The classics never expire, but they do grow stale. Minneapolis brewery Utepils (ooh-ta-pilz for those of us not raised in lederhosen) has made it their mission to keep traditional European styles relevant, and their GABF bronze-winning altbier Alt 1848 leads the charge. Named for the year of the beer’s reign in Dusseldorf, Alt 1848 is proof that there are still recipes in the vault worth getting excited over.
Alt 1848 pours translucent brown. It’s a hazelnut color that feels almost too comfortable sitting in a bulbous pub glass. You could find similarly hued beer at any beer hall in Westphalia. A beige cloud of head covers the top of the beer like a creamy welcome mat.
Alt 1848 is a relic from the 1800s that was thankfully pulled back through time.”
Altbiers are fermented using top-cropping yeast. It gives Alt 1848 a bountiful, fruity nose. It’s difficult to discern exactly which fruits are being conjured—maybe plum or raisin—but the result is a sweet bubblegum fragrance. Balancing off the candy-like sweetness are big, nutty wafts of toasted malt.
Light, roasty, and slightly sweet, Alt 1848 covers the high points of the German brewing tradition in a single sip. There’s perhaps a touch too much caramel on the backend, and the piney, resinous hops don’t do enough to cut the palette-coating sweetness. But the lack of hop character makes for a near-infinite smoothness, each gulp going down in rich, succulent draws.
Utepils nicknamed Alt 1848 “Der Kupfer Fuch”, or “The Copper Fox”, not only because of its autumnal hue, but also for the traditional German copper kettle that it’s brewed in. Alt 1848 is a relic from the 1800s that was thankfully pulled back through time.