One of the joys of travel is the extraordinary things that can happen—experiences that change your life in ways you can’t imagine. That’s what happened to me in 1999 when my family was visiting good friends in France.
Michel, a native of Alsace, approached me eagerly on our first evening: “My friend, I want you to try something. This is something we Alsatians enjoy every day and you may not find it anywhere else in France.” He pulled out a couple of pint glasses and grabbed a green bottle with a gold and white label and a caramel colored beverage inside —then he grabbed a couple of Kronenbourgs.
He explained in his thick French accent, “You can put as much as you like, but of course, I prefer about this much.” He held his thumb sideways and poured a fat finger in the bottom of each pint glass. The air filled with the wonderful, refreshing aroma of rich orange citrus.
Next, he poured the lager on top, creating a perfect, frothy, aromatic orange head. With profound seriousness that only the truly passionate can summon when discussing their native cuisine, he went on: “It’s important to pour the bière on top of the liqueur so the quinine and gentian and the effervescence of the bière marry to create this drink and the aromatic head. I like to drink my first sip through that fragrant head.”
He handed me the rich amber lager, which was completely transformed. “Cheers! We call this an amer bière; this is the real taste of Alsace.” Smiling he added, “Of course, we must not forget the delicious Rieslings and Gewurztraminers!”
From that first delicious sip, I was hooked. The green bottle with the gold and white label was, Wolfberger Wolfamer (pronounced wolf-BARE-zhay) . Created in the heart of Alsace in Colmar a traditional amer, infused with orange citrus, gentian root, cinchona bark and a hint of natural caramel.
For the duration of our travels—at brasseries, cafés, and restaurants—I ordered “Amer
bière, s’il vouz plait.” I experimented with different beers and found wonderful, subtle nuances from beer to beer. I loved the interplay of sweet and sour in the same mouthful—the satisfying intermingling of gentian, quinine, and caramel mixing with the variety of beers. I also experimented with it on the rocks, with soda and citrus added. The wheels started to turn.
Upon returning home, I searched in New York and LA, online and elsewhere but could not find the object of my desire anywhere in the US. I enlisted our visiting French friends to bring a bottle with them, if possible. They gladly obliged. It reached a point where my friends simply started referring to the Wolfamer as “The Pass” – a requirement when visiting. I don’t believe I was that insistent, but I was a bit obsessed. I thought to myself, someone should import this stuff.
So fast forward 15 years -- my wheels turn, but apparently they turn slowly -- and my glimmer of an idea grew into a real flame.
I wanted to be able to go to my local wine, cheese and spirits shop and buy a bottle of Wolfamer -- why not?! So I set about researching what was involved. After over two years of research, negotiations, travel, formula reviews and label submissions, and much more, we have not one, but three authentic Alsatian amers. Wolfberger Wolfamer, Amer Gingembre, and Amer Fleur de Joie, are preferred for their rich, complex flavors.
We hope you enjoy these wonderful bitter liqueurs as much as we do. We will be working hard to bring these amers to your community’s favorite bars, restaurants, and specialty spirits shops. As we add distributors and locations, they will show up under our “Where’s Amer” link. Remember, Focus on Bliss!