“Caramel. It’s all about the caramel, Tim.”
This is what my flatmate said after taking a first sip of Svaneke Classic, a smooth, easy-drinking, copper-colored Vienna lager. And he’s right: upon tasting this beer, it becomes obvious how caramel malts got their name. Buttery and bittersweet, it almost tastes like a flan – but one spiked with resinous, leafy hops with a cress-like bitterness. Though the style is Austrian, the character is more British; in fact, I initially thought it was an ale. Full flavored and savory but dry in the finish, this is a superlative choice for pub grub – or, better yet, traditional Danish food.
I received a package of delicious Danish food that I had ordered off the internet last week, and on Friday I decided to prepare a feast of smørrebrød for my flatmates and myself. The table was set with pickled herring, salmon from Scotland and Norway, sausage from Germany and Sweden, fresh dill and chives, two Danish cheeses, remoulade, Svaneke beer mustard, raw onions, capers, butter, and of course, the staple rugbrød. It was a glorious spread… but one of diverse flavors, difficult for pairing. Could Svaneke Classic rise to the challenge?
Amazingly, the beer’s caramelized malts and crisp, green hops linked up nearly perfectly with everything on the table – including both kinds of fish, which is no mean feat! In a way, the hops have an almost dill-like quality: leafy, fresh, and delicate enough not to make the salmon or the herring taste fishy. I was very impressed, especially since I had never considered Vienna lagers as a potential match for seafood.
What a delightfully versatile beer! I look forward trying it again with all manner of food.