Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Beer of the Week

Ok, so I know that I've been letting the blog slide a little, but I'm getting it back on track. Without further ado...

There's been a delay on this, I realize, but loyal quaffers, it was worth the wait; this BOTW is one of the best beers I have ever had.

Wheat beers, whether the Belgian Wits or the Germans Weisses occupy a strange and delicious corner of the brewing world. Miles away in taste and appearance from the Belgian Ales and the German Lagers, wheat beers vary as much as their cousins, ranging from blond to brown, and from refreshing to rich.

The Bavarian wheat tradition in particular, is an interesting slice of brewing history. The first brewery established with the specific purpose of brewing wheat beer was built in the Bavarian village of Schwarzach around 1520. Ludwig X of Bavaria had granted Hans Sigismund of Degenberg, his official steward (also a Duke), the rights to produce wheat beer for the province.

In 1567 a law was passed banning the production of wheat beer, but the Degenbergs were grandfathered in. When the line of Degenbergs died out, Duke Maximillian gained their wheat beer rights. The law of 1567 was still in effect, though it was not enforced on the princes, making Maximillian's operation a wheat beer-opoly, and guaranteeing a steady revenue stream.

While here and there licenses were granted for local breweries to produce their own wheat beer (with a fee of course), it wasn't competition that brought down the wheat beer monopoly, it was fashion and technology.

In the mid-18th century the Munich dunkels & helles, as well as the Vienna lagers and Czech Pilsners came on the scene. The new lagering methods and brewing techniques allowed the easy production of high quality beers year round, and the thirsty drinkers of Prague, Vienna, & Munich gravitated to the delicious new pilsners and helles, as well as the recently perfected dunkels. Weissbier quickly became the beer of the upper-crust, and out of fashion.

As the market collapsed, Georg Schneider saw opportunity. With the Dukes losing incentive to protect their wheat beer rights, Schneider easily wrestled it away from them and set up weiss brewing of his own.

Schneider kept the style alive, and being the only weiss show in town, did quite well. Indeed, his relatives still operate the brewery baring his name to this day.

Schneider-Weisse produces a number of wheat beers including our BOTW, Schneider Aventius. Aventius is a Weizen-Bock, that is, a strong wheat. Also known as Weizenstarkbier, Aventius clocks in at 8.2% ABV, pretty serious for a wheat beer.

The beer pours a brown-ruby color, with a nice thick two-finger head.

It has an easily detectable nose with strains of yeast, vanilla and banana. The smells are sweet and much more penetrating than even other wheat brews.

The Aventius has a medium-heavy mouthfeel with yeast and wheat notes, sweet caramel malts and a crisp carbonated, though only slightly bitter finish, leading you back for more. Although the beer is 8.2%, the alcohol presence doesn't manifest until you've finished the bottle. This is, without a doubt, one of the premier wheat beers in the world. An appreciation of wheat beer without a sampling of this gem from an originator is an incomplete appreciation.

Highly Recommended.

Links of Interest (German):

Schneider-Weisse Aventius

Digg this

No comments: