July 2, 2013
I was at an industry trade show a few months ago, beginning to feel a little overwhelmed. Well, okay, a lot overwhelmed. Each table had dozens of selections represented by their distributors and importers. Even if there were no lines and more than the two quickly-disappearing hours for attendance, I’d be useless after visiting only half of the tables.
Big beers, sour beers, hop monsters, malt megaliths… it was all beginning to blur together. I was quickly reaching my nadir, my zenith. Maxing-out too early. The one thing – besides intoxication – I seriously did not want was approaching fast: palate fatigue.
Then I spotted that one lonely table off to the side. I seemed to be the only person in the room even acknowledging this seemingly forgotten corner of the ballroom. While everyone was busy bounding around like Golden Ticket winners in Willy Wonka’s edible room, I was drawn into his bubble of calm. What I found was one of my favorite things from the visit.
“You’re with Jever!” I exclaimed upon reaching his table. He smiled –for the first time that day, probably – over that glimmer of recognition in a room crowded with beer geek bait.
“Ja, of course,” he replied. “How is it you know Jever?” His accent accompanied by the golden sample of beer he poured for me took me right back to Eschborn, outside of Frankfurt, Germany circa 1991.
How is it I knew Jever? For a solid month it was half-liter steins of this and Licher with the occasional weizenbier and Römer Pils. There was one adventurous night at a party involving us attempting to woo the local “mädchens” with Kindergarten poetry we learned in first year German. The Jever was plentiful and certain members of our exchange student group had to receive assistance – i.e. someone else had to hold their handlebars – trying to pedal bikes home. Just don’t ask what happened with the Pommes Frites.
Strange to find Jever (pronounced “yay-fer”) in The Taunus region; it comes from the far north of Germany in Lower Saxony. No matter. Jever is a classic German pilsner. Unfussy, non-complicated and relatively low in alcohol, it’s a perfect beverage for summer. Exceptionally bright gold in color, its head pours up rocky and dissipates to a thin ring. Scents are very clean and bright with assertive grassiness and hay with some sweet malt and honey notes mingling. Herbal, bitter Noble hops twinge the tongue until Jever’s spotless malt cleanses it away fading into a crisp finish.
I was fortunate to have found an old friend that day at the trade show. Going back to the classics for a moment reinvigorated my palate. Should find yourself tired of the exotic, refresh your taste buds with a Jever.