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Sudwerk Märzen

Sudwerks MarzenToday is Mother’s Day. I’m sitting in a friend’s front garden in the Capay Valley, facing the very spot where I was married to Christine on the first of May four years ago. Just as on that Beltane there’s a clear sky, fragrant roses and honeysuckle. There’s still an olive tree shading the spot where Sam, the minister, stood as he blessed our union. There’s still the pretty dappled shade over the lawn, where Christine is sitting, painting the scene.

For myself, I am sitting in the porch drinking to the memory of my mother, and I’m doing it with a beer from my new home town of Davis, California.It’s a Märzen from the Sudwerk microbrewery in Davis, California.

Now your Märzen is traditionally drunk in the summer, having been stored in chilly caves and shaded by horse-chestnuts. Thus spake Wikipedia. In Germany, the last opportunity to drink these darker lagers was at the Oktoberfest, but nowadays we can drink practically anything at any time. The seasonal variations in beers tend to be a thing of long ago, with the possible exception of the really rich, dark Christmas puddings of winter beers.

This beer is not at all bad, quite interesting for a lager – there’s a neat hoppy bitterness to it that matches the weather almost perfectly. It’s a rich and coppery amber with an initially lively head, though it dies back quickly, leaving only a thin lacing. First impressions are of a slightly spicy nose, faintly toasty and a hint of citrus. The first taste is quite a surprise – it’s not hugely complex, but neither is it uninteresting. Instead it’s a clean, fruity flavour with a little butter, but the hops are in the forefront all the time, providing a little bitterness without being overly hopped.

Butter and bitter? Sounds odd, but it works. Add the slight toastiness and what you have is a Marmite sandwich type of a beer. I exaggerate somewhat, its not quite that dark and bitter, but it is certainly a refreshing change from the norm of pale lagers; it’s quite tasty and “more-ish”, I found myself wanting another one almost immediately. That I needed another is partly down to the thinness, relative to my normal run of fuller-bodied beers, but that lightness is part of its strength. It’s definitely a refreshing session beer rather than a refreshing specialist, drink-alone beer. With a good B- rating, I want to load up a plate of sausages and good bread and sit down with several of them. That would make for a good afternoon picnic in anyone’s garden.

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