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What 500 years experience means: perfectly balanced flavors

Updated: May 3, 2023

"If some is good, more is better."

This logic drives much of the food and beverage innovation, and almost always ends badly. Take, for example, the use of sugar. What started out as a sweetener for desserts has evolved into the necessary additive for nearly every product eaten or drunk in our country. Now it's hard to find anything without added sugar.

How to prevent this logic from wrecking the beer industry?

The answer is to appreciate flavors, not just the big ones like salty or sweet, but all the little ones as well. Too many of us tend to overload on our favorite category, even if it means excessive bitterness as in the Double IPA, or overpowering sourness in a lambic. Instead, pay attention to all the major and minor flavors together.

The five major flavors are well known: sweet, salty, sour, bitter & umami. Without a doubt, these 5 should receive our first attention. If one of them is missing, or is overpowering all the other, an unpleasant drink is sure to result.

However, it doesn't stop there. A million minor flavors exist out there on the Earth. If you want an exciting beer that doesn't taste just like any other, there has got to be a unique terroir, a taste of the land. Every land is different and unique. It has a particular soil, water and plant life that none other has.

Barley grown in field won't taste like barley from another field. This is one thing that makes Göller beer so special. Their barley comes from the fields surrounding Zeil am Main, where the brewery is located. The beer has a "Zeil" flavor that no one else can duplicate. The malty Baptist Helles from Göller, for example, was aptly named after Baptist Göller, who both farmed barley grain and made his own beer in the early days of the Brewery. No beer highlights the local barley flavor like this one.

Smoke is another minor flavor that adds a lot to beer. However, if the malt gets too much smoke (as is the case with Schlenkerla beers in my opinion) the result is unpleasant. A minor flavor like smoke should be hardly noticeable. Once again, Göller made a Rauchbier (smoked beer) that hits the perfect balance. It has been awarded gold medals in Germany as the finest of its class. The Göller Rauch even has umami and hints of bacon, rather unusual flavors for beer, but keeps them within acceptable bounds. You can drink a lot of this Rauch without getting smoked out of the house.

Roasted is another important flavor category, but which can easily be overdone. Many stouts have a toasted quality that tells you the malt was roasted way too long, the result being the sensation like mouthful of charcoal. The Munich Dunkel hits the roasted mark right on the money, with a caramel and coffee taste, but without the charcoal. Göller's Dunkel has seen increasing popularity all over Germany and the USA, noted for its exceptional balance. The Beer Connoisseur, for example, awarded the Dunkel 97 points.

At this point I need to say something: the delicate balance of a Göller beer was not achieved by amateurs. A long tradition of brewing in Franconia as well as the passed down recipes of the Göller family and the top notch training of Max, Felix and Fritz bring about this level of perfection. Although I am very happy about the explosion of craft brewers in the USA, the level of quality can hardly be expected to match that of a family who has been doing this for hundreds of years.

The lesson here is that more is not always better. Experience teaches that balance makes the finest beers, even if the perfect balance takes years and years to find. Try Göller if you don't know what I mean.

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