Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews


Zum Uerige

Style: Altbier
ABV: 8.5%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

A great thing about exploring foreign brews is coming across some bizarro styles that’ve been obscured by the passage of time. Take, for example, tonight’s featured brew, Uerige DoppelSticke. Unless you’re a hardcore beer dork, chances are you’ve never heard of a sticke, let alone doppelsticke. There’s a pretty good reason for this.

First off, sticke isn’t really a beer style. It’s actually just an altbier brewed by a number of breweries in the Altstadt (“old town”) neighborhood of Düsseldorf, a city that became famous for its particular take on the altbier style. The term sticke is local slang for “secret,” and in quainter times a beer designated as a sticke was advertised discretely in taverns, intended as a way to reward regular customers. The classic Düsseldorf altbier producer is Zum Uerige, and not only do they brew a sticke but they arguably are the only brewery in the world to regularly produce a doppelsticke—double sticke—and they do so exclusively for the American market.

Uerige DoppelSticke pours a muddy brown with a tan, half-fingered, semi-sticky head. It’s actually not a very pretty beer at all, but altbiers aren’t made to be looked at, but drunk. And, I guess, smelled. This one smells quite a bit like a doppelbock, with heavy notes of wet brown sugar, molasses, and a tiny bit of alchol. Very un-doppelbock-like are the earthy hop notes unabashedly all over the sniff. Unexpected and not at all unpleasant.

The mouthfeel is soft with a medium-to-heavy body, although not big at all considering this is a “doppel” flaunting an 8.5 percent ABV. The sip starts unassumingly, but grows exponentially in both maltiness and intensity—a potent mix of chocolate notes buried underneath raisiny dark fruit. The earthy Euro hops crop up midway through the sip and take over at the end to provide a medium, complex finish.

I’ve had this beer on several occasions, and I need to say that you have to drink it fresher rather than aged. Zum Uerige stamps the date of brewing on their bottles, so it is possible to make sure you get one only a few months in the bottle as opposed to mine tonight, which was damn near two years old. Even this old it is an enjoyable brew, although the malt is darker and fruitier than intended, and can overwhelm the hops at times. Fresh, and this beer is a wonder, with the distinctively musty—but still lively—classic Old World hops playing a near-perfect, unique foil to a drier malt profile.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on February 17, 2009.
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