When I was recently brought a huge selection of beers from friends in Bamberg there were lots of the usual suspects, pilsners, bocks and wheat beers, a few darker beers and some smoked beers, a Bamberg speciality. However, there were three bottles that seemed most unusual: A rye beer, an emmer beer and a five grain beer with emmer, einkorn, spelt, wheat and barley.
Emmer is a very ancient grain, according to wikipedia it was developed in Turkey over 10,000 years ago and was the most popular grain in Ancient Egypt for both bread and beer. I had never heard of it before and a German friend translated it as spelt, in fact it’s not though apparently they’re quite similar. The beer was produced by Riedenburger Brauhaus and also contained spelt, barley and wheat. When opened the bottle gave off a rich, fascinating scent, slightly alien but most like a rich roasted malt. The beer poured with an excellent head and was quite yeasty, I wasn’t expecting that, despite being cloudy it had a beautiful mahogany colour. Both Jess and I really enjoyed the beer, it’s got a lovely rich flavour, perhaps with some plum hints but didn’t have a heavy body and at 5.1% it’s something you could drink quite a lot of.
Another made by Riedenburger, the five grain beer similarly contained emmer, spelt, wheat and barley but also had einkorn which is another ancient grain, this time around 8000 years old. Again the bottle opened with an interesting scent though this time it seemed sweeter and less rich. The head and clarity of the beer was like the first we tried but the colour was less intense, closer to tan. In the mouth the beer was lighter than the first, sweeter, and it had some interesting malty flavours though probably closer to apricot than plum. With a similar abv it would also go down very easily but we found it ever so slightly less interesting.
The last beer we tried was a Weyermann rye beer which also contained barley and wheat. Like the first two it was as around 5%, cloudy and well carbonated, actually it was pretty explosive! The colour was a lot lighter, quite similar to the glowing orange of a wheat beer and it didn’t have a massive aroma. In fact the flavour also seemed quite restrained, perhaps like a wheat beer without the cloves and banana; what I first thought was nice and subtle we later agreed was actually a bit boring, lacking much individual character that you would hope for from a rye beer.
Never mind, I can heartily recommend trying a Riedenburger emmer beer if you ever get the chance, its combination of interesting flavours and ease of drinking make it something I will definitely look out for next time I’m in the area.