Kleines Munich Dunkel: A hero among all stars

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Close observers of the ever-changing beer menu at Imminent Brewing will notice that we are about to offer what can only be described as an all-star lineup. Along with our standard fare of Gateway Cream Ale, Betty Lou’s Brown Ale, The Quick and the Red IPA, Cannon Valley Pale Ale and ? Hill Wheat…

Pardon the interruption here, but let’s make this as plain as possible: the proper pronunciation of ? Hill Wheat is “Question Mark Hill Wheat.” Not “Mark Hill,” not “Question Beer,” and not “Mystery Beer,” all of which have been used more than a few times at the register. When ordering you can go with “Question Mark Hill,” “the wheat beer,” or even “number 4.” For those who are educated on this beer, pass the name along to your friends so they don’t look ridiculous the next time they order.

Anyway, where were we?

Oh yes. All star lineup. This weekend we have the triumphant return of the Honey Basil Ale, one of the most popular specialty beers we’ve ever offered. Two weeks ago, the fan-favorite Extra Medium re-appeared on our rack, and in just another week or so, the all-time champion of specialty beers, Lil R&R – short for raspberry & rhubarb – will be back as well.

But lost in all the fanfare, we have quietly introduced yet another beer, which in this humble blogger’s opinion may well be the best beer we have ever offered.

Ladies and gentlemen, have you tried the Kleines Munich Dunkel?

I’m not kidding. No hyperbole. I think it’s the best beer we’ve ever had.

Last spring, I interviewed brewmaster Randy Clay for this blog and I asked him, after twenty-plus years of home brewing, which of his beers had he felt like he’d really gotten right? What was his best beer?

I expected him to tell me the Gateway Cream Ale, but instead he said, “It’s a beer we haven’t put on yet. It’s a German Dunkel that I think is really great.”

So, of course, seeing the Dunkel come on, and then after trying it, I assumed that this was the beer Randy was talking about.

Not quite.

“This is a variation on that beer," he said. "Usually, a Dunkel is a lager. This Dunkel is an ale.”

The differences between making a lager and an ale are many, and as Randy tried to explain, the process for making a lager is almost twice as long. The demand for our beer is quite high, and sometimes we don’t always have the luxury of time when it comes to brewing. Therefore, Randy made a few changes to his home recipe, and accidentally created the BEST IMMINENT BREW EVER.

“It’s still a lighter beer,” Randy said. “And I’m really happy with the way it came out. The malt forward taste is exactly what we wanted.”

As I’ve said over and over again in this space, I’m not a beer expert. I can’t talk about layers of flavor, or which stone fruit you taste after which kind of malt. I just don’t have the refined pallet (or the patience) for it. But I like beer, and within that, I know what I like in my beer. The Munich Dunkel is a toasty thing up front with some hints of coffee and just a whiff of chocolate in there. It’s also a session beer, which means it has low alcohol content (4.3% to be exact). You can sit and drink this beer all day long. And you’re going to want to, because it’s that good.

“Dunkels aren’t all that common around here,” Randy said. “This gives us  an opportunity to offer an under-represented style, and at the same time, we’re able to offer it in a unique manner.”

Okay. That’s great. I just think it’s the best beer we’ve ever had. So, don’t forget about it while you’re enjoying all of the other all stars.