Wednesday, March 10, 2021

A Thoroughly Good Egg(enberg)

When you say the word "Eggenberg" to me, two breweries cross my mind. Firstly, and probably obviously, is the Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg in Austria, but also Pivovar Eggenberg in Český Krumlov, where I remember having a decent feed and a reasonable dark lager many moons ago, and where took a picture of a Budweiser Urquell sign.

For today's post though I am not heading back to Czechia, but rather about 70 miles south to Vorchdorf and the Austrian, dare I say more internationally renowned, Eggenberg. If you have any interest in strong lagers then chances are that you have tried the magisterial Samichlaus or the beguiling Urbock 23°. Today though we are going to the other end of the spectrum.

Hopfenkönig is Schloss Eggenberg's pilsner style lager, and as you can see from the picture it is very pale, and comes in a half litre can!! Side note, half litres need to be the norm for any lager under about 5.5%, and the more European lager makers send over beer in cans, or participate in B United's cold shipping program, the better.

As is now traditional in my pub drinking I took no notes. On this particular day there was a chill bite to the breeze so my mate Dave and I ventured to a table inside Kardinal Hall...the first time I had drunk inside a pub in almost 10 months. The potted highlights though of the beer were dry and crackery like a German pilsner but with more of a hop presence, approaching maybe even Czech hop levels. I am not sure if "Austrian Pilsner" is a definable, or accepted, variant on the pale lager branch of the beer world, but I would drink a lot of that style if it were.

This got me thinking about Austrian beer in general. From memory, I think I have had a grand total of 4 Austrian beers, this, Samichlaus, Urbock 23°, and Edelweiss, a very refreshing wheat beer that I wrote about back in the Prague days. Austria has a population just shy of 9 million, and those fine people are only just behind the Czechs to the north when it comes to per capita beer consumption. Austrian brewing holds a very important place in the history of lager development with Anton Dreher's creation of Vienna lager in 1841 being the palest lager on earth prior to Josef Groll coming up with the eponymous pale lager of Plzeň. The village of Horn in norther Austria was famed for its "horner bier" a white ale made with malted oats, and likely akin to Berliner Weisse, that was a favourite tipple of Mozart. Yet with all this brewing history, Austrian beer just doesn't seem to make it across the ocean, or even up the road to Bohemia if memory serves.

For all that, I am glad that Hopfenkönig is available at Kardinal Hall, and likely at Beer Run if I fancy doing a more in depth analysis of this delicious beer, it is a serious contender for the Fuggled pale beer of 2021 already. Taking a broader view, if you know of any other Austrian beers available in central VA that are worth a try, let me know, especially if you have a source for Trumer Pils!

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