By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers
This week, I would like to highlight yet another warm-weather beer style, Dortmunder Lager. The beer is named Dog Days Lager, and the brewery is Two Brothers.
In my article from the April 23-29, 2014, issue, I talked briefly about Two Brothers Brewing Company of Warrenville, Ill., and their reputation for craftsmanship, becoming one of the Chicago area’s finer breweries.
Dortmund was one of the earliest commercial brewing centers in Germany, establishing itself as a major brewing city that exported its beers to the neighboring Westphalian cities.
Westphalia is roughly the region in between the rivers Rhine and Weser, located both north and south of the Ruhr River.
Dortmunder breweries originally brewed a wheat-based, dark-colored, quick-fermented beer. In 1873, when pale barley-based, slow-fermented beer brewed in Pilsen and known as Pilsener became popular, several of the Dortmunder breweries grouped together under the name Dortmunder Union to produce their own pale lager. Originally, there were two varieties: Lagerbier and the slightly stronger Export. The weaker Lagerbier proved less popular and was eventually dropped. After World War II, Export was the most popular type of beer in Germany, until 1970, when it was overtaken by Pils.
Dog Days Lager is a seasonal offering from Two Brothers and is packaged in cans. Cans are becoming popular in the craft beer industry, as they offer protection from light, stay fresh longer and are lightweight, therefore economical for shipping. Think of a can as a mini keg.
The website describes this beer as follows: “Brewed in the style of Dortmund, Germany, this golden lager has a delicate caramel malt character balanced by a light body and mild German noble hops, creating a crisp, refreshing finish.” That description sounds inviting, so let’s give it a try.
Proper serving temperature for this beer is 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit in a pilsner glass. Upon pouring into my Cubs pilsner glass, a two-finger depth of fluffy white head develops on top of a sparkling clean and very transparent straw yellow-tinted body. There are lots of bubbles rushing to the top; definitely looks like a lager. The head dissipates to a very thin layer with some minimal lacing.
The aroma has a faint grain character with a tart smell similar to lemon. I believe I detect some piney hops in the background. My mouth is begging me to take the first sip.
The first sip is crisp, with grainy presence; the caramel malt, which has some sweet characteristics, is barely noticeable, making this smooth and refreshing. A lemon citrus and some faint bitter piney hop flavor balances things out very nicely. A well-balanced malt and hop flavor with neither the hops nor the malts dominating.
Mouth feel is crisp and clean, with moderate carbonation. Very cleansing and refreshing on the palate.
Dortmunders aren’t the easiest style to brew, but I believe they did a nice job. Light, smooth and refreshing, with a 5 percent alcohol by volume, makes this is very drinkable. When it comes to lagers, this is a nice refresher, especially on a hot summer “dog” day.
Michael Sears is president of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a homebrewing club dedicated to the art of finely crafted beer. The club meets the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on East State Sreet. For more about Forest City Brewers, go to http://forestcitybrewers.org. If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the June 18-24, 2014, issue