Ratsherrn was founded in 2010 and has been brewing craft beers since March 2012. On a trip to Hamburg earlier this year, I visited the impressive brewery complex at the Schanzenhöfe, to the west of the city. Beside the brewery, the Braugasthaus Altes Mädchen serves six of the beers on tap. As time was on my side, I had the luxury of being able to sample several in a sampling tray as well as try the seasonals (e.g. a Hamburger Weissbier) and revisit some of the beers that thought stood out from the samples.
More recently, I have seen 33cl bottles of the Ratsherrn beers appear in beer stores around Berlin. Unfortunately, these are limited to the more conservative styles of their pils, rotbier (red beer) and pale ale. Since these are the beers that most readers will have access to outside of Hamburg, I decided to try the bottled versions and take some notes.
Beautiful red colour, almost like a light red wine.
Nice roasted malt aroma with some fruit notes, like prune. Mild note of German hops on the nose. (Saphir – an alternative to Hallertau Mittelfrüh – is a preferred hop that Ratsherrn have used in several of their beers).
First sip was a mildly pleasant, sweet malty beer, with a very simple crisp flavour evolution. Very light finish.
More time with this beer revealed a body that is far too light in the finish. An aggressive bitterness comes at the end – seperate from the maltiness – that leaves an unpleasant aftertaste in the mouth.
Overall impression: Ratsherrn deserve credit for going with an unknown style (red beers from Hamburg were completely unknown to me) and presenting a malty beer that won’t have an automatic audience in Germany.
However, considering the beer in the glass; a small amount is an interesting showcase of caramel malts, but not something I would drink in large quantities.
Clear straw colour. Nice big white head.
Quite a malty aroma for a pils, with a hint of floral hops. You can smell the ingredients.
Unfortunately, (in spite of the 4.9% a.b.v.) the body is very, very thin with quite a dry finish. Mild hoppiness in the flavour, but very thin in the finish. A mild bitterness, typical of German pils bittering.
Although the marketing material on the bottle references the origins of pils in Pilsen, this beer lacks the wonderful caramelised qualities and spicey bouquet of Saaz that make an authentic Bohemian pils such a joy to drink. Unfortunately, this is just another bastardised German pils for the majority of bastardised German palettes. (No offense intended to either brewer or drinkers – it would just be nice to taste a genuine Czech style pilsener for a change!)
RATSHERRN PALE ALE
Colour: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale coloured…! Nice white, foamy head. Fantastic head retention on this beer.
Aroma is a pleasant mix of dried apricots, grapefruit. The green hops can clearly be discerned in the nose.
The flavour is a wonderful combination of thick toffee and tropical fruits like pineapple, with hints of blueberries before the smooth finish. The balance is genuinely well-judged in this beer.
A tasty new German Pale Ale that is both delicious as a sample and sessionable at 5.6% a.b.v.
I have tried each of these beers at the brewery and can testify that they taste better on tap than they do in the bottle. I do not have information on the packaging process used by Ratsherrn, but it is possible that each suffers from the bottling & distribution process (pasteurisation, distribution, shelf-time etc.)
The brewery is capable of brewing delicious beers (Hamburger Weissbier and the more recent Hoppin Jaws IPA testify to this), but unfortunately, the bottled versions of the pilsener and rotbier are disappointments. I will be revisiting the bottled Pale Ale again though, as this was the stand-out beer of the three I could find in Berlin.