28 June 2010

Hefe nice day

I've been using the recent spell of warm weather to work gradually through my stash of hefeweizens. It's a style I've gone off a bit of late, reverting only to the odd Flensburger Weizen to go with a curry (and to add the swingtop bottle to my hoard of reusables). So, what's been happening with weissbier in my absence?

O'Brien's made a bit of a song and dance about the arrival of Erdinger Urweisse a few months back. Despite the brewery's reputation for blandness, they are capable of the odd gem (Pikantus, for instance) so I reckoned this was worth a go. It certainly has a lot more happening than your standard Erdinger: lots of big banana flavours and a distinct alcoholic heat, despite being just 5.2% ABV. In the finish up, however, there's just not enough here to keep me entertained and I won't be rushing off for another.

Unertl Weissbier Bock looked much more promising: a full 6.7% ABV and pouring a gorgeous shade of chestnut. The first signal that things were not going according to plan came with the aroma. Beyond the fruity esters coming from the yeast which was floating on the head, there was no smell; no caramel sweetness, no roastiness, no crisp dryness: nothing. The texture was the next let-down: thin and exceptionally gassy where mellow smoothness might be a reasonable expectation. And finally the flavour. The yeast is doing its utmost to give a bit of banana character, but beneath this veneer there's a rough and woody vibe -- bark, mulch and rubber -- not enough to spoil or unbalance the beer, but hard to escape when there's not much else going on inside. Mrs Beer Nut claims that there's a vanilla element too, but adds that while it might make a decent sorbet, this is not a beer for drinking.

Last up a weiss that has been getting very mixed reviews since MolsonCoors began shipping it over earlier in the year: Grolsch Weizen. Pouring it into my Grolsch glass was a mistake as the headkeeper made it go mental. On a warm evening after a long day at work I do not want to spend ten thirsty minutes trying to get my beer under control. When I finally got to it, my first thought was "watery". But then the pineapples kicked in: big, fresh and juicy and marvellously thirst-quenching. It's not watery, it's light. Perfect for charging through cold and won't leave you feeling like you've just had half a litre of 5.3% ABV beer. Which you have. I would return to this for future al fresco refreshment, certainly long before MolsonCoors's other wheat beer Blue Moon.

On this showing I doubt I'll be converting to all-weissbier diet this summer, but it definitely has its place, with curry and without.