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Friday, July 1. 2011
Often it's more fun for me to learn about things after experiencing them, than before. You have a reference point, and something tangible to tack information onto.
Weissbier is one example (aka Weissbrau or Weizenbier or Weizen or Hefeweizen or White Beer or Wheat Beer or Wheat Ale - technically an ale). It's an ancient brew, and there are several styles of it. What we sampled in Bavaria was the Southern German style. Never had a better brew, fresh and unpasteurized. Bready, fruity, and just bitter enough. Low alcohol content, so you can have some more if you're thirsty. It's a summertime beer. Here's the Wiki entry.
Blue Moon's Belgian White and Harpoon's UFO are the closest I've seen to it in a supermarket bottled beer in the US - but it's no match and has more ethanol than the fresh German stuff. Beer is not about booze unless you are in college. These beers are good with an orange slice to squirt into them, although they don't seem to do that routinely in Germany.
Have no fear, readers. I will never let myself become a beer snob, although my taste buds have already priced me out of the wine market altogether. I am fortunate to have a pub in town which gets fresh draft beers weekly from Germany, but I do not get there often enough because I work.
Photo: Weissbier is typically tasted from tall 0.6 L. slender glasses or tall slender mugs. Sometimes I like beer in a mug, sometimes in a glass, sometimes from ye olde long-neck bottle.
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In October my wife and I will be making our fifth or sixth visit to the US - must be because we like it so much! In Australia we can buy beer with an alcohol content of 2.5% up. However, despite asking in every corner of the States for low alcohol beer, I have not found any. If low alcohol beer is made in the US I would appreciate the brand and especially, whether it is available in the north east.
The only low alcohol or near beers I can think of
Budweiser Select 55.
Pabst Extra Light Low Alcohol
As for a good weissbier I love Paulaner's Weissbier. Drink all the time when I visit Germany. Have never been able to find it in the US.
Most of our better stocked wind/liquor stores here in Atlanta area carry Paulaner. We also have some bars that have it on tap. A nice summer brew.
We have a couple of good wheat beers in Canada though they are closer to the Belgian witbier type.
One is from Québec - Blanche de Chambly - very nice and the first North American beer to be brewed in the witbier way.
The other is by Alexander Keith's, a Nova Scotian brewery; it's Premium White.
Yes, that was a shameless plug for Canadian beer...
As a card-carrying member of the Beer Snob Society, it's either Geary's HSA or a 16 oz. PBR for me...
My long-time favorite beer was Spaten's Club Weiss from Munich.
It was tasty, cool, creamy, refreshing, and LARGE. One bottle usually did me in so can't guess on percentage ethanol content.
Unfortunately, Spaten stopped importing it a few years ago or at least I can no longer find it here on the West Coast.
Gave beautiful head in my big, frosty Spaten mug too.
Personally, I prefer high alcohol beers - they are more economical.
That'll be enough of that dirty talk around here, Whitehall.
Augustiner Weiss is the favorite of Munich locals. Mine too.
What gives it its special flavor besides the wheat and mild hops, is the liquid yeast mix used to brew it also contains lactobacillus. The interplay of yeast and bacteria produces the esters - the organic compounds - with the amazing fruity aromas. We used to call it "banana beer" when I was a young soldier in Germany since it smelled like bananas.
Kristallweizen is clear - the yeast sediment is filtered out of it.
HefeWeiss has the yeast sediment in it, along with an abundance of B vitamins. It's usually sweeter smelling.
DunkleWeiss is dark wheat beer (with Hefe and Kristall variations). It's brewed from darker malt that's roasted more.
Kristall is a nice light drinking beer. I don't fancy it much but it's inoffensive, and closer to a sweet version of a Belgian Witbier than anything.
Hefe is tremendous with light food. It's nice with a fruit or cheese plate, good with sausage or fruit or a Bavarian pretzel, and is a grand slam with Thai, Vietnamese or Chinese food.
Dunkle seems better with heavier food. It's wonderful with Greek or Balkan cooking.
The classic way to serve Weissbier is with a twist of lemon, or maybe orange to compliment the fruity bouquet. Another way is as a BerlinerWeiss - which is brewed with less wheat than other beers, and perhaps more lactobacillus. It's often served in a bierbowle - a big rounded glass with chunks of fruit and some fruit syrup in it to mellow the somewhat sour, almost geueze-like taste.
Sorry to ramble on so, but I figured I could pass on all the essentials for anybody who was interested in trying the stuff.
But I have read that the twist of lemon is a sacrilege.
None of my Bavarian co-workers will tolerate lemon on the hefe, only the Kristall.
I have always been a fan of the cowboy boot shaped mugs for serving Weisse. Drink too fast, and you get a face full of it.
Have you tried Long Trail ( Bridgewater VT) Belgian White??
I was down in Woodstock and the Quechee Falls area in the spring.
Had one at the brewery in Bridgewater Corners!
Hi Jim- At last! A Maggies Farm commenter with class!!
I live four miles from the brewery, and worked there for six months in 1999.
I'm a Canadian too, love beer, but generally dislike Canadian beers. Too sour, especially the big brewery Labatts-Molsons etc. I also love some American beers, but not when brewed locally 'under license'. I hope some beer exec reading this will realize that Coors or Rainier brewed up here are not the same, not as good.
I've always been able to take or leave Weisse, but certainly taste every different one I come across. When I was younger I did my best to cross Germany hitting every one of their 1234 breweries, sadly down from 2000 but a few years ago. My wife soon realized what I was up to and put a stop to it. Oh well.
Recently a small local brewery (Calgary), Wild Rose Brewery began producing "Velvet Fog", a 50-50 barley-wheat beer. It's quite stupendous. I was surprised and pleased. If you are ever up here, and like Weisse, try it, you'll like it. I think it's available anywhere in Alberta and parts of BC.
I agree about sour. I'm not sure why Labatt or Molson hesitate to "hop up" their beer.
There's no great secret to making a perfectly acceptable beer with a bit of palate - Stella Artois manages to market barrels of the stuff.
But I do prefer the whole "micro-brewery" range now anyway.
The Wiki article on German beer unintentionally points out another way in which beer is an integral part of German culture.
Thuringians point to a document which states the ingredients of beer as water, hops and barley only, and was written in 1434 in Weißensee (Thuringia). It was discovered in the medieval Runneburg near Erfurt in 1999. Before its official repeal in 1987, it was the oldest food quality regulation in the world.
Is that regulation the one where the inspector carried a wood bench, a standard tankard,and hourglass, and a a pair of leather lederhosen to work?
I think the quality test was to that a standard tankard of beer, pour it on the standard wooden bench, sit down on the spilled beer wearing the standard leather shorts for the period of hourglass time.
If, when the hourglass had run out, the inspector stood and the bench stuck to the leather lederhosen, the beer passed. If the beer was too watery, the bench wouldn't stick and the beer failed.
Anyway, that's the story I've always heard, and cheerfully passed along to all my beer-drinking companions.
Actually, doesn't matter if it's true or not, still a good bar story.
Love me some good microbrews, Bird Dog, of all types. But I'm hooked on "double IPAs." Certainly not your average session beers, though, as they range from 8.5% ABV and up!
And one special off topic request: I've made a fool of myself on more than one occassion here, thinking I was replying to someone in a contemporary thread. I just saw that this is a repost. Maybe you can put, "WARNING!!! THIS IS A REPOST!!! PAY ATTENTION TO THE DATES, IDIOT!!!"
I didn't mean to imply otherwise, and I agree. I think I missed it the first time, so glad to see it.
What I was trying to do was help avoid idiots like me talking to no-one in particular, because they were in a conversation like three years ago or something!
...and I was laughing when I wrote it; didn't think it would be taken seriously. It was a joke on me.
And you did, after all, put in the heading "...a repost."
I think the seductive pic of the glass of beer distracted me.
I'm no beer snob, and I love good microbrews. My favorite for quite a while has been Fat Tire Ale, though I've had many others that are just as good.
Where I step up the bet is on homebrew - which my son suggested we try. He was taking Chemistry in high school, his teacher did homebrew, and I thought it was a good way to learn chemistry. We're on our 3rd batch. The first was a Brown Ale, the second a Stout, and the latest a Red Ale.
While I love wheat beers, I haven't gotten to them yet. I'm having fun learning the ins and outs of just getting to the drinking stage right now, but all I can say is if you haven't made a homebrew, I HIGHLY recommend it.
Lagers are very hard. So start with the ales. Easy peasy.
Real beer is meant to be fresh. After ten days, flush it. That's what they do in Austria and Germany.
I agree. BUT....
You have to define "fresh".
With a homebrew, the question is always length of fermentation. My brews have all been in the bucket fermenting for a week to 10 days (depends on the type), and then at least 3 weeks (stout is 4) in the bottles with the priming sugar fermenting.
All my brown ales (first batch) were gone in a week and a half, save 2, which I'm testing to see if longer cool fermentation helps them (as the instructions said it would). So they've been in bottle for 8 weeks now. I'm going to drink them at 10 and see if they improved.
I'll put in for brewing your own beer as well. It's not less expensive on a per ounce basis, but it's close, and the value is fantastic because the product is so much better. Also: pride of creation.
I've done about 10 batches of various ales and have yet to have a failure. Ales are of course easier because they ferment at room temp (as opposed to lagers, which must ferment cold).
But really the quality is great. I haven't looked at Guinness since I got a good oatmeal stout recipe, and the same if true for the other styles I've brewed.
As for freshness, I'm not sure I agree with Bird Dog's 10 day rule. Properly bottled beer that I've made tastes as fresh or fresher than commercial beers. By the time a European beer makes it to where I live (California), I'm reasonably sure it has lost a step or two.
Do agree with BD's main point that fresh is better.
p.s. If you're ever in Escondido, CA, visit Stone Brewing and sample some of their fine IPAs. No connection to them, they're just a great brewery.
I concur. However, after paying $100 for a kit and ingredients that produced 2 cases of beer, I started figuring out the cost structure.
I could've gone to Home Depot and bought all the same items and built my own kit for $20. At that point, I hit breakeven with 3 cases. It becomes cheaper with each successive brew.
With my kit, I hit breakeven at 5 cases. 6 starts getting cheaper. So cost really is similar or better.
Of course, I'm not using PRIME ingredients. I have yet to try real hops, just hops pellets. Work fine, to be honest, but I know real hops is better.
Oatmeal Stout will be batch #4. Loved the brown ale, though. Named it "Barking Spider" (for those of you down South - you'll get a kick when you hear that and you'll know the reason!).
The stout is named "Portly Dog" and will have our bulldog on the label.
While this is a very well-researched, very well-written article I beg to differ in one small detail: in Bavaria, not only WeiÃbier but also all other beers are traditionally served in 0,5 litre glasses (the so-called "Halbe" (half)), not in the 0,6 litre glass you refer to. See the little vertical line near the top of the glass: that is the "weights & measures mark" (Eichstrich) for 0,5 litres. Only the Brits fill their pint glasses to the brim, we do not. The so-called "MaÃ" ("measure" = 1 litre) is mostly seen at the beer festivals like Oktoberfest etc.
Otherwise, great information, and very good PR for Bavaria -- thank you!