Alt means old; that’s easy. Bier means beer; most people either know that or could guess it. In fact, I’m willing to bet that most of the readers, if they didn’t already know, could’ve guessed what Altbier means – old beer. The style, Altbier, however, is probably foreign to most. Allow me to remedy that – Altbier is a style that originated in Düsseldorfer, Germany, and is an ale that is constructed around rich old-world malts and noble hops, and then cold-conditioned. Ales aren’t usually cold-conditioned, but the cold-conditioning of Altbiers help create a cleaner and smoother mouthfeel that contributes to the aim of brewing a session ale for the summer that doesn’t sacrifice ale flavors while having the drinkability of a lager.
Having introduced you to the style, I now want to introduce you to an excellent example of an Altbier – the Coast Brewing Company ALTerior Motive. Coast has brewed some of my favorite beers, and one more has been added to my list. Unfortunately, the Charleston brewery doesn’t distribute outside of the state of South Carolina. That means that unless you’re reading this review in South Carolina, you’re going to have a hard time getting your hands on this delicious Altbier.
AROMA: As expected, quite a bit of nice malt sweetness – think of a subdued yet pleasant aroma of caramel and raisins. The noble hops do come through, though, and notes of earthy grass help balance the malt aromas. 9.5/12
APPEARANCE: Murky copper with a creamy, consistent, two finger head that leaves thick lacing behind. 3/3
FLAVOR: This is not the “well, duh” statement that it probably seems to many, but the Coast ALTerior Motive tastes pretty much exactly like its aroma. Malt sweetness (caramel and raisins) complimented by the earthy grass notes from the noble hops. The finish is clean and bitter with just a hint of pepper. 16.5/20
MOUTHFEEL: Medium body, crisp, and refreshing. A similar mouthfeel to a lager, but with more body. 5/5
OVERALL IMPRESSION: This is a great summer beer – very drinkable and full of flavor. 8/10
Outstanding (45-50), Excellent (38-44), Very Good (30-37), Good (21-29), Fair (14-20), Problematic (0-13)