In the spirit of the heat of summer and the need for refreshing beer, we decided to sample some classic wheat beer offerings from Germany and Belgium. We put together a well-rounded cast from Germany including Weihenstephaner Dunkel, Weihenstephaner Vitus, Hofbrau Heffweizen, and Schneider Weisse, and added the Belgian Blanche de Bruxelles to round it out.
All of these delicious beers are steeped in tradition - the Hofbrauhaus is a storied beer garden in Munich, Schneider has been producing since 1607, and Weihenstephaner, the oldest of the bunch, dates back all the way to 1040, making it the oldest brewery in the world. Now let's see if we can taste the history!
The first of the two Weihenstephaners was roughly the color of iced tea and had a murky composition, which was appropriate because "Dunkel" means "Dark." We noticed a very malty smell to this beer, with light hints of clove and ripe fruit. The flavor was big upfront, though not especially crisp, and included notes of cinnamon, gingersnaps, and a finish similar to the smell of hard cider.
The Vitus was unexpectedly light in color; a basic murky yellow with very fine carbonation. An almost medicinal odor was detected, with sweet hints of banana and a carbonation sensation felt in the nose. The relatively high ABV in this light beer could easily be tasted - but the Vitus had a corresponding lingering candy-sweetness that helped create balance.
Hofbrau's Hefeweizen was fairly clear for a hefe, with only a little haze to filter out the light. The head on this beer was thick, pillowy, and enticing. Right off the bat is a very yeasty smell that brought back some memories from Friday night. The taste was a bit on the light side of a classic hefeweizen, with undertones of banana and funky bread (in a good way).
The Schneider Weisse was one of the clearer beers of this tasting and darker than most, showing an amber, light caramel color and an off-white head. This Bavarian beer had a warm, sweet smell akin to that 0f cooked apples and wet wood. Once the Weisse leaves the mouth and travels down the throat, we are left with a lingering bitterness mixed with a hint of apple juice flavor.
This beer from Belgium had a light, pale yellow hue similar to that of white wine. The somewhat light color throws the nose for a loop, as the Blanche Bruxelles has a spiced aroma with plentiful notes of citrus fruit. Once tasted, the spices reveal themselves to be coriander, noticeably so, with a crisp finish that's easy on the tongue.
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