Schneider Weisse TAP X Mathilde Soleil Weizenbock

schneider-weisse-mathilda-soleilBrewer: G. Schneider und Sohn, Kelheim, Germany
Style: Weizenbock
ABV: 7.0%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: The Mathilde Soleil was Schneider Weisse special brew 2015, which was first released at the  Braukunst Live 2015 beer festival in Munich. This limited special wheat beer was brewed in honor of the former head of the brewery, Mathilde Schneider, who presented Bavaria’s first wheat doppelbock in 1907. Continuing in the tradition of Mathilde, this beer combines barley and wheat malt with a variety of hops that were grown in small quantities specifically for this special series.

Tasting Notes: Schneider und Sohn are well known for their mastery of the wheat ale, and their Aventinus Dopplebock is one of my absolute favorites. That, and the limited availability of their products where I live make any limited releases from this brewery a rare treat. Speaking of which, the brew is very well-balanced. It has a lovely deep orange hue, it has a mighty yeasty backbone, and has some lovely fruit flavors – apple and orchard fruit – a hint of spiciness, and some oaky flavor. A very tasty and well-rounded Weizenbock!

Appearance: Deep orange, cloudy, sediment, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, sugars, baked bread, spicy yeast, grassy and herbal Noble hops
Taste: Semi-sweet malt, apple, apricot, notes of oak, strong yeast, hint of spice
Aftertaste: Lingering apple and malt flavor, yeast and spice notes
Overall: 9/10

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Weltenburger Kloster Anno 1050

weltrenburger_anno1050Brewer: Weltenburger Kloster, Regensburg, Germany
Style: Marzen
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This Marzen is a classic example of the venerated German style, brewed by the world’s oldest Abbey brewery. Rich, deep colored malts combine with a mild dose of Noble hops to create a slightly sweet and syrupy lager.

Tasting Notes: The last of the advent pack, and this one the oldest of the bunch! As a big fan of Marzens, I was quick to appreciate what this beer had to offer. In addition to the usual richer malts and mild tang, I was surprised to notice a hint of smoke and brandy-like flavor. Definitely an interesting and very German

Appearance: Light amber/orange, clear, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, sugars, caramel, mild hops, minerals
Taste: Smooth malt, mild tang, caramel, hint of smoke, notes of brandy, minerality
Aftertaste: Lingering minerals, malt flavor, smokey sweetness
Overall: 7.8/10

The Bavarian Purity Law and UNESCO

german-beerGermany has always been a nation that is proud of its brewing heritage. So much so that the country’s brewing association recently began pressuring the United Nations to recognize that fact. In essence, the brewers association wants the Bavarian Purity Law (or Reinheitsgebot) – established some five centuries ago in 1516 – to become part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. In this respect, it would join the Argentinian tango, Iranian carpet weaving and French gastronomy, among other famous traditions, that are considered unique and worth protecting.

Written by Bavarian noblemen in the year 1516, the law states that only water, barley and hops may be used to brew beer (contrary to popular belief, yeast was added to the list centuries later when scientists discovered the fermenting agent). The law was aimed at preventing crops used to make bread from being squandered on brewing. In addition, it wrote the centuries-long practice of using hops to flavor and preserve beer into law – a practice which also ended the use of other psychoactive and potentially poisonous additives during the Middle Ages. But over time, it became synonymous with high-quality German beer and began to be adopted by brewers all over the world.

Muenchner_ReinheitsgebotCurrently, some 5,000 different beers carry its seal. Many brewers today still make beer that would pass muster under the law, though penalties for breaking it are long gone. Modern German brewers are also trying to be more creative with their beers while adhering to the purity law — for example, by adding hops that taste like grapefruit or pineapple. And for many Germans, especially those who endured the many decades of partition during the Cold War, the tradition is something they are especially proud of and want to see recognized internationally.

Marc-Oliver Huhnholz, the spokesman for the German Brewer’s Association, expressed these sentiments and the associations stances thusly:

It stands for the things you are thinking of when you think of Germany and beer and culture and friendship and all these positive things. I think it’s a traditional thing because it brings us together and holds us together as a nation within this more and more international lifestyles… The idea and message is that German beer is pure and will be pure in the future.

However, some German brewers dismiss the attempt to gain UNESCO recognition as mere arrogance. They say the purity law is from a bygone era and that Germany can compete in the world beer market without it.

reinheitsgebot2Opponents of the law claim that limiting his brewing to the centuries-old document restricts creativity. What’s more, they point to the fact that many nations produce high-quality beer that does not adhere to it. For example, Belgium produces such styles as Wits, Saisons, Framboises, Krieks, and Farmhouse Ales that make use of coriander spice, fruit, and other additives that are not permitted by the law. But these styles are internationally renowned and are considered historic examples of fine brewing. In this respect, opinion is roughly divided along lines of culture and historical preservation, and modernization and globalization.

Personally, and as someone who’s wife works in Heritage, I can certainly sympathize with those who wish to see this law protected. All too often, the process of modernization and change has the effect of eroding our cultural foundations. At the same time, I can sympathize with modern German brewers who would like to expand and adopt new ways of making beers. And since penalties associated with it have not been enforced for some time, there really is no reason to fear it remaining in effect.

And if the modern brewing industry has taught us anything, there’s much to be gained by marrying tradition to innovation. For those who want to get truly experimental, there’s plenty of opportunity to be had. And for those who want to keep making beer according to centuries-old traditions, I’m sure their will always be a market. And let’s not forget that we can do both. If the craft brewing revolution has taught us anything, it’s that we can experiment and innovate and keep traditions alive all at the same time.

And In the meantime, drink up, and have a happy holiday season!

Source: npr.org

Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier

800px-Wening_weihenstephanNot that long ago, I discovered a that one of my local purveyors of beer just happened to stock a special German import. What made it special was the fact that this particular beer came from what is recognized as the oldest brewery in the world. For those who don’t know, that would be the Weihenstephan Abbey located in Freisberg, Germany. Established by Benedictine Monks in 768 and licensed to brew beer in 1040, it is officially recognized as the world’s longest continually-operating brewery.

weihenstephanerWell it just so happens that my local beer store, the same place that offered their dark wheat (hefeweisenbier dunkel) has since expanded their inventory and brought in another label from this venerable operation. This time around, it was their flagship wheat beer, the hefeweissbier (or regular wheat) that caught my eye.

Much like their dunkel, it is a refreshing wheat beer that is very yeasty in terms of taste and smell. But unlike the dunkel, it pours a golden straw hue, is light on the palate, possesses light notes of fruit and spice, and finishes very clean. This is to be expected from a standard hefeweizen, which do not boast highly roasted malts or particularly smoky flavors. And given the meal I paired it with, I’d say it’s a top contender for my “Beer That Tames The Fire” list – aka. beer that goes really good with spicy fare! And in addition to its appearance and flavor, it’s also comparatively light on alcohol, weighing in at an even and balanced 5.4% alc/vol.

Appearance: Deep straw gold, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Very yeasty, distinct nose of Bavarian-style wheat malts
Taste: Immediate burst of yeast, mild traces of banana and clove spice
Aftertaste: Clean finish, barely a trace of aftertaste
Overall: 8.5/10

Overall, this beer was a nice, light sampler that is very refreshing and perfect for easy drinking or as an accompaniment to spicy food and lighter fare. And I would say it measures up well to other personal favorites, such as Schneider Weisse and Erdinger – beers that are renowned for clean flavor and bubbly goodness! Now I just need to see if I can find some of their Festbier or Korbinian, their Oktoberfest and double-bock beer, respectively. I know someone’s got to have some somewhere in this town…

And be sure to check out the company website to learn more about this historic brewery: http://weihenstephaner.de/

G. Schneider und Sohn Wiesen Edel-Weisse

schneider_und_sohnWhat a day it’s been! After a rather long and weird haul, I was afforded a trip to my favorite liquor store in the downtown Victoria area, also known as Cook Street Liquor. Once more, I found the selection there quite impressive, coming many of the more inaccessible favorites I’ve come to know and love with plenty of brand names I have never heard of. Trust me when I say that there will be several interesting reviews to follow!

schneider_edel-weisseAnd this was one such find. While I’ve been raving about Schneider und Sohn’s Aventinus for quite some time, I never knew they also produced an organic wheat and barley-based beer that incorporates Cascade and Hallertauer hops. Apparently, this beer is brewed in honor of Georg Schneider himself, and commemorates the fact that he was able to take part in the world famous Munich Oktoberfest until 1942, when his renowned “Weisse Brauhaus im Tal, Munich” was destroyed. And I can honestly say that it is quite the interesting and unique drinking experience, delivering a beer that consists of light wheat malts, a piney, spruce-like hint of  flavor, and plenty of yeasty foam and carbonation.

Appearance: Amber golden, very cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malts, yeasty, trace hoppiness
Taste: Slight hint of spruce and pine, light wheat malts, mild tang and hint of lactic acid
Aftertaste: Lingering sourness and yeast, highly clean and refreshing
Overall: 8.5/10

It always appeals to me when I am able to find my way to some of the more obscure and rare treats in this wide, wide place known as the world of brewing! And I especially enjoy it when a local store chooses to stock plenty of these alongside my usual favorites. Given their track record, I wish I could find my way to all of G. Schneider und Sohn’s products, such as their Hopfeinweisse, Unser Original, and Kristall. I can’t tell you how appealing a stronger, hoppier, or clear wheat beer would be alongside everything else they make! Perhaps I should start lobbying to get more of their catalog imported. After all, I do claim some credit for getting Aventinus admitted to the region 😉

Iron Plow Harvest Marzen

Hello and welcome back to the Fall Beer series! After a brief diversion to sample a new brewery, well new to me (Parallel 49), I’m back on the seasonal beer horse! And the beer in question is Vancouver Island Brewery’s Iron Plow Harvest Marzen, a pale lager that commemorates the end of the summer harvest and the beginning of the fall season.

And much like many of their other limited release or seasonal beers, I was quite happy with this one. Not only was it a pleasant drinking experience, it confirms that Vancouver Island is once again excelling at craft brewing, making small batch, high-quality beer that has good flavor and is faithful to the best in brewing traditions.

Appearance: Light orange hue, clear and low foam
Nose: Mild hop aroma, slightly sweet, mild notes of honey
Taste: Light creamy malts, tangy and slight minerality, mild bitterness
Aftertaste: Clean and refreshing finish, mild bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

I’ve now sampled this beer a total of five times and still find myself still going back for more. But that’s the thing with a good, refreshing Marzen lager. They get the job done and go very well with food, especially the kind of spicy or warm, comfort food that goes so well with dreary fall weather and cold, early evenings!

FYI, this is my 100th post as the GCBS! Cheers!

Aventinus, Found At Last!

Rejoice, beer snobs, for this is great new indeed! After years of fruitless searching, trying in vain to find a supplier of beer that carried the venerated Schneider und Sohn Aventinus Heffeweizen Doppelbock, I was about ready to give up. Be it a private liquor store or the province-run BCL, again and again I was told that they either did not carry this product, that it was not something I was likely to find in BC, or they just looked at me blankly like they didn’t have the slightest idea what I was talking about.

But after six years of searching and waiting, I finally found someone who came through! And would you believe it, it was a restaurant of all places! Yes, the good folks at The Rathskeller Schnitzel House here in beautiful Victoria BC that were able to procure a shipment of this premium Bavarian beer. And good on them, since this is something that beer drinkers all across the province should be getting their hands on. A dark, double-fermented, bock-style wheat beer that boasts smooth, rich malts and a fruity, spicy palate with hints of chocolate and bananas, this beer remains one of the best I have ever had! The only one to do better no longer exists, so I guess that makes this beer my number one favorite 😉

I can remember fondly being introduced to this beer roughly a decade ago. It was my first time walking into Vineyard Bistro, located in the heart of the Bytown Market in Ottawa. Unfamiliar to the territory and still only a beer snobblet, I asked the barkeep for something tall, dark, German and strong, emphasizing that I was talking about beer. He immediately handed me a bottle of this and a tall, fluted glass. It took me a few samplings to appreciate the taste of the bock-style wheat, but once I acquired it, I was hooked!

Since that time, I never miss an opportunity to pick up an Aventinus whenever I find myself in Ottawa or anywhere in Ontario. You can’t imagine how crestfallen I was when I first moved to BC and found that it simply didn’t exist here, a fact which still makes no sense to me. Schneider-Weisse, the more well-known wheat beer that is brewed by the same brewery, is readily available in BCL liquor stores. So is their Eisbock for that matter. That seem right to you?

So… expect a full and complete review to be coming just as soon as I can get out to the Haus and pick me up a case! Though I have raved long about the virtues of Aventinus, I don’t think I’ve ever described it any real detail (not the four point breakdown at any rate). And if you get a chance, get out to Rathskeller and ask them for a bottle. You won’t be sorry 🙂