01 December 2008

Rot, gut

The stream of free beer that friends have brought me continues today with a gift from Adeptus, and a beer I've been longing to try ever since he told me about it and pointed out its exquisitely daft website.

Hövels Original comes in a lavish foil-labelled green swingtop bottle and pours an exceedingly attractive shade of clear red-amber topped by a typically teutonic tall foamy head. I got a little bit of funky skunk in the aroma, not at all unpleasant and signifying that there's been a generous hand on the hops in this "bitterbier".

Still, it's not one of those north German beers that oozes hop extract and is sharp enough to clean the barnacles off the Bismarck. Instead, the herbal bitterness sits next to light, sweet malts which remind me of nothing so much as an Irish red ale, which is weird, but nice.

Overall, despite a fairly serious 5.5% ABV, this is an easy-going and charming beer of which one could drink several in a session. I can see how it became one of Adeptus's regulars.


  1. The header wins Blog Post Title of the Year 2008!

  2. Everyone loves multilingual puns. Most just don't know it yet.

  3. Laurent Mousson11:07 am

    Hövels is interesting in that it still uses the forgotten term "Bitterbier".
    From what I've gathered from a few german sources, Bitterbier appears to have been the general term for top-fermented, hoppy beers in Northern Rhineland, including the Ruhr, Düsseldorf and Cologne.. Then Kölsch, a pale, top-fermented, hop-accented beer, happened, as a sub-type of Bitterbier, and then Altbier, as another subtype, and the term Bitterbier was more or less abandoned.
    Hövels in fact is very much a Nothern Rhineland Altbier from the colour, solid amber malt backbone and decent hopping. All in alla better than the likes of Diebels or Hannen.

    The packaging is quite remarkable too. You'll have noticed how heavy the empty bottle is, as it pretty much is a half-litre champagne bottle with a - branded - swingtop closure added to it.
    The dark brown plastic crates used by the brewery are quite kitschy too, as they are molded so as to mimic wood.

  4. The header wins Blog Post Title of the Year 2008!


    (Not to dismiss Laurent's comments: Bitterbier is an interesting term, and the packaging sounds charming.)

  5. Thirded!

    It was certainly interesting to see the survival of a dark beer - also quite interesting to see a number of Germans order it, and then look very quizzically at, like they weren't expecting it to be dark.

    That website is pretty awful.

  6. And I thought my "Get your ass to Mahr's" was :D

    Glad you enjoyed it! As Laurent mentioned, those bottles are damn heavy. I had to leave behind a couple more beers because of it! ;)

    The term bitterbier seems optional when it comes to Hövels. Some bars advertise it as Bitterbier, some don't. But the packaging on the beer itself doesn't mention bitterbier at all.

    I love their website. From a colours and design perspective I hasten to add! :D

  7. Laurent Mousson10:07 am

    Heck Adeptus, you're right, they axed the "Bitterbier" from the label and replaced it with a bigger "original"... PC marketing has struck again :o(

    The label used to look like this : http://www.shopblogger.de/blog/uploads/august_05/hoevels_bitterbier_picvomflash.jpg
    or this :

    I wonder when the switch happened... sneaky buggers !

    Cheers !


  8. Very nice Laurent! Actually, now that you've linked to those pics I think I've seen a half-litre glass with that older logo on it.

    I have no idea when they switched, but I'll ask my colleague tomorrow when i get into the office. He's the one who introduced me to Hövels and he grew up close to Dortmund so he should know.

    I wonder was it an attempt to modernise the image while keeping links to the past using the word Original. It may have happened when they got swallowed up by the Radeberger Group. Nice that they at least left the beer intact though!

  9. Laurent Mousson9:06 pm

    I guess it's the same kind of marketing rubbish as Boddingtons Bitter being sold as Boddingtons Pub Ale pretty much all ober Europe...

    Anything to avoid the B-word that might scare off unsuspecting customers. :o(

  10. There are much scarier things about Boddy than the name.