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Review: Warsteiner Premium Verum

Posted by dave

Warsteiner

Beer is one of those things that has an incredibly storied history. It dates back to the fifth millennium BC and is one of the oldest known human-produced beverages, which proves that despite anything anyone may say, the human race has had some sort of acceptable and condonable understanding of taste for over seven thousand years.

The oldest known chemically tested evidence of beer from over 7000 years ago actually comes from what is now known as Iran. So despite any nuclear arms race, anti-western sentiment, or totalitarian government forcing its citizenry into zealous oppression supported by an extremely fundamentalist interpretation of the Islamic religion… to Iran, I say a hearty “thanks”.

I’m not going to wax educational this entire post, so if you’re interested in learning the interesting history of beer, head on over here. But it’s important to know that beer is older than wine, any other man-made alcoholic beverage, and even most man made beverages of any kind.

So it is with great pleasure that I introduce Warsteiner to anyone who drinks beer but doesn’t know the producer, and I share with those who know Warsteiner the satisfaction that is its drinking experience.

Warsteiner Premium Verum

This review focuses on Warsteiner’s most lager like entry into the eternal taste test that is brewing. Actually, the Warsteiner Premium Verum is more appropriately tagged a pilsner, which is a type of lager. Originated in Plzeň, Western Bohemia (now the Czech Reuplic) it is recognizable for its heavier presentation of hops (which this reviewer rather enjoys).

If you will never be a fan of hops, you will never be a fan of Warsteiner’s Premium Verum. However, if your taste buds are ready to graduate from traditional lagers first introduced to your pie hole at some four year long kegger masquerading as an educational institution, and venture in to more sophisticated beer appreciation – read on.

My first introduction to beer was in one of many available aforementioned keggers. Its selection as the official beer of my particular university experience was, unfortunately, based solely on price. The vetting process was something like this – go to store, observe beer selections, sort by price, select cheapest. But I was new to the beer experience, and if you must cut your teeth on anything, it might as well be something that requires a pair of ball bearings to continually ingest with gusto.

Four years of gusto later, my tastes had migrated. Thankfully, I had at this point reached the legal drinking age and was able to select the beer I drank myself, instead of having to rely on the expertise of the local fraternity pledge whose task it was to spend as little money as possible on as much beer as possible. I started lightly, exploring other lagers and even a porter or two. After college I even found a bit of spare change in my bank after paying bills, and was able to venture in to more expensive varieties.

However, my true enlightening experience happened when I was sent to Germany by the company that was, at the time, retaining my services. To said company I will be eternally grateful, not only because Germany was an exceedingly interesting country with a rich (if not troubled) history, but because I was introduced to a variety of the most wonderful beers I have ever had the occasion to enjoy. For those in the know, this is in no small part due to the purity laws dating back to 1519 AD.

Reinheitsgebot

“The Reinheitsgebot (literally “purity requirement”) is a regulation that originated in the city of Ingolstadt in the duchy of Bavaria in 1516, concerning standards for the sale and composition of beer… The Reinheitsgebot is no longer part of German law: it has been replaced by the Provisional German Beer Law (Vorläufiges deutsches Biergesetz), which allows constituent components prohibited in the Reinheitsgebot, such as wheat malt and cane sugar, but which no longer allows unmalted barley.” (Wikipedia)

However, the Provisional German Beer Law retains all the other properties of Reinheitsgebot, including the use of hops as a preservative of beer. (Interestingly enough, brewers practicing prior to the discoveries of Louis Pasteur did not understand that yeast was an ingredient of brewing, and required for fermentation. Brewers would use a little bit of beer from the previous brew, and if there was none, fermentation would still happen due to the presence of small amounts of yeast in the air.) Reinheitsgebot recognized hops as a better preservative than other possibilities including soot and certain types of mushrooms, and to the Bavarians, I tip my hat.

Most breweries in Germany (of which there are ~1300) still recognize the German Purity Law of 1516 as their guiding light, but do appreciated the relaxed standards on malt, sugar, and malted barley introduced later in history. Unfortunately, the law was lifted in 1987, but many if not most breweries in Germany still adhere to the laws – if not for taste, then for the marketing opportunities it presents.

Warsteiner is no exception, and its beers benefit just as wonderfully from the laws of Germany. However, something to be noted is that their exported brews also follow the German Purity Law of 1516. Some German brewers follow the laws inside of Germany, but will add ingredients such as preservatives to their exports.

The basic point of the above gibberish is that German beer is, in my opinion, some of the best in the world. Unfortunately, to be truly experienced, one must visit Germany itself. Fortunately for those who never will, there are very decent representatives, and Warsteiner is among the best.

The Actual Review

Enough history. Let’s get down to the beer itself.

I’m a man that rarely appreciates an over-populated brew. Many breweries experiment with additives to beer, such as fruit, or chocolate; or choose a different cereal variety, such as wheat. I am, however, a man that appreciates the simplest of things in life, and my brew is one of them. While I will follow the recommendations of Michael Jackson (the beer coinsurer, not the pop singer) and try a pumpkin brew at Halloween or a chocolate beer for a more desert-like drink, I will always return to the simple barley and hops of the world’s best pilsners.

Warsteiner is a wonderful German representation of the pilsner experience. It pours well, with a decent, lasting head for a lager style beer. It’s light in color, but a bit purer in gold hue than cheaper competitor beers.

Warsteiner beers, the Premium Verum especially, has a very interesting and appreciated feature. You may not realize, but as you first start to drink, after the glass touches your lips but before the liquid follows suit, you breath in through your mouth, creating a vacuum to control the flow of liquid into your gullet. Most often this is an unnoticeable act, but with Warsteiner, it actually becomes a part of the experience. I’m not sure the best way to describe it, but the air directly above the beer simmers with a pre-flavor that you experience just prior to beer injestion. The pre-flavor is one of sweet malt and hops, which is a perfect introduction to the actual beer experience. Most beers lack this scent on the air, and thusly lack the fuller experience provided by this beer.

Following the first sip, you realize this beer is not for amateurs. Although it can be appreciated by budding beer drinkers of any age (welcome high school graduates) it helps to have a bit of experience with beer drinking to understand the wonderfulness of the simplicity of this beer.

When the beer first touches your tongue, you’re immediately baptized by a bitterness that catches you towards the back of the mouth. However, this is contrasted by a cooler flavor towards the front of the tongue, and this immediate separation of experiences is quite unique. Although it may sound odd, it’s a combination that works incredibly well together. This beer is better when appreciated slower, so the interesting way it targets the different areas of your tongue is not lost in the desire to pound said beer as quickly as possible.

Following the imminent swallow is a lasting taste of hops. It’s this hoppy taste that some appreciate and some abhor. Please note that this flavor is not indicative of the Hop Hazard variety of coma-inducing hop assault that some beers market as desirable. I personally appreciate the occasional storm of hops in a hop-saturated beer, but do understand this is not one of those beers. What it is, however, is a wonderfully lasting taste that extends the experience of this beer (and is a factor in some degree of all pilsners). In the case of the Warsteiner Premium Verum, the hops are just strong enough to evoke the undertones of a wonderful camp fire in the dead of winter, and is a taste that lasts for many minutes after drinking. Luckily, this taste does not degrade over time to an unpleasant aftertaste, which many hoppy beers are guilty of.

Beyond that, drinking Warsteiner is just a wonderful exercise of my right to ingest. Sometimes wine is nice, but sometimes a beer with attitude is just what’s called for. Warsteiner Premium Verum is something I would related to a man’s beer – a little hair on the chest, a little outdoorsman in the flavor – but something that anyone with discerning tastes could come to love.

So there it is. Warsteiner is not carried by all stores, but is worth picking up and trying if you happen to stumble upon a store wise enough to stock it. Give it a try, let me know what you think, and most importantly, just enjoy it.

 

Posted in Beer, Lager

 

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Comments

  1. Jason Kiniry said:

    You state that beer is the oldest man made alcoholic beverage, that is incorrect. Mead, or honey wine, is the oldest man made alcoholic beverage.

    Wheat is a common and normal addition to beer and not just an experiment. The german Weizen/Weissbier and Dunkelweizen are both very common styles with wheat additions. Plus a lot of brewers add wheat to beers for head retention.

    I highly recommend these sites to increase your knowledge and love of beer :)

    http://www.craftbeerradio.com
    http://www.basicbrewingradio.com
    http://www.bjcp.org

    The first two are podcasts dealing with the joys of beer. The first reviews and gives information on breweries of the beer they are drinking. The second teaches people how to homebrew beer, plus, gives very insightful backgrounds to the process of brewing mead and beers. The third is the Beer Judge Certification Program website, which includes style guidelines for each accepted beer style.

    Hope that helps! And Warsteiner is very good, but I prefer ales :)

  2. dave said:

    Jason,

    Actually, I stated that it’s “one” of the oldest. Mead is definately around the first, but beer isn’t that far behind. Check out the article I linked to at Wikipedia for more.

    Nonetheless, thanks for the great links. Beer is one of those things that I do indeed enjoy, and I’ll check all of these out.

    Thanks!

  3. dave said:

    P.S. – I am also a big ale fan. But sometimes, ya gotta switch it up ;)

  4. John Snook said:

    Dave, Your review of Warsteiner is the best I’ve ever read. Keep writing!

  5. Pitzer said:

    Warsteiner Dunkel…Thats my favorite.

  6. Dunxy said:

    Great review for a great beer!

  7. The Guilty Carnivore said:

    I’m enjoying a Warsteiner as I type, and your review is spot on. A very nice, balanced, and refreshing pilsner that’s a perfect cap to day at work.

  8. Anna said:

    Wow! What a great review (apart from the blitzkrieg comparision…)!Unfortunatly I couldn t find out when it was posted. Anyway, I would like to share this review with our sales reps from all over the world and feature a link to this site in our next WARSTEINER International Newsletter,if I may.
    Prost from Warstein ( yes this city actually exists)
    Anna

    BTW: This Monday – finally- the http://www.warsteiner-gruppe.de Homepage will also be available as an English version.

  9. dave said:

    Anna, I would be honored – however, the email address you left keeps getting returned to me. Can you please email me your email address:

    dave [at] thebarproject.com

    Thanks!

  10. Anna said:

    Thanks for getting back to me! This time I left the correc address- excuse me..

  11. Terry said:

    I truely agree with your summerization of the “Warsteiner Experience”. I have tried many beers and everyone has there favorite “Flavor”,but,I always return to “Warsteiner Premium Verum”. You could say beer is like a woman. Every one has there favorite “Characteristics” that they enjoy. Although this is the beer,if it was a woman, I would “Marry” it!
    Cheers, and a Toast to: Das einzig wahre Warsteiner Premium Verum. Eine konigin unter den bieren.
    Thank you, Terry

  12. H F said:

    Great review on a great beer. One of the few that won’t give you a hangover if you happen to enjoy a few too many.

  13. ROMEU MUNIZ said:

    Premium verum. That’s latin ? It is not classic latin. Please help me.

  14. dave said:

    Hi Romeu!

    After a little research, it appears to be German in origin:

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verum

    The second definition, translated by Google, states:

    “In clinical trials, in contrast to placebo, the true form of treatment, such as the active ingredient drug.”

    So the question is, is the beer a drug? It’s a good question, and I have some friends that speak German, so I’ll pass it by them as well.

  15. Sam said:

    Spot on review. Germans really do make some of the best beer in the world and Warsteiner is no exception.

  16. Warsteiner USA said:

    Thank you all for being so interested in our beer! Here is a link to our Warsteiner USA website – please check it out! http://warsteiner.us

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  21. MuzMan said:

    I very much liked your review and it gave me cause to stop and think about what I was drinking as I read it (a Warsteiner Verum, unsurprisingly). And much of what you wrote was really spot on.

    But somehow, I still don’t like the beer that much, despite gaining a genuinely better appreciation for what I am sensing as I drink it (amazing how words can do that).

    Perhaps I am just an Ale man, but I’m sure I’ve had Pilsners I’ve enjoyed a lot more.

    But thanks for the review, it was great!

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  23. Alfredoo said:

    I’ve tried both those beers before!! I had about 8 direfefnt kinds of German beer the last time I visited my school’s local pub. The good thing is that the alcohol was free for me.

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