Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fat Head's Alt Beer

Tuesday, 20 July was an exciting day for me as Fat Heads South Shore Saloon tapped its German Alt bier. The beer was made at the Fat Heads Brewery in Cleveland and I wasn’t expecting to see it poured on the South Side until Friday. Knowing how fast a keg can kick at Fat Heads I took no chances and headed down that afternoon. I was drinking Alt after being served by the lovely Colecia and sitting in my favorite seat watching the girls go by. Life was good that afternoon.

Alt beer is a Dusseldorf style and unlike bottom fermenting lagers it is actually a top-fermented ale. But in the traditional German style it is lagered at a colder temperature. Originally all beers were top fermented until bottom fermenting yeast was developed. But, that was the “old way”. Having spent four wonderful days in the Alstat district of Dusseldorf this past March I did some quality control at the Zum Uerigei brewery that was walking distance to my hotel, which was called the Alt Dusseldorf. The BJCP, or Beer Judge Certification Program says that Alt should be orange-bronze to deep copper in color, but not brown. The taste should be in the malt and clean tasting. As this is a session beer the mouthfeel should be smooth with little to no astringency. The Uerige has an alcohol content of 4.7% V. The Fat Heads Alt was listed at 5.5% V and for me that was enough to pick up a difference in the overall mouthfeel. This is not a negative quality as the beer was a VERY CLOSE match to the German. It was to be somewhat expected as the amount of malt used was a bit higher in the American. Yes Steeler fans, Cleveland is in America.

Matt Cole is the brewer at Fat Heads Cleveland and has won numerous awards. Headhunter and Bumbleberry have been mentioned nationally and his Up-In Smoke Porter should be (is) one of America’s finest. It did win a Silver at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival. Matt has been to Germany and knows the style and how to replicate them here. The sad news is that he is not in Pittsburgh so visits to North Olmstead (the real location) are required from time to time to get more of his brews. Should you venture into the brewery please do not ask to speak to Mr. Cole as he needs time to brew more beer for Pittsburgh.

The German Beer Guide to Alt: has some information, but a number of good links to other sites on Alt.

Uerige Brewery:

Fat Heads South Side:

Fat Heads Cleveland:


Alt Dusseldorf Hotel:


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