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Top 3 craft beer recommendations for May & June - Hanssen - Blackwell - O Brother - Blackwell & more

It is (finally) time for Zurich Beer Tour's Top 3 beers for May & June 2022. Hopefully our top beers from the last two months will be the perfect preparation for your summer vacation drink picks. Do you like light or heavy? Dark or pale? Sweet or sour? This post definitely has a brew for every palate. Simona went for two sour beers, but don't worry: they are so different from each other that you will not get bored by this selection. Sandro's top beers are also 2 of the same beer style family, but again you will see how brewers can make a lot of difference in the final product by using different equipment and slightly tweaked recipes. And because Simona and Sandro have decided to go in the same direction with each of their picks, our monthly staff pick had to fit their selection. But be ready, those two heavy Imperial Stouts will rock your world. Let's do this!

 

Simona's pick for May: Hanssens Artisanaal (BEL) - Oudbeitje

The Beer:


This Belgian lambic is something really special. Many of you have probably tried several different fruit lambic in their life, Kriek (cherry), Framboos (Raspberry) or Peche (Peach) are some easy to find versions. This lambic was macerated on strawberries and is until this day the only one of its kind in Belgium. And we are not quite sure why, because this beer was absolutely delicious. The Oudbeitje has a beautiful strawberry nose and on the palate starts really acidic with lots of funk and ends with an absolute tasty, almost sweet strawberry burst. The sweetness is only coming from your mind thinking of fresh berries, because the beer is actually quite dry which makes it super refreshing. What an amazing summer drink, we are looking forward to more spontaneously fermented strawberry beers!


The Brewery


Hanssens Artisanaal is a lambic blendery, they do not brew, they buy unfermented wort from other breweries. They then ferment, age and blend them to perfection. Hanssens are from Dworp, a small town south of Brussels, Belgium. They have been producing beer in their current location since 1896. The brewery was not associated with lambic or even the name Hanssens in the beginning, they started of as a regular brewery called Het Hooghuys. When the owner Petrus Van Hemelrijk married Joanna Maria Hanssens in 1837 the name Hanssens firsty appears in the brewery's history. Their nephew Bartholomé Hanssens took over the brewing business in 1896, he was also the one who started blending lambics. Hanssens' core range consists of Oude Kriek, Oude Geuze, Scarenbecca Kriek made from Schaerbeekse Cherries and the Oudbeitje we are featuring here.


Our food pairing recommendation:


Belgian waffles with Strawberries and Cream

 

Simona's pick for June: Blackwell (CH) - No, I Am Your Father Sour Stout


The Beer:


As promised, the second sour in Simona's list tastes not even close to the refreshing strawberry beer from above. The reason might be that this brew is kind of a hybrid beer style: a sour stout. The highly carbonated dark beer features flavors of dried red fruit, chocolate and a hint of coffee. Combined with the typical Blackwell funk and a super high acidity level, this beer is nothing for untrained palates. If this beer would be your first ever sour, it would probably take a while until you would try another one. But it is really worth to train your palate for beers like this, it is fantastically complex and you can find new layers every time you have another sip. And the coolest thing about this beer: it was brewed for Star Wars day, May 4th.


The Brewery


You can find out more about the brewery in this blog article.


Our food pairing recommendation:


Cherry chocolate mousse

 

Sandro's pick for May: Broken City (CH) - Tóla Helles Lager


The Beer:


Sandro's first of two lagers is a local one from Switzerland. To be exact, it was brewed in Lugano, Ticino by Broken City. This Helles was brewed using organic malts only, produced by our friends from Malteria Ticinese. And the specialty malt really shines in this beer: it tastes of fresh baked bread, has a nice sweetness typical for a Munich style Helles and ends with just the hint of bitterness needed to balance the whole beer perfectly. This beer is the perfect choice to sit at lake Lugano and enjoy the Ticino sun until it disappears. If you think lager beers are boring, then you really have to try this near perfect version, it will definitely prove you wrong.



The Brewery


Broken City is one of our absolute favorite breweries in the whole of Switzerland. Located in the Soragno district of Lugano, this brewery has been around since 2016. They love to produce modern beer styles (or classic ones with a twist) inspired by the beer scenes of northern Europe and the US. Their favorite ingredients in beer are hops, so they produce lots of amazing hoppy beers. They like to push the limits with their recipes, so they love to use huge amounts of hops and create extremely flavorful beers. Experimental brews are also one of their specialties, so don't be surprised to find a sour beer with basil in one of their fridges. If you are in Lugano the next time, go visit their taproom!


Our food pairing recommendation:


Focaccia with rosemary and olive oil

 

Sandro's pick for June: Sofia Electric (BG) - July Morning Lager


The Beer:


Another Helles? Hell(es) Yeah! You could get the feeling that Sandro had enough of all the fancy IPAs, stouts and sours, but this is definitely not the case. It is more that he wants to bring the lager closer to the beer fans out there again. We all know that the mass produced pale lagers out there are nothing you want to drink more of, a lot of them are terrible. But we should not forget that a crisp and light lager is probably the hardest beer to brew, as there are no bold flavors to hide any mistakes. This beer is the perfect example for a well brewed Helles, bready and slightly toasty nose, sweetness on the palate and perfectly clean and crisp finish. This beer is the perfect one to have with you on the beach. The name of the beer comes from a Bulgarian tradition, where people gather at the seaside, sit by the fire, play music and wait for the first sun of July. We could definitely picture us having this beer for this occasion. Наздраве!


The Brewery


You can find out more about the brewery in this blog article.


Our food pairing recommendation:


Banitsa (a traditional Bulgarian pastry dish) with cheese

 

Zurich Beer Tour's pick for May: Frau Gruber (GER) - 5th Anniversary Imperial Stout


The Beer:


This beer marks an important day in the history of Frau Gruber Brewing: their 5th birthday. And the beer is absolutely one you can celebrate with. Clocking in at 12.5% ABV this is clearly one you should be sharing with your loved ones. The beer took a long time until it was released, everything started with an 18 hour brew day, to give this beer all of the sugars it needed to become huge. It was then pumped in super rare vanilla bourbon barrels, and stayed there for more than 23 months. The result is a non-adjunct beer with pure roast malt aroma, balanced and still decadent. You can get a lot of oak on the palate and just a hint of boozy kick on the finish. This masterpiece is almost too drinkable even though it has a massive body. It reaches absolute perfection at room temperature. A belated Happy Birthday to Frau Gruber.


The Brewery:


Frau Gruber was founded in 2016 by Enzo Frauenschuh and Matthias Gruber (FRAUenschuh + GRUBER = FrauGruber). They brewed their first beers in 2017 without their own equipment as gypsy brewers. They were really successful with their project, so in 2020 they were able to finally open their own brewery. FrauGruber export to 20 countries around the world and are one of the best German craft breweries with extremely high ratings on all beer rating platforms.


Our food pairing recommendation:


Crème brûlée

 

Zurich Beer Tour's pick for June: O Brother Brewing (IRL) - Opus One


The Beer:


We found this beer in an amazing, kind of hidden place in Dublin. We had not heard of the brewery before but the description sounded really promising. And we were not disappointed, this massive beer was aged for 9 months in Fercullen 18 Year Old Single Malt and 8 Year Old Single Grain Whiskey barrels from Powerscourt Distillery. The beer features nice notes of smoky and boozy whiskey, combined with a massive portion of oak. All of this is laying on a smooth stout base, giving you lots of coffee, liquorice and also some umami flavors. An absolute jewel of a beer. If you can get your hands on it: Try it!


The Brewery:


O Brother was founded by the three brothers Barry, Brian, and Paddy O’Neill from Wicklow, Ireland. They left their 9-5 jobs to start this brewery in December 2014 (and we are happy they did). They were always inspired by the hop forward beers coming from the US, so it was a match made in heaven when they were joined by Head Brewer Rich Barrett in 2016, who had been brewing in California the years before that. Since their start they have produced over 75 different beers of many different beer styles, from light Summer ales to barrel aged imperial stouts. They also love to collaborate with anyone they think has knowledge that could help them produce better beers, which does not only mean other brewers but also coffee roasters or other local food producers. We hope to see (and drink) more of their beers in the future.


Our food pairing recommendation:


Short-Rib Beef Stew with Ale

 

These are our top beers for May & June. Which ones were your favorite brews these months? Tell us in the comments!


Are you looking for more personalized recommendations, that are made to fit your taste? Check our Pocket Beer Sommelier.


Stay tuned for our July recommendations!


Cheers,


Your Zurich Beer Tour Guides

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