Sunday, May 11, 2008

Kottbusser ale at BBC (Shelbyville Road), but no blood sausage?

Whenever I have the time to visit the recently remodeled, original location of Bluegrass Brewing Company on Shelbyville Road in St. Matthews, I look to the board for the current roster of seasonal and one-off beers conjured by brewer Jerry Gnagy.

To my way of thinking, Jerry’s rotating beers continue the eclectic and tasty tradition practiced by original BBC brewmaster David Pierce, who continues to craft seasonals and specialties downtown at BBC Main & Clay, albeit as a production breweries outside the smaller-batch brewpub setting. I prefer the classic BBC styles as brewed by Dave, and always enjoy the sometimes demented twists offered by Jerry.

Last Wednesday I stopped at BBC Shelbyville Road for a growler, and saw that something called K├Âttbusser had just come on tap. The fact sheet at the bar refers to it as a non-Reinheitsgebot ale recipe that includes barley, wheat, oats and molasses, with German noble hops. The body is medium, approaching pale bock mouth feel, and overall, I find it delicious.

Upon reflection, and after a couple of pints of Jerry’s beer, it occurred to me that I’ve been to Cottbus, which is near Berlin, and actually serves as the cultural center of a non-German ethnic minority called the Sorbs. It’s a swampy, bayou-like area specializing in runny blood sausage (look, I tried it, okay?), pickles, ornamental snakes on rooftops, and canoe trips.

Material in German that I’ve found on-line refer to an old tradition of wheat ales in Cottbus, and the non-Reinheitsgebot aspect makes perfect sense considering that the “beer purity law” is Bavarian, and would not have been enforced in a place like Cottbus until well after unification in the 1870’s, if at all -- at least until more recent times. After all, there was still Gose in Leipzig for a while after World War II, even in Communist times.

Beers like Jerry’s new K├Âttbusser are the perfect ones for me. Not only are they tasty, but they make me think, and while doing so I remembered a wonderful time back in 1991.

Then again, perhaps the Sober Brewer’s making it all up.

Either way, I approve.

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