Year of the Beer Day 4: Sachsengold Landbier

sachsengold landbier

Day four of the beer tasting marathon honoring the 500 year beer purity tradition and we look at the “Landbier.”  Normally featuring a gold color but some also have a darker brown color, the Landbier is normally characterized as a beer that has less hops and more finely ground spices, producing a mild taste. It is comparable to the likes of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Old Milwaukee beers in the US, yet the alcohol content of a typical German Landbier is double the amount as the American counterparts- specifically between 4.8 and 5.4%, pending on how the breweries craft this type of beer. What is unknown however is how Landbier is different from other beer types. According to the German Beer Institute, which serves North America, Landbier that is filtered is considered Pils whereas those that are not filtered are considered Kellerbier. Normally, as seen with the Oettinger Winterbier on the first day, Kellerbier is usually lagered at cool temperatures, thus allowing for the beer to ferment and for the yeast to remain in the content, together with the important vitamins and minerals. In short, one could say that the one Landbier may be different that another one because of the way they are brewed. This means one will have to research more to get down to the truth behind this beer type, which includes taste-testing a few.

This includes the first candidate on the list, the Sachsengold Landbier. Originating from one of two breweries located in Zwickau, in western Saxony, Sachsengold can be found in many supermarkets owned by Edeka, which includes Netto (as you will remember, Edeka received the Files’ Genre of the Week honors for its Christmas commercial last December, which you can click here to watch.) That means, everyone could buy a case of beer and still have two Euros of the original five Euros leftover for meat and buns. The Landbier is one of four beer types Sachsengold markets and sells and has the typical appearance of the Landbier- clear gold color. However, when examining the taste of the beer, it can be best described in one simple word:


Flavor and Aroma: The beer’s main ingredient was barley, yet it seemed that the amount of barley in the content was minimal, to a point where there was little intensity on the taste and no aroma at all. The end result was the impression that the beer tasted of barley-flavored water with no other ingredients that could pep up the flavor a bit. In other words, the taste of the beer was flat. Even when pouring the beer into the mug, there was very little carbonation and the beer looked like clear apple juice than a typical beer- an exact opposite of the Luther Porter beer I tried yesterday, where the foam accounted for 80% of the beer glass upon pouring it. The body of the beer was extremely light, and on the mouth, the impression was that it was too watery but with a bitter taste and the impression that the freshness was way off the mark. Even if the alcohol content was 4.9%, there was not much of an effect of the alcohol upon drinking even half the bottle.

Grade: 5,0/F  While not as bad as the Löwenbräu and the original Oettinger beer (not the Winterbier), the Sachsengold Landbier did not sweep me off my feet with its taste. While the color of the beer is typical of the German Landbier, the quality of the beer itself was really poor. Unless a person loves bitter-flavored water, this beer should be recrafted in a way that it tastes less watery and has more of the ingredients that makes Landbier typical. I have tried some Landbiers during my time in Germany and found those that are much better in taste. Many of them will be presented later on, perhaps as a reference for Sachsengold to consider before overhauling its product. It competition with Mauritus, which is the other Zwickauer brewery may be brutal, but any small, even cheap brewery can produce a Landbier better than this, right?

To finish off the taste-test, Sachsengold had a nice comic that looks at the typical Sächsisch person going on vacation- and forgetting the items needed before travelling. Although made by the incense candlemaker Huss (which produces incense ovens as seen at the Leipzig Christmas market) it does have a true meaning when it comes to crafting a good German beer, which is….

Don’t forget the important ingredients to making a good beer! 😉

FF new logo1


Genre of the Week: The Laughing Heart


The best stories, poems and words of advice happen deal with themes that have to do with social pathologies- drug abuse, violence, dysfunctional families, bullying/harassment, poverty, internet addiction, etc. Most of them are written by people who were either victims of these pathologies or have witnessed them firsthand. Charles Bukowski was one of those authors who has written a lot about social problems and brought them to light in one shape or form. Born Heinrich Karl Bukowski in Andernach, a city in Rhineland-Palatinate, he and his family moved to the United States in 1923 when he was three to make a living. While Bukowski made his living as a postal worker during World War II, before quitting his job to become a full-time writer at the age of 49. Before his death in 1994, Bukowski had written six novels (including Post Office, Women and Pulp), eight non-fiction books (including Shakespeare never did this and Sunlight, here I am), plus hundreds of poems and short stories published in various magazines and newspapers.

This includes this FlFi Genre of the Week poem, The Laughing Heart. Written in 1993, shortly before his death due to leukemia, the Laughing Heart provides the reader with an outlook in life, encouraging the person to take a chance in life and let it grow, whiel walking away from the mistakes that shadows life and hinders it. It is touted as one of the best poems written by Bukowski, great enough for readers to steal the books where the poem is in, as stated by Ron Rosenbaum in an interview in 1999.

Instead of presenting the poem in written form, enclosed is a video version of the poem, where musician and poet Tom Waits reads the work of Bukowski. A musician of 44 years, Mr. Waits has taken a liking for Bukowski and has used him as a reference for his own works. He has read out and produced songs based on Bukowski’s work, some of which can be found in his albums as well as on youtube. This is one of the works being presented here with Mr. Waits reading the poem The Laughing Heart-



FF new logo1

From the Classroom: A Tribute to the Unforgettable, Natalie Cole


Life is laden with the unforgettable. Unforgettable people who shaped our lives, through thick and thin and through passion and love as well as pain and sorrow. Unforgettable events where no matter what the outcome, we grow from them and learn about the lessons of life.  In the case of this exercise, looking at the song “Unforgettable,” one should take the time and listen to the song, pay attention to the lyrics and ask themselves the following questions:

  1. What was the most unforgettable moment in your life that you dealt with? What happened, when did it happen, and what was the result? And lastly, what lesson did you learn from it? It can stem from a love affair, to saving someone’s life, to averting a disaster- whatever comes to mind that helped shape your life?
  2. Who was (or maybe is) your unforgettable person(s) in your life? Who was/were the person(s) and why was that person special? What did you learn from the person?
  3. What was the singer’s theme in the song Unforgettable and why did she choose it?
  4. Was it an unforgettable person or event? Why?

Have a look at the video or listen to the clip before answering the questions:

The song was originally produced by Nat King Cole in 1951, and reproduced by her daughter Natalie Cole in 1991 as a tribute to her father, who died suddenly in 1965 when she was 15. His music and his passing inspired her to launch a career of her own as a singer. And while she had some Top 10 hits in the 1970s and 80s, including Pink Cadillac and Starting Over Again, the duet with her father as a tribute to the blues great was perhaps the crown of all songs she had produced in her career.  Unfortunately, Natalie Cole died on New Year’s Eve 2015 at the age of 65 due to health problems. To honor her career, the Files is dedicating this song and this English exercise for people wishing to learn more about blues music and the father-daughter team that surely left a mark in the music world. Many thanks for your many wonderful years of work. You will be missed but you will remain unforgettable in the eyes of many.


FF new logo

Year of the Beer Day 3: Luther Porter


To start off the third day of the beer tasting marathon, I would like to quote from Martin Luther, the reformist who presented his thesis to the Catholic Church in 1517, thus setting the stage for the creation of Protestantism:

“Iss, was gar ist, trink, was klar ist, red’ was wahr ist.”

(Eat what is cooked, drink what is clear, speak what is true in English)

It was also known that Luther met, courted and married a nun, Katharina von Bora, who had crafted beer for the church and whose beer Luther loved. He even encouraged her to create different types of beer, claiming that the beer was good for the soul. He even jokingly threated to kick her out for NOT crafting a new beer. Now that is what I call romance on the beer bottle. 😉

This is one of the reasons why I chose this beer. I found this during my visit to the Christmas market in Gotha in December of this past year (see article here). While the Luther Porter had various beer types, I chose the dark beer as a taste-tester. The topic of dark beer (known in German as Schwarzbier) will be mentioned later as there is another beer to try that better fits the topic. But what is surprising is the fact that despite the beer being popular in the city and the city has its own distilleries, the brewery that crafts Luther Porter is not located in Gotha, but in a small town in northwestern Thuringia, Leinefelde-Worbis.

Founded by Carl Kunze in 1867, the brewery was renamed Neunspringer with the name having two different origins: nine springs originating in the area and a new spring being in the area. Both origins have been highly debated by local historians and people familiar with the brewery. The beer business expanded in the 1930s only to be nationalized by the East German government during the Cold War period. In 1994, four years after German reunification, the Neunspringer brewery was reestablished and has since produced and sold beer for regions in the Hannoverische Münde, western Thuringia and parts of Saxony-Anhalt, Lower Saxony and Hesse.

Appearance:  Upon pouring the beer, one of the very first impressions was its foam at the top, for it was excessively thick and very persistent. This made it difficult for me to decide what the color looked like and how clear it was. But after about 5-10 minutes when the foam finally settled down, I found the beer to have a dark brown color, which is typical for a Schwarzbier. Most Schwarzbiers have a really dark brown to black color. The clarity of the beer appeared to be dull, not clear at all, but not cloudy either. However, looks should not be judged alone….

Aroma and Taste: Most dark beers are produced using barley malt (Gerstenmalz) for their flavor and aroma. How they taste varies on the beer itself. The Luther Porter beer has a sweetness to it, having a spice that is unknown to the drinker- most likely with a fruit flavoring. Yet the beer is not as sweet as other beers of different flavors, which makes the taste rather nice.  Although the carbonation was rather excessive, especially when pouring the beer, the beer does have a full body when drinking it, coating the mouth and tongue, and having a string flavor to it. The beer has a good craftmanship because of its flavor and freshness, but I was rather disappointed with the lack of aroma upon opening it. Whether it was because it was chilled before serving or not is unclear. But if the beer tastes great, should the aroma be also as good as the taste? That is something to think about and discuss. (Any comments are welcomed).

Grade:  1,7 /A- Martin Luther is probably kissing his beer-crafting wife in Heaven for this grade. 🙂 I found the Porter unusual for a dark beer because of its taste in comparison with other dark beers I have drank since coming to Germany over 17 years ago. But despite its excessive foam and carbonation, even if most dark beers have a herbal to bitter taste, as it will be mentioned later on, I took a liking to this beer because of its taste, which is not too sweet and not too bitter. It is something that a person can enjoy drinking not only while visiting Gotha and regions to the west and north, but also when receiving it as a gift. I had originally bought two bottles for my in-laws as a Christmas gift and learned that the beer is impressive in its taste. I have to agree after trying it myself together with my wife.  Yet, the Porter is only one of many beers Neunspringer has in its lager, so check out the website and see if you can try one or two different types. And as for Martin Luther himself, what would make me curious is how he would have reacted had he tried this beer, comparing it to how Katharina von Bora brewed it….. 😉

FF new logo1