One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that more often than not, yield to the bartender at the brewery who makes a recommendation. Sure, I’ve been burned occasionally, but if their suggestion is to try a style that you wouldn’t normally order, have an open mind and give it a try.
Thus was the case on a recent trip to Denizens Brewing in Silver Spring, MD.
Being a fan of IPAs, I started with their rye IPA. The follow-up, however, was a tough choice. “You want the Dunkel.”
I looked up to see the bartender looking at me as she started rinsing a clean pint glass. “Do I?” I asked.
“Yeah, you do,” she replied with a knowing smile and a gleam in her eye. And with that, a tall glass of Junk in the Dunk soon arrived in front of me.
I have to admit that Dunkels are usually pretty far down on my list of favorite beer styles but, as I mentioned earlier, when a brewery’s bartender singles out a certain beer and insists I try it, I’m willing to roll the dice.
Dunkels are actually very similar to lagers. In fact, they use the same yeast, and frequently the same hops, but use a darker, more roasted malted barley. It’s the malt that gives it the darker color, and their name (Dunkel is the German word for, “dark”).
Junk in the Dunk pours a nice, dark red with great carbonation and, at 6.3% ABV, is actually slightly higher in alcohol than where most Dunkels land.
The malt is definitely the star here, and it gives the beer a slightly sweet, malty smell. This continues into the taste, which has an interesting coffee taste with subtle caramel flavors that show up. Despite its sweetness, it actually has a nice, clean taste, which is typical of Lagers, so it all works. It’s a great beer for both casual beer fans and beer enthusiasts alike.
This one really caught me off guard because I usually find Dunkels to be, well, a bit boring. It’s not usually one I’d drink, but Junk in the Dunk will probably be my go-to the next time I visit Denizens.
Unless, of course, I get another great recommendation.