style.  In that review, I discussed how I refrained from reviewing certain styles, judging that such beers are best understood by visiting their home.  British real ale counts here, as do alt and kolsch.  Thus, I never considered a domestic US alt, as I lacked the ability to place that beer in context.  (Of course, I could argue that most US alts are really variations on amber ale).

In July of last year, I was fortunate enough to score a free trip to Europe as an interview for my current job.  Of course, I wasn’t banking on landing the job, yet here I am in Enschede befuddled and often bemused.  I was forced to route the trip for the interview through Dusseldorf, which would prove to not suck.  I was able to hit all the major alt houses, as well as two kolsch houses in nearby Cologne.  

Im Fuchschen is located on the western edge of the Altstadt in Dusseldorf.  In perhaps a ten minute walk, one can walk from Fuchschen to Zum Schlussel to Zum Uerige.  Not a bad pubcrawl, this, but to really delight in these beers I think one should really pull a serious session at each.  I only did this at Uerige, several times, but managed to have a handful of beers at each of the others.  

This review is based both on my notes from July at the pub, and from a bottle purchased at Bierkoning in Amsterdam just the other day.  The .5L bottle lists a bottling date of January 16, and a best by date of February 20.  This is good information to have as I bought two.  It’s a further testament to the beer’s fragility and brewers’ exacting standards.  What U.S. brewer would offer the consumer a 35 day window with which to enjoy the product in confidence?  (Before every U.S. brewer reading rfdb starts a bonfire of dissent, I recognize the constraints placed by the U.S. market).

Fuchschen pours a medium amber in the glass.  Not very carbonated, a light, white head forms which is best noted by its stubbornness.  (You know, Brussels lace and all that).

Nose:

A malty sweet aroma from (I would guess) Vienna and Munich malts share the aroma with a noticeable, floral hop aroma.

Flavor:

Fuchschen opens with a deep maltiness coupled with a relatively thin body.  But then the hop character takes over.  A slightly sticky, floral hop flavor slides into a very sticky bitter finish.  This sticky does not come across as piney or resiny like a Columbus, but more floral in character.  There is also a hint of butter in the middle, a butteriness that reminds me of the first few Victory Hop Devils that I had.  Jim Busch agreed that such a flavor existed in his beer, but indicated that it was a product of the Vienna malt in use.  This flavor in Fuchschen must be of a similar derivation, and confirms that earlier analysis.

Final Analysis:

Another great beer from the Dusseldorf brewers.  This beer does not blend as well as the Uerige, the strong hop character and deep maltiness seem a bit disjointed in contrast to the perfect execution of Uerige.  The maltiness is not as soft, the hops a bit dominant at times, but otherwise still an excellent beer.  Anybody visiting Dusseldorf has to try this, and the others, else run the risk of losing street cred among beer geeks.

Rating:

   
(Excellent on my 5-star scale)


Copyright 2001 by David Brockington,
all rights reserved.
Enschede, The Netherlands

Comments:
D.P.Brockington@bsk.utwente.nl
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