Erdinger Dunkel

It’s Oktoberfest time! Since I’ll be enjoying numerous German brews this month, I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate my next few Drinking Notes to some of the German beers featured on my epic list. I’m beginning with Erdinger Dunkel, which I received in a gift pack along with an official Erdinger glass! Such an awesome glass…

Note: I’m aware that the real German Oktoberfest is almost over. However since it seems to get celebrated at random times throughout September/October in Australia, I figured this was as good a time as any.

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The bottle says:
I had to do a little research on Wikipedia prior to drinking this. It turns out that the Erdinger Brewery is famous for its wheat beers, and that ‘Dunkel’ means dark in German…therefore this is a Dark Wheat Beer? Hmmm, interesting; I’ve had dark beers before, and MANY wheat beers, but never a dark wheat beer. The flavours of these two styles seem conflicting; I have no idea what to expect, but I’m excited to find out. After all, the brewery has been doing its thing since 1886…they must know how to keep the customer happy.

The label doesn’t’ tell me much. No slogans (none that I can understand anyway, since I don’t speak German), and no fancy artwork to try and grab my attention…it has a very dignified and traditional look.  I guess when you have over 100 years of brewing experience you don’t need to resort to flashy images and gimmicks to sell your beer; people will purchase it because they know it’s good…or because it’s on a list of beers to try before you die! The label is a shiny brown-maroon with gold lettering, and reminds me of a fine chocolate wrapper. My brain tells my tastebuds to expect a drink that tastes of silky dark chocolate…Mmmmm

First Half:
I let it sit out of the fridge for about 15 mins so it can warm (because that’s just what you do with a dark beer, right?). It pours with a huge head; light tan in colour, fluffy and a bit rocky. The body is dark brown with a tinge amber; it sort of looks like a glass of cola, only with a much thicker head. A closer look reveals tiny white bubbles racing up the side of the glass, making the body of the beer look like it’s in a constant state of turbulence. It’s also cloudy, which makes sense for a wheat beer; but coupling this with the dark colour gives it a murky appearance.
The aroma is sweet malt, followed by a fruity effervescence that seems to tickle the nose a little; it sort of smells like very ripe bananas. The initial taste is sweet with a little bitterness, something like dark chocolate. This turns into the dry finish you’d expect from a wheat beer. To my surprise I get no roasted flavours at all. The aftertaste, while not all that flavoursome, does last. The body of the beer is light with more carbonation than expected, again resembling a wheat beer. It’s much more refreshing than I thought a dark beer could be…have I found a dark beer I can enjoy during the summer months?

Second Half:
The beer has warmed up much more now (the Erdinger glass is big after all). There’s some roasted flavours starting to appear, but they’re still just whispering. The aftertaste is now giving a slightly sour flavour too, which feels as if it’s driven by the carbonation. It’s almost like someone has mixed berry coulis in with the choc-banana sundae that I’ve been enjoying.
The warmer it gets the more roasted and yeasty flavours appear, which does ruins the desert flavours a little. I’m starting to think that this beer deserves to be enjoyed a little colder. It’s not as refreshing as when I started, but still easy to drink. The final mouthful has a burst of roasted flavour and the aftertaste is yeast; a hint of vegemite? That’s an odd addition to my sundae…

Final Thoughts:
I thought dark beers could only be enjoyed in the cold of winter…this beer breaks that mindset for me. The beer was enjoyable from start to finish; however the flavours that I was presented with at the begining (when the brew was still relatively cold) appealed to me much more. It was light and refreshing like the rest of the wheat beer family, rather than thick and satisfying like a porter.
I definitely need to do some future research on this beer:

1. I want to try it on a hot summers day (cold of course) to see if it’s refreshing enough to stand up to the heat.

2. I want to (within reason) test its sessionability; at the end of one 500ml bottle, I’m of the opinion that I could drink at least one more of these comfortably.

3. I want to enjoy it alongside an awesome banana split! (are there any licensed Baskin Robins venues?)

I’ll keep you posted…

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