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….. 😉

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