Sometimes, a beer tasting creates a dilemma…especially for beer imported from
distant ports of call. Today is one of those days.
Flensburger Brauerei is a brewery located in Flensburg in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, in Hanseatic Germany. It’s one of the last breweries in Germany that enjoys nationwide distribution and operation without being part of a larger brewery
group. Founded in 1888 by five citizens of Flensburg, it is owned today mainly by the founder families Petersen and Dethleffsen.
Before modern refrigeration, the brewery used to chop blocks of ice from frozen lakes in the winter and bring the blocks back to the brewery to keep their underground storage facilities cool in summer. They still operate using their own water well, which is supplied by an underground vein of very old Ice Age melting water coming from Scandinavia.
I was introduced to “Flens” at least two decades ago by a friend on one of my early visits to West Germany (before reunification), where their pils, lager and other styles were readily available in northern areas of the BRD, and their “Plopp Flashen” (ceramic swing top, like Grolsch) bottles were pretty cool…and remain part of their identity, despite the added demands and expense of the complicated automation process required to fill, seal, clean & recycle these bottles. Their beer has always been excellent and it remains part of the
blunt regional identity among many Northern Germans (note the ad below).
Today, I was pretty fired up to try their Gold, which they call a pilsner –
even if it’s not nearly as dry as their actual Pilsner brand – but is closer to
a more typical helles lager.
Unfortunately, the import time and conditioning had probably not been kind to
After “plopping” open and pouring my beer, I immediately noted the obvious
lightstruck aroma. The carbonation was low and the white head dissipated almost
immediately. The nose is malty and mildly sweet with a flat dryness and
slightly medicinal notes and lingered on into a soft dry tinny finish. This was
not the beer I had remembered.
And this created the dilemma.
I would typically not want to review a beer that was obviously flawed and is no
longer in the intended condition, but the fact is, the beer was sold at retail
and remains on the shelf in stores. So if this is what’s out there for
purchase, than it’s fair to review it as it is.
While I know the beer is much better than this, it’s below average in these
samples and, while not undrinkable, was nonetheless disappointing.