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Sometimes I need to recalibrate, which, for me, means going to a classic beer. Needing to do so recently, I turned to Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel, which, for those of us who don’t or won’t speak German, the neck label kindly translates to “Authentic Bavarian Dark.”
I never met a beer from Ayinger that I didn’t love. The 138-year-old brewery in Aying, Germany, can do no wrong in my book. All of their beers have a fresh, clean, balanced flavor. This delicious dark 5 percent dunkel is no different.
The mouthfeel is soft, smooth and silky. The taste is sweet, dark malt with just a soupçon of French roast coffee, followed by a tingly tongue massage from this exquisitely carbonated beer. The small burst of carbonation is more like Champagne than beer and is endlessly delightful, and one of the several reasons why this is such an easy drinking beer. After each sip, you want to have another because it tastes and feels so good, like the oft-mentioned “party in your mouth.”
Merchant du Vin, the great Seattle-based beer importer, suggests on its website (merchantduvin.com) that Altbairisch Dunkel is excellent with food, and suggests these pairings:
“Pasta with meat sauce, potato dumplings, choucroute Aying [I’m guessing that’s a sauerkraut and sausage dish], assorted delicatessen, freshly baked bread, egg rolls, spring rolls, salmon sausage. Serve in willibecker tumbler or stoneware mug at 45 °F.”
I had mine without food, but I can see how it would be delicious with a Portobello burger or a faux bacon BLT, or a bowl of hummus and pita.
I broke my willibecker a long time ago and I use my stoneware mug to collect quarters for the Laundromat, so an English pint mug worked fine for me; it just required a couple of pours from the 16.9-ounce bottle.
As I near the end of the mug, I believe I can say mission accomplished! Recalibration complete.