Year of the Beer Day 9: Retter Schankbier

retter schankbier

Day nine of the beer tasting marathon looks at the German terminology Schankbier.  Better known as tap bier, this beer type is characterized by the low amount of density of wort versus water. In other words, the beer must have a density of 7-11% of the original barley extract and yeast in the content itself, and normally has a low alcohol content of between 2 and 4 percent. And this is all during the fermentation process- where the amount of density (or gravity) in the fermentation process is measured with a  hydrometer, refractometer, pycnometer or oscillating U-tube electronic meter. Comparable to the American version of tap beer, the German version leaves a mild and neutral taste, and there is little effect of the alcohol on the person drinking it. That means a person would need 3-4 bottles before feeling the first buzz, in comparison with other beers with a higher alcohol content.

Schankbier can be found in only a few beer brands, such as Berliner Weisse, Lammsbräu but also with this beer, the Retter. This beer is one of many belonging to the Einsiedler Brewery, located in the outskirts of Chemnitz in western Saxony. Founded in 1885 by Emil Schwalbe, the brewery was taken over twice in its lifetime- the first time by Radeberger Brewery from 1925 until the Winterling family claimed it in 1937 and reprivatized it. Sadly it lasted for eight years until the end of World War II, when it was nationalized by the East German government. It was known as the Vereinigte Brauerei Karl-Marx-Stadt until 1990, when like the city itself, the name Karl Marx was eradicated, and the Einsiedler brewery received its original name back- and was privatized! 🙂  Today, the brewery crafts all sorts of land beer, pilsner, dark beer and of course, this beer, the tap (er, I mean Schank-) beer. 😉

The beer has a solid clear brown coloring and and its head is persistent- lots of foam when pouring it into the glass. While the aroma is rather faint, the intensity of the flavor when trying it was decent- not so strong but not so watery. This makes it characteristic of tap beers in Germany. The Retter has malt flavors of bread and grains, with a touch of earthen hops, which provides a decent taste- neutral but one which a person could drink without worrying about the alcohol content or having too much of one ingredient. The beer leaves a slick sensation when drinking it, but the balance is perfect between sweet and bitter. In other words, the beer is quite mild. 🙂

Grade: 2,0 / B:  This beer deserves a solid grade for two reasons: 1. The beer is a typical example of a Schankbier that one can drink. There may be some better examples of tap beers out there, this beer is definitely worth drinking for special occasions if you want one that has little alcohol content and nothing really special beyond that. 2. The beer has a neutral taste which is pleasing for those who want something that is not so spectacular in flavor but one that is mild and can be drunken in moderation.

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