The tiny Bavarian village of Moosbach is located on the Czech border, just a stone’s throw from Pilsen. In the center of town, Brauerei Scheuerer was founded in 1887 by twenty-eight year-old Lorenz Scheuerer. Today the family brewery is run by fourth-generation Erhard, though they are proud that third-gen Johann II shows up every day, at least to drink “his 4 daily bottles!!!!”.
They package their beer in swingtops, which I like for three reasons. First, you can drink half and leave the rest for later without losing too much carbonation. Second, as a homebrewer I’m always looking for ways to avoid capping bottles, so reusing swingtops is ideal. Third, I have a neat trick I can do with a swingtop bottle. Ask me sometime, I’ll show you.
Brauerei Scheuerer produces the Moosbacher beers, a pretty standard Bavarian lineup. Besides what I’ll be tasting they offer two export lagers (Export and Zoigl), a pilsner, and a shankbier for children and ladies, their Leichte Weisse. I have two lagers and two wheat beers to try tonight. I’ll start with the helles, called just Lager, move on to the Kellerbier, and then the Weissbier. Finally, I will be interested to see if the Schwarze Weisse is in fact black or just a normal dunkelweizen.
The Lager is a lightly hazy pale yellow. The head is bone white and creamy, leaves a lacing on the glass, but falls quickly. The aroma has good base malt character with just a bit of breadiness. Some noble hops and a level of Bavarian sulfur. A little sweet on the nose but still playful.
The rich malt flavor practically sets you down in a Moravian barley field. Faint malty sweetness and strong hop bitterness (for the style). A healthy herbal hop flavor indicates the influence of the Czech way of brewing. Some contribution from sulfur compounds. Hints of many things, but none for very long: apricots, chocolate, peanuts, fresh cut grass. Full bodied but thoroughly refreshing. In my opinion this is among the top Bavarian lagers. The German Beer Institute calls helles lager a style of “infinite subtlety” and the Scheuerer family has certainly hit the mark there.
The Kellerbier pours a barely hazy caramel color. The off-white head is creamy, but again, could last longer. The aroma is practically non-existent, so drink this one relatively warm. Hints of caramel and toast and just a bit of sulfur. The flavor is also much lighter than the Lager. A smooth and creamy malt flavor is accompanied by the finest noble hop character, but it is all much too timid. As it warms it picks up more caramel and toffee and gets a little sweet. Again the body is essentially perfect: a full mouthfeel but refreshing and quaffable. I was not expecting the kellerbier to take the subtlety so much further than the helles lager, but here we are.
As if to pay penance for the first two, the Weissbier is effervescent to a fault. I had to pour out a whole glass of foam at first! The carbonation supports a strong and thick pure white head atop this pale golden yellow beer. The nose is full of banana. Also, wheat character, banana, some nuttiness, banana, clove, and banana. Very appealing, but actually not as rich as it might seem (for all the banana).
And the taste is a total surprise. Clove city! I wish I knew what exactly creates a disconnect in flavor and aroma like this, because beers with this variety in their sensory experiences are such a treat. Strong piquant clove flavor with black pepper and oregano are accented by just a hint of alcohol spiciness. There is, of course, a banana character, and some wheat as well. The body is full yet smooth but borders on cloying, despite the extreme activity.
Last but not least, the Schwarze Weisse, which turns out to be a disappointing pedestrian amber color. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful beer, it was just framed for me in a particular way that didn’t come to pass. Oh well. Fairly hazy, the Schwarze Weisse is a copper-colored amber with a decent amount of thick tan head. Nowhere near as excitable as its cousin the Weissbier. Subtle yet assertive, the nose is perfectly balanced. Cloves, bananas, and caramel malt come out in equal proportion. Really a textbook dunkleweisse aroma.
The flavor is much less impressive: too clean. The cloves are there, but get outshined by black pepper. The banana is almost gone. A reasonable toasty flavor and some sweetness are the bulk of the taste. A bit of bitterness and hop flavor disrupt the impression of a wheat beer without being serious enough to count, so the beer ends up tasting flat. The palate is full but there is a lingering sweetness that gets to be unpleasant. After the stellar aroma I am pretty disappointed by the taste.
Moosbacher Schwarze Weisse