01 April 2015

Crap, three ways

This trilogy of beers from Poland's Łomża brewery presents an interesting case study for students of lager (sure weren't we all, nudge nudge). The three are all the same style and 5.7% ABV strength, but made with slightly different production methods, for comparison.

The starter, or possibly the culmination since it's had most done to it, is Łomża Export. I don't know if the brewery is making a serious claim to the formal Dortmunder style, but it is strong enough and is the appropriate shade of rich dark gold. That's where the similarity ends, however. The flavour is crisp and husky with a touch of corniness in there, though the ingredients list admits no adjuncts. There's also a bitter, slightly unpleasantly gastric bite, especially in the aroma, along with sulphurous rubber and metallic aspirin.

It's not a great start, but the less processed ones are bound to be better, right?

We get an upgrade to brown glass for Łomża Export Non-Pasteurised. It looks identical, but I suppose that's hardly surprising. And it tastes less awful too: rounded, more integrated and with none of the nasty pointy edges. It's not a great beer by any standards, but it's clean and there are some tasty red berry notes and some proper Dortmunder breadiness, though that grain husk lingers on too. Does pasteurisation really cause all those acidic flaws? I'm sceptical, but that appears to be what the evidence suggests.

And to conclude, Łomża Unfiltered. A predictable layer of sediment on the bottom of the bottle but careful pouring yielded a clear glass, dark gold again. The dry grain husks start early but there's not really much else going on: it lacks the pleasant complexities of the unpasteurised one, and also the nasty ones of the original, with a dull watery core in the middle. It livens up a little with the lees poured in, the crisp cereal becoming a softer, sweeter biscuit, so it's got that going for it, but still far from being a flagship example of the joys of unfiltered lager.

I'd recommend the non-pasteurised one if you absolutely have to choose, but your mileage may vary and in all honesty I'd suggest driving a different vehicle altogether.

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