A Thing Of BeautyThis unique beer blends many styles
April 20, 2017
By Jeff Gredlein | The Beer Snob
Much has been written in the column lately about the virtues of session beer. Those low alcohol yet tasty brews that you can return to over and over in an afternoon really are fantastic. Still, there is a place for the high gravity brews, some of them are the most amazing beers in the world, and one higher-single digit alcohol by volume (ABV) style tickled my fancy recently.
Amongst all the Belgians and barleywines, the old ales and the double IPAs, lies a sublime creation straight out of Bavaria: the Weizenbock. You are familiar with a dark wheat beer, Dunkel Weizen, a somewhat more malty and complex version of the traditional Hefe Weizen style of ale. Dark wheat beers are crisp yet fruity, smooth yet tangy, spicy yet yeasty, and always refreshing. As well, you should know another classic of German brewing, bock. A hearty brew, sustaining and warming, bock is a lager beer of strong tastes, deep amber colors and higher alcohol content than many of Germany’s other styles of beer. Bock is perfect for early spring, dunkel weizen for late.
In 1907, Mathilde Schneider of the Schneider-Weisse brewery in Munich decided to compete with the popular dopplebocks of the time by brewing a dark wheat ale with the strength and body of a bock. Schneider-Weisse was and is a wheat beer only brewery, and they weren’t about to change.
The resulting creation was Aventinus, a powerful dark wheat ale that was first and foremost malt driven, while still being loaded with dark fruit flavors, a touch of bittering hop, and the essential yeast character of a wheat beer. Aventinus refers to 15th century Bavarian author, philosopher and humanist Johann Georg Turmair, once official historian of Bavaria. Weizenbocks are a rarity in the beer world, very few breweries ever attempt the style, and fewer still get it right. The standard, and in my opinion, the best option in this class is Aventinus. It is a classic German beer, combining the greatest points of wheat and dark lager beer. Schneider-Weiss Aventinus is one of a dozen or so world-class beers that you can certainly drink minutes after reading this column (if you so desire).
If you’re lucky, you will be served Aventinus in its signature glass, one that was created just for this brew, a long, thin cylindrical body with a top heavy bulbous head. Poured gently into the glass, Aventinus is dark ruby red in color, getting close to brown-black, and cloudy from top to bottom. The butter pecan colored head is huge and fluffy, remains for much of the beer. The aromas of this beer are a delight, beginning with peppery notes over chocolate, followed by typical wheat smells of clove and banana, then some raisin or plum. If that wasn’t complex enough, the flavor profile adds to the mix hints of caramel and apple. As the beer warms, the alcohol just barely arrives; a great job by the brewer considering this one is 8.2 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Near the end I detect some hops, part of a likely combination of clove spiciness and wheat/grain taste. Aventinus, now known as Tap 6 (of scen from the brewery), is a full-bodied beer. For such a creamy beer, it has quite a strong carbonation, with a crisp finish. Schneider-Weisse brews only wheat beers, and this is their masterpiece. Enjoy the brews … cheers
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