Showing posts with label wheat beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wheat beer. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Better in the Bottle

A few weeks before Mrs Velkyal and I got on the plane to Atlanta, I was sat in PK with Evan, drinking the Primátor Weizen, commenting that it was one of the beers I knew I would miss - really it is that good! Evan mentioned that an esteemed beer blogger/writer (can't remember who it was though) wasn't unduly impressed with it when he had it on draft. Evan then said something along the lines of wheat beer generally being better from the bottle, which of course goes against the grain of so much received wisdom when it comes to beer, but I have to agree.

Most of you probably know that I work at weekends for the Starr Hill brewery, where I serve samples of the brewery's range to visitors, just little 2oz servings of each. When I went to meet the guys there about the job they treated me to a sample of all the beers available in the tasting room, including their wheat beer pictured above. The Love is a perfectly respectable wheat beer, clean, refreshing and enough to make me long for proper bratwurst from an imbissbude on the streets of Dresden (just outside Hauptbahnhof there is a fantastic little snack stand that does a sublime currywurst). I say proper bratwurst because the "brats" I have bought in the shops over here are nothing like the bratwurst I grew up on as a kid in Celle and have an ongoing love affair with (yes, yes I am a Germanophile).

Every time I am working, I have to explain exactly what a wheat beer is, usually followed by the question "what is in the other beers then?", and tell visitors that the bananas and cloves they are experiencing are perfectly normal, and that the slight bubblegum touch is also ok, often much to their wonderment.

Perhaps it is the comfort of drinking at home, although I much prefer being in the pub, even if I am not paying "Tesco prices" to use Cooking Lager's oft mentioned phrase, but I am convinced that The Love is a better beer from the bottle than from the tap. The banana and clove are as present as on tap, but there is just something more lively, slightly more in your face when you pour it from the bottle, and perhaps a touch more body, which fills out the beer perfectly.

The Love very much embodies what Evan and I were discussing that afternoon in PK, and is a very welcome part of my little cellar of treats. Popping open the bottle you see in the pictures last night just brought that whole conversation back, and made me a little nostalgic for the many sessions I had with Evan, Rob and Pivní Filosof in various bars in Prague.

If you haven't already, have a look at the Fuggled calendars(the Lulu links in the corner) and buy one - great photography and a good present for your beer loving mates!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Herold Wheat Beer, Contender?

I was right royally bored out of my mind on Thursday afternoon.

Mrs Velkyal was at work and I had done everything that needed doing that day, so I bought myself a copy of the Guardian and headed to Lipy for some Kout na ?umavě and to see if I could complete the crossword quicker than usual - 12 minutes is my average (and yes I mean the quick crossword in G2, cryptic crosswords are not something I excel at).

With the crossword done, I arranged to meet Mrs V at Pivovarsky klub for dinner as I simply couldn't be bothered with going to the shop and cooking, plus I had a craving for some Primátor weizen, but they didn't have it on tap that day, rather their weizen of choice was the born again Herold wheat beer.

As you can see from the picture, although it is from my mobile, it looks like a fairly standard weizen. Indeed, it smells and tastes exactly as you would expect from a bog standard weizen, bananas, cloves and so on. Nothing special really in my book, but not bad either - a perfectly acceptable wheat beer and it is great to see more choice for beer drinkers here, but on this form not likely to cause Primátor any sleepless nights.

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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