Review Date 3/11/2008
Boy, does this
beer have a story to tell. As many middle-aged and older beer enthusiasts
know all too well, Lowenbrau (pronounce that W like a V folks) was
sold for many, many years here in the states by Miller Brewing Company.
Miller had purchased license to the name from the famous German brewery in
Munich. What they did with the beer, however, is dumb it down to something a
bit livelier than their standard offerings, but with much less character
than the original.
Of course, most of us couldn’t know that, not unless we took a trip to Germany. That’s because you couldn’t find the Munich-brewed stuff here in the states. To be sure, Lowenbrau has contract-brewing agreements around the world with other brewers. In a way, that makes sense, since it obviates the need to ship fragile brews across the ocean under conditions less than ideal for the preservation of optimal flavor.
CAUTION: RANT ALERT
Still, when it comes to contract brewed foreign beers, I suppose I’m rather fickle. I don’t mind drinking a contract-brewed Samuel Adams product that I know has been made under that company’s supervision, because I know that’s pretty how much how they’ve made their beer all along. I don’t, however, enjoy drinking contract-brewed imported beers. Hey, I want the same stuff they sell in their home market! Of late, Canada seems to be the country of choice to brew foreign beers for the US market. That way, they can still be called imported. Cute, huh? We now have Canadian-brewed Guinness (Egad!) in bottles. No thanks. Only the Irish stuff will do for me. Australian Fosters and a few Japanese beers are brewed there too.
WE NOW RETURN TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED BEER REVIEW
For a time, Lowenbrau was brewed in Canada too, by Labatt. Apparently the Biermeisters at Lowenbrau (which is, incidentally, now owned by Spaten) were no more pleased with the Canadian Lowenbrau then they were with the American one. Here are my notes on Labatt’s version:
Lowenbrau Premium Lager pours to a light golden color with a steady stream of bubbles rising to the top to form a light and spritzy but short-lived head. The nose is light with a faint hint of crisp pale malt, while the palate is light and crisp, smooth and drinkable but not very flavorful. The finish is again light with a touch of balancing hops, but I must say not much is going on in the humulus lupulus department either. Original Munich formula? I’m not sure I can buy that. This beer is far too timid for a German style pilsner; especially one brewed by one of the original and world-famous Munich breweries. Indeed, I’m much more reminded of Labatt’s Blue or the original Carling Black Label than I am a German brew.
As you may have already guessed, the plug got pulled on Labatt’s Lowenbrau (though I’m not sure if they still make it for the Canadian market). Finally, we’re getting real, genuine Lowenbrau beer here in America. A delicate, flavorful soft-malty German Helles lager that was worth the wait.
Lowenbrau Original pours to a bright golden color with a thick creamy
head formation and a light malty nose. There is a delightfully soft malt
palate with a crisp, biscuity flavor that is light and refreshing but
flavorful at the same time. A gentle dose of hops balances nicely in the
finish with a very subtle buzz. The malt is the star in this beer, and it is
miles above the contract-brewed versions. No wonder the Germans have been
keeping it from us for so long; they wanted it all for themselves.
Great with that old German favorite, frankfurters, or hot dogs as we call them in the states. Nathan’s Famous are my personal favorite, or a natural casing sausage like the Saugies I used to buy in Rhode Island. Actually, this would be a great match to just about any food.
Now we just have to work on getting it brown glass instead of green……
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.