27 May 2015

The sweet wheat beat

Two slightly off-kilter German wheat beers today, further indication not so much of an explosion of diversity, but that you don't have to stick to the dominant styles when picking a German beer.

Maisel is one of the well-established Bavarian weissbier breweries and has recently, for whatever reason, begun producing large-format bottles in more craft-ish styles, with English language labels. I've never been a big fan of the brewery, finding their beer far too sweet, but I figured this was an opportunity to give them another chance. According to the blurb, Jeff's Bavarian Ale isn't really a non-German style -- its use of the A-word is the only real nod to foreign brewing. Behind the label it's a 7.1% ABV weizenbock, but hey: weizenbocks aren't exactly thick on the ground, even in Germany. Unfortunately this isn't a great one, and yes it's the sweetness again. I guess when you're used to strong beers from Belgium, where the cunning devils cheat by adding sugar, the all-malt German equivalent can be heavy going to drink. A hop-derived orange candy flavour adds a nice bit of complexity to it and overall it's not a bad beer, but it's quite one-dimensional and not as special as the presentation would like us to think.

Up the other end of the country now, and the Störtebeker brewery from the Baltic coast. They've thrown some rye in to the mix to make Störtebeker Roggen-Weizen, another amber coloured beer, this time a more approachable 5.4% ABV. There's an understated and enticing whiff of bubblegum in the aroma and I spared myself the lees at the bottom of the bottle so the flavour I got is clean: mostly quite sweet and cakey but with a drier roasted edge, from either the dark grain or the rye. The carbonation is typically high for the style, but there's plenty of soft full body to carry that. I was amused by the label making a point of stating that the beer is Reinheitsgebot-compliant and it took me a minute or two to figure out how, forgetting that the rules mostly don't apply to warm-fermented beers like this. But I don't know that Störtebeker is really getting much value from its rye, other than the novelty. At its heart this is a plain ordinary medium-dark weissbier, no more and no less.

So, no new wheat beer classics to report this time. At ease, Herr Schneider.

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