05 May 2008

Against all odds

What are the chances of two gorgeous sunny days in a row on the May Bank Holiday weekend? It's crazy. Yesterday I paid a social call (hi Q), and the afternoon was all about sauvignon blanc and Midleton Very Rare. Today I've just finished doing the lawn and it's all about weissbier.

It would appear that Ireland's speciality beer suppliers know something about the weather that the rest of us don't. The latest wave of new beers to hit our shelves seem to be almost entirely German wheat beers, an ideal style for lazy outdoor afternoons like today. I'm starting with a bottle from one of my favourite Munich breweries, Augustiner Weissbier. The pour is a promising deep orange colour. With my nose buried in there I should be getting big banana or clove notes, but instead all I get is next door's barbecue, and I could smell that before I popped the cap. Sadly, the blandness continues with the drinking. There's a wheaty dryness buried in there somewhere, but there's no fruit, no spice and basically no flavour. The texture is characteristically weiss-like, fluffy and sparkly, but the shocking tastelessness makes it seem watery. With the slight dryness it's not even a quenching lawnmower beer. Have I conveyed my disappointment sufficiently? Good. Back to the fridge now. Don't let the magpies steal my laptop...

Mrs Beer Nut is at the shops and I just remembered another new German weiss that I've been meaning to try, so I rang her to send her on a mission. The glassware is in the freezer in anticipation.

Anyway, so much for the betrayal by an old friend, now for the unknown quantity. Heidelberger HefeWeizen Hell is one of two wheat beers from this brewery to make an appearance in Ireland recently, the other being the same only in Kristall, which I passed on. It's basically the same colour as the Augustiner but is thinner and a fair bit flatter: I expect a big foamy head on a weissbier, but it took a fair bit of effort to work one up on this, and the froth didn't last long. Not much on the aroma front, more of a carbonic gassy nose than any distinctive beer character. The flavour is workmanlike: a far cry from the fruitier weissbiers, although it has definite but understated sweet floral notes. The gassiness remains and my biggest criticism here is overcarbonation. Still, it is refreshing, and light (only 5% ABV). It's the sort of beer you'd buy by the crate in Germany for next-to-nothing, but not one for writing considered notes on, unless you can do it on a sunny afternoon like this one.

Mrs Beer Nut is back and succeeded in her quest. The destination was Aldi, the objective was refreshment and the beer was the extreme silliness of Schöfferhofer Grapefruit, now cooling in the freezer.

This describes itself as a "hefeweizen-mix", being a blend of plain old Schöfferhofer -- admittedly not my favourite wheat beer -- and grapefruit juice. It's marketed squarely at German kiddies, and contains just 2.5% ABV. I must say, I'm loving it. There's basically no head, and only a slight fizz, but that's OK because there's pretty much no beer taste to it at all. Instead it reminds me of a tooth-rotting soft drink of my youth. I can't remember the name. Mrs Beer Nut says it's Lilt and she is bang-on as usual. When I first heard of this I assumed it was an attempt to lure the youth of Germany away from alcopops and on to proper beer. Now I've tasted it, I think it has much more to do with making them familiar with the brand, to get them loyal at the earliest possible opportunity. Moving from this to real beer would probably be quite shocking.

The web site says "Weizenbier aus der Flasche? Kein problem", so I've abandoned my glass for my second one and it makes absolutely no difference. It's sweet, cold, fruity and refreshing: exactly what I was after when I sat down here earlier.

My afternoon is shaping up nicely, so I'll leave you with words published this morning by Ireland's truthiest blogger, Twenty Major:

be aware folks that this is our summer happening before your very eyes. Make the most of it. Don’t come crying here when the deluge continues through June, July and August.

Enjoy it while you have it.


  1. I got sun burn. In Edinburgh. Unbelievable. Wheat beer would go down well here today to, but I'm having to make do with Landlord. Can't believe I stumbled across it in Scotland. And it's everything I dreamed it would be. My teeth are hurting just at the thought of that grapefruit concoction. That's not to say I wouldn't enjoy it. I put away a fair bit of Lilt in my day.

  2. I'm struggling to decide my preference between Landlord and a half-strength Lilt-flavoured weissbier. I fear I'd go for the latter. Should I just quit now?

  3. I'm gutted that the Augistiner weiss is so bland.
    I've never tried it but the Edelstoff is probably my favourite lager.

  4. Edelstoff is indeed lovely, likewise their Oktoberfestbier, and Maximator as well. But this one just didn't work.

  5. what's your take on Weihenstephaner?

  6. It's pretty good - enjoyably sweet and fluffy. But not a patch on Schneider for me.

  7. I had the Augistiner at the brewery tap in Munich and found it quite bland. Ayinger was my favourite wiesse beeroon this trip

  8. there is a new beer in trendy bars in London called Applebocq.Its a blend blend of Belgian wheat beer and apple juice 3.2% but at £4 a pint not targeted at children.Nice taste though,

  9. Sounds very similar to Newton, which I had last summer and really enjoyed. Similar hefty price tag as well, if I recall correctly.

  10. Have you tried asian beer such as the Pale Pilsen and San Mig Light?
    I love the beer called Miller...I think it's a draft beer? Am I right?

  11. Yeah, I think I've seen it around. Beamish & Crawford make it down in Cork. The others I have thus-far been spared.