Showing posts with label schofferhofer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label schofferhofer. Show all posts

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Fuggled Review of the Year - Wheat Beers

There was once a time when I didn’t drink wheat beer at all. I still remember the day when sitting with one of my best friends in a pub in Birmingham and he suggested I try a wheat beer. I found it so foul that I was tempted to pour it into the canal – for those familiar with Brum (probably the only major English city I would ever live in again) we were sat in a pub just behind Brindley Place waiting for a concert by The Mutton Birds, supported by a local band called Mudskipper. I had just got my degree in theology, my friend was about to take up a post as a youth pastor in Lancashire – it was the last time we saw each other, and the last beer he had (apparently).

Fast forward ten years to Pivovarsky klub in Prague, sitting with a friend of mine who spent a lot of his life in the West Midlands, and he suggested to me that I should try Sch?fferhofer – and my mind was blown away. I loved this stuff, and thought to myself, where has wheat beer been all my beer drinking life?

Thus this year has been one not only of discovering great ales and lagers, but also learning to appreciate wheat beer. I freely admit that still the wheats I like are from Germany and the Czech Republic, I am yet to find a Belgian wit that I like – given that it took me ten years to appreciate it at all, give me a break ok?

The three for my shortlist are:

Sch?fferhofer makes the shortlist simply because it was my Damascus moment, when I discovered wheat beer as something I wanted to drink and is still the standard by which I judge weissbier – whether that be right or wrong, the fact remains it was the first I liked.

Primátor make lovely beers in general and to my mind their weizen is the best in their range, better even than their stout and English Pale Ale. Admittedly it is more consistently better from the bottle than on tap.

I have only ever had two pints of Memminger, both of them in Berlin in May – for breakfast! A very nice, refreshing beer that I could imagine spending a hot summer’s day on Alexanderplatz drinking, preferably brought by a buxom German serving wench (thank goodness Mrs Velkyal knows what I am, and what, I like).

In the wheat beer stakes there is a clear winner, not just because I happen to love this beer but also because everyone I have introduced to it so far has raved about it too, including my mate that gave me my first ever Sch?fferhofer, therefore the winner is:

  1. Primátor Weizen

Find it, drink it, enjoy it.

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    A Little of Wheat You Fancy

    Wandering around my local Billa supermarket last night trying to decide what to cook for dinner – if anyone is interested we ended up having macaroni cheese, with chunks of smoked bacon through it – I thought it would be interesting to do a taste tasting of the wheat beers they had available. Thus I got home with all the ingredients necessary for a tri-nations wheat beer face off.

    In the Czech corner was Primátor Weizenbier, representing the mighty Germany was Erdinger and squaring up against these behemoths of the brewing scene was Austria’s Edelweiss, all three of which are hefeweizens and ranged in price from $1 to $1.50 at current exchange rates.

    First up was the Primátor Weizenbier, which I have had a few times at Pivovarsky Klub where it is practically the house wheat beer. I have to admit that every time I have had it at PK I have been left decidedly underwhelmed, however one of my friends told me that it is far better from the bottle. My word was she right, from the bottle this is a far superior beer. It pours a wonderful marmalade orange with a slightly ivory head which disappeared rather quickly – a fact I am putting down to not owning a proper wheat beer glass and so drinking it from my Purkmistr glass. Being a hefewiezen it is naturally cloudy, which is actually something I like in a beer, being a fan of kvasnicové beers. The beer smells like oranges as well, ripe Seville oranges promising a burst of bitterness followed by a delicate sweetness, with floral hints from the Saaz hops. In the mouth this beer is an absolute delight, tart, refreshing, with crisp bitterness, which doesn’t overwhelm the palate, and again the motif of a thick cut orange marmalade. There is a nice balance of medium sweetness with medium bitterness.

    Next up came the German contender, Erdinger. I must admit to having a soft spot for Erdinger products, recently Pivovarsky Klub had their Dunkelweizen on tap and I relished every drop of the several pints I had. The hefeweizen though is a lighter beer than the Primátor, despite being slightly stronger in terms of ABV, 5.3% to 5%. It pours a pale orange, and like the Primátor there is a touch of ivory in the head, which once again disappeared very quickly, there were also a lot of bubbles in the beer. The nose of the Erdinger was decidedly earthy, with slight spicy notes. I found that the extra alcohol content was evident in the Erdinger and it left a bitter aftertaste in the back of the throat. To my mind has about the same amount of bitterness as the Primátor but just a notch less sweetness.

    Many times when I have wandered through Billa I have looked at the bottles of Edelweiss Weissbier and thought of my dad, he underwent Alpine mountain training back in the 1960s when stationed in West Germany and earned an Edelweiss, the insignia of German alpine troops. I really had no idea what to expect from this beer – I know very little about Austrian beers and despite their proximity to the Czech Republic very few Austrian products make it up the E65/50 from Vienna to Prague. I really didn’t hold out much hope for this beer when it poured a similar pale orange to the Erdinger, but at least the head held better and was whiter than the other two. Then I stuck my nose into the glass. My head near exploded with the complexity of smells in the glass, the first thing that hits is spiced oranges with hints of freshly mown grass in the background, but there was something there which took me an age to identify. Touches of pepper and even lemon came to the fore, but still that smell eluded me, so I tasted the beer, and the complexity of the nose is reflected in a very complex taste sensation. Eventually I hit on the predominant smell and flavour and almost jumped for joy, it was ginger, lots of ginger – but this was like freshly cut root ginger, rather than the sweetened powder. The sweetness of the bitter was rather low, but it was not bitter at all, making it a very refreshing beer for sipping, I don’t think the complexity of flavours would allow it to be a session beer.

    Of the three beers I think the Primátor is the one I would buy most often to sit with and enjoy whilst watching DVDs, however the Edelweiss is I think the best tasting of the three, and most certainly the most enjoyable to deconstruct and identify all the smells and tastes.

    There was once a time when I wouldn’t drink wheat beers at all, but a friend of mine opened my eyes by insisting that I try a Sch?fferhofer. Of the wheat beers that I have tried and liked they have tended to be in the mould of Bavarian Weizens, for some reason I find the Belgian wheats very difficult to appreciate, but given that only 18 months ago I would never have touched wheat beer at all, progress is being made.

    Beyond January

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