DRAFT PICKS: Deep, dark Dunkels

One of the beers we’re tasting this week is a Dunkel — officially categorized as a Munich Dunkel.

This is an interesting, and ever-so delicious family of dark lagers.

For those who attend the St. Peter’s Germanfest fundraiser in Big Rapids, there generally is a Dunkle on the beer menu.

Dunkels are most generally dark and malty. There can be hints of some of the flavors most often found in stouter brews - chocolate, nuts, caramel and/or toffee.

There is little or no fruitiness, and only a gentle hint of hops is usually sensed.

The Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guidelines suggest:

“Dominated by the rich and complex flavor of Munich malt, usually with melanoidins reminiscent of bread crusts. The taste can be moderately sweet, although it should not be overwhelming or cloying. Mild caramel, chocolate, toast or nuttiness may be present. Burnt or bitter flavors from roasted malts are inappropriate, as are pronounced caramel flavors from crystal malt. Hop bitterness is moderately low but perceptible, with the balance tipped firmly toward maltiness. Noble hop flavor is low to none. Aftertaste remains malty, although the hop bitterness may become more apparent in the medium-dry finish. Clean lager character with no fruity esters or diacetyl.”

While this is a dark beer in presentation, it is generally more acceptable to a wider variety of beer drinkers than some of the more aggressive versions.

This is the classic brown lager style from Munich.

Some Dunkels that have been available locally include:

  • Hofbräu Dunkel — Hofbräuhaus München;
  • Beck’s Dark — Brauerei Beck & Co.;
  • Harpoon Dark — Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall;
  • Eastside Dark — Lakefront Brewery, Inc.;
  • St. Pauli Girl Special Dark — St. Pauli Brauerei C.L. Wilh. Brandt Gmbh & Co.;
  • Pious Monk Dunkel — Church Brew Works; and
  • Frankenmuth Brown Hound Dunkel — Frankenmuth Brewing.

This is a wonderful family of beers, and an exciting trek.

Brown Hound Dunkel Frankenmuth Brewery Frankenmuth

Brown Hound is a brew classified as a Munich Dark Dunkel. This offering is exceptionally smooth, and not at all boozy at just over 5 percent ABV.

This is a very dark beer, as it should be! It’s a Dunkel.

On pouring, there are some wonderful sparkling tones - a little bit of orange and a touch of reddish hues.

The head is a rich, light leather colored tan.

There are well-defined notes of nuttiness at first sniff. Brown Hound is malty with just a hint of hoppiness that doesn’t detract in the least from the malts.

At first wash, the smoothness of this Frankenmuth brew really shines through. There is a hint of spiciness - just a touch.

There is a depth to this beer that would be expected from a Dunkle. It is dark, and there is a deep, dark taste personality as well.

Delicious. More full-bodied than many German-style offerings, but not too biting.

There is certainly a hint of creaminess.

Brown Hound comes highly recommended from this reviewer.

G.B. Russo’s Tiramisu Stout Hideout Brewery Grand Rapids

For fans of G.B. Russo’s delicatessen in Grand Rapids, it will be exciting to note that in honor of the company’s 110th anniversary in business, the Hideout Brewery has produced a wonderful Tiramisu Stout which is on sale in limited edition at the store on 29th Street.

It’s a doozie.

The stout pours deep, dark, and with a wonderful aromatic and deeply colored head.

At first scenting, all the classic stout aromas are present, and there is a rich layer of vanilla and custard scent that defines the Tiramisu descriptive.

Taking a deep sip and luxuriating in the brew, one can feel where the brewer was heading with this effort - a salute to the classic Italian dessert Tiramisu. Still, it is not false or cloying. There is enough hefty stout flavor and just the right balance of sweet background tones to give this a fine balance.

G.B. Russo’s limited edition offering may not be on the shelves too long.

If you want to try it out (and I’d suggest you do so), a day trip south may be in order.