Hammerheart | Herbstklagen Smoked Märzen
Minnesota’s Hammerheart Brewing Company is devoted in every facet of their existence to the holy trinity of Vikings, heavy metal and beer. These are all passions I share, so when I first caught a glimpse of a row of their bombers at Liquor Barn in Lexington, Kentucky, my eye was immediately drawn to their labels. The artwork has a very distinct Nordic theme, and the brewery itself is named for a classic album from the Swedish metal band Bathory that was a forebear of the Viking metal genre. To top it off, most of their beers are named either in honor of a metal band or in reference to some aspect of Norse or Celtic mythology. Not prepared to judge a beer by its label, I decided to give a bottle a try. Tis the season for Oktoberfest beers, so I grabbed a bottle of their Herbstklagen, a Bamberg-style smoked märzen lager.
When I was ready to give it a taste, I pulled out a drinking horn and started a fire in my backyard during a crisp November evening lit up by a full moon (because how else would you enjoy a smoky Viking beer?). After the initial pour foamed over the edge of my drinking horn, I took a sip. The maltiness typical of a Märzen was what hit me first. The mild bitterness of the hops lingered briefly but made room for hints of caramel and toffee. When I poured some in a glass later, it had a nice cloudy golden color and some solid head retention. I’ve had some very good märzens and I’ve had some mediocre märzens. This one high up on the on the very good end of the scale. It’s smooth without being boring, complex yet approachable, and is very much an easy drinker.
One thing I’ve noticed about the Hammerheart beers I’ve tried thus far is that, even though they use smoked malts, the smoke flavor tends to be minimal. This one was no different. I enjoy a good smoked beer, but this one shouldn’t turn off drinkers who aren’t too keen on smoke flavors. All in all, Herbstklagen is a very enjoyable beer to sip on during a cool autumn evening, in the depths of winter, or even on a hot summer day. If it suits your fancy, it’s best enjoyed accompanied by some soothing Viking or black metal.
According to the find beer section of Hammerheart’s website, their beers are available at their Lino Lakes, Minnesota taproom and are distributed in bottles and cans in Minnesota, Illinois, and Kentucky. If you’re lucky enough to be in any of these locales, I raise my horn to you.
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