Thursday, June 28, 2007

Beer Review – Wheat Beer Special

This review is something of a combination report. It has come about as a result of the taste test of the first Beer Bloke’s Wheat beer. You may recall that we moved into the wheat beer production phase of the operation some weeks ago and that this benchmark brew is loosely based on the Bavarian Weizen style generally, and Redback Original more specifically.

In the interests of scientific integrity and standardised side-by-side testing practises I thought it best to compare our starter with some well known commercial examples. The following, therefore, is a beer review and taste test all in one. Clever.

First the Beer Bloke’s offering. A nice tart clean taste at first which was preceded by a nice strong hop/yeast aroma. Didn’t expect that. Like the other Bloke Beers, this one exhibits a little harshness in the finish, shutting down too quickly and with a slightly sour edge to it. Hopefully this will mellow out as did its predecessors.

Now to the commercials. I began the comparison with Redback – I won’t claim to being ‘in’ on the ground floor when this one came out but I did get on board before it became trendy. And I never jammed a lemon in the neck of the bottle. As I noted in a previous post, Redback is not the beer it once was. It also seems a bit odd that it is still labelled as Original when it clearly isn’t. It is drinkable but it is only just passable under the definition of a Bavarian Weizen. It has a light feel to it and its citrus notes are masked by a watery mouthfeel and a flat finish. Really the only thing to recommend it is that served icy cold on a really hot day it would be easy to drink.

Next on the list was the beer voted best in show at this years beer awards, Weihenstephaner Kristallweissbier. Even though the papers reported it as Weihenstephan. Weihenstephan means ‘Sacred Stephen’ and the ‘er’ on the end makes it mean ‘of’ Sacred Stephen. Anyway, I have a whole bit dedicated to this hallowed brewer coming soon. The beer tonight was the Kristall Wiessbier – it just means that it is a wheat beer that has been filtered. Now, unlike Redback, this filtering has not sucked the guts out of it flavourwise. Rich, almost fruity flavour and banana yeast hints as well as some berry notes near the end. And lots of beery notes throughout the middle. Sounds like a bit of a tug but the point is you can taste a lot more going on than you could get a forensic scientist to detect in some other wheaties. See above. Nothing against Redback – all beer by its very nature is good – some are just better than others.

Then I got too pissed and had to stop. The End. Bye Bye.

Only jokin’. Then I took a step further and knocked the top off a Schofferhofer Hefeweizen. I say a step further because the beer ‘with yeast’ or ‘mit hefe’ as the Germans so lyrically put it, is a taste adventure that takes you deeper into the Black Forest of wheat beers than you have been before.

Hefeweizens are the top of the tree in straight up wheat beers because the yeast adds a new dimension in aroma, flavour and taste. Wit or white beers are another category again. Scofferhofer makes the cheeks pucker just a little, it slides sort of like mousse over the tongue as it prepares you for the big tart finish and then, just as you think it might turn your mouth inside out, it finished short and clean and makes you say to yourself, ‘I think I’ll have another sip!’. It has a big fluffy head like all wheat beers should and it looks great sitting proudly in a Schofferhofer badged 500ml glass.

But it is the aroma that the yeast emits that makes this one a stand out. Banana, cloves, bubblegum – depending on your own taste memory bank – one or all will waft towards you as the beer pours. And that’s something you can say that you don’t get with every beer. The finishing touch is to have the beer poured for you by a knowledgeable waiter or mate – like me – with a skilful inversion of the glass over the top of the bottle, a swift, clean flip and the bottle is deftly drawn up out of the glass to slowly reveal the pale golden nectar. Of course the bottle has already been gently rolled or inverted before capping to loosen the yeast and distribute it evenly.

Who says beer can’t have a bit of theatre?

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