Culture

Duckstein beer: a quacking success?

Image: Duckstein beer, via Carlsberg Deutschland

Trawling through the seemingly endless beer sections of German supermarkets is no mean feat. The sea of variety engulfs me: ‘Schwarzbier, Weissbier, Naturtrueb, Pils, Rotbier, Bockbier, Dunkelbier.’ Indeed, a modern-day Lorelei might be best placed in the beer aisle of a large supermarket, to some more beautiful than the sun gleaming over the Rhine. 

I whisper the names to myself as if in some sort of cult, with the silent worry of evoking a long-forgotten Anglo-Saxon demon. No demon appears. Not even three witches who might lead me to a life of certain tragedy. [1] For this reason, my choice remains difficult. 

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spot it. ‘Duckstein Weissbier.’ The yellow and red on the label are enticing, the name yet more so. In addition, it has an extra piece of foil attaching the cap to the label. High security stuff. Nevertheless, with furtive glances left and right, I approach the regal-looking colours of the label. ‘Duckstein,’ I mutter to myself. Seems innocuous enough. The brown glass of the bottle betrays no secrets as to its contents. I look down at the price. 

€1.99. A princely sum compared to the others that offer themselves so readily. Indeed, I question the nerve of a beer that dares to retail for almost three times the price of the Freiberger Bockbier, a strong local brew which clocks in at a satisfying 7%, complete with a goat on its label. Nevertheless, the name Duckstein oozes both comfort and intimidation – I think of an innocent mallard enjoying its time in Port Meadow, yet at the same time of the terrifying geese that seem intent on knocking me off my bike as I precariously commute to work in Dresden. Honk. 

Nevertheless, the name Duckstein oozes both comfort and intimidation – I think of an innocent mallard enjoying its time in Port Meadow, yet at the same time of the terrifying geese that seem intent on knocking me off my bike as I precariously commute to work in Dresden. Honk.

I brave the flashbacks of my daily commute and take it to the till, ready for the evening’s pursuits. Will it justify its price/name? While the beer is in the fridge, let me take this chance to complain a little more about the aggressive Dresden geese. Seemingly innocuous. Utterly vindictive. For them, people cycling on a public path are sitting ducks (irony noted). With a combination of Honks and Dive-Bombs they wage daily war on innocent commuters. Let me rephrase. Less of a war, more of an onslaught. We digress.

A person on Ratebeer describes the beer as having a ‘Dark brownish colour, with a creamy and firm dark head. The nose is of malt, rass, nuts. Very heady. The first sip is tasty, with vanilla and cherry notes in the body. It has a short finish, with a little vanilla remaining on the tongue. Must have been aged in a wooden barrel.’ Now that you’ve heard a knowledgeable man’s opinion about the beer, you’re sadly stuck with mine: It pours a hazy brown colour, with a rocky foam. Great. Tastes good – I can taste wheat, a little bit of orange and a hint of bubblegum. The alcohol percentage is nice too, clocking in at a neat 5.2% – not quite rocket fuel, but a gentle lift-off perhaps. Overall, it’s a good, solid, refreshing Weissbier, with a little more complexity than your average off-the-shelf local effort. Is it something special? Probably not. Did the marketing work? Incredibly well. 

To conclude: For the princely sum, Duckstein’s Weissbier comes up a little short. Is it good? Yes. Is it good enough to cost twice as much as some other very respectable Weissbier? Probably not, although the name itself comes close to justifying the price. If buying more Duckstein were to provide me some sort of immunity from the geese’s relentless sorties, perhaps I’d be more inclined in its favour. I hope the following line will function as some sort of insurance. All hail the Honk. 

[1] May have stolen this idea from a little-known piece of popular theatre

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