Archive for the ‘Wheat Beer’ Category

Sour Week: Grand Cru Bruocsella Cantillon

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

The term “grand cru” refers to a brewery’s finest product, and it is no different at Cantillon. After three years of fermentation the very best casks at the brewery museum are selected for the Grand Cru Bruocsella. This organic lambic is unblended, so it is essentially without carbonation and has a rich, mature flavor profile. Cantillon says this beer is intended to be “not drunk but savoured”.

2009-08-18-bruocsellaThe Bruocsella is a lightly hazy golden poppy. Just a hint of activity puts a spindly thread of straw-colored head in a ring around the glass. The nose is quite funky and sour: horse blanket, vinegar, and sour laundry. There is a bit of peanut butter. The aroma is dry and dusty. Like many lambics it is woody, but taken to a new level: it reminds me of the smell of my recorder from elementary school. Notes of cheese and gym sock. Paired with all this pleasantness is a delicate fruit character of mango, papaya, and red delicious apple.

A noticeable acidity leads the flavor charge, turning more potent as it moves back in the mouth. A sharp lactic tart is augmented by a bit of acetic sour. A funky, sweaty barnyard character rides the top of the tongue. Grains come out on the sides with wheat, pale malt, and some huskiness. A bit of a jelly bean fruit character.

The flavor is rich, the sour pungent, and the carbonation nonexistent, but somehow this beer is still quite drinkable. Oh, I’m sorry Jean-Pierre, “savorable”.

++Grand Cru Bruocsella Cantillon

4.0 (3-9-7-4-17)

What a long, strange week it’s been.

Sour Week: Berliner Weisse

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Bayerischer Bahnhof Berliner Style WeisseBecause of the delicate citric character and low alcohol content, Berliner weisse is the only sour beer that is best fresh. Unfortunately, I can’t get a hold of fresh Berliner weisse (at the moment at least), so I’ll have to put up with what I found on the shelf. Don’t fret, it ages well too. I don’t have any woodruff syrup so I’ll be tasting these straight.

First off I’ll have Berliner Style Weisse from Bayerischer Bahnhof in Leipzig, Germany, producers of another northern German sour style, gose.

The Berliner Style Weisse pours a very pale straw color, quite hazy, with a bit of creamy white head. The nose is very light. Somewhat tart, there is a citric character of lemons and grapefruit as well as a hint of flowery aroma.

The taste is very delicate as well. The predominant flavor is lemon, but not so sour: much like a Meyer lemon. Wheat notes, tart, and somewhat sweet. There is also a lingering light bitterness. Lightly carbonated.

Next up is 1809. This is brewed by Dr. Fritz Briem, Technology Director of (my alma mater) Doemens Academy. It is my understanding that it is produced at Brauerei Weihenstephan, widely considered the oldest operating brewery in the world.1809 1809 is named for the year in which Napoleon’s troops are supposed to have named Berliner weisse the “Champagne of the North”.

The 1809 pours an opal straw that is not quite as pale as the Berliner Style. The head, a bit thicker and creamier, lasts a while but eventually fades to nothing. The nose is very delicate, milder even than the Bayerischer. I can barely detect whiffs of lemon, lime, and apple blossom. As it opens up wheat malt notes comes out.

The taste as well is milder than the above. A gentle and aimless tart gives way to an ethereal wheat flavor, backed up by a bit of green apple and cider. This cidery character and a hint of sweetness linger, but the 1809 is very effervescent so it is quite refreshing.

+Bayerischer Bahnhof Berliner Style Weisse

3.4 (3-7-7-3-14)

+1809

3.4 (4-6-6-4-14)

Bell’s Oberon

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

OberonThe summer ale of Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, Michigan claims to have “the color and scent of a summer afternoon”. If any style can make a claim to this it would be an American wheat like Oberon.

Oberon is a golden poppy color with a generous haze. The head is bone white and creamy, leaves a great lacing, but falls a bit too quickly. The nose is delicate. All you get is hints of various aromas: hints of toast, hints of orange, hints of orange blossom. A gentle floral fruitiness.

The taste is somewhat more assertive, yet still mild. Great malt notes of toast and a bit of caramel. A perfectly balancing hop bitterness keeps this beer refreshing. The hops don’t stop there, though, contributing a spicy and fruity character that rounds out the flavor.

Light, balanced, refreshing, and flavorful. A great summer beer.

+Bell’s Oberon Ale

3.9 (4-7-8-5-15)

Great Lakes Glockenspiel

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Named after the Rathaus-Glockenspiel of Munich’s Neues Rathaus (“New Town Hall” – built in 1908), Glockenspiel is a weizenbock brewed by Great Lakes Brewing Company of Cleveland, Ohio. It is much the same style as Aventinus, made by Schneider, whose beer hall is just down the street from Marienplatz where the Glockenspiel is located. Every day the life-size automatons there reenact the wedding of Duke Wilhelm V (complete with a joust) as well as the Schäfflerstanz commemorating the end of the black plague.

Great Lakes GlockenspielThe beer form of Glockenspiel is a mahogany red, quite clear, with tan head. The nose, subtle at first, opens up to a big malty sweetness. Toast, caramel, and bread are accompanied by the strong cloves and hint of banana of a weissbier. Drink this from a glass with a globe, or at least a wine glass that curves in at the top to collect and amplify this fine aroma.

The flavor, fortunately, is not nearly as sweet as the aroma would make you think. The banana comes out first as the beer hits your tongue, followed by spicy cloves moving back. The toasty malt flavor rounds it out with just enough caramel to hide the alcohol. This is an 8% beer that drinks like a 6% one: the palate is thick enough to be a real bock without being cloying.

Quite satisfying. I’m sad my four-pack is gone.

+Great Lakes Glockenspiel

3.6 (3-7-7-4-15)

Boulevard Two Jokers Double-Wit

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

The latest release in the Smokestack Series from Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City is a Belgian-style wit (meaning “white” or, alternatively, “wheat”) brewed to American-style strength. Reflecting this dual nature they have called it Two Jokers Double-Wit. This beer is loaded with weird stuff, and I don’t mean simply the coriander and orange peel typical of witbiers.Two Jokers Double-Wit They also threw in lavender, grains of paradise, and cardamom. For good measure they fermented it with a lactic-acid producing bacteria in addition to the usual wit yeast.

A huge pillowy head forms above the mildly hazy pale amber Two Jokers. The aroma is light, but much complexity is packed in. A swirl of spices is complimented by a delicate and refreshing acidic nose. Some fruit is noticeable (probably from the yeast) and a bit of wheat malt comes through.

In contrast to the nose, the taste is unabashed. The spices play a not-quite-too-agressive role, with especially the coriander and grains of paradise lending their unique flavors. There is but a hint of alcohol that is quickly covered by the acidity. A light citric fruitiness, of oranges and lemons, rounds out the flavor. The body is just a bit heavy despite the refreshing effect of the lactic acid.

The cornucopia of spices works wonders for the aroma but it might be a little too much on the taste. However, all in all a great wit.

+Boulevard Two Jokers Double-Wit

3.9 (4-9-7-3-16)

Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen Weisse

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

This next beer is the result of a collaboration between Hans-Peter Drexler of Weissbierbrauerei Schneider and Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery. It comes in two forms, one brewed at each of the breweries, and the two have slightly different hopping regimes. Both are called Hopfen Weisse (“Hop Wheat Beer”); when made in Kelheim the full name is Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen Weisse.Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen Weisse This one is dry hopped with saphir (have I been in a rut recently?). In case you are curious, when made in Brooklyn it is called Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen Weisse and it’s dry hopped with amarillo and palisade.

The Hopfen Weisse is a very cloudy tangerine yellow. It has a bit of off-white head. The aroma is much like you would expect from a hefeweizen: strong clove and banana and some bready, wheaty, and toasty malt notes. In this one, however, there is a distinct citric hop aroma. The nose is delicate but remarkably complex. The already carefully balanced hefe character has found a hoppy companion.

The flavor delivers on what the nose promises. Likewise light and delicate, it is a dance of wheat breadiness, yeast clovitude, and hop citricity (that’s right). There is just a hint of alcohol warming, not enough to tell you that it’s over 8 percent by volume. A bit of sweetness keeps the alcohol at bay to let the cloves and exotic fruit flavors shine. That sweetness refrains from hanging around long enough to be cloying, maintaining the delicacy of this beer.

As my friend Jan says about this one, “Nom, nom, nom!”

++Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen Weisse

4.3 (3-8-9-5-18)

P.S. In case you were wondering, that is my saphir single hop homebrew in the backgroud waiting to get racked.

Session #28: Think/Drink Globally

Friday, June 5th, 2009

session_logoThe Session is a monthly beer blog carnival, that is, a beer-themed blog-off. This month is hosted by Brian of Red, White, and Brew. The prompt is located here and the roundup is here. He asks that everyone honor “Global Craft Beer Forever” and describe “the farthest brewery (including brewpubs) you have visited and specifically the best beer you had there” and then have that (or a similar one).

I believe that by great circle distance Munich is farthest. So Andechs monastery brewpub it is. This monastery not only makes some of the best beers in the Munich area, they also make amazing artisanal cheese. Taking the train from Munich, you walk through the quaint village of Herrsching and up a footpath through wonderful foliage. After a little while you come to the back wall of the monastery on top of the mountain.2009-06-05-church Continuing along the wall, eventually you make it to the original chapel and courtyard, complete with maypole. If you are able to hold your thirst, you’ll stop in and see how beautiful it is. If not, you’ll keep going to the beer garden that features a breathtaking view of the city 35 km (about 20 miles) away. Fortunately, there is a shuttle back to the train station because you’re going to need it after all the cheese and masses (that is, liters of beer).

My best story about Andechs is of my first visit. I had heard that it was at the end of the S5, but didn’t realize it was near Herrsching not Holzkirche. All I had heard was that there is a sign for the footpath right by the station. So my Aussie friend and I set out for a day trip.2009-06-05-us We rode all the way out to Holzkirche and walked around looking for any sign, finding none. So we inquired of the nice English-speaking clerk in the station cafĂ© where the brewery was. It was quite fortunate that she realized what we were talking about, and even more fortunate that my buddy wasn’t really angry at me. After walking around the village waiting for the next train, we rode for about an hour and a half back through downtown Munich and out the other side to Herrsching. But it was more than worth the wait. The footpath up Andechs mountain is remarkably pastoral and the beer and cheese and sauerkraut are unmatched.

2009-06-05-aventinusAndechs makes every standard Bavarian style and one interesting beer: a weiss with apples that you can only get there. Note that this is acceptable because the Reinheitsgebot (the German beer purity law) does not apply to wheat beer. But my favorite was their Dunkles Weissbier. As far as I am aware you can’t find it outside Germany, so I’ll have a bottle of another Munich dark wheat beer, the masterful Schneider Aventinus made by G. Schneider & Sohn. In 1907, disturbed by what she saw as a troublesome proliferation of light beers in Munich, Mathilde Schneider created the first strong wheat beer, the dark wheat-doppelbock Aventinus.

The Aventinus is a lightly hazy bronze-caramel color with a thick, honey-colored head. The aroma is big with bananas, strong malty caramel, and some toast.

The flavor is also strong with caramel and banana. It is somewhat sweet, but sufficiently carbonated so it is far from cloying. Light and playful, the Aventinus is somehow sessionable, even at 8.2% alcohol. This is what caused me plenty of trouble over in Munich.

+Schneider Aventinus

3.8 (4-7-7-5-15)

The photos at Andechs are courtesy of my beer school friend Matt. Thanks Matt!

Millstream Beer and Chocolate Tasting

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Millstream Beer and Chocolate PairingYesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Beer and Chocolate Tasting put on by Millstream Brewing Company. This event paired chocolates from the Chocolate Haus in Amana with eight radical one-off beers. Six of them were brewed by Millstream brewer Bill Heinrich, with one offering from Millstream’s sales guy Dan Carpenter as well as a coffee porter brewed by head brewer Chris Priebe. The event was coordinated by Nick Snavely. Tickets sold out over a week ahead of time and the place was packed the whole time. The impression I got from people is that everyone was very impressed with the beers, and the chocolate pairings were quite fun. I took tasting notes but forgot to write down process information so let’s see what I can remember.

The first beer I had was the Czech Pilsner. Made with loads of Czech Saaz hops, this one is a well executed Bohemian style pilsner. It’s a crystal clear straw with some white head. The hop aroma is very grassy and earthy, and behind it I notice just a bit of a corniness. The flavor is massively grassy, with a lingering bitterness on the middle of my tongue. It is deep, earthy, and herbal. There is a hint of sweetness, perhaps some dimethyl sulfide.

The pils was the only beer that seriously follows any style conventions. Most of them have a Belgian character; Belgian styles are pretty loosely defined as it is. Bill was not afraid to take liberties to ensure the brews were interesting, further complicating things. Many of the beers were made with a strain of Brettanomyces wild yeast, which develops different characteristics depending on how it is used. Most of these were fermented with usual brewing yeast Saccaromyces and then aged on the Brett, giving a berry-like fruity flavor and aroma as well as a noticeable funk.

Next up the Saisonnier Gran Cru. This was actually fermented with Brett only, except for a shot of ale yeast to help it along when it was being sluggish. When Brettanomyces is used for primary fermentation, it tends to behave alot more like the normal Saccaromyces. It does dry the beer out a little more, leaving a dry, dusty flavor accented by the funkiness.

The Saisonnier pours a milky straw color, with some creamy off-white head. The aroma is delicate and elusive, featuring light fruit (raspberries) as well as some funk (wet pavement?). The taste is dry, with a somewhat zoological funkiness. A bit of malt flavor breaks through. Despite being so dry there is a bit of a cloying sensation, as well as a lingering bitterness. The nose is fantastic but the flavor doesn’t quite match up.

The sign describing the beer officially named Dan’s Barleywine had a telltale note on the back. The reminder to the server read “Dan’s Awesomeness”, and that’s not too far off. Blended from two-year and three-year batches, the barleywine poured a deep dark sienna, lightly hazy, with persistent creamy head. It also leaves a little reminder on the inside of the glass. The rich, round aroma is a treat: chocolate caramels (so good), coffee, and hazelnuts. Despite the intensity of the aroma and alcohol, the flavor is light and balanced. Major coffee flavor dominates, with a roast and caramel malt character that reminds me of burnt cookies. Both malty and pleasantly bitter, “Awesomeness” is thick and coats your mouth. Do yourself a favor and ask Dan for a bottle.

Moving on to the Belgian-Style Tripel. This golden ale was made with the strain of yeast normally reserved for Bavarian hefes: generator of strong banana esters and clove phenols. This gives the Tripel a serious banana aroma, somewhat sweet, with hints of clove and black pepper. There is barely a tinge informing you of the level of alcohol. The flavor is very malty, with a big bready, biscuity taste. It is somewhat sweet with a rich, round alcohol warming sensation. Noticeable as well are banana and clove flavors. The thick coating feeling probably derives from the fact that this tripel is not as carbonated as many. Despite the use of wheat and Bavarian weizen yeast, this beer is most definitely a tripel, and a well executed one at that.

The Belgian Quad is a good example of the use of Brett to age. It is a cloudy deep dark brown with some tan head. The aroma is lightly sweet and strongly fruity of raspberries and mango, with just a bit of banana. The flavor is strongly alcoholic: somewhat sharp, almost medicinal berries. There is a bit of lingering bitterness and a thick, cloying sensation. A somewhat similar beer, the Wheat Wine is a cloudy unearthly red with almost no head. The aroma is lightly fruity, with a bit of wood and funk; the flavor roughly alcoholic, with some berries. A strong bitterness is simple and harsh.

Head brewer Chris Priebe brewed up a batch of Sumatra English Porter with real Sumatra coffee. It pours somewhat clear, a dark russet wtih some cheesy off-white head. The aroma is very light, with only a bit of roast malt and some caramel. The flavor is dry and roasty, with a strong rich roast coffee presence that lasts. Hint of an earthy hop flavor balance, and a coffee astringency lingers a bit.

By far the most impressive beer available was the so-called Wheat Stout. I can’t say enough good things about this beer. Made with Templeton Rye whiskey and plenty of roast and wheat malts and fermented with weizen yeast, this beer is simply impressive.

First off it is utterly black. There is just a hint of a creamy copper head. The nose is rich and playful, with a roast aroma that tickles the nose. The whiskey comes through quite well: malt, rye, and some notes of alcohols. There is also a serious banana and clove character. A taste is heaven. It is all too easy to overdo it on a whiskey addition, ruining the beer. Here the Templeton is perfectly balanced with the other flavors. The roast comes through first, followed quickly by the rye. There is a bit of astringent bitterness. This beer is thick and chewy. It is delicious. A tour de force.

++Millstream Wheat Stout

4.4 (5-9-8-4-18)

+Millstream Czech Pilsner

3.3 (3-6-7-4-13)

+Millstream Saisonnier Gran Cru

3.5 (4-8-6-3-14)

+Millstream Dan’s Barleywine

4.0 (4-9-7-4-16)

+Millstream Belgian-Style Tripel

3.5 (4-7-7-3-14)

+/-Millstream Belgian Quadrupel

3.1 (3-8-5-3-12)

+/-Millstream Wheat Wine

2.5 (2-6-4-3-10)

+/-Millstream Sumatra English Porter

3.0 (3-5-7-3-12)

Hacker-Pschorr Sternweisse

Friday, November 7th, 2008

The second oldest of Munich’s breweries, Hacker-Pschorr brews four wheat beers: a hefeweisse (wheat beer with yeast), a dunkle (dark wheat beer), a leichte (light wheat beer), and the Sternweisse, meaning “Wheat Star”. It is an unfiltered amber, brewed just a little stronger and drier than the other beers.

The star pours a cloudy sandy brown, with hints of russet. The head is just-off-white, creamy, and lasts. The nose is quite strong of fresh bananas, with notes of cloves and spices and a hint of caramel.

As the beer pours towards your tongue you feel a rush of banana and caramel, and when it hits are notes of biscuits and malt. There is a light sweetness, accented by the fact that this is not nearly as effervescent as most German hefeweisse beers. Playful, fruity, and quite drinkable. This would be a great summer beer. Too bad it’s cold and wet out now.

By the way, I love this label.

+Hacker-Pschorr Sternweisse

RateBeer: 3.6 (4-6-8-4-14)