Stewart Brewing, eh? They're a bit of alright aren't they? Not only do they produce the rather good Radical Road IPA - which, criminally, we haven't actually reviewed on the site yet (although it got an honorary mention in the BOTY article) - but then they go and catch me off guard with another cracker, Franz lager. On a Sunday night as well. Good times.
And the weird thing is - well, the two weird things really - I wasn't intending on having a beer last night, despite the crushing disappointment of the football earlier in the day. So firstly, this was bought on a complete whim in the local Aldi (who appear to have another of their craft beer fayre's on again), based on the fact that I'd never seen it before. And secondly, it's billed as a lager and as I've mentioned elsewhere before - I don't drink much lager these days. Alright, so I'm stretching the limits of the word 'weird' there - more 'mildly unusual'. It's hardly 'cat in a top hat dancing the can-can in the street' weird. Gimme a break, eh? I'm trying to make this by-the-numbers article a little more entertaining than it would be otherwise. Everyone's a critic, eh?
Back on point though, this 'lager' took me completely by surprise. I say 'lager' - note the use of the quotation marks there - as this doesn't really strike me as being a lager in the traditional sense. It's no Tennent's lager (thank the stars) and it's no Innis & Gunn lager either (top drink, by the way). If anything, it's more along the lines of an IPA or a pale ale - something like AND Union's Sunday Pale Ale (or even their Friday IPA). See? I'll find a way to namedrop AND Union in any article. It's a skill.
If I read between the lines though, I'm guessing that Franz is made using the traditional lagering process - that is, cold fermented and matured, using a bottom-fermenting (easy) yeast - thus, the finished ale is known as 'lager'. There's also a bunch of lager malt used in the brewing process, further cementing the idea that Franz is styled as a lager. And that folks, is the end of your homebrew lesson today. Take it easy, drive safe.
Nah, just kidding. I'm still here. Need to fill at least three or four more paragraphs of guff before I can publish this bad boy.
But as I said above, the flavour of Franz is anything but traditional. This isn't a normal, run-of-the-mill lager - it isn't beer coloured, bitter flavoured swill. This stuff is the real deal, full of big, refreshing citrus flavours. It's a proper thirst quencher of a beer too, from the first sip to the last, which if you're like me on this occasion, may actually end up being the same thing...
Usually at this point of a review, I'd tell you about the colour of the beer, whether it's cloudy or has a good head. But I didn't actually get as far as pouring Franz into a glass this time. Once the can was cracked open, it went down the hatch. No airs or graces this time. I did have a snifter into the can though and got a sweet, lemony, citrusy tang in my nostrils. All good.
Taste-wise, this reminds me of another 'lager' I had not so long ago - Lager 2 (or 'Lager 2 Electric Boogaloo' to give it it's full title) one of the 'crowd sourced' beers released by Flavourly towards the tail end of last year (NOTE: If anyone from Flavourly is reading this - it was the best one, by a country mile). It has the same smooth, tangy, citrusy flavours - light and hoppy, and a little fizzy like drinking sherbet. Where Franz differs from Lager 2, is that it's slightly sweeter - there's a sugary flavour there that reminds me of icing sugar for some reason and which I really like. It's almost like an alcoholic lemonade - a good version, not Hooch - with a hint of sweet orange/tangerine mixed in for good measure, then finished with a slight bitterness on the way down.
If I was to pick something I didn't like about Franz - and I'm struggling to be fair - it's that towards the bottom of the can, the taste seemed to become a bit watery, as though most of the flavour had been in the top two-thirds of the beer. I still enjoyed it though and I definitely see myself hunting this beer down again in the future. I'm hoping that it's easy enough to get hold of - hopefully Aldi will have it again - as I don't remember seeing it on the shelves before this weekend. There's always online though I suppose!
Stewart Brewing, I salute you. Cracking 'lager'.